“You know, I’d probably go down on you more if you shaved down there.”
I remember a tingling feeling going up my spine. Not the good kind. The kind that happens when it feels like your stomach just plummets inside of you.
I was with my first boyfriend – we hadn’t had penetrative sex yet but were engaging in all sorts of other fun stuff. I was learning about his body, he was learning about mine, and we were both learning about our own. We were each other’s firsts in so many ways. And while he was my first love, he was also the first man I loved who cut me to the core, in such a hurtful way.
I don’t recall what I said in response, but I do remember locking myself in the bathroom and crying. I felt dirty, I felt disgusting, like I’d let him down somehow by not having the body that he found most attractive. In that moment, I hated myself. I don’t hate myself often – I love myself! It was a new and terrible feeling. If I could do something to avoid ever feeling like that again, I would.
That night, after he drove me home, I went into the bathroom armed with a razor and shaving cream. The next time we fooled around, he complimented me on how hairless and smooth I was. He was pleased and so was I, because he was.
Except for all of the razor burn, the itching as the hair grew back in, the stubborn ingrown hairs that did not, the time spent making sure that my labia majora was up to his standards and not my own, I was pleased.
Suffice to say, I wasn’t actually.
The relationship ended months later, and I went back to letting my pubic hair grow in as I pleased. Mostly because that was actually how I preferred it, but also because I was depressed and couldn’t eat, let alone have the foresight to shave. Also, I didn’t have a boyfriend anymore. Why should I care?
It wasn’t as if it was the equivalent of a forest down there – I trim my hair fairly close to the skin, and shave my bikini line. As with most things in my life, I do what makes me feel most comfortable. I’d always been confident in my body and how it looks, but it wasn’t until a man I loved told me that it wasn’t what he liked that I felt different, and felt that I had to change.
Months later, I entered another relationship. I didn’t shave. That particular boyfriend never went down on me. It went both ways – if he wasn’t going to maw down on my lady parts then I wasn’t going to on his dude parts. I don’t know if it was specifically related to the fact that I wasn’t hairless like a Barbie doll, but I suspect that it was due to a conversation I overheard him having with his cousin, where he agreed that a “landing strip” was the best. We broke up in under a year for unrelated reasons.
When I started dating casually instead of launching myself into relationships, I started “tending to the garden” again. Just in case I met and hooked up with a guy … I didn’t want him to look down between my legs and go, “…Oh.” I was constantly uncomfortable, but I wanted to be prepared just in case. Subjecting my body to grooming that I didn’t like because a boy might prefer it was something I was willing to do, because it had been ingrained somewhere in my mind that having pubic hair meant that I was dirty, even though I knew – I knew – that wasn’t the case.
Once upon a time, when I had a flaky as hell FWB who frequently lost his phone, forgot we had plans, and had the absolute worst excuses ever, he commented on my hair – there hadn’t been any the last time we’d seen one another.
“Did you forget I was coming over?” he asked me.
“No,” I replied. “Why do you ask?”
He tried to play it off, but I knew it was because – shockingly – there was unshaved pubic hair. I’d gotten really tired of running to the bathroom to shave every time we had plans because nine times out of ten, it was all for nothing. I honestly hadn’t expected to see him that night, confident he’d “forget” as usual, or that one of his friends would need his help, as they often seemed to. So, when he showed up at my door I was legitimately surprised. There was no time to run to the washroom to tend to my nethers.
I realized that I actually liked my pubic hair. Not that it’s a favourite feature of mine or anything, but I much prefer to maintain it to my standards than anyone else’s. My current partner, bless him, loves every inch of me, loves me just the way I am – as any partner should. And even if he didn’t, I wouldn’t care. My body is my own, no one else’s. I’m the one that has to live in this flesh and hair suit, I’m the one that’s going to decide how I want it to look.
As empowered as I am by my choice to maintain my pubic hair as I want to, I’m not going to lie – I’m also glad to be done with lying spread eagle on the bathroom floor, attempting to contort my lower half so that I can get a close shave. You only need to accidentally nick your labia once to end up throwing your razor in the trash.