It can be challenging for girls and women to learn how to relate to their bodies because there are so few resources available to adequately guide us. It’s no wonder, then, that I ask this important question!
Before we get any further, I want to clarify that I have been reliably informed that pubic hair grows on and around the vulva, not the vagina. The vagina is internal.
While I can’t tell you what you should do with your pubic hair (in fact, no one should tell you what to do with your body), I can give you my opinion to help you make an informed decision. So, to shave or not to shave?
I say you do not NEED to shave before sex. You may if you wish, you may not if you don't wish to, but you're not free from the consequences of either choice. The onus is on women to shave and men do so if they wish, without getting as much ridicule as the women who choose not to.
According to one study, women are more likely to remove their leg and underarm hair, as compared to pubic hair. Therefore, while removing pubic hair is becoming more common, it is still not as typical as removing leg and underarm hair.
This might tell us something about the social pressures women face when it comes to their body hair: the more visible the hair, the more likely they are to remove it. Social norms about body hair can sometimes make choice feel impossible.
But there is also a growing wave of young women taking to social media to talk back to these pressures. They celebrate women natural diversity and difference, and embrace their relationships with body hair.
Cultural standards of beauty influence people’s personal choices on appearance including pubic hair. In pornography, less and less hair has become a “norm”. But these trends don’t always have your health (or physical comfort) in mind.
The media’s messaging about pubic hair is largely one-sided. Instagram is on record for repeatedly taking down images of people with unshaven bikini lines and most commercials fail to show people’s natural state prior to hair removal.
Social media censorship and inaccurate advertisements for shaving, waxing, laser and chemical hair removal perpetuate the idea that pubic and body hair is unacceptable.
As already flagged, Popular culture is influential in how we think about the female body. With the growing availability of pornography, young people increasingly see it as a “normal” representation of how people have sex. Perhaps you’ve looked at porn before and thought, wow, is that what I should do and what I should look like while doing it? Remember, porn is a performance and is highly stylised.
From the many viewers who replied to my opinion question on Shaving, a person who receives oral sex quite often is more likely to remove their pubic hair.
But choices around pubic hair are as diverse as bushes themselves. Many people go hairless or not for reasons that are specific to their unique bodies and lives. We are raised to think of our “private parts”, belonging purely to ourselves. The world around us comes to influence what we do and feel about our bodies. What we do with our hair is no different.
But there are benefits to the bush. Physically speaking, pubic hair serves as a protective barrier to genital tissues, particularly the sensitive vaginal opening, to many women.
Injuries caused by pubic hair removal; including wounds, rashes or micro rashes and ingrown hairs are becoming more common. These types of injuries prompt a greater likelihood of infection.
However you choose to groom (or not groom) your pubic hair, your choice reflects what makes you feel most comfortable and confident.
Just like my friend Pix, told me a while ago, Several people especially women desire to show up with a clean shave mostly out of conditioning but are not aware of the risks associated with their front end theatrics. They're often pressured to shave to impress the man or be on a safer side not to be judged & feel clean, often at the cost of the risks associated with shaving (but that part is conveniently left out).
On the flip side, when women don't shave, they are often judged, so you kinda have to have a thick skin. They've also been conditioned to believe that female body hair makes them filthy, dirty and/or unhygienic, which is quite dumb. Men have way more body hair than women but we're not considered filthy and all (at least at a mainstream level).
That's a double standard right there!!!
But again when you look at the cosmetics industry, women are targeted more than men. The industry rides off on women's feeling of imperfection in their natural state. So all the adverts and stuff conveniently pushes the majority onto the shaving train among many others.
She has to do her own amount of unwinding as well as her partner in order to be fine with her own body hair regardless of it being in the pubic region, her legs, her arms or wherever. It's the same challenge that many have with make up. The conditioning is skin deep.
However, considering how some young women are negotiating femininity and going against societal prejudices against them, this might be a good start. From there, women can negotiate which practices best suit their values and beliefs, which may change over time.
And in direct response to my question, shaving before sex is your choice!
In other news, there is a mythical rumour I want to debunk- That some women do not shave to make their "Vaginas appear big."