A recent study published in JAMA Dermatology reported that 62 percent of women (of the roughly 3,000 they surveyed) go totally bare when it comes to pubic hair, but I was 23 years old before I realized that pubic hair maintenance was A Thing Women Do. Yes, I know how weird that sounds. I was raised by hippies and had hairy girl friends growing up, I guess. Oh and the internet was pretty much just blinking pink text on black backgrounds, back then. But I vividly remember the day I came to that all-important discovery.
The scene: Boot camp class on a hot, humid day. We were doing “side clams” and I was wearing very tiny running shorts — a combination I didn’t consider until my friend giggled, “I’m so glad I just got waxed!”
I took a glance in the mirror and immediately turned bright red. And it had nothing to do with the fact I was doing the world’s porniest exercise move in a mixed-gender class. Open and shut! Why hello little black curly hairs! Open and shut! I died. And then I died again. And then after I came back to life, I started grilling all my lady friends about how, what and where they groomed their nether regions.
Me, the girl who thought “bikini line” meant the horizontal line by your belly button where the top of your suit hits and where no girl ever has hair, was suddenly introduced to The Care and Keeping of Hairy Vaginas. I started that day with nothing but a razor and the kind of confidence born only of idiocy. It was intense. I couldn’t manage to shave a neat triangle so I just went for totally bare, which was fine… until it started growing back in. Do you know what is worse than sharp vagina stubble? Nothing.
I eventually tried waxing — edging, Brazilian and everything in between — depilatory creams and sugaring and finally settled on a routine that mostly worked to keep my panty puff under control. All was sunshine and conventionally attractive beavers until I got pregnant. In case you’ve never been pregnant, it’s like the baby takes your body hostage and tortures your organs one by one until you finally give up and release it. Everything goes wonky, including (especially?) your poor, innocent vagina.
At first I tried to keep up with my grooming habits but once my belly eclipsed my thighs I figured if I couldn’t see it. I officially didn’t have to care about it anymore. Plus, everything gets so sensitive down there! By month 8 I was only shaving to my knees and gave up on my pubes entirely.
My friends were appalled. “What if the doctor can’t see where the baby is coming out because of all that hair?” one gasped.
“Well then he has no business being a doctor,” I snapped back. “And also, have you seen a baby? Their giant heads are really hard to miss.”
“Isn’t your husband afraid to have sex with you?” asked another.
“If only I should be so lucky!” I sighed.
“But won’t you be embarrassed that people will SEE you like that?” asked a third.
“No more embarrassed than if they were all staring intently at my giant vagina with blood, fluid and a tiny human coming out of it… and also maybe pooping myself (please don’t poop myself!),” I retorted. “OH WAIT BECAUSE THEY WILL BE.”
It was at that moment I realized our cultivated coochie culture had gone too far. What have we women done to ourselves if we can’t even leave our vaginas alone during the one time they’re actually doing their intended function? You have ONE JOB VAGINA! And it isn’t looking beautiful!
More: A love letter to my devoted, underappreciated labia
After my babies were born, I did go back to some semblance of self-care down there. I like a neat, tidy triangle these days, nothing too high maintenance. And I’ve learned two important things about my bush: First, that my husband couldn’t care less. He’s way more concerned about the sex, and with kids who has time to care if the packaging is perfect? And second, pubic hair has a legit purpose. It helps keep the vagina clean, protects the vulva from abrasions and infection and may even emit some Barry White level pheromones. Despite what you may have heard there is no legitimate medical reason to go full Barbie.
But at the end of the day, this is definitely a you-do-you situation. If you don’t love your pubes and like being bare, cool. I’ll never judge a lady on her gardening skills. But I’d like to go on the record saying that pubic hair is pretty cool stuff. I love my beautiful bush. I also still love running shorts. Life’s too short to worry about a rogue hair or two.