Pubic hair grooming trends: is the bush fully back for 2020?

By Maya Khamala

I don’t care what anybody says: maintaining a perfectly smooth and hairless bikini line is no easy feat, and yet, it’s been the expected norm for a long ass time now. Whether you simply shave your bikini line, laser, or undergo regular waxes that rid you of every last hair from mons pubis to tailbone, you likely know what I’m talking about. From warding off irritating razor bumps, to finding the right time to let your hair grow out for the next wax, going hairless definitely has its downside. 

The ruling of the bald vulva

Fact: for a good 20 years now, the bare vajayjay has ruled the pubic grooming scene. There have been Brazilians (waxed with a “landing strip”), Hollywoods (all hair waxed off), and even vajazzles (decorated with gems). There was even a time a few years back when you could hardly escape the news that complete hair removal had become so popular that pubic lice had become “endangered.” Yes, endangered. There’s no doubt that modern mainstream porn culture—which relishes in showing everything—has played some part in this seemingly absolute standard, but truly: standards come and standards go. 

Since way back in 2000 when Carrie on Sex And The City was painfully stripped of her pubic hair, taking it all off has seemingly been the only real way to go. Yet, interestingly, full pubic hair has been gaining popularity again since 2013 when Gwyneth Paltrow said she preferred the '70s vibe' of the natural look, and Emma Watson spoke openly about how she uses a product known as fur oil to keep her pubes nourished and soft. Plus, clothing brand American Apparel (controversial though they may be), have featured models and mannequins with visible pubic hair to depict “raw sexuality.” There has even been a reported rise in pubic hair transplants by women who once removed their pubes “permanently” via costly and painful laser treatments.

Are we that swayed by the opinions of celebrities? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing’s for sure: beauty standards are ever-evolving, and the choice is always yours.

Exacting standards: a pain in the poom poom

While there ain’t nothing wrong with sporting a smooth, shaven or waxed pussy if it makes you feel divine, the revival of pubic hair is great news for those sensitive ones among us who are easily susceptible to painful ingrown hairs or who find the sensations associated with waxing downright horrifying.

Strange and sad but true: the incredible rise in waxing and shaving one’s pubic hair has seen women resorting to deeply questionable extremes to keep their vulvas looking ‘well-groomed.’ A 2012 study found that between 2002 and 2010, emergency-room admissions due to pubic grooming injuries increased five-fold. And since this type of all-out pubic grooming has created an unprecedented focus on the more-visible-than-ever-before vulva and labia, there has also been a rise in cosmetic labiaplasty procedures and all the dangerous beauty standards that go along with notions of “unattractive” vs “attractive” labias. Sigh.

Numbers, please

A 2013 survey by UKMedix revealed that women's attitudes to their pubic hair are evolving. The survey showed that 51% of women "do not style or groom their pubic hair,” and 45% of respondents said this was because they could "no longer be bothered to keep up the grooming." Another 62% said their partners preferred them hairy. As with all stats, these numbers are likely even higher in reality.

DIY maintenance can be empowering

Indeed, many nowadays are opting for the neatly trimmed look over the in-your-face smooth and silky thing. The advantage? You’re still ‘well-groomed’ in a flattering way, but without the financial cost of waxing, and with much lower maintenance all around. Having a style you can maintain with scissors, tweezers, and/or a trimmer is practical, especially when you consider the fact that even so-called permanent laser hair removal treatments often fail to last.

Women, men, and people of any and all genders will never have the same opinion on the topic that is body hair and grooming—and that’s okay. Whether you swear by Brazilian waxes, prefer to keep it au naturel, or find yourself somewhere in between, like only waxing your bikini line or the sides of the vagina, what really matters, as always, is that you’re being true to yourself and your comfort level. 

Bottom line: do you, boo

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to get rid of your pubic hair. The problem arises when someone feels that they have to. Musician, artist, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer told Elle she thinks that pubic hair is a lot like feminism: "It has to be about absolute choice and all options being available, otherwise you're just locking yourself in a new cage."

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