By Rachel Woodward, February 9, 2016 —
It’s easy for women to feel self-conscious about their bodies. Almost every piece of advertising targeting women focuses on our looks — what we should or shouldn’t do to meet the latest beauty norms. But this advice is usually contradictory, confusing and weirdly invasive.
I stumbled across a strange ad while browsing the Internet earlier this week. This ad, like many, was about women’s appearances. But this oddly worded advertisement wasn’t for a weight loss or a weird skin treatment trick that angers dermatologists. It was for pube oil.
The ad declared that “pube oil promises to make your bush look pretty.” These nine words didn’t convince me to buy anything, but they did get me thinking about pubic hair. How should pubic hair look? What makes pubes pretty? Should I be using this oil? After clicking through the ad, the first line of the page stated that “pubic hair is back in a big way.” This only raised more questions. When did pubic hair go away? And who do I talk to about it?
Like most beauty standards placed on women, the expectations for pubic hair are both hypocritical and unrealistic. Waxing is painful, shaving is time consuming and laser hair removal is expensive. Many hair-removal services offer pubic designs and symbols like the infamous “landing strip” or the less widely-known “Charlie Chaplin.” Even more extreme treatments involve dyeing pubes to be more colorful and bright. Because, you know, why not?
Women’s pubic hair, though, is something people do have strong opinions about — especially men. According to an AskMen.com study conducted in June of last year, almost half of the 5,000 men surveyed prefer a woman with no pubic hair, while 38 per cent of the remaining men prefer “trimmed and maintained” hair on a woman. Only five per cent of all these men like their women “au naturel,” and an astonishing 10 per cent of the group said they have ended a date early or refused to have sex with a woman because of their pubic hair preferences.
All of this felt weird, because when it came to asking men about their own personal grooming habits, the vast majority of them wanted to make their own choices about the hair on their bodies. What was an apparently unreasonable desire in women was common among men.
And the ad saying that the “bush is back” and the survey statistics saying “less is more” were only published four months apart. So what’s the truth?
There is no clear consensus on what women should or should not do with the hair down there, which is probably because it doesn’t matter. Any choice a woman makes regarding her appearance can be torn apart. We’re always wearing too much makeup or too little, and our clothes will always be either too revealing or too conservative.
So the best advice is probably not to take any advice at all. Like most aspects of women’s appearances, pubes shouldn’t be this big of a deal. Feel free to put in as much time and effort as you want into your nether-regions. But if you don’t want to do all of that, then don’t — it’s literally just pubic hair.