Some of his most beautiful writing was addressed to Effie Gray during their courtship. Yet when finally united on their wedding night, something went badly wrong, and the marriage was famously unconsummated. The popular explanation is that he was shocked into sexual abstinence at the sight of his wife’s pubic hair.
Although doubt has since been cast on this story, one wonders whether it wasn’t an omen. Fast forward a hundred years or so, and it would seem that young men would be forgiven for being equally shocked at the sight of a full bush. These days it’s the norm not so much to trim your ladygarden, as to raze it to the ground.
So why are women doing this? Let’s look at the practicalities.
For a start, there is no easy hair removal technique. If you have accidentally snagged a pube in your zip you will have some idea of how head-numbingly painful it is to rip out every last straggler with hot wax. You can of course shave, but if you’re prone to oversensitive skin and in-growing hairs, this is hardly fun either. Laser removal is permanent and expensive.
Once bald, there’s the maintenance to worry about, which is almost daily. No one wants a stubbly juice box. And even when you’ve sorted that out, and you have finally achieved a sleek and naked quim, you are left with the nagging worry that your ladies front bottom looks like it belongs more to a twelve year old child than a grown adult.
In 2012, Debby Herbenick and Vanessa Schick published some research under the title: Read My Lips. Their study found that 60% of American women between 18 and 24 are sometimes or always completely without pubic hair and almost half of 25-29 year olds report similar. The rate reduces in older women, but still up to 10% in the 50-plus group are thought to engage in some sort of pubic hair removal.
Is this the fault of pornography? Or is porn just reflecting current trends? Certainly there are few pictures of naked hairy women available in mainstream porn, and if you look at any of the popular porn websites (look, it was for research, ok?) there is a category for “hairy”; as though it were one of the many fetishes, rather than an accepted norm. There’s something not quite right about that.
I understand that pant moustaches are not pretty. No one wants to lounge by the pool with the option of platting some down-there-hair, but as I fire up the strimmer for my annual deforestation, I cannot help but wonder why total baldness is required.
Our sex lives are a complicated and personal matter and I’m not about to judge anyone for deciding to remove it all, but I do wonder if this trend isn’t something we should be trying to understand a little better.
I fear we are accidentally allowing our girls to grow up with the impression that female genitals are somehow not acceptable in their natural state.