Why I Decided to End the Battle Against the Bush
Like most vagina-owners in the world, I was taught that pubic hair is a gift – but mostly a curse.
The appearance of pubic hair marked my entrance into womanhood, but it also started the nightmarish weekly task of grooming my nether regions. Grooming tips became prime note-passing content in middle school, alongside the strange obsession to hide your panty line under your outfits.
I had a resting Confused Math Lady Meme face of perpetual confusion for all of middle school.
You mean to tell me… I have to coordinate the days I shave with the days I “need” to wear a thong under a tight skirt so that… you, a random Middle School Mean Girl, won’t be able to see my panty line? What if I didn’t have any clean thongs and only had granny panties that day? What if I wanted to wear a skirt while it was hot out, but also had my period!? There are so many variables! What did my panty line ever do to you?!
I didn’t grow up in a household that spoke openly about pubescent bodies, so I was left to figure out the whole pubic hair grooming game on my own. I’d sneak purchases of Nair, travel-size shaving cream and cheap razors onto my own shopping cart during trips to Walgreens.
I’ve subjected my very own precious pubic area to irritation from scented creams, deep cuts from an errant blade, and gnarly scars from prying ingrown hairs from under my tender skin. Mons Pubis and I have been through hell and back, but she’s never given up on me.
When I entered the dating world, my relationship to pubic hair changed radically. I waxed. I sugared. I shaved. I trimmed. I saved $200 in an envelope labeled “future pubic hair laser removal,” only to spend that on a few waxes months later when I was too lazy to shave. I did it all.
It got to a point where I felt uncomfortable being naked unless I had absolutely no hair down there. The methods of zapping hair out of select parts of my body became more intense, but the audience was bigger. That audience became a higher priority than my own comfort.
The losers that I dated during my hetero phase made me feel like my pubic hair was something to be managed. I shaved my pubic hair for them. For their pleasure. So that they wouldn’t be grossed out by the idea of giving me head.
To them, the disappearance of my bush meant that I was a woman who knew how to tame herself. To them, pubic hair was a big red “DO NOT ENTER” sign telling them that I would be hard to control. All these demands and opinions for dudes who could barely keep their own junk groomed and tidy.
I was justifiably angry, but things were changing for the best. For the first time since middle school, I realized that my anger needed to be directed to the people who rejected me instead of the natural, inevitable growth of my own pubic hair. I realized that my relationship with my pubic hair was embroiled in anger and erasure.
With every uncomfortable shaving experience, I’ve been screaming an entire emo playlist to that space between my legs instead of treating her with care and kindness. I’ve spent the better part of fifteen years hating and erasing a body part that wanted to teach me important lessons.
In the last five million days (or so it seems) of quarantine, I had the privilege of spending extra time tending to my pubes. Instead of trying to get the closest shave, I allow the razor to hug the curves it can reach effortlessly, while leaving the sensitive parts well enough alone. I tell myself, “Maybe that part is just meant to be hairy, bro!” This time alone, socially distant from the opinions of others, has helped me accept every part of my body for exactly who they are.
I’m grateful for the unusual silence on these Los Angeles streets. After all these years, I can finally heed the lessons these little hairs have to tell me: I’m perfect just as I am.
I tell that VPL-policing Middle School Mean Girl voice in my head to kick rocks. I leave the room when the people in it normalize the ritual of pain and discomfort for “beauty.” I surround myself with people who love their pubic hair, too. I thank my bush for relentlessly teaching me new ways to love myself — for being a regular reminder that every part of my body contains lessons and gifts that make each day better.