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It's Time to Shut Up About Your Pubes

Do we have to love our pubes? Is an apparently obligatory pride in our underbrush as unhelpful as the previously obligatory shame? You do not need to defend your bod. But you also don't need to keep talking about it.

by Monica Heisey
Jun 19 2014, 6:30am

Photo by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete

“There's been much ado lately about pubic hair, from Cameron Diaz's Body Book to Lady Gaga's 'au-naturel' Candy magazine cover. Janeane Garofalo recently weighed in on the subject, and she is decidedly pro.” —Huffington Post

“If you are a woman brimming with pubic hair pride and you’ve been looking for someone to tell about it, Sunday is your lucky day.”  —SFGate

“Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my pubic hair.” —The Bustle

A Google search for “pubic hair trends” reveals 187,000 results. Summer brings with it a veritable tsunami of bush-based thinkpieces, as columnists and feminists and ladybloggers and male writers hash out their thoughts on whatever “trend” exists for women’s body hair at the moment.

The Bustle piece quoted above—“Will The Full Bush Trend Continue Into Summer? Why Waxing Is Getting Even More Complicated”—is a perfect example of its kind. Its quick summary of pubes over the years, from the full bush to the Brazilian to the full-bush Brazilian, is followed by, well, this: “With ‘normcore’ pubes supposedly all the rage, will the beaches really be chockfull of women and their pubic hair this summer?” Can it be? Will we be applying #buzzword to #bodypart, and in #public? It concludes—as most pieces about pubic hair do—with a reminder that it really is a woman’s own choice, ultimately up to her.

Very personal, you know. Love your pubes, sisters. End thinkpiece. 

But do we have to love our pubes? Is an apparently obligatory pride in our underbrush as unhelpful as the previously obligatory shame? Although certainly more positive, the end result is that we continue to endlessly dissect what’s happening in all of our ladygardens, instead of, say, our heads. Or even our beds. Or our actual gardens, for god’s sake. Maybe your friends are growing an incredible chrysanthemum crop and you have no idea because you’ve been too busy wondering if they’d ever consider vajazzling. 

We’re living in a pubic panopticon, our every depilatory movement chronicled, considered, and chewed up by the commentariat, when truly it's no more remarkable than head hair, and we don't write endlessly about whether or not a certain style of haircut will make it OK to go out in public. We do not pen lengthy invectives against those who do not “get” our new haircut, or make parody videos when a new style of fringe becomes popular. The fascination rests purely on pussies. And why not? They’re just another part of the female body, which as we all know exists to be taken apart—physically by television’s myriad women killers, metaphorically by the unending stream of “beach-body” critiques available in tabloid magazines, and linguistically in trend pieces like the ones sampled above. 

For now, at least. This is not just a matter of Caitlin Moran’s famous feminist test: Ae the men doing it? Because yes, unfortunately, they are. In increasing numbers, the public consciousness (pubic consciousness?) is coming for men’s trousers as well. In the shittiest possible version of equality, men are slowly but surely beginning to experience the same body-hair issues that women have experienced for decades. It is nowhere near as bad for men as it is for women, but I fear for the consequences of this kind of evening out of the pubic playing field.

Visions of a fuzzy dystopia dance in my head:

"Nice to meet you, professor. My vulva’s largely hairless, but I leave a little postage stamp at the top, for color." “My name is Senator Andrew Carleton. I approve this message, and I’m a devotee of the back, sack, and crack wax at Linda’s on Fifth.”

It’s upsetting. It feels like instead of liberating women from the endless cycle of bodily dissection, judgment, grooming movements and countermovements, we’re just going to scooch over to make room for the other half to join us on that crinkly table-paper.

Do you spend time thinking about your elbows? Are you tempted to write a strongly worded letter to the New York Times regarding your pedicure routine and how you are, in a way, using it to make a statement? Do you think it might be interesting to poll those around you to see whether or not they have feminist teeth brushing patterns? The bottom line is that thinking about your pubic hair at all is time you are spending not thinking about anything else. Things like: How is your resume looking these days—do you need to update it? What are you up to this weekend? Have you texted that guy from Tinder yet? Are you hungry? Where is the nearest sandwich? Literally anything is more important to think about than what your pubes look like right now.

This summer can be different. We can be different. Don’t read pieces about pube trends; don’t write them. Don’t cultivate a series of reasons it’s OK to wax or an impassioned defense of your copious pubes. You do not need to defend your body, to yourself or anyone else. Bustle and its ilk are correct: It is up to you. But so is whether or not you want to keep talking about it. I certainly don’t.

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