Unrealistic expectations shouldn’t force women to shave their pubic hair

In 2017 Sex Issue
(Hannah Miller / Daily Titan)

Picture this: You have a hot date tonight with the person you’ve been crushing on since the semester started. You’ve been on a few dates with him already and have really hit it off, but tonight is the night when you’re finally going to Netflix and chill.

He’s picking you up in half an hour, and you’re rushing to get ready. But you soon come to the horrible realization that you completely forgot to shave down below and now you’re flipping out. Should you rush to shave really quickly or should you walk in with confidence and proudly rock a full bush? What will you do?

Although this scene may seem a bit dramatic, it’s not uncommon for women to have these questions run through their minds when it comes to deciding whether or not to shave their pubic hair. This isn’t just limited to what sexual partners will think. It also includes how women feel about their body hair in general and how it is perceived by society.

The Georgia College & State University published a study in 2014 consisting of 1,110 male and female college students. Eighty-two percent of the 671 female students reported having shaved all of their pubic hair, as opposed to just 49 percent of men. The young women in the study were also asked why they shaved their pubic hair, and answers ranged from feeling clean to feeling sexy after shaving.

Pubic and body hair on women is sadly often viewed as unclean, disgusting and unfeminine. Because of these factors, expectations of shaving have been forced upon women in subtle ways, mainly through various forms of media.

Advertisements, fashion magazines, films and television feature skinny women with beautiful bodies that have smooth, glowing and flawless skin. These unrealistic expectations for women from the media not only target women, but also men.

In the study mentioned earlier, 60 percent of young college males preferred a pubic hair-free partner. It’s possible that these men may have been influenced by the portrayal of women in men’s magazines like Playboy Magazine and Penthouse which also show the same sexy, big-busted, thin and smooth-skinned women in their issues.

Pornography also sets high expectations by showing women engaging in various forms of sex while looking completely unscathed, flawless and smooth.

Seeing images of what an “ideal” woman should look like causes the average woman to try replicating what they see and this causes men to have an unrealistic expectation of what an attractive woman should look like.

It is very rare to see women with facial, armpit and leg hair in magazines, television, print or film, and it’s even more rare to see anything even closely related to pubic hair. However, recently some women in the entertainment industry have taken a stand against these expectations and have brought attention to pubic hair portrayal.

For example, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson from the Comedy Central show “Broad City” had an episode where one of the main characters, Ilana Wexler, was looking at her vagina in a fitting room mirror.

In an interview on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Glazer and Jacobson said Comedy Central wanted Illana’s vagina to be blurred with pixels matching Illana’s skin tone, but Glazer and Jacobson fought to have the pixels show darker colors so that the audience could be clearly aware that Ilana had pubic hair.

(Courtesy of Comedy Central)

With the assistance of their executive producers, they were able to convince their network to allow the dark-brown pixels. These five seconds of screen time could be considered a true victory for the crusade against the expectations of shaving.

Pubic hair is a natural part of a woman’s body. In fact, according to Planned Parenthood, pubic hair exists to serve as a cushion during sex and to prevent friction and chafing. The Scientific American reports that pubic hair also keeps the vagina clean by absorbing moisture in the area and protecting against bacteria and STIs. Since bacteria thrives in moist conditions, shaving pubic hair makes the vagina very vulnerable to them.

Shaving can be dangerous considering that women are putting blades on one of the most sensitive parts of their bodies and shaving away in little crevices that can easily be damaged and cut. The Georgia College & State University study also reported that 20 percent of women who had previously shaved had stopped mainly because of the physical side effects, including stubble, rash, bumps and ingrown hairs. It’s a dangerous game to play, yet many women are willing to take the risk.

Pubic hair is natural and women shouldn’t let unrealistic expectations dictate how they groom something that actually serves a function. Whether you decide to shave or keep your plentiful bush for your date tonight, all that matters is that you choose something that you are most comfortable with for your next Netflix and chill session.

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  • disqus_jSGPN3BX6P

    What exactly is “unrealistic” about having a shaved cooter? Literally every woman can do it.

  • S.M. Stirling

    I’ve got news for you: while different cultures define beauty in different ways, they all have something in common.

    Whatever beauty is locally thought to be, most people don’t have it.

    By definition, because beauty is precisely being closer to some ideal than the average. The closer you are to the ideal (or can make yourself, by dieting, exercising, shaving, tattooing, or whatever) the more beautiful you are. If you can’t, you aren’t.

    As Dash says in “The Incredibles”, saying everyone is special means nobody is.

    And beauty is a form of power, hence inherently a positional good in a zero-sum game.

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