An email recently landed in my inbox with the subject line “Pubic Hairstyle Trends in 2023.” Reader, I have never clicked on an email faster. Sadly, there were no pubic hair trends as promised; it was just a cleverly disguised pitch from a haircare company that specializes in products for maintaining healthy pubic hair. But it got me thinking, What is everyone doing with their pubes these days? So, with the help of the PureWow team, I put together a questionnaire (anonymous, of course) and asked 100 women to tell me about their hair down there. Turns out, I’m not the only one who’s curious—nor am I the only one with strong feelings on the subject.
We Asked 100 Women About Their Pubic Hair and It Turns Out They Have a Lot to Say
Fifty-three percent of the women who responded to PureWow’s questionnaire said they regularly remove at least some of their pubic hair, with another 11 percent saying they only do so for specific occasions. Of those who opt to remove their pubes, shaving with a razor was far and away the top choice, followed by having a professional waxer take on the task. (Chemical removers, like Nair or Veet, and at-home waxing kits were definitely the least popular options.) Seven percent said they went the route of permanent removal by way of laser hair treatments, and 26 percent said they regularly trim their pubes to keep things tidy. That leaves just three percent of women who said they leave their pubic hair entirely alone—no trimming, no tweezing, no shaving, no nothing. Though our testing group doesn’t come close to representing the entire female population of America, I will admit that I was somewhat surprised by how few women simply let their pubes be.
As someone who works in women’s media, I have seen a noticeable uptick in conversations about the unrealistic beauty standards put on women, including conversations about body hair. Celebrities are being called out for photoshopping their bikini lines to appear Barbie-doll smooth and there are more people talking about the influence of porn on both body image and setting expectations for sex. And despite the fact that I, too, fit right in with that 53 percent majority who regularly removes their pubic hair, I thought there would be more women readily taking a stand against the patriarchy and saying “pubes are natural and I’ve got enough going on without having to worry about my body hair.” Then again, it’s hard to overturn decades worth of influence in a single generation. Nearly 70 percent of those who responded to the poll credited women’s media, film and television, celebrities and porn as influencing their decisions about what to do with their pubic hair. And of the 64 percent who credited their partner as an influencing factor, I’d be willing to bet those partners would also list media as a major factor in how they formed their preferences. After all, seeing countless hairless women on the covers of magazines, in swimwear and lingerie ads, and in pretty much all mainstream pornography, doesn’t just make women feel ashamed about having pubes; it also sets a standard expectation for men. “I was shamed by my boyfriend in high school, and I’ve been scarred ever since,” wrote one woman. Others left similar notes about male partners making their preferences known or stories about past boyfriends or current husbands commenting about their hair down there in a way that made them feel self-conscious, whether the men intended to make them feel that way or not.
Interestingly, a notably higher percentage of those who identified as part of the LGBTQIA+ community seemed more relaxed about their pubic hair than those who listed their sexual orientation as straight. Also interesting were the conflicting results to two questions. When asked if their partner influenced their styling choices, 64 percent of women answered yes. But when asked whether they thought it was important to consider their partner’s opinions on their pubic hair, 61 percent answered no. In short, nearly the same percentage of women who said they considered their partner’s opinions on the matter also reported that their partner’s opinions weren’t important. How exactly can we reconcile these two conflicting pieces of data? I see it as a sign that women are becoming more comfortable with talking the talk (i.e., calling out unrealistic standards), even if they aren’t necessarily willing to walk the walk (i.e., rocking a ‘70s bush).
Of course, the ideal scenario isn’t putting an end to body hair removal, but instead putting an end to any societal pressures to do anything specific with your body hair at all. As one participant put it, “Whatever you want to do with [your pubes] is cute and gorgeous. Pubic hair owners should be making decisions based on what they want, as opposed to feeling pressured to keep it any type of way from an outside entity. Pubic hair is normal and rad and if you prefer to remove it, that’s also normal and rad.” And she wasn’t the only woman who expressed a similar sentiment.
“I wish women didn’t feel as much societal pressure to keep their pubes a certain way.”
“Do whatever makes you happy!”
“It’s your pubic area, you do you.”
When asked about which specific styling trends they’d like to see make a comeback (from ‘90s landing strips to hippie-era full bushes), most women said they either approved of all of them or none of them for the exact same reason—that all options are fine and that there shouldn’t be any “trends” at all. “There shouldn’t be a need to keep up with the Joneses (or the Kardashians) and tailor your body [hair] to what’s trendy right now,” wrote one woman. I whole-heartedly agree.
Humans have had a weird and complicated relationship with pubes throughout history. Artwork is a perfect reference point for this, because while naked bodies have been a staple in paintings, drawings and sculptures for centuries, pubic hair seems to disappear, reappear then disappear again with each new era. Medieval art rarely depicts men or women as having pubes, however some Greek art not only includes pubic hair but shows it being highly stylized. Then again, many of the most famous nude statues eliminate pubes entirely. It’s confusing and not necessarily a reflection of any haircare standards of the time.
Still, I do feel that we are on the precipice of changing public opinion about pubic hair. It's just in the early stages. While I don’t expect to see tons of underwear ads suddenly featuring models with visible hairs poking out anytime soon (though it would be cool), I’d like to think there will come a time when we simply let folks do whatever makes them feel most comfortable and confident—with their pubic hair and otherwise.
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