It's Time To Stop Pressuring People to Shave Body Hair

November 16th 2015

Diana Crandall

Katy Perry recently revealed in a beauty-centric interview with Glamour Magazine that she prefers a man’s genital hair to be “trimmed” but not “waxed." And while personal preferences about pubic hair are nothing new, in recent years, there’s been a massive trend toward waxing, shaving, sparkling and sometimes, completely banishing pubic hair.

This trend isn't limited to women, either.

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Men’s Health reports that a recent Indiana University study found that 95 percent of men and women shaved, waxed, or otherwise removed their pubic hair at least once in the 30 days leading up to survey.

But why?

Stripping it down to the basics: it’s a cultural thing.

Hugh Hefner, Barbie and "Sex in the City's" Carrie Bradshaw have helped smooth the road for an all-waxed pubis, according to the Atlantic. Porn doesn’t help, either, the Guardian points out.

The concept of vajazzling hit the scene a few years ago, making it possible for women to make their nether regions sparkle. Now, you can even permanently laser off your hair, if you want.

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And while some people feel more comfortable keeping things trimmed for one reason or another, the concept of “manscaping” or shaping your hair down there has some strange sexism laced in for both men and women.

The male struggle

As cultural trends shift and change, men may feel pressured to remove their pubic hair. They also may feel uncomfortable seeking out an esthetician because waxing is traditionally sought out by women.

Alternatively, men may feel like it’s necessary to be hairy in order to be considered masculine.

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As one female Cosmopolitan writer puts it:

“The way I see it, real men have hair—the darker and more plentiful, the sexier.”

The female struggle

The pressure to alter pubic hair is also intense for women.

Earlier in 2015, teamed up with Huffington Post to survey more than 5,000 men and find out what they think about women’s pubic hair.

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From the surveyed group, 41 percent of men said they prefer a woman to be completely bare and 38 percent said that women’s pubic hair should be “trimmed and well-groomed, but a grown woman should have something down there.”

Only 15 percent thought that women should do whatever makes them feel comfortable and sexy, and only five percent thought a woman should go all natural.

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The purpose of pubic hair

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.

Dr. Emily Gibson is a family physician and Guardian contributor. She writes that removing pubic hair irritates and inflames the hair follicles that are left behind, causing microscopic open wounds.

“When that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture medium for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens. There is an increase in staph boils and abscesses, necessitating incisions to drain the infection, resulting in scarring that can be significant. It is not at all unusual to find pustules and other hair-follicle inflammation papules on shaved genitals.”

Dr. Gibson writes that pubic hair is multi-purpose: to cushion against friction that can cause injuries or abrasion and also to protect from bacteria:

“It is time to declare an end to the war on pubic hair, and allow it to stay right where it belongs.”

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