I first faced questions surrounding my public hair when I was in university. I came across Eve Ensler’s vagina monologue titled ‘Hair on YouTube’. This was 15 years after Eve Ensler had first performed these monologues but it still rang true and gave voice and affirmation to a discomfort that existed in an unacknowledged part of my mind. The particular bit in the monologue that I haven’t been able to unhear was: ‘Hair is there for a reason, it’s the leaf around the flower, the lawn around the house, you have to love hair in order to love the vagina, you can’t pick the parts you want.’
At that time, sex was still new and I was still testing the boundaries of things I was willing or unwilling to do, and pubic hair removal just seemed tedious. Eve Ensler’s work helped solidify my aversion to obsessive shaving and waxing.
Unlike removing hair from my legs and armpits, which I feel I’m doing for myself and for my own comfort, removing the hair around my vagina has never felt like it was for my own benefit. It just increases my general discomfort. I suffer unprovoked itchiness and friction when participating in ‘the deed’. A trim every now and then feels clean and groomed, but the layer of hairy protection actually feels good. I also see it as (yet another) unreciprocal sexual act because, for all that effort to present bald child-like genitals, I’ve seldom heard of men diarising this trip to the spa with the same energy.
Again I must reiterate, hair removal is perfectly fine, but I resent the move to make it mandatory. It’s also a bit ridiculous that choosing not to remove hair that grows naturally is regarded as radical, and even an act of activism. It’s such an unremarkable stance yet when I reveal it to my female friends or even prospective sexual partners you’d swear I’d just told them I’ve joined a religious cult. From women, there are gasps followed by interventions and people referring me to their trusted ‘waxologists’. From men, it’s awkward and never mentioned ever again.
I was elated to see Janelle Monae embracing letting it grow on her video for PYNK earlier this year. She’s not the only one advocating for attaching less shame to these hair strands that are quite honestly just there to help, and I hope these warriors become more visible. Whether you choose to trim, go bald or let it be a jungle down there – these are all valid choices, and life gets monumentally better when we mind our own vaginas.