hair down there.

Reader J.B. asks:

How much hair should be “down there?” Or rather, how much is too much? I know that my nether regions aren’t supposed to look like a gnarled, sylvan mass, but do I really need to bust out the shaving cream?

Dear J.B.:

This is a very gnarled and sylvan question. It’s so personal and so filled with political and humanist weirdness that it’s going to be a real kick to answer.

There are a few factors that go into how much hair you “should” have down there. I’ll make a list, from most important to least:

How you feel about it

Honestly, your level of hairyness is totally up to you and how you feel about it. It’s probably wise to keep it trimmed, just like it’s a good idea to shower regularly and eat veggies. But you don’ t have to go crazy. Some people grow their hair out as a kind of statement of naturalness. I’ve known people who are totally averse to hair and shave their entire bodies regularly (legs one day, arms one day, chest one day, ahem another day). If you feel grossed out by your pubes, get rid of ’em (and maybe ask yourself why you do — if it’s a fear of growing up or a self-hatred of some kind, you may want to talk to a therapist about it). Otherwise, a simple trim every few weeks ought to be just fine. In fact, you may feel icked out by the idea of being hairless. The few times I’ve had a Brazilian, I tend to feel like my fly is down. Keep your comfort level on any end of the spectrum in mind and go from there.

How sensitive your skin is to shaving, waxing, etc.

is this necessary?

Do you need to bust this out for your bush? Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you get ingrown hairs easily or suffer from irritation, for the love of all that is holy, you don’t need to shave or wax. Really. Trimming can be enough. Sensitive skin should not be tortured just because you think someone’s going to judge the length or breadth of your pubic hair. Remember that hair is a natural occurrence. Some people have more or less than others. And some people can shave it off without incurring the wrath of ingrowth. But a lot of us can’t. And you won’t be alone. You will certainly feel much better admitting this to yourself than having to scratch your crotch relentlessly because your skin isn’t game for the irritation.

How much hair you actually have

If you’re a blond person from Scandinavia, you’re going to have less hair than an Armenian or a Greek. It’s just one of the laws of nature. So while blondie is probably only going to need to take hand to things once every three months or so, the Greek or Armenian is probably going to have to pay a bit more attention.

(My favorite story: A friend once went to get a bikini wax for the first time. The waxer laughed, did the job, and then charged my friend for an eyebrow wax.) Get the proper tools for the type of hair and skin you have, and for the level of hair you’re comfortable with on your body. Get an electric trimmer. Or get a pair of scissors. Or hire a team of experts. You decide.

How much you care what someone else could think

The very first monologue in the Vagina Monologues is dedicated to this very question. Should a woman shave her coochie snorcher if a man wants her to? Eve Ensler’s response is no: “It’s the leaf around the flower; the lawn around the house. You can’t just pick the parts you want.” The fact is, we do have hair there for a reason, and it’s the same reason we have eyelashes: moisture-rich, sensitive environments need protection. I have also had a gynecologist tell me not to get waxed or shave too much off my lady bits because ingrown hairs can cause a real problem. So if you care more about these issues than how someone else is going to perceive you, you’re probably going to let your hair grow out. But if you really, really care about what someone else could think should you bare all, you may go for the full hairless look. No one is going to stop you. And it’s not necessarily a health risk.

Who’s seeing you naked

If you’re involved in a totally nude revue, you’re probably going to want to go hairless, and we would all understand. But if you’re not making money from showing off your naughty bits in public, you get a little more leeway. Talk with your partner about their preferences. If they prefer hairlessness and you’ve got sensitive skin, you’re probably going to have to come up with a compromise. If they’re worth your time, they’ll put your comfort and needs before their sexual preferences. Hopefully. If no one is seeing you naked, and you don’t think they will, well then, you can even forgo trimming if you don’t feel like it. (But ew.) I’ve dated people who preferred bareness, and I’ve dated people who preferred hair. It’s almost as diverse a taste as is a person’s favorite ice cream flavor.

Current trends

I once had an email volley going with a guy I thought was attractive. I asked him, “Do you prefer a girl to have a full bush or landing strip or be bare?” He wrote back, “Bare down there or landing strip. Please, it’s 2008 already.”

There does seem to be a push towards the Brazilian these days, especially for girls. For guys, hair down there is a little bit more acceptable, perhaps because your clothing is less revealing. Still, the pressure exists to bare it all. If you care a lot about keeping up with the Joneses, you’re probably going to want to invest in some waxing services. But again, I urge you to consider your own feelings and skin type first.

There is no doctor-recommended amount of hair to keep on your naughty bits. (Well, unless you count my gyno’s recommendation that I keep some to spare my locus the ingrown hair issue.) It really is up to you, even if you have a partner. I’d say keep it trimmed to a quarter inch or less, and you ought to be fine.


4 Responses to “hair down there.”

  1. 1 Pete Henne
    April 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Big Fan of the Manscaping. Big f-ing fan.

  2. 3 Kerrie
    April 8, 2010 at 7:41 am

    And yet you didn’t touch on rogue areas of hair that must be removed at all costs… the “landing strip” of hair that some women have from pubes to navel. Your thoughts? 😀

    • April 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm

      alright, i can comment on that one…
      we don’t call that a “landing strip”, we call it “a happy trail”. 🙂
      once again, it’s up to the person who owns it to decide what they want to do with it. some girls find it sexy on a dude; i don’t know of any dudes who find it sexy on a chica, but hey, i run in small circles.

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