why aren’t we supposed to have pubic hair?

I get the feeling women aren’t supposed to have any anymore. OK, maybe a little. But it has to be tasteful. I get the feeling it’s not considered tasteful if there’s very much. Or even just much.

Everyone is getting waxed. That’s just what you do. Or you get electrolysis. Which is the most practical choice. Or at the very, very least, you make sure you remember to shave.

No one ever got around to sharing the rules with me, and I’m a little slow, or maybe I’m oblivious, but I’m not even sure what people mean when they talking about shaving it. Just the sides, for when you are wearing a swim suit? Or are we always talking about more?

Once I saw a woman’s pubic hair in a swimming pool. She was getting out, and for a second, her legs were open, and I saw it. It was reddish. I was pretty impressed with her for having so much of it without trying to destroy it.

I think the pubic hair on the sides is harder to see than people think. I mean, if you’re wearing a swim suit. You really have to open your legs. Or, sure, there might be some hairs, but you have to be standing pretty close, really looking at someone’s crotch. And if you’re naked, then who cares?

A lot of people. A lot of them.

Did I ever tell you guys the story about a boyfriend I had who said, “Whoa— OK…My last girlfriend was Asian…”? I feel like I’ve already told that one. I didn’t know what to make of it.

I said, “So?”

He said, “You’re Jewish.”

He meant, “You’re hairy.”

I was pretty surprised. Because I expected every guy I dated or hooked up with to react to me like this: “WOW! I am so lucky!!”

I think I missed a memo. My all-natural mom told me too many times that I was beautiful without changing things. I believed her too often. Something went terribly wrong.

And also, I think this music video is kind of great:


Unroast: Today I love the way one of my nails has a notch in it. I keep running the pad of my thumb over it absentmindedly, and it feels really cool.

P.S. I was in NJ for a work meeting yesterday, and after I went to dinner with my dad and my brother and my brother’s girlfriend, and everyone in the restaurant was staring at me a lot. I mean, I was wearing huge heels and a fantastic silky dress with a Japanese print knockoff pattern and a bright yellow belt. But really, it was my hair. Which I’m officially obsessed with. They were mostly white and middle-aged, and it’s a pretty conservative area, and I cracked up. And then I really appreciated New York City, even more than usual. Which is saying something.





Kate on August 19th 2011 in beauty, being different, body

44 Responses to “why aren’t we supposed to have pubic hair?”

  1. Sarah responded on 19 Aug 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    I think a little bit of pubic hair is way sexy. I’m a woman – not a child – and I want to feel that way. I used to be one of those girls who got rid of it all if I thought someone else might be might be venturing south, but I’m not anymore. If it bugs them enough to be a dealbreaker, then good riddance.

  2. San D responded on 19 Aug 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    Your hair and pubic hair conversation reminds me why someone might be staring at you. When I got cancer MY hair (EVERYWHERE-pubic and public) fell out from the chemotherapy. So don’t be surprised if the stares you get aren’t stares of empathy as compared to stares of “why a buzz cut”? Just sayin’

  3. Kerry responded on 19 Aug 2011 at 2:38 pm #


    I say, do whatever makes you feel sexy. If having nothing really does it for you, then go for it. But I don’t believe that it makes so many people feel great as are getting all those brazillians. And who the hell can afford that anyway? Not I.

  4. TheQueerBird responded on 19 Aug 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    I am finally coming to terms with “THIS IS MY HAIR AND IT’S HOWEVER LONG I WANT IT TO BE TODAY.” Yes, I still feel the need to say that all in capitals, which means I’m not yet where I want to be in terms of my comfort level with it. And by “my hair,” I mean all of it: legs, pubes, pits. I’m continuously surprised when people *don’t* really react to the legs I haven’t shaven in months; and then I am surprised when other people *do*. Why does anyone care so much?

    When I do notice someone’s pubes in a swimsuit, I’m usually embarrassed for a second before I’m impressed. “Wow, that’s brave.” And then, of course, I’m frustrated, because why is it brave to just be the way we are? But I’m trying to be brave, too.

  5. Laurel responded on 19 Aug 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    When I was a teenager I was self-conscious about my “bikini line” at the pool but now I really don’t care. I’m a mammal, I grow hair. If men can go around with their hairy chests and backs exposed, I don’t see any problem with a few curlies on my inner thighs.

    That said, I like a complete bikini wax for sensual reasons. It’s not about the aesthetics but the sensations being bare provides. I think it’s worth remembering that there are women who remove their body hair for their own sexual pleasure (as well as, OR regardless of how their partner feels about it).

  6. Kate responded on 19 Aug 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    by the way, there’s supposed to be a video there, but I was running out of the house when I posted this, and apparently something went wrong. Trying to fix it now!

  7. Kate responded on 19 Aug 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    OK! It’s up! Can people see it? I’m sorry that I’m so bad at this!

  8. anna responded on 19 Aug 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    i’m so glad you’re talking about this. it’s one of those things that really gets under my skin, this expectation of hairlessness. it’s bad enough with legs and pits, but such a sensitive and private area! a place that deserves respect.

    now it’s one thing if a woman really gets off on going bare. that’s her decision. but when it’s an expectation, something that is required of women to be sexy, when men feel like they can make comments about it like the one you mention, that’s too far. i’m under the impression though that this expectation is becoming more and more widespread.

    more money being made off the altering of normal women’s normal bodies, more for waxers and salons and raisers and creams. more for medicines to fix the ingrown hairs and razor rash.

  9. Beauzeaux responded on 19 Aug 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    I’m so glad this fad for hairlessness was not around when I was young. There’s no way I would have my pubic hair waxed away. Lord, it hurts just to think about it.

    There was a time (and not that long ago) when lots of men were turned on by a healthy “bush”. The first thing I thought the first time I saw a totally body-hairless woman was that there was something creepy going on — like her boyfriend only got off on pre-adolescent bodies.

    Now I see it’s much more wide spread and I still think it’s creepy.

  10. Sarah responded on 19 Aug 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    I don’t really have a strong opinion on pubic hair, though I do remember a story my ex would tell often. The first time he saw a woman naked was Suzanne Somers spread in Playboy. He was terrified because there was so much hair and it was not at all what he expected. He claims he was scarred for years.

    This is pretty off topics, but I love that you posted Amanda Palmer! I hadn’t heard of that song, and when I googled it I came across her blog post on the topic. Now whenever I go to Tasmania (which will be often because one of my PhD study areas is there), I will think of this song. I then learned she is married to Neil Gaiman. How did I not know this? I love Amanda Palmer. And Neil sure does have great taste in women. First Tori and now Amanda Palmer. It’s that quirky British charm.

  11. Elizabeth responded on 19 Aug 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    I have to say that i love waxing. for me it completely enhances sexual pleasure-bare skin feels so much better than hair! my boyfriend loves me with or without pubes, it’s all for me! worth the 10 seconds of pain!

  12. Lauren responded on 20 Aug 2011 at 2:38 am #

    I don’t want to look like a 12-year-old and razor burn is way less attractive than pubic hair, so the pubic hair stays. If a guy has a problem with it, then he’s probably not worth being around. I’m also pretty infrequent about shaving my legs (go a few weeks at a time between shaves). I just don’t care that much and it takes forever to shave your legs. When I was in high school I was obsessed with shaving and it was basically unhealthy, I would shave multiple times a day. Glad I’m finally comfortable in my skin (and hair).

    Also- what kinds of bathing suits are people wearing?! My pubic hair does not show when I am wearing a bathing suit! o_O

  13. L responded on 20 Aug 2011 at 8:11 am #

    Personally, i don’t like lots of pubic hair on me, so i keep it shaved.
    What i find interesting though is that this now extends to men; women have always generally had a part of their bodies that has been ‘undesirable’ and thus that they’ve *had* to change, however men are generally accepted as they come, hairy backs, chests and pubes. My generation of guys however, seem to feel an expectation to shave, which i don’t believe older guys do. Having experienced both a totally shaven man and a man with full pubic hair, i can say i definately prefer the latter, much more masculine somehow.
    But maybe that’s where the problem lies: in our society hair is seen as manly, and it is them propogated as ‘what sane woman would want manly ladybits??’. It’s a shame really because there’s nothing wrong with pubic hair if the woman likes it xx

  14. CS responded on 20 Aug 2011 at 10:53 am #

    I was at uni and my friends and I were having a conversation about waxing vs shaving. The ones who shaved said that they didn’t feel comfortable “showing their muff to a stranger” whereas the ones who went to get waxed said that it was worth it because it didn’t itch or get a shaving rash. I kept quiet because I don’t wax or shave.. and I don’t want to. But sometimes I feel like the only one who doesn’t. Same goes for eyebrows; they were discussing the merits of threading (“what’s threading?” I said… I don’t tweeze or wax or do anything to my eyebrows…)

    I also stayed quiet because these friends are pretty vocal about saying how disgusting they think having underarm hair is and I assume they’d think other hair was disgusting too…

    Last summer I went without shaving/waxing my armpits for a while (I was trying to figure out what was giving me a rash – turns out I was allergic to my deodorant). My boyfriend was supportive, which surprised me. I said “Would you find me unattractive if I let my armpit hair grow?” and he said “Don’t be silly. It’s just hair.” And it gave me confidence to try it for a while. Sometimes I would feel very self conscious about it, and other times I would feel kinda sexy. Now I still mostly prefer to shave/wax it, but I don’t worry as much if it gets a little long.

    I do feel a bit sad though, it feels like there is a perception that men who like women who don’t remove hair have a weird fetish. I don’t want to feel like a weird fetish…

    Oh and Lauren, I wear a normal bathing suit, not high cut or anything, and my hair does peek out at the inner thigh, as Kate said, can’t really see unless up close to me. I don’t want to feel like that’s ugly. I try not to worry about how I look, and instead just enjoy being at the beach or the pool.

  15. Layla responded on 20 Aug 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    I find it kind of disturbing that women are “supposed” to have no pubic hair. Makes me feel very uncomfortable that some men are attracted to the pre-pubescent look. Thankfully I’ve never had a boyfriend have an issue with it. I trim it so it’s vaguely tidy, and that’s it. I shaved it once when I was 15 and it was agony afterwards, razor burn and ingrowing hair. Urgh.

  16. Raven responded on 20 Aug 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Ha! I was going to recommend the “Map of Tasmania” video if you hadn’t seen it. Also, if you haven’t checked out Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, she has a monologue specific to pubic hair simply entitled “hair.”

    I feel as many women in the comments do–mostly women with L for the beginning letter of their names, weird–I don’t wax or shave. I tried shaving twice, and neither one for good reason. Both times I felt itchy and uncomfortable. I felt like a pre-pubescent girl, exposed, vulnerable, and way too young to be engaging in sexual activity.

    If someone I wanted to be with can’t handle the hair between my legs, they probably also can’t deal with the hair on my legs or under my arms (two parts of me I used to shave but find difficult now that I’m disabled), and aren’t worth my time.

    Having shaved or waxed pubic hair is part of a trend, and I don’t buy into trends. I like being me, being comfortable in my own body. My girlfriend shaves every couple of days with an electric razor, and I don’t get it, but that’s her body, and since I love *her* it doesn’t matter to me how she chooses to express herself through her hair. I loved her with a buzz cut and I loved her with hair to her mid-back. Same goes for my male partners. ^_^

  17. Amy responded on 20 Aug 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    Great post!! And I loved reading all the comments that this post generated as well. Made for some great reading AND thinking.
    I am lucky that my DH doesn’t care one way or the other. It IS just hair, so whichever I prefer. Depends on my mood. Sometimes I do shave and sometimes I don’t.

  18. Kate responded on 20 Aug 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    I like this attitude. Not feeling pressure either way. Nice.

  19. Deanna responded on 20 Aug 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    When I was around 19 or 20 I realized I had more hair down there than anyone else I knew. Back then everyone was sort of secretive about it and when I saw a friend in a bikini or short shorts and no stubble or hair I’d ask what she did for hair removal and she’d look at me as if I were on serious drugs. I started to feel like I was the only woman on the planet who had bikini line hair. I was so self-conscious that I rarely wore bathing suits or shorts even though I had a nice body.

    It wasn’t until the late 80s when waxing become popular. I started waxing and haven’t stopped. I never could shave since the stubble would start growing back almost right away and it looked just awful.

    Anyway, when I first starting waxing (and even know since I have to hear it again and again) I’d ask the person doing the waxing if I were the hairiest person she’s ever seen. She laughed and said I was very normal and most people were as bad or worse. I just had the rotten luck of having for friends women who had super thick hair on their head and no body hair where it wasn’t supposed to be.

    I would prefer a Brazilian as I find it very sexy, but my husband doesn’t like it so I just get the sides waxed so I can wear bikinis and shorts. I also wax my legs because I have learned to really hate shaving.

  20. Deanna responded on 20 Aug 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Oh and Kate…I was also told that Jewish women are more hairy than other women (making us less attractive by whomever writes these standards) but the same woman who waxed me for several years said that Irish and Indian women were very hairy. I was glad not to be the negative category for once!

  21. Meow responded on 22 Aug 2011 at 10:55 am #

    My mom is 100% JewLady and she has like 6 sparse blond hairs on her body. She doesn’t even shave her legs. Eff those stereotypes.

    This debate is so zzz and predictable. It’s the first decade of the Two Thousands. Can we please stop talking about this? It’s like a default convo on every ladyblog ever. Some ladies like to be bare, some like a dense mat of fur, whatever. We can do whatever the fuck we want to our muff and not have it represent our feminism or whatever.

  22. Meow responded on 22 Aug 2011 at 10:58 am #

    You know what? There are no rules. It’s not some secret nobody is telling you about or you failed to learn. It’s just pubes. You know how the hair on your head is just hair and you can shave it all off and rock the fuck out it? Same thing, just further South.

  23. Kate responded on 22 Aug 2011 at 11:23 am #

    There are plenty of rules. We just choose to listen or not to. But we’re still aware of them.

    And maybe people are talking about this because it’s interesting. I don’t think it’s boring– I think it’s confusing. Until recently, I didn’t realize just how many women seem to think shaving/waxing is a requirement. That feels like a recent trend to me, and it’s definitely worth learning about.

  24. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 22 Aug 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    oh dear…that’s funny! one brazilian wax was enough for me, never again. it’s all those porn videos with a landing strip that have spoiled men…and i even read somewhere that women can have their external lady areas cosmetically altered…vaginal rejuvenation i think it’s called…seriously? so some pervert wants to imagine he’s boinking a 12-year old? the day my husband manscapes for me is the day i worry about it…and that will never happen!

  25. Alice responded on 23 Aug 2011 at 8:42 am #

    I don’t think the debate is out of place at all and I’m glad that there are more people out there wondering when exactly this thing came about. My husband is a fan of `nothing down there`, possibly a cultural thing in his generation and country. I was brought up with summers in nudist camps, one would shave armpits and wax legs, but that’s about it. I’ve been accepting his fancy grudgingly for all the time we’ve been together, except through pregnancy, although it means a lot of work and the feeling that it’s never right anyway, because it grows stubbly within hours. And yes, I begrudge the social pressure that put it into his head that that was what was sexy. And that put it into my head that I have to comply.

  26. Doreen responded on 23 Aug 2011 at 9:23 am #

    Hey Kate-
    Love you! When I read your blog, I feel like you snatched my brain and put every thought down on paper…you are my kindred spirit :) Check out this 1979 nude photo of Madonna….Italian pubic hair in all its glory! You wouldn’t believe all the nasty comments on different websites that posted this photo. People just cannot deal with public hair anymore.


  27. Katie @ ktmade blog responded on 23 Aug 2011 at 9:59 am #

    “I think I missed a memo. My all-natural mom told me too many times that I was beautiful without changing things. I believed her too often. Something went terribly wrong.”

    This makes me sad. Why does society have to beat that out of us?

  28. Kate responded on 23 Aug 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    How interesting to see this picture now, when it seems shocking, compared with the way naked women almost always look in pictures these days. I won’t even read any of the comments on that picture, because they’d upset me.

  29. Beth responded on 24 Aug 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    There was a period of almost two years when, broke grad student that I was, I waxed about every six weeks. Everything. It started out as a sexy treat and then became something that we both liked. When we moved here I got out of the habit because I have to drive to either Missoula or Coeur D’Alene (both are about an hour away) to have it done. I tried shaving a couple of weeks ago and owwww; so we’ve decided that I should make the drive and do some shopping/have some girl time. It’s worth it to us.
    (He manscapes a little for me too. Not everything, but some. Again, not for everyone, we just like it that way.)

  30. Gingerous responded on 29 Aug 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    I’ve never understood the fascination with hairlessness. It’s always struck me as a little creepy. I think that an adult woman should look like, you know, a mature adult. There’s nothing wrong with a little grooming to tidy things up, if you prefer. Shape your topiary however you see fit.

    I think, generally speaking, that men don’t care as much as we think they do. Obviously, you’ve had a run-in with at least one who did, but I think that’s the minority. It’s mostly our own paranoia. Sort of like how I’d never bat an eye at a friend’s less-than-spotless house, but when I’m the one hosting I worry that I will be judged if my house isn’t perfectly clean.

  31. Aurora responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    I’m a fan of total hairlessness (except head hair, brows, and so on of course), both in guys and for women. I generally think body hair looks pretty gross — it’s kind of coarse and scraggly, and it’s usually not colorful enough to be interesting, and it collects detritus and stuff. But that’s me; I respect people’s right to enjoy hair.

  32. Friday Linkage – Hairy Space Knives Edition | Gingero.us responded on 09 Sep 2011 at 5:25 am #

    [...] the Damn Cake talks about why women aren't supposed to have pubic hair. I think you should shape your topiary in whatever way makes you happy, but obviously some people [...]

  33. madmonkey responded on 18 Sep 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    I recently saw a picture of a young model/actress (can’t remember who) on TMZ that had been taken after she had just finished a jog. Guess which area of her body showed some pretty gross looking sweat stains? Hair is there for a reason, kids. CELEBRATE THE BUSH!!!

  34. vic responded on 11 Feb 2012 at 2:21 am #

    As someone who went all natural to extreme trim from puberty to 23 growing a bush is not always a walk in the park. There would be times were a hair would get caught somewhere and it hurt.

    The electric trimmer is the best. It doesn’t cut any hair so I don’t get the next day itch, but it cuts off a lot of hair. I also don’t have to experience any pain of the Brazilian wax.

    the only problem with it is that it vibrates a little and that’s just too kinky for me.

  35. Eat the Damn Cake » The things that freak me out when I think about myself in a bikini responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    [...] don’t I know this yet? Shaving leaves all these little red bumps, and I want to scratch them. I have never gotten waxed and I’m scared at the thought and also slightly opposed to it for reasons I could explain but [...]

  36. Joanna responded on 01 Jul 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading your blog and commets.I totally agree this has gone to far,it is ridiculous that women are expected to shave,I’m not against those who choose to shave,wax,trim,shape their lady gardens..live and let live, but what makes my blood boil is why are women like myself who choose to keep it natural and not submit to this ridiculous fashion craze are seen as freeks, unhealthy,dirty,since when has pubic hair been unhealthy?(and please i’ve heard all the nonsense on bacteria and getting infected its not true),to women who shave are cleaner?..doesn’t make sence,I am very fond of my luxurious bush it’s part of who i am, love your bush ladies you don’t have to give in to society pressures.

  37. Jack DeLad responded on 26 Jul 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    I love women with hair. If I wanted a shaved hairless woman I can daydream about taking a bath with my sister when I was four. The idea that everything must be hairless is absurd. Pit hair, leg hair, arm hair and even a jungle bush is a matter of preference to the person it’s on and I can’t speak for the rest of the male American population but ladies with hair (or extra) in the above mentioned regions get long, appreciative sideways glances and coy smiles from me every time. Stay hairy!

  38. Eat the Damn Cake » electrolysis responded on 29 Aug 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    [...] checked the date on the last entry about it, and it’s been almost exactly a year. There’s something about August, [...]

  39. Eric Jensen responded on 04 May 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    I do not want to be with a woman that looks prepubescent, I want a real woman, not a child. Real women have hair, that means pubic hair, hair on the legs and arms and elsewhere! I think pubic hair is beautiful and I am far more attracted to women who do not shave their pubic hair; I also think a woman with hair on her arms are more attractive than those who also remove it from their arms. Who the heck cares what Madison Avenue wants you to think!

    I actually stopped dating a woman who shaved her pubic hair off and told her in no certain terms would I get intimate with a child or woman who looked like a child down there.

  40. Lexy responded on 17 Jul 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    I would like to know what age are people liking or not liking pubic hair, I think it could be a generation thing, personally, I believe that porn industry dictates tha fashion in our culture , where it isn’t prescribed in tradition (like in Islam) to remove hair. I was born in 1991, I shaved it once and it was horrible, and I did it because of the man who was used to shaved intimate parts, I don’t want to do it ever again, I like how I look naturally , I do remove the hair in the bikini area, legs and armpits, but I don’t care much about it anymore,although my aunt was very sensitive seeing me and my sister with facial hair(which isn’t very noticeable), my mother’s family is very hairy , and I understand that they don’t feel comfortable with it, but when I recently noticed my mother (born 1960) had done a brasilian waxing I was shocked and I told her that; her answer was: “I do it for myself, I like it, it makes me feel clean…………and your father likes it that way” :O and I’ve heard comments by my uncle and dad talking about how the fashion nowadays is different ..

  41. Ray-ray responded on 17 Jul 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    It’s coming back whether you are 18 or 60..Too much work for this un-natural maintence. There is nothing wrong with the natural bush…hey you young guys asking this of your girlfriends…chances are your mother gave birth to you with a hairy bush. Trust me it is making a comback…John Lenon said it right “We Make Them Dance and We Paint Their Faces”….By the way not that it matters, Ive always convinced a shaved girlfriend to let it grow and they always do…So it’s men who started this and women complied.

  42. Ray-ray responded on 17 Jul 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    Yes Joanna from Jul 1st 2012….It’s called “Cultural Brainwashing”

  43. anonymous guy responded on 22 Oct 2013 at 2:51 am #

    This seems to me to be yet one more way to rob people of their money by setting the goal posts ridiculously out of reach. The whole stupid thing goes into the waste basket of female insecurity along with: corsets, paint-on eyebrows, hair spray, permanents, anorexia, bulimia, breast implants, botox, plastic surgery, nose jobs for children, body weight scales which are uselessy inaccurate, hair weaves, hair dyes, etc. etc. etc. The fad is not driven by men, anymore than women drive men to over-spend on monster trucks. First our social system tells you to be afraid of ignoring it, then it pretends to award you with its approval. A damned lie, all of it.

  44. PJI responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 9:09 am #

    Beauzeaux – I’m a man, & I find women with no pubic hair weird & creepy. I agree with all the posters who feel that a grown woman should look like one.

    Lexy, I’m old enough to be your father.