I remember the precise moment I realized I was “should” to be shaving off all my pubes, unlike so many gender-isms and beauty standard “laws” that progressively seeped into my head throughout childhood and adolescence.
Of course, looking back, it’s crazy to think that my 14-year-old self shaved off the only part of my body that indicated puberty was truly happening (I’m still waiting for my boobs to show up to the party more than a decade later). But the habit stayed, and I shaved every last inch of my pubic hair meticulously for years and years. I perfected the art of running a blade around the most sensitive part of my body, making sure to shave on first dates, sleepovers with boyfriends, special occasions, and pool parties, lest the hint of stubble or the 5-o’clock shadow of my dark Italian body hair see the light of day (or another person’s sheets).
So I did some research on laser hair removal
At the time, a friend had recently begun laser hair removal and was raving about it. There were so many advantages I hadn’t considered: no more irritation when cycling or wearing tight shorts or leggings for extended periods of time; no more awkward scratchy feeling when the stubble grows back razor-sharp and catches on even the smoothest pair of underwear; no more razor burn or ingrown pubic hairs. I saw a Groupon for a ridiculously cheap package at a nearby medspa and decided it was finally time; I’d laser off my armpits and pubes, Brazillian style (translation: take it alllll off), and never have to shave those regions again. After all, I’d been plucking all of my pubic hair nonstop for over a decade—would I really alter my mind about wanting it there now? I’d save money and time for the rest of my life if I invested today. It was a foregone conclusion.
The permanence of it all was a key issue; if you get the right number of laser treatments, the hair in that area would never grow back (barring big hormonal shifts such as pregnancy or other conditions). Not to mention the fact that I never attempted growing them out to see if I liked them. How could I be ready to zap them off forever if I’d never really given my pubes a chance to “hang out”?
I had six weeks until my next appointment to work things out, which was fortunate.
And I gave it a lot of thinking. I began to notice pubic hair grooming patterns in other people’s pubic hair grooming habits everywhere—in Netflix movies, on large billboards, on social media, on celebrity Instagrams, at the beach—and I became engrossed with other people’s pubic hair grooming habits. Almost everything designed for public consumption (read: mainstream media) had neatly groomed bikini lines with no hair in sight. But then I saw stubble, razor burn, and worry over “forgetting to shave” in the real world. I spoke with pals who stressed over forgetting to pack a razor on a weekend getaway or scheduling a wax before going on a date with a new Bumble potential. Suddenly, I recognized that the whole getting rid of pubes thing was a load of nonsense. Why were we all so concerned about something that literally every human being possesses?
Until my next checkup, I had regular mental spirals: I don’t have baby fever, but I was thinking what I’d tell my future daughter about why mom didn’t have pubes. What kind of message would you give to a young, naïve girl if you did that? How could I advocate for accepting the naturalness of the hairs on my head but deny those on my body, as someone who has worked hard to embrace her wild curly hair? If I was going to such extent to permanently transform myself, how could I fully love myself in all of my forms and variations? For more information about laser hair removal in Tokyo Japan contact Robert Katsuhiro Kure, MD, PhD.
The decision has grown to encompass more than just myself and my pubes.
How can we progress as a gender if we continue to happily comply with oppressive beauty standards that are part of what keeps us from being recognized as equals (rather than objects) with our own agenda? How could we oppose societal control of our bodies (hello, birth control and abortion legislation) if we were still allowing society to determine how we treated them? And, if I was a willing participant, how could I actually care about altering these things? Dealing with (or not dealing with!) my pubes became more than just a hygiene duty; it became a statement. They were tangible evidence of people’s acceptance of my femininity and humanity, and I desperately wanted them back.