While it seems commonplace for women to remove their pubic hair, there are many who remain adamant about not removing the hair they were #blessed with. Cosmopolitan.com spoke with four women about how they came to accept and love their pubic hair.
How old are you?
Woman A: 26.
Woman B: 26.
Woman C: Almost 27.
Woman D: 28.
How old were you when your pubic hair started to grow in? How did you feel about it?
Woman A: Probably 14 or 15. I'm pretty hairless, all things considered, so it didn't phase me much. My mom was pretty upfront that shit was going to get real and weird in puberty.
Woman B: It started growing when I was 11, and probably was a "bush" by 13. I was pretty indifferent because compared to the other thing that was growing in, like my boobs, pubes didn't feel like a big deal.
Woman C: I was 10 when I first got my period, but I don't think my pubic hair grew in earnest until 12 or 13. I remember my sister, who is 18 months older, complaining about her having hair "in her butt" and I was like, "Eh, whatever dude." When my hair grew in properly I didn't really think much about it at all. I've never had pubes that grow down my legs even to this day, and it was always soft and not overbearing. I wasn't even aware that other women did anything to remove their hair until college. It didn't bother me in the slightest.
Woman D: 9. I was really ambivalent about it. I tried to shave it the first time I really noticed it was there.
I WATCHED SHOWS LIKE SEX AND THE CITY, WHERE PUBE GROOMING SEEMED TO BE A GIVEN.
Have you ever waxed or shaved? What was the experience like?
Woman A: I shaved it all for a bit because it seemed like what people did, but it was always so itchy and not worth it when it grew back in, which happens immediately. I've never waxed any bit of me; it never felt necessary and also a bit scary. Eventually I shaved less and less, until I just didn't anymore.
Woman B: I shaved intermittently until I was 23. I had no strong feelings about shaving, I just thought it was what I was supposed to do. I went to sleepaway camp every year from the ages of 9 to 16, and it was what I saw in the shower. I watched shows like Sex and the City, where pube grooming seemed to be a given.
Woman C: I have shaved to various degrees from a little panty-line trimming to a full shave. I can tolerate shaving to an extent, but shaving the bit just above my vagina is pure torture. If I shave at all now, which is somewhat of a rarity, I always leave a landing strip. No other human's preferences for my vagina are as important to me as not having to think zen thoughts to stop myself from itching regrowth in a work meeting. I have never waxed my vagina. To each their own, but honestly, if I've made it to 26 while getting laid regularly and not having a stranger put hot wax on my vag, I'm really ok with that.
Woman D: I've never waxed, but I've shaved it a bunch between the ages of 18-22. It was awkward. It felt weird trying to pull my skin and move things around. I was terrified of getting anything that didn't have hair on it, so I was really tense the whole time.
When did you stop removing your pubic hair? Why?
Woman A: I probably stopped my senior year of college. Aside from cleaning up what might be visible in a swimsuit, I was never much worried about it. I'm pretty comfortable in my body, and letting it live its life with minimal interference. When I realized that my pubes didn't matter, it became one less thing to worry about. I have a long-time partner, and aside from making sure our intimate relations don't require a flashlight and a weed-wacker, neither of us is particularly concerned about our pubic hair.
Woman B: When I was single, I always felt like there was the possibility I'd hook up with a guy who would hate pubes, so I kept it neat or hairless. I never really felt like there was a chance of the opposite, so it felt less risky as someone hooking up with multiple partners. But when I became exclusive with my boyfriend, and realized he didn't care, I no longer felt the need.
Woman C: I stopped after a long-term on again, off again partner asked me why I was shaving to begin with. I told him it was because I thought that was what men liked and expected. He told me that he had no desire for me to look like a little girl unless I preferred it that way. The relief of knowing that I didn't need to shave was enormous. The pressure to do so seems so stupid in retrospect.
Woman D: I stopped around age 22 because I couldn't figure out why I'd started in the first place, other than because I thought I was supposed to. I had a really shitty abusive ex-boyfriend who wouldn't touch me unless I was completely hairless. He had a porn addiction, which probably should have tipped me off. One day I just realized it was fucking itchy and uncomfortable and smelly and it didn't feel natural or normal to me, so I stopped.
[MY BOYFRIEND] TOLD ME THAT HE HAD NO DESIRE FOR ME TO LOOK LIKE A LITTLE GIRL UNLESS I PREFERRED IT THAT WAY.
Why do you love your full bush? Aesthetic reasons? Feminist reasons? Sex reasons?
Woman A: Because it's low maintenance. And my bits feel oddly incomplete and naked without hair. My body lives its best life when I fuck with it the least.
Woman B: For mostly aesthetic reasons, but also because of feminism. Looking at vintage porn and Playboy centerfolds from the 1970s, I've always found the full bush look to be way more aesthetically pleasing than the bald look. Can you imagine if a guy criticized the hair on your head like that, saying "I prefer girls with a certain hairstyle"? I'd just say "fuck off" in both cases. Also, I have never had a yeast infection since I stopped getting rid of my pubes. They're a natural protective barrier from bacteria. Gotta love that!
Woman C: I love my full bush now because I do think it broadcasts loud and clear that I don't exist for anyone else's pleasure. I'm just me, sans primping and polishing and anxiety over what a potential partner might think. I worry enough about weight and other body image issues without having to wax my vagina like a Ferrari.
Woman D: It's way more comfortable for me. There's no real reason for me to remove the hair that grows there, other than some weird societal expectation and brainwashing we get that pubic hair is gross when it's really just hair. That's all it is. It's just hair.
I LIKE...HOW PROTECTED [MY PUBES] MAKE ME FEEL.
How does your pubic hair affect your sex life? Has a partner ever asked you to remove your pubic hair?
Woman A: My partner and I have been together for 7+ years, and unless it directly impacts a sex act, there's no need to remove it. The sex is great, but it has nothing to do with our pubic hair, it has to do with the fact we're comfortable with our own bodies, and that we respect each others' bodies.
Woman B: Not having to worry about stubble or razor burn has definitely improved my sex life. I've never had a partner ask me to remove my pubic hair. I really believe guys who are bothered by pubic hair are completely basing that opinion on the low-budget porn they watch.
Woman C: The first time I ever shaved my pubic hair was at the request of my first college boyfriend, who was pretty much my first everything. He was shocked that I had vaginal hair and point blank asked me why I didn't shave it. I was more or less dumbfounded and said I didn't know that people did that. He incredulously told me, "Yeah all women do that. It's way easier to do stuff without hair in the way." I was mortified that I hadn't known this "fact" and shaved before the next time we saw each other. I couldn't believe that all women put themselves through this very uncomfortable exercise, but I dutifully shaved my entire vagina for at least a year after.
Then again, he was not a partner who spent much time returning head regardless of my amount of hair.
Woman D: Pubic hair doesn't impact how much I enjoy sex. However, having a partner who actually likes me and my body as I am—with or without hair—has improved my sex life.
The first time my abusive ex asked me to remove my pubic hair, I was only 18 so I agreed to do what he asked because he was older and I thought he knew what sex was supposed to be like. I felt ashamed, like it was bad that I had the hair. I remember feeling really afraid when he fingered me the first time and I hadn't shaved, especially when he flinched as he felt my bush.
What are some tips for maintaining a full, healthy crop of pubic hair?
Woman A: Don't stress about it. Be free. No one thinks about your pubes as much as you.
Woman B: I use all natural conditioner every now and then, but always avoid the actual vagina.
Woman C: The point is to love your own vagina and to maintain it the way you like, as long as you're truly doing it for yourself.
Woman D: Find the right kind of toilet paper, and definitely pat-dry that bush when you get it wet. Otherwise, let your body do its job and grow that hair!
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.