Health

Don't Call It a Comeback: Women Are Embracing Their Bushes

June 23rd 2017

By:
Shonitria Anthony

More and more women are growing out their pubic hair, refusing to go bald, or forgoing that landing strip for the full hairy bush in all its glory.

Recently, Amber Rose went viral for posting a picture on Instagram of her bush, and there was a feature written in Vice on June 6 declaring that hairy vulvas were making a comeback in the porn industry. Caution: images in this post are NSFW.

After Rose posted her bush on social media, it was immediately followed by the #AmberRoseChallenge, with some people cheering her on. But others poked fun at the image or condemned it, completely failing to see that her choice to pose nude from the waist down was something that might be a feminist move.

Rose isn't alone. There are other women who are rebelling against the patriarchy, too, by not adhering to societal standards geared towards the male gaze by proudly maintaining their body hair.

"It's likely some women just want to embrace their natural form, without approval by 'the norm,'" Esteysi Barr, who hasn't removed any of her body hair since late January, told ATTN:. The Tampa, Florida, college student believes most women remove their body hair because of societal beauty standards, which tell people: "if you're hairy, you're dirty."

"I feel women alter their grace to feel wanted. I shaved and waxed for those reasons, to feel wanted, to feel 'normal,'" she explained.

Barr isn't alone in feeling like society and media conditions women to think bare is the way to go. There's also research that backs this up.

It was found that "women in the United States increasingly are grooming their pubic hair for cosmetic purposes," according to a JAMA Dermatology October 2016 study. Of the 3,316 women included in the study, 83.8 percent of women reported "a lifetime history of pubic hair grooming" and 16.2 percent reported never grooming. Even more, about 59 percent of women claimed that the most common reason for "grooming were for hygienic purposes," 31.5 percent "reported grooming because they believe it makes their genitals more attractive," and 21.1 percent "reported grooming because of partner preference."

(Photo above by: Aisha Mirza, @workinhardmummy)

It's important to note that having pubic hair is not unhygienic and removing it can be harmful.

"Regardless of whether or not you’re a man or a woman, trimming, waxing and altering your pubic hair can be detrimental to your body. After all, the hair exists for a reason," ATTN: reported in November 2015. Two doctors attested to this by telling the New York Times their own personal encounters with women and the things they shared with them about their grooming habits.

 

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“At least once a week I hear from a young woman that she thinks it’s wrong to have pubic hair, that it’s meant to be removed,” Dr. Jennifer Gunter, who specializes in pelvic pain and vulvovaginal disorders for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, told The New York Times. “Grooming has become so common that people think that’s the norm.”

Dr. Cheryl B. Iglesia, a professor of obstetrics-gynecology and urology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, told the Times, “I’ve had women say, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to clean up down there.'"

But it seems that now the tides are changing.

"Part of it is fashion, like mom jeans. Bush has become feminist fashion."

That's Roger Friedland's opinion on the sudden reemergence of the bush.

"I think the reasons young women got into taking away their pubic hair contain some of the answers about why so many are now letting it grow back. Many women whom I interviewed – and this was about five years ago – about their pubic hair talked about feeling clean, the implication being that pubic hair made them dirty," Friedland, a visiting professor at the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University (NYU), told ATTN:.

"Women with pubic hair are saying: If you want to fuck me, you better want me the way I am. I don’t want to be just your object of desire; I want to be its subject."

He went on to explain that women are likely just fed up with having to alter their bodies in order for them to be deemed desirable.

"Today, lots of young women want to be desired and loved for the bodies that nature gave them," Friedland said. "It is about rejecting the monthly suffering of waxing as the price to be paid for being an object of desire, to warrant a man’s touch, by his penis or his tongue. It is about being visible as a woman, not a hairless pre-pubescent girl. It is about being powerful as you are, not as men want you to be. Women with pubic hair are saying: If you want to fuck me, you better want me the way I am. I don’t want to be just your object of desire; I want to be its subject."

This sentiment was echoed by Allyson Duff, who embarked on her own "no-shave journey" in May 2016.

"Many people believe that if you have body hair it makes you 'manly'... that is TOTAL BS!" she told ATTN:.

"I think more women are deciding to go natural because they are realizing that body hair is a part of being a woman!" Duff said. "I think more women are also deciding to stop shaving because they are starting to question why they even shave in the first place. Why should our body hair make us 'less' attractive and 'less' of a woman?"

The Hawaii resident admitted that she started shaving at a very young age because she cared about what others thought of her and she didn't want to "inconvenience" them with her body hair. She explained that she believes it's very important for people to feel comfortable with their appearance, which is why she started posting photos of her body hair.

"I first began to post photos of my armpit hair on social media because it started out as a form of learning to be confident and comfortable with myself," she explained. "It then transformed into me wanting to empower other women to grow out their body hair because it will not only boost your confidence, but it will also make you comfortable with your body's natural functions."

 

These women are far from alone, as there's a robust community on Tumblr of blogs full of photos shared by women and dedicated to women who are unafraid to rock their bush.

There's also a sassy Instagram account called The Ugly Girls Club, where you can find blog posts and merchandise, that describes itself as a "club for girls who are more than their appearance."

"I remember a few years ago, before I was such a big ol' feminist, when I didn’t shave my armpits for a few weeks. I was genuinely surprised that the world kept on spinning. For a long time it had felt like my existence relied on having smooth skin, it was such a relief when I woke up with bristly pits and life went on unknowingly," Hillary Rock-Archer, co-founder of The Ugly Girls Club, told ATTN:. "This feeling of relief and empowerment is huge. There is such a social solidarity with female body hair that it’s almost become the must-have statement piece of the summer."

Alice Jayne Leverton, co-founder of The Ugly Girls Club (photo above by: Aisha Mirza, @workinhardmummy), told ATTN: that she started to shave after a sleepover where her friends' reaction to the hair under her arms left her so embarrassed that she was brought to tears. "There was barely even any hair to shave, I was preventatively shaving. Ridiculous when you look back on it but all I wanted was to be normal and being hairless was normal and I still struggle to give an answer to why I felt like that," she said.

A woman's body hair shouldn't be a statement or resistance because it is, after all, natural. Now, with more women deciding to break from society's preconceived notions of how a woman should look to fit gender norms, Archer has a idea for how people should perceive any woman with visible body hair.

"I think it’s important for people to know that when you see a women with natural body hair that you are dealing with a goddamn queen," she said.

So if you see a lot more body hair this summer, you were already warned: the bush is back.