It’s the return of the bush!
When the controversy-courting clothing chain American Apparel adorned mannequins in one of their New York stores with full sets of pubic hair earlier this year, eyebrows raised and jaws dropped. But amid the shock, a serious question was also asked: Is the gold or silver bodysuit more flattering? No, no, wait, that’s not it. The question was: Is the bush back?
In Praise Of Pubes
Cameron Diaz certainly hopes so. In her recently released health and lifestyle book, The Body Book, the 41-year-old star pens a section called “In Praise Of Pubes”, encouraging us lady folk to keep our pubic hair in its natural state. Lady Gaga’s also a fan of hair down there, showing off her trimmed bush on the cover of Candy mag late last year. And it’s not just celebs who are pro-pubes. A recent study from the UK found just over 50 per cent of women don’t groom their pubic hair at all, and only 28 out of the 101 women photographed for Australian art exhibition and coffee table book, 101 Vagina, were near or completely hairless. So, is this it? The death of the vajay-jay wax once and for all? Maybe. Or not – the choice is obviously yours. But while this recent au naturel trend may seem like a pretty trivial topic on the surface, it opens up a bigger conversation about gender stereotypes, society’s ideas on what it means to be feminine and, before you stop reading because it feels a lot like porn.
What’s Porn Got To Do With It?
Although there’s no real evidence that pornography is solely to blame for the rise of the Brazilian wax – the beauty and fashion industries also had a hand, as did one particular Sex And The City ep, where the gals all go bald… and, of course, women’s personal preferences – it’s a fairly accepted idea that it has quite a bit to do with it. Because women in pornographic films shave off their pubic hair off so that more detail can be seen during the (in) famous “money shot”, men (and women, but particularly men) think being pube-free is the norm. And what do we want to be more than Tom Hiddleston’s girlfriend? Normal, of course. Sex worker and exotic dancer Gia James knows exactly what it feels like to want to be considered normal. Indeed, the 20-year-old says she started waxing her pubic hair off when she was 14 after she heard a group of guy friends laugh about a girl who was “hairy and gross”.
“As an impressionable teenager, I became obsessed with not earning the same moniker,” she says. “It got to the point where I wouldn’t hook up with a guy at a party unless I had waxed.”
Six years later, not much has changed. “While I get the odd client wanting more body hair (specifically armpit and full bush), the bulk of the men I encounter seem weirded out by the idea of anything but a Brazilian.”
While those in the porn and sex industries might be encouraged or even obliged to be hair-free, the rest of us only need to please ourselves when it comes to pubes. And although images of fully bare vaginas are deemed acceptable, hairy ones aren’t – as hugely popular 21-year-old photographer Petra Collins found out the hard way.
Collins continued, “The deletion of my account felt like a physical act, like the public coming at me with