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In a recent chat with a newly single girlfriend, we got into a heated debate over pubic hair. I was shocked and horrified to learn that she doesn’t fully wax down there.
“Trust me,” I lectured her. “Men expect women to be hairless.”
She wasn’t exactly biting, so to prove my point I took the debate to Facebook. I asked my 3,000 friends to weigh in, and the results were shocking. Out of the 100 public comments and another 20 private messages, 90% of the straight men polled were vehemently against the all-bald look on their women.
As a woman who has been going completely bare down there since Carrie Bradshaw first endorsed it—”I feel like I’m nothing but walking sex,” she oh-so-accurately declared in a 2000 episode of Sex and the City—I was disheartened by the reaction from the guys.
“I do think the Kojak look has past its prime,” says Mark, 44. “Au naturel is making a comeback and I, for one, am happy to have it.”
Mark’s comment was echoed over and over by my other Facebook friends. “Any guy who wants a woman to look like a prepubescent girl might need some help before he ends up turning to child porn,” says David, 55. “I want a woman to look like a woman.”
Hell-bent on finding a way to prove myself right, I turned to the under-30 crowd. Once again, I was proved wrong.
“Nice and short is good,” says Jason, 21.
“Well-manicured is best for me,” says James, 24.
“I have a daughter and don’t want the girl I’m dating to look anything like that,” says Nick, 28. “I can’t do bald. I need a woman to look like a woman and not prepubescent.”
The responses from the women were equally shocking. About 50% claimed they like their men neatly trimmed, and the other half prefer a healthy shag rug above their man’s junk.
“I like my men to look like men,” says Missy, 25. “I like the comfort of their hair, the feeling of it, and it makes the man more manly to me.”
“I haven’t seen much of manscaping,” adds Shelia, 25. “My man did it once, never again. Au naturel is something I like.”
Andrea, 38, says that pubic hair on men “is a must. It’s just like a sexy beard, but down there.”
Maybe these pro-hair men and women have a point. I mean, this new Lumbersexual look is all the rage, and that’s not just about growing a gnarly beard, wearing flannel, drinking whisky, and looking like you know how to wield an axe. It’s also about bringing back a sense of old-school manliness. Maybe it’s a 20-year-delayed reaction to the extreme grooming trademark of the Metrosexual, who came to fame in 1994.
Pubic hair, as with eyebrows or hairstyles, really does find itself in the ebbs and flows of trends. The ’70s was all about full bushes. The ’80s showed slight bikini waxing around the panty line area. And in the ’90s, a few interesting things happened culturally that influenced the completely waxed look.
“The reason women started shaving in the first place is because of porn,” notes nude photographer Ellen Stagg, who has seen her fair share of naked women. “Porn shaved off pubes so you can see more for close-up shots. However, porn is now bringing pubes back. [Porn stars] Sasha Grey, Stoya, Lily Labeau, and Jelena Jensen grew out their pubes because they liked it and their fans did too.”
At the face to face nyc day spa—which has a waxing menu with 27 options for men and 23 for women—owner Enrique Ramirez says not much has changed for his business: straight and gay women still get the Full Monty (i.e. no hair), gay men are more apt to wax their balls, and straight men are choosing the “short but natural” look.
Just like bodacious bodies were worshiped in the Romanesque period and skinny, flat-chested models were all the rage in the ’70s, what’s considered universally attractive is always changing, and sometimes we don’t even know why. Adam, a gay 22-year-old, says, “It’s becoming more common nowadays for me to be really attracted to the au naturel look. Not like the Don-King-between-your-legs kind of look, but a nice bush. I even love a moderately hairy ass. Just trim the hole hair!”
OkCupid dater Mark, 40, also admits that his tastes are changing for no concrete reason. “As I age, I find I prefer a more natural woman—a nice V-shape that’s trimmed up. I don’t manscape anymore. I sort of dig just being au naturel.” Of the women he’s slept with in the past years, he reports that 75% were fully waxed while 25% left a little something.
It might be too soon to declare definitively that pubic hair is making a comeback. But that certainly seems to be where the cultural tide is turning. Personally, I’m sticking to my bald ways. But the rest of you might want to add some floss to your nightstand drawer.