No shame in the hairy game


Emma Kogel

Illustration by

A.J. Newth, Staff Writer

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say they had to shave for their sexual partner, I would be paying someone else to write this article. Shaving should not feel like a chore or a checklist item before getting intimate, it should be a personal decision.

There’s nothing taboo about pubic hair. We all have it and we all have different preferences about what to do with it. However, the choices we make with our bodies should never be influenced by others’ opinions.

A 2016 JAMA Dermatology study found that more than 80% of women in the U.S. groom their pubes regularly, with more than 60% opting to go completely hairless. Additionally, 50% of men regularly trim or shave their private areas.

A simple Google search of “what do I do with my pubes,” will prompt a response of countless suggestions between trimming, shaving, waxing or letting it grow. Everyone seems to have advice for what the perfect pubic area looks like when in reality there is no such thing.

There are plenty of different factors that play into the maintenance of hair in personal places. Some people choose to shave while others prefer a waxing method. Many individuals prefer hair removal before sexual activities, with 73% of men and 56% of women favoring trimmed hair or even no hair at all, according to a 2018 Healthline article.

The first time I encountered a conversation about body hair was in elementary school. A classmate had made a remark about one of my friends having too much arm hair, when in truth you could only see it because of her skin color. That same friend became one of many women I know who shave their arms because of the way others perceive them.

I can understand that many individuals choose to shave for aesthetic purposes. Having a hairless area can seem more comfortable or more attractive to sexual partners, specifically when participating in oral sex. Pubic hair also contains most of the odor molecules from private areas, so shaving may change a personal smell, per Medical News Today.

However, hair should be talked about in a more positive way because of how natural, healthy and helpful it is to our bodies. In a 2020 Allure article, professor of anthropology at Penn State Nina Jablonski said body hair helps keep us warm, protects our skin from things like abrasions and chemicals, as well as disperses odor in specific areas like underarms and pubic regions.

The hair on our bodies is more than just a societal topic of debate, health also plays a big role in the decision of shaving. An article from Healthline says removing pubic hair can make one more susceptible to common infections like urinary tract or yeast infections. Removal can also irritate the skin which is more sensitive in private areas, and lead to uncomfortable razor burn or ingrown hairs.

A big reason why humans choose to shave is because we live in a society where imperfections make us undesirable. We are influenced by the media to find attraction in clean, smooth skin, like that of cartoon characters or dolls. The economy monetizes this concept, and the body hair removal devices market is expected to be valued at 3.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2025, according to Grand View Research.

Not only are women and men being pressured into shaving to be considered “attractive” or “clean”, but industries are actually profiting off of the shame that stems around body hair. In a Psychology Today article, philosopher Heather Widdows said body shaming plays a big role in the insecurity that can come with having body hair. She said that stopping body shaming will not prevent people from worrying about body hair and that there will always be internal pressure to remove it.

With that being said, when making a choice to shave, wax or stay natural with pubic or other body hair, the decision should only involve the person whose body it is. Shaving will have no immediate effect on the general pleasure level of sexual activities, but for some individuals it may be the difference between enjoyment and discomfort on both sides.

At the end of the day, your body is your business. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable, safe and happy, no matter what others have to say.