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Blogger debate: teens removing pubic hair - time to panic or par for the course?

(26 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 07-Aug-12 17:10:17

In the latest in our series of blogger debates, and prompted by a thread about teens removing pubic hair, we asked Mumsnet bloggers Sarah Ditum and Glosswatch to duke it out - should parents panic when their teens whip it all off?

So do mosey over to see where each stands - and don't forget to tell us what you think here on the thread. And if you're moved to blog, let us know the URL here too!

gladimme Sun 05-Jan-14 04:19:41

"underarm hair is gross"

I am 38 and have never waxed or shaved anything more than a few times. I love my natural smell. When someone says "underarm hair is gross" it just hurts my feelings. For reals. Do we have to go there in this forum? Can we just not yuck someone elses yum? And on that note, when I have shaved my yoni, the thing I missed most was the smell. I love the smell of pheromones in my hair. That is sexy to me. I am happy to hear why you love something about your body, but if you say another's cultural practice is gross, then you are just a bully like the other teens at school. And bullying about hair is really the problem we should be addressing.

gladimme Sun 05-Jan-14 04:13:06

Removing pubic hair is not a form of hygiene. This "myth" makes people believe it is cleaner or healthier. I am tired of anti-hair myths, they are so abundant and derisive. And this is the very problem that puts teens in this situation. And it is true that while a girl or boy shouldn't be the object of ridicule and thus should have some styling options, the real problem needs to be addressed, which is pubic hair bullying.

Stating that it is more hygienic is a form of oppression. Be conscious of what you say.

With regard to health, recent research suggests that removing pubic hair completely can result in greater likelihood of transfer of STIs, as well as a simply less bacteriologically healthy environment. Given the recent research of the human genome project on the vaginal microbiome (the vulvic microbiome is still understudy), I think we should all be aware of the important roles that healthy bacteria provide in the immune response. For example, a woman with a healthy vaginal ecosystem is half as likely to get HIV from someone who has it, and less likely to pass it on too. With regard to the armpit, there are bacteria there that have important roles reducing inflammation and communicating with our cells to fight bad bacteria.

TheLondonMum Mon 11-Nov-13 18:00:34

What a strange way of looking at it ie. sexualisation.

I remember getting rid of my pubic hair when I was younger because I wanted to remain young and the sudden growth of hair made me feel like I was leaving my childhood behind.

It was never a sexual thing.

gladimme Mon 11-Nov-13 04:52:59

My mom and sister and I are some of the most confident women I know when it comes to feeling beautiful. We KNOW we are beautiful (yet I am 5'1", largish ass, with small tits). But we feel that we are goddesses and just love ourselves, ant that shines threw to our lovers. I am 37 and have shaved my legs and arms and bush before, but I like myself better with my hair. I find body hair beautiful. I think that if you are a parent that focuses on your natural beauty, and let's your kid know you are pleased with yourself, you will raise happy kids, weather they shave or not. Talk about it and be open, make sure they know that they should never feel they have to conform, explain feminism, but let them choose.

There is nothing sexual or pornographic about hair removal. It's completely normal.
I started getting waxed at 13 because swimming was part of our school lessons and as a particularly hairy teen, my fuzz grew a little way down my thigh!
The day somebody pointed out that they could see it, was the day I booked my first wax. I think if you can see somebodys pubes... Then you're making it a sexual issue... That shouldn't be on display!
I hadn't even had my first kiss. There was nothing sexual about my waxing. I could talk openly to my mum about it, but if I couldn't... I'd have still done it.

It's about what's comfortable. By time I was 17 I was having Hollywoods. I was aware that having pubes created more odour - which I didn't want. I also found having pubes incredibly uncomfortable. Boys never factored in to my decision. Neither did peer pressure. It was what made me comfortable and confident.

I hope my girls will feel comfortable talking to me about it.

drater Mon 20-Aug-12 14:09:09

I think the argument it makes people look like children and is paedo-like ridiculous. Are people who expect their husbands to shave doing it because they are paedos? What a stupid argument.

AnitaBlake Tue 14-Aug-12 17:20:19

Hairy legs have never bothered me and I only shave them on special occasions, it really doesn't bother me, but underarm hair is gross, and that's because imo it harbours odour. I noticed the smell started when the hairs first appeared and now I'm fastidious about shaving them.

Similarly with my pubic hair, when my periods started, suffice to say, I always keep my lady garden at least trimmed, preferably waxed. I dint remember my mum ever making a big thing or even trimming her areas tbh, she isn't really that hairy, these are choices I've made on my own.

I won't encourage DD to follow suit, doubt I could anyway, we're a take-or-leave it family and she'll make her own choices.

Bonsoir Fri 10-Aug-12 08:36:47

Honestly, the conversation about pubic hair is getting boring.

When I was a teenager I lived in a continental European country and there were multiple European nationalities at school. I got to see French, Italian, Dutch, Belgian, Irish, Danish, German etc girls in the nude every week after gym class and we all knew which nationalities practiced hair removal as a matter of course and which didn't. Removing hair is a cultural practice that has taken place across time and geography. Right now pubic hair au naturel is not considered attractive among the young. Why would you force your teenaged daughter to do something her peer group finds unattractive? Pubic hair removal has zero long-term consequences. Just go for it.

she will think that she is expected to do the same

Sadly she is expected to do the same. This is the problem - as you say, we don't see the full range of hairless - hairy women because almost without exception, we remove our body hair... because we are expected to and because, like it or not, it isn't 'acceptable' to go around with hairy legs and pits - we may be able to 'get away with it' in informal situations, or just wandering about town, (and I applaud you for doing so) - but what about work? What about if you were on a date? Would you honestly feel able to go hairy in these situations? FWIW, I did used to go around hairy a lot more when I was younger - it's possible to do so and be taken as 'alternative' or bucking the trend or whatever. Now I've hit my 40's it doesn't feel so easy because the perception is just that I've 'let myself go'.

I do not see how I can bring her up aware of the patriarchal and sexualising nature of our society and then at 13 hand her a razor and say, 'its not you, its society but you'd better sort yourself out cause otherwise you'll be bullied'. That seems ludicrous.

It's not a question of telling her she'd 'better sort herself out' - what would you do if you noticed your DD wearing thick tights in the middle of summer, obviously uncomfortable, and you asked her why and she told you it's because her legs are hairy and she's already being teased?

revellish Thu 09-Aug-12 23:40:41

I have a DD who is 3 and it has really made me think about how I look/ how much time I spend on doing my make-up/ hair/ nails/ waxing etc etc. In the past few months I have been feeling increasingly convinced that if as she grows up she sees me doing all these things to make myself 'acceptable' in society's eyes, then she will think that she is expected to do the same. I think that it is a real shame that we don't see a full range of hairless - hairy women. We see a range with men - some wax themselves to an inch of their lives and some grow a carpet front and back. We very rarely see a women with hairy armpits or legs wearing a summery skirt or swimming costume with obvious public hair 'escaping'. I am a feminist and I am trying very hard to bring my daughter up in a society that is patriarchal. I am trying out a bit of public hairy leg and armpit action, to see how it makes me feel, to see what reaction I get from other people... and for my daughter to see that its OK to show a bit of fuzz sometimes. If I haven't shaved then that should not a reason not to wear a skirt on a hot day like today in London! I do not see how I can bring her up aware of the patriarchal and sexualising nature of our society and then at 13 hand her a razor and say, 'its not you, its society but you'd better sort yourself out cause otherwise you'll be bullied'. That seems ludicrous.

lj123 Thu 09-Aug-12 09:27:04

I don't think there is a huge amount to panic about, I removed mine from age 13 it use to drive me nuts!
Maybe if anything now the worst is done she will get the regrets of regrowth.
Best option is a hair removal cream/waxing and I'm sure waxing will be an option she will want to miss.
I might add unlike some I wasn't sexually active at 13, just hated pubes!

BlindFishIdeas Thu 09-Aug-12 09:19:14

messyisthenewtidy Well done for targeting your DD's expectations, i teach a lesson on body image/role of the media. Many guys I have worked with don't realise that females with hair is normal. They cant remember being told this, it is something they just assume. This assumption must have a root.

On the issue of bathing costumes, two things. 1) as has already been said tidying up around the edges is very different then a full hollywood wax. 2) their are a wide selection of bathing costume choices. Shorts style costumes exist which would remove the need for any wax.

messyisthenewtidy Thu 09-Aug-12 00:51:25

"I just dont think hair under your arms looks hygienic"

But it is hygienic, that's the point. It exists for a reason. And the reason that you think it isn't hygienic is down to the fact that hairlessness has become the norm, so women in their natural state look odd to us.

I'm not saying that I wouldn't let my DD shave her legs in order to ward off bullying but I don't think it's right that she should have to.

Actually that's hypothetical cos I don't have a DD but I'm doing my bit with DS so that he doesn't grow up expecting his girlfriend to perform to artificial standards of beauty. I hope she bloody well thanks me smile

I don't think it's helpful to talk about panic or 'freaking out' (Sarah Ditum).

DD is 20 and I've never 'panicked' or attempted to stop her removing any hair but I've had an opinion on it! I think it's important for our DDs to know that their bodies are normal and beautiful as they are, whatever they may feel they have to do to fit in. I had this discussion with her when, at the age of 11, I noticed she was wandering around in thick tights in the middle of summer. I bought her a ladyshave for her legs but I also made sure she knew it wasn't her body that was wrong, it was society's expectations of what women should look like.

I certainly never told her it was hygienic to remove either underarm or pubic hair because it isn't.

I wouldn't be able to give her any practical tips in any case because the one time I tried removing pubic hair it was a disaster and the sight of myself like that upset me so much I burst into tears and couldn't bring myself to have sex again until it grew back sad

LindsayWagner Wed 08-Aug-12 16:31:35

It's all about objectification - but shaving off all or most of your pubic hair feels particularly sexualised. Actually, it's a weird combo of infantilized and sexualized, which I find really sinister. Even if you remove the paedo associations, it's still, as Glosswatch says, hypersanitizing female sexuality while simultaneously objectifying.

katielou2012 Wed 08-Aug-12 14:53:58

Ok thats a fair point, I agree with not taking the whole lot off.
I just dont think hair under your arms looks hygienic, do you not think teenage girls have the same rights as you to be able to feel good in their own bodies? Would you walk around with a big bush under your arms?
I had a friend at school and her mum didnt let her shave her legs or arms and she was bullied most days, and when she wore tights all the hairs poked though and you could really see them, so why put your daughters through that about something so trivial?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 08-Aug-12 14:43:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CrispyCod Wed 08-Aug-12 14:38:46

How would you feel if your teenage daughter came home from a swimming lesson in tears because she had been bullied because she had pubic hair coming out the sides of her costume?

Well fine, there's nothing wrong with 'tidying up' down there but to take the majority off shouldn't be the norm.

katielou2012 Wed 08-Aug-12 14:23:40

How would you feel if your teenage daughter came home from a swimming lesson in tears because she had been bullied because she had pubic hair coming out the sides of her costume? I know for a fact I would be devastated, its not sexualising them in anyway to me waxing is just another form of personal hygiene the same as shaving your legs and armpits. my daughter is 21 months old and if by the time she gets to 13-14 and wants to go for a bikini wax I will be the one to take her I would rather that than have her shaving her bits and getting ingrowing hairs and going through the pain of that(I suffered with these and have a very bad scar to prove it!). Theres nothing to say she's having sex just because she wants to look after self, I have no objection to it. I had my first wax when I was 13 and never looked back.

messyisthenewtidy Wed 08-Aug-12 14:08:51

I agree with glosswatch. It's ridiculous that society wants women to look like 10 year olds. Creepy and odd.

Women have hair. Deal with it.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 08-Aug-12 11:58:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LindsayWagner Wed 08-Aug-12 11:28:17

"Young women are meant to be so thin they cannot menstruate; their breasts are artificial; their pubic hair should not exist. This does not teach them to be sexually assertive, active participants in intimate relationships; it positions them as objects, hyper-sanitised so that the boys around them don’t ever have to get their fingers dirty with real women."

SPOT ON, Glosswatch.

LindsayWagner Wed 08-Aug-12 11:15:32

Agree. Thirty years ago this was a freaky 'niche' look - we've seen a complete cultural reversal in the space of three decades. It's no accident that it's coincided with the mainstreaming of porn. It may be true to say that it's now 'just what girls do', but it originated in the need for porn producers to maximise their assets by providing porn users with an almost gynaelogical view of the vagina.

Boys who watch porn then think this is the norm, and pressure their girlfriends - who then police other girls. It's yer basic patriarchy, innit?

Personally, I think it's really, really, really odd that society wants grown women to resemble pre-pubertal children.

poppyseeds99 Wed 08-Aug-12 11:11:00

I think parents have duty to warn their girls that whipping it off may be relatively painless, but the regrowth is awwwwwwful! And as a parent, I'd be more concerned that my daughter wanting to remove her pubic hair was a sign of the onset of low body confidence or an image problem - which could lead to eating disorders - than the actual hairlessness/ clogged drains issues.

BlindFishIdeas Tue 07-Aug-12 21:37:26

Panic is not the right word. But I think it can be a concern not necessarily for individuals but as a society the trend concerns me. When to be sexually desirable is to return to a child like state, I think something is not quite right. The hairless trend is not limited to females or genitals. I can not remember the last time I saw a male model with a hairy chest. Being part of a wider "anti hair" trend may be a reassurance but I don't believe it is the most positive of trends.

A connected but wider issue is the potential for some girls feeling pressure to look like a sexual object at a young age. Porn is clearly impacting what is popular. Porn is not a good information source for sexual health but the hairless trend is not the most damaging myth young people can pick up from porn.

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