Sexual Health Columnist
Now that the hot summer months have arrived, it’s time to talk about body hair removal. Hair removal can be a high-maintenance and sometimes extremely painful process. Shaving runs the risk of ingrown hairs and waxing can make you bleed. Some studies have even suggested that bacteria and viruses can enter the body through broken skin resulting from hair removal processes, increasing one’s risk of viral STDs.
Yet many people — particularly female-bodied individuals — feel pressured into removing their hair, because society seems to have a real issue with female body hair, especially pubic hair. For example, Petra Collins, a young photographer, had her Instagram account deleted after she posted a photo of herself in a bathing suit in which a small amount of pubic hair was visible. This photo was reported for being “disgusting” and “offensive.”
Many people constantly experience this kind of body shaming. I’ve been shaving for a decade. When I was ten, someone told me my arms were hairy and gross like a boy’s and that I should shave off my arm hair. I was hurt and confused by this — boys don’t have to shave their arms, yet I do? When I was at a pool party in ninth grade, a boy pointed out another girl at the party whose pubic hair was showing and started telling people how disgusting “pubes” on girls were so gross. I promptly shaved mine off as soon as I got home, feeling a newfound sense of shame about my body hair. It’s something I’ve struggled with every since. I’ve shaved, I’ve tried Nair (it smelled horrible and didn’t even work), and now I’ll occasionally get waxed if I feel like it. I’ll leave it be for a few months and then decide to get it waxed; I enjoy variety. I try not to let others influence my decision to remove my hair, but sometimes I do feel pressured when I see that all my friends have shaved.
Body grooming is a personal issue, and even more of a private or sensitive matter when it comes to your pubic hair. It’s completely fine to remove your body hair if that’s your personal choice and if you prefer it that way; however, it becomes problematic if body hair removal is not something you want to do but you feel shamed or pressured from societal norms into doing so. The point is that it’s your choice and nobody else’s. If a partner ever tries to get you to remove your hair or makes you feel bad for whichever personal choice you make, then they aren’t respecting your right to make decisions regarding your own body and aren’t worth it. If someone has a problem with your body, that is their issue and it does not mean there is anything wrong with you.
So as bathing suit season arrives and you decide to shave, wax, sugar, or leave it, do it for yourself. As long as you’re happy with your decision, that’s all that matters.