Wednesday Weigh-In: Pubic Hair Edition

According to the Atlantic, it’s time for another trend piece about pubic hair grooming habits. There’s some interesting history there, although its conclusion–that some young women, especially white college students, are waxing it all off these days–is probably pretty obvious to most real young people. It should also be noted that the answer to that alarmed question in the headline, “Has Pubic Hair in America Gone Extinct?” is, “no, it hasn’t.”

The author cites a new study as evidence that “more women lack pubic hair than ever before.” And while that’s no doubt true (although there haven’t been a lot of studies on this topic in the past to compare to), what the researchers themselves actually concluded was that “it is more common than not for women to have at least some pubic hair on their genitals.” In wonderfully scientific language, they write:

It has been said that having no pubic hair is normative; however, findings from this study suggest that there is no one dominant pubic hair style. Given the growth rate of hair and women’s often sporadic hair removal, there is likely great diversity in the amount of pubic hair that women have at any given time. After all, pubic hair is in a constant state of growth, which suggests that pubic hair “style” may be a malleable concept.

Since we celebrate diversity in all things here at Feministing, I’m glad to hear that. So, um, bare it all folks! What’s your pubic hair “style” and why? And, dear god, please tell me those dudes who say they’re “disgusted” by a natural bush don’t actually exist in real life–and, if so, that we aren’t letting them anywhere near our vajayjays.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

Read more about Maya

Join the Conversation

  • tylik

    Mostly I leave my pubes alone. I have occasionally taken a trimmer to the hair around them. For that matter, I’ve trimmed them all off once or twice, and shaved at least once. And I’ve played a bit with sugaring, though I never did a complete sugaring.

    Mostly, though, I let ‘em be.

    I have not had complaints yet from men or women. (Oh, I take that back – when spending time on the beach with one of my earliest girlfriends, she complained about what she saw as inadequate shaving. I fairly soon resorted to the traditional remedy of dumping her ass.)

  • Rikochan

    Mine is totally bare, and always will be, thanks to the modern miracle of lasers. Why? because it feels great and I think it looks sexy. And, no, I don’t look like a little girl, and my junk doesn’t look like it belongs to one, either. I’m with Nina Hartley on that one.

  • Ashley

    I hate shaving. Though I still give in to societal pressure when it comes to my pits, I rock the bush! and I’m proud. hahaha.

  • K. Elliott

    Natural. I haven’t even shaved my legs in weeks.

  • Moohoo MacMoohoo

    I rock a pretty significant bush 95% of the time. And to be honest, a much larger proportion of partners I have had have preferred bush, and the rest have been mostly indifferent. As for people I have talked to, many say they prefer “trimmed”, to varying degrees. I honestly think pubes are making a comeback.

  • Kelly

    Roman Scandal over on Eden Cafe recently posted on her experiences going from a totally bald to a lush, and hot pink!, bush:

    I’ve been shaved bald, shaved into shapes, and am currently rocking a 2″ landing strip. One of the things that drives me nuts is the criticism I’ve received from other woman that my desire to shave 1) makes me look “pre-pubescent” (and assumes my partner likes ore-pubescent girls), and 2) that I do it for my partner. As to 1) there is nothing about my vulva, hips, boobs, legs, pit hair, anything in fact, that makes me look like anything other than the 30 year old woman I am. As to 2) maybe I’m lucky to have a partner who loves me in all my incarnations, but I shave, trim, dye, cut, based on what I want to do at the time. That being said, my sister got a lot of flack (from guys who were promptly booted out the door) for having a mighty cute, but full, bush when she was trying to date in SoCal.

    My bush is straight, short, black, and rather sparse. I like keeping the lips shaved b/c I love the way they feel, and otherwise they itch when I run. I often rock what we call the “inside out bikini shave” in which the labia and bush area are shaved, but I keep a landing strip and let the “bikini line” go au naturale (that shit hurts to shave). I want to get into dyeing multiple colors, maybe in the new year.

  • Crustine

    I actually just registered on this site to talk about my pubes. WONDERFUL.

    I started shaving at some dumb age, something like 12, even though my first sexual anything was around the age of 16-17. That said, at the age of 12, I also shaved my arms because I thought that’s what ”everyone” did.

    For most of my slutty period, I would go all out and shave every hair below my chin. I tried to keep things smootjh as often as possible (though I could go through long periods of Chewbacca, also called depression).

    One day I accidentally sliced a chunk of skin away from my ankle. Wasn’t the first time. The bath turned pink. I stopped shaving after that, had very few one night relapses, until I went to showing off hairy pits in summer dresses, and that went on for about 9 months. What was great about it was that whoever was hitting on me for sure didn’t have any ridiculous misconceptions about the female body.

    I had a Christmas spa-day with my mom a few days ago and I didn’t feel like freaking out professional suburbanites, or what turned out to be a very good looking massage therapist who rubbed my naked butt, so yeah, I shaved. And I felt like a damn sell-out the whole time. Seriously! Not shaving is addictive!

  • Joshua Stein

    I’m a guy, so I suppose my style is not really in question here. I trim down, at the request of my partner.

    As far as preference goes, I don’t mind bush. I’ve dated girls with different styles and (aesthetically) I don’t have a strong preference. My major challenge with the full bush is that it makes performing oral for an extended period of time much more difficult, since it can sometimes detract from my ability to breathe through my nose easily. But that’s just a practical preference, and its not necessary to shave it all.

    • Thomas

      I agree with Joshua Stein, it’s easier for oral. But, I’ve never met a vagina I didn’t like.

  • Jacob

    I always left my pubes alone until I started shaving my legs. Then I thought it looked weird to have smooth legs right next to a rather sizable bush. Now I trim it pretty short, though I doubt I could shave. I cut my legs enough doing that, I don’t really need to try leaving scars on my genitals.

  • Natalie

    I definitely rock the bush, even though sometimes it seems like I’m the only one that does. Occasionally I’ll do different styles, but that’s very rare. I’ve had partners that preferred bare and partners that preferred a full bush. Honestly, on women and men, I prefer all natural. Completely bare makes us all look prepubescent, which is just gross.

  • Sheryl

    It’s all gone and I don’t plant to change that anytime soon. I like how it feels and think it’s more comfortable than letting my public hair grow out. I’m more diligent in maintaining my bush-free area than in any other hair removal because it feels so good.

    I’ve never run into a guy who’s thought pubic hair was gross though my current boyfriend is certainly not a fan (including on himself which I appreciate) but if I gave up shaving he wouldn’t get upset about it.

  • Aly Brown

    Full bush and proud of it :) I trim a bit on the sides for bikini season, but I like my public hair. It makes me feel more mature and beautiful.

  • J

    I waxed for the very first time last spring & loved it. I’m 37.

    The lady asked me if I wanted some left on, but I figured if I was going to try it, I’d just go for the whole thing. I didn’t find the waxing to be all that painful, and the result was (to me) very sexy and very sensitive (in a good way).

    Unfortunately, I can’t currently justify the expense of waxing and my skin does NOT appreciate shaving at all, so I’m just trying to keep it trimmed as best I can. I really miss it, though.

  • thomas-macaulay-millar

    About the conflation of hairless and prepubescent, I have very different associations. My associations were formed in the late ’80s when completely shaved pubic areas were still rare. I’m a BDSMer and I was very early, so as a teen when I could hunt down BDSM porn that’s where I saw it; and I associated it not with mainstream, young, thin porn models, but with the kind of people making niche and DIY BDSM stuff in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the photos in the SandMUtopia Guardian and such; often middle aged, often heavier, and often shaved either to facilitate genital play with clamps or candlewax, or to create an especial feeling of nakedness.

    There’s nothing prepubescent-looking about a forty year old rubenesque cis woman bottom with a shaved public mound and a dozen clothespins on her labia.

    • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      Ok, cool, someone else spelled it out so I don’t have to. ;)

      I will add that in addition to these proclivities, both my husband and myself stay hairless for the purpose of allowing certain types of energies to exchange more freely and directly between us. As to whether or not anybody else would find this prepubescent looking, well, I can’t control people’s opinions, but I can say it’s irrelevant since neither is on view for anybody but the other anymore.

  • Courtney

    I used to shave mine off when I was young because I was confused and didn’t understand it. Then I started to understand my body better and I left it alone because it’s such a hassle. For a while recently I got kind of self conscious about it and I shaved it off completely. I’ve always shaved my upper thighs because I spend a lot of time at the pool, but I went completely bare this time. I hated it so much – it felt terrible and growing back felt even worse. Now I leave it alone. I’m not and never really have been “sexually active” so nobody has to worry about it but me!

  • babysnaakes

    I love feeling smooth! On date nights or when I’m going out to do something special part of getting dressed up and feeling beautiful is shaving for me. But I don’t mind when theres short hair there before its long enough to shave without getting razor burn. I was always hesitant to go bare because of the ”looking like a little girl” idea that had been conveyed to me, however once I started shaving I realized I Loved it. I also really enjoy the different sensations between days where Ive just shaved and days with hair. It creates such unique feelings when being touched!

  • Brianne Jones

    I prefer to keep mine trimmed as it makes oral sex easier, and really, who doesn’t mind that? I’m too lazy to actually trim it, though, so I just shave it bare every few months at about the same frequency at which I shave my legs.

  • Skylar

    I work in scripted television and we just finished shooting an episode with a long scene in a waxing salon, with the implication that everyone, absolutely everyone, waxes everything. I’m standing on set thinking this waxing thing looks like some sort of torture device. I wanted to turn around and ask everyone their opinions, but somehow that didn’t seem like proper workplace etiquette. Personally, I have never had any desire to remove any of my hair, and I’ve also never had complaints. I have no idea what the majority preference is. May we all enjoy ourselves however we like, but as for me, I believe the euphemism would be that I’m a “natural” girl.

  • Mary

    Totally natural. I trim once or twice a year, just for fun, and I’ll occasionally shave my bikini area, but I prefer low-maintenance. I’ve also heard that it’s healthier to have pubic hair, and while I haven’t done a whole lot of research about it, I figure humans have it for a reason.

  • Chris

    I’m a guy, and I actually grew up thinking that shaving my pubic hair would be emasculating and taboo. Today I think it’s customary for most men to shave, or at least trim, their pubic hair. I don’t prefer the completely shaved look for men or for women, but I also don’t see anything wrong with it either way, more of a non-issue (although I do wonder why more young women seem to prefer shaving it off today).

  • Erin

    I occasionally trim it down a little, but other than that I leave it alone. I’m very fortunate to have a boyfriend who has a similar attitude about body hair, which is wonderful!

  • Kaleb

    Another guy here. When I started dating my current girlfriend I decided to try shaving everythig that wasn’t on the top of my head or my eyebrows, and I loved it. However, around that particular area, I would get irritated a lot, as well as on the insides of my thighs, so I started doing sugaring, which is basically like waxing, only a bit nicer to your skin. I’ve got to say I love the feeling of being smooth all over.

    My girlfriend on the other hand simply keeps her stuff trimmed, and I’m fine with that. I actually recently had a nightmare that involved her being compleatly bald down there. xD

  • Shelly

    For the longest time my pubes were au naturel. In more recent year I trimmed a bit here and there. But a few months ago, I decided to shave most of it off (top of mound, bikini line; I left some around the “lips”), and I am so glad I did.

  • Matt

    I, like most gay guys, have occasionally encountered this issue. While I don’t want to discount the socially-constructed aspects of sexuality, I’ve got to say this:

    Isn’t pubic hair one of the biological markers indicating a potential partner is, you know… of age?

    Public hair comes in long before the age of consent, of course – so HAVING pubic hair doesn’t indicate sexual availability. But I still see a lack of pubic hair as the body’s way of saying, “BACK OFF. I’M A CHILD.” the idea of encountering someone who has completely shaved it launches a siren in my brain: why would you think I want to see you as an 11-year-old!?

    The above is mostly in jest … but in all seriousness, there’s something going on in the fact that shaving pubic hair is generally expected of women – not men. Women, who, based on dominant expectations, are considered more sexually valuable in their youth. Women, who are far more likely to be divorced in their 50s by husbands looking to date a 22-year-old. Meanwhile I think shaved pubes were popular in the gay community long before straight men started doing it – once again, people who are trying to be sexually-desirable to men. And in the gay community there’s definitely a cultural aspect tying your amount of hair to your gender presentation and your role in a relationship. I don’t think any of this is coincidental.

    I’m sure there plenty of empowered, self-determined reasons a woman might want to shave her pubic hair, and many of them might not even be related to sex. There are many cultures in which removing all pubic hair is the norm, and I’m not sure how many people or ethnic groups don’t produce pubic hair at all.

    But it still seems that in many cases men desire, for reasons I’m not completely comfortable with.

  • figleaf

    Yeah, I think the “looks pubescent” thing is the Godwin’s Law of personal grooming. Anyone who really believes that either a) hasn’t ever thought about it or b) really hasn’t spent any time around adults, and/or possibly c) has never diapered, bathed, or dressed an actual pre-pubescent child. Because, seriously gang! It’s perfectly fine to dismiss body-hair grooming (I do it almost half the time) but ditch the pre-pubescent dodge. It’s undignified and signifies mostly laziness.

    Also, not to put too fine a point on it but kids start developing pubic hair around 5th grade, m’kay, so the advent of pubic hair isn’t a very good point to start green-lighting lechery. Sheesh!

    Finally, I’m pretty sure nobody outside of maybe the Taliban and the FLDS belives George Clooney’s or Jon Hamm’s faces look pre-pubescent when they shave. That’s because they have adult faces. It’s the same thing with any other body part one can shave.

    As for one’s actual preference I think Liandra Dhal put it very nicely the other day on her blog:

    I am often attributed the opinion that every woman should have natural pubic hair. This is falsely attributed to me. I am also often attributed the preference for natural pubic hair on the women I’m attracted to. This is also falsely attributed to me. So I guess I want to state what my position is in no uncertain terms. I want women’s choices regarding their bodies to be respected as their own. I am irritated not by someone’s preference for no hair but by a person indicating that ALL women should do what [that someone] prefer[s].

    And once again, if you think it is ok to snub or browbeat people for waxing or shaving, at least have the creativity to say something like “it makes you look like you’re getting chemo,” or “it makes you look late-geriatric,” or “it makes you look like you’ve been prepped for surgery.” Or, “it makes you look like you’ve been treating yourself for body lice.” Anything but “it makes you look pre-pubescent.”

    At one point or another all of my partners have either trimmed, shaved, or left it alone. None have ever consulted me. Which would be weird anyway. The only think I personally don’t like are the prickles when body hair is growing back in.


  • Joanna

    I thought that hairless trend already peaked last year.

  • Molly Driftwood

    I stopped shaving my armpits and legs almost a year ago, but I still trim my pubes on a semi-regular basis. It’s been almost two years since I was in a relationship, so I’m not doing it for anyone but myself. I used to shave and wax and it was awful and itchy and painful and I am NEVER doing that shit again! But keeping the hair “down there” trimmed short feels more hygienic and comfortable to me.

  • emily

    i used to swim competatively when i was younger so the less hair the better and i was constantly plagued by an itchy crotch and ashy armpits. now my personal grooming policy is no shaving the pits which look like beautiful furry vulvas under my arms and i also keep my pubes growing wild and free.

    i love the way my full pubes accentuate my mons in clingy dresses!

  • Julia Steer

    I also just joined the site to weigh in on this discussion. Hot topic item!

    My primary partner is okay with anything I wish to do with my pubes (he’s aware I’d be unlikely to bend if he pressured me in any particular direction anyway) but admits to enjoying a certain degree of visibility when it comes to the details of my anatomy, which I can certainly understand. I trim it down once monthly and have only ever kept it trimmed; I did so before I met him and will likely continue to do so when and if we part ways. I have attempted shaving exactly twice, but it’s the most obnoxious thing to grow back. I can’t comprehend the expense associated with having it professionally waxed, as a group of former friends habitually pressured me to join them in doing. I have also trimmed in the absence of sexual activity so it seems I’m avoidant of simply allowing it to grow.

    I was recently visiting friends in an area more conservative than mine. They have made the acquaintance of a guy who, at some point during the card game we were playing, casually dropped that a woman with bush wasn’t worth sleeping with. I, being fairly young and inexperienced, was mixed with disgust and panic at this statement. I knew that many women shaved or waxed, but hadn’t been aware of the pressures associated with this. A short time later, a lesbian friend with whom I had a mutual attraction expressed complete shock that I didn’t wax or shave, and seemed more averse to engaging with me sexually on that basis. For some reason it surprised me that this pressure was held by women as well.

  • Stephanie

    I shave. Not that often if I’m not sexually active, though.

  • Kayleigh

    Female – Wild and free! I remember the days I used to shave it all off and how much I used to love it, but after a 180 degree perspective change I’ve grown to love my body hair – so much that I haven’t shaved my legs, pitties, or my pubes in over 2 months. I’ve had some recoil from partners and friends and people in general, but I love my natural look. I get love where and when it counts.
    It’s not even about looking like a 12 year old down there (albeit a little weird in retrospect), but just how bad it is for your skin, and how it makes you that much more susceptible to infections and viruses. I dunno, it’s there for a reason boys and girls. Give er’ a little complimentary trim here and there if you must, and embrace the fuzz.

  • LaurenBee

    My first sexual partner was one of those guys who was really turned off by pubic hair. While he made it clear that he would not tell me what to do with it, he also made it clear that he preferred everything to be shaved – and I obliged, thinking it was the norm. I kept it completely shaved for several other partners, until one partner asked me why. When I told her I had just assumed it was normal, because that’s what I had been told, she told me she’d never been with anyone who shaved completely (trimmed, yes, but never completely bare). She actually preferred a bit of hair, and I ended up growing it all out again and haven’t touched it since – and I’ve found that I prefer it that way too. Now it’s my decision to keep my hair (because I’ve grown to love it) and I don’t plan on doing anything other than maybe trimming with any future partners I may have.

    Like someone said above, going down on a woman with a lot of hair for a long period of time can be difficult – but in those cases, I just change it up occasionally to give myself the chance to breathe a bit. That’s made it more fun anyway, and I love the feeling of hair on both my partner and myself.

  • Crystal

    I love my shaved vajayjay! As far as I’m concerned, women should style their pubic hair whatever way makes them feel comfortable. For me, that’s shaved–or technically, lasered in my case. Just like hairstyles, pubic hair styles are personal preferences, and everybody looks good with something different. I tried a bush, and I tried a landing strip, but neither of those looked good on me. So bare it is. It feels sleek and sexy to me, which gives me confidence. Plus, I always found pubic hair to be stuffy and itchy growing up, so it just didn’t work for me.

    I’ve noticed that people seem to get really defensive about their pubic hair preferences. Those who like it shaved say bushes are gross, and those who like bushes say shaved looks prepubescent. Why all this judgment? Can’t we all just accept and love our vaginas and everyone else’s?

  • Katherine

    Trimmed is for me. The all out natural look doesn’t feel right neither does completely shaved.
    My partner loves me anyway I go which I love :)

  • punkgrl5

    I get bikini waxes in the summer but for the remainder of the year when I’m not wearing bikinis I just let it be. I do trim the hair though as if I get too much, it itches.

    I have heard guys say they don’t like pubic hair. I wasn’t dating them anyway so I didn’t really mind it but if I were I’d say “Buck up or we’re through.” I’m not risking ingrown hairs to make my vulva look like it belongs to a prepubescent girl.

  • andrea

    I shave and leave a little bit of hair. My partner asked me to try this particular style he found sexy, so I tried and it’s so easy to maintain that that’s the end of it. I suppose it’s time for a switch-up, but regrowing is such a pain in the ass.

  • albonie

    I don’t own a razor, and no one has ever, ever complained about my bush. I did date one guy who whined about my armpit hair sometimes and I was like, “Shut up.” My current boyfriend wants me to grow it out more, and I’m like “Look, bro, it doesn’t grow out forever. This is as grown as it’s gonna get. It’s not ever going to look like I have a Pentacostal lady’s hair between my thighs.” He then looks kind of sad.

  • Linda F Musabayana

    I alternate between shaved and full bush. But I hate the itchy feeling I get when my bush is grown out. I’m considering laser treatment.

  • Divine

    I choose to keep my anal region up to the top of my cunt completely shaven, for more sensitivity and it’s cleaner for oral. Other than that I vary between degrees of bushiness to landing strip depening on the season. I do want to try waxing once just to have the experince. I shave my pits infrequently and shave my legs even less than that but they do get shaved more often when it’s warmer outside. My hubby likes the lines of my arms, breasts and armpits, so he does request that I shave my armpits every once and a while – I don’t mind since he considers it sexy :) My hubby trims his bush and shaves everything below his pepe to his bum.

    *I hope no one gets bent out of shape becsaue I used the word cunt to apprpriately decribe my own genitalia. It is latin for wedge . . .

  • Divine

    Ps – I do think that the completely waxed look has culturally evolved from pornography, a generation or two ago most women rocked the bush the only exception was for pornagraphy ie for the camera (viddies or mags) – otherwise you can’t really see what’s goign on which defeats the purpose of . . .

    Any thoughts on this?

  • Charlotte

    well, currently it’s winter up in canada. the idea of taking away my base layer is quite frankly, stupid. I never shave my pubes in the winter, rarely my legs, and only every few days do I even touch my underarms.
    in the summer however, i’m a landing-strip or fully shaved kinda girl. it just feels nicer to not have to worry about hair poking around the edges of a bikini.

  • Charlotte

    also, i’ve never had a guy mention anything other then the obligitory “well, i’m a straight guy, and it’s a vag, so i’m a fan” comment about my pubic hair. most just seem so focused on the fact that they’re gonna get some, that they don’t even notice below-the-belt stylings.

  • Rob

    I have never participated in “manscaping” and never will. Growing up in the 70’s pubic hair was viewed as a flag of maturity and a thing of beauty. The trend to go bare was never something I embraced. Count me as a big fan of natural bush.