Grooming Standards

The First Essential Scary Truth


Today’s post comes from Rebecca, my dear friend Susan Crain Bakos’ regular Friday guest blogger.  (If haven’t gone to read Susan’s work, go.  I consider it a daily must read.


Personally, I find this to be a rather interesting take on the grooming standards in modern America.  Enjoy!


Public hair in all it glory!

My first experience with pubic hair occurred during an incident with my grandmother. She babysat the children of the neighborhood. . My sister and I helped out with the basic diaper changing, etc, etc. One of the baby girls had a long hair, discovered during a diaper change and cleaning of the area that my grandmother called “the who’s and the what’s”.

Odd, that pubic hair— but she was a baby. The pubic hair was a one-off; no big deal. There was no need to call in the doctors over a single hair growing in an odd spot. One should ignore such odd hairs. My grandmother eradicated it completely with the largest pair of garden shears available.

My grandmother prepared everything with a single knife, cutting meat, preparing school sandwiches, spreading butter—all with a large machete.  Seriously. I think she was just a utilitarian and thought, “Why have a set of knives when you can have one?” The theory also applied to scissors. She had one pair of garden shears that she used for everything.

My next pubic hair experience was one of those unforgettable events: A “What the fuck!!” moment.

There was pool near my house when I was growing up. My grandmother would never let us go… it was a germ thing. But on one very hot day, my mother volunteered to take us.. I was rather isolated as a child. I looked forward to socializing with other children. This was going to be fun.

My mother wore—and I remember so clearly—a white low-cut one-piece bathing suit with denim “booty” shorts. It was 1977 and my mom was very sexy in that au-natural way, no make-up with the Afro and the attitude. I noticed that people noticed my mother, but I shrugged it off. I was 7 years old.  I was serious about cartoons and even more serious about ice cream.

At the pool, I was in my swimsuit and my mother was taking off her shorts—and people were noticing. My black mother in a white suit—very sexy …except for what looked like a small nappy rug completely covering her entire pelvis. Her pubic hair! My mother acted as though she had not a care in the world.

Normally a situation like that would elicit a guffaw, followed by quiet that was supposed to convey ignorance of the embarrassing situation. However, we were at a pool surrounded by the neighborhood children. Everyone with the exception of the lifeguard was about crotch height—and pointing and snickering at my mother. I never managed to learn how to swim.

Even now I clearly remember standing and screaming: “What the fuck!!”

Despite my rather dubious relationship to pubic hair, it was my right of passage from adolescence to womanhood. I feel a little naked without. I don’t like it over-stylized. I prefer a contemporary take, the 1970’s Helmut Newton look. I also find that, for a woman on the fleshier side of the vulva, some pubic hair can be slimming.

Lately pubic hair has been missing from the female form completely. The idea is that a woman sans pubic hair, a.k.a. “The Brazilian”, is “clean” and “healthy.” This is nothing new. Sugaring, a method similar to waxing and threading, has been around for centuries. From the Hamams in Morocco to the salons in Spanish Harlem, there has always been a room where these things were done. In fact, Cavemen had a hair removal system.

I am examining the role of pubic hair in forming our current cultural identity in America. The question is this: “Why is the complete removal of all pubic hair the “standard?”. Are we influenced by porn or more traditional industries like beauty and fashion? Is it the of equating bare with being “clean” and “healthy”? Or does that translate also to being “young” and “virginal”?

There is still a fear of the Vagina, a “grown up” a womanly vagina with hair. The hairy vagina represents a woman, past her adolescence and quite possibly in her reproductive prime. The presence of hair could even be considered dirty to some.

This is nothing new either. In 1866 the artist Gustave Coubet. painted L’Origine du Monde—the origin of the world—and I encourage you to seek it out online. This painting of hairy female genitalia was created in a time when morals were being examined as they are now. I have seen the painting; and I am sure that it is still very shocking to some.

But folks, this is the 21st century! Has anything really changed? The fear of the sexual woman still exists. The sexual woman is either fetishized or demonized. As always I believe in choice and information, so I am not here to bitch about Brazilian Waxing. I do question these social mores that form the social standards in a society where we teach abstinence education, where we have pro-life agendas and creationist theories.

Decorate your pussy however you like but practice safe sex and support Planned Parenthood. Remember that we still have to fight for that right to be sexual.

What the fuck????

The cultural standard comes from patriarchal religious factions that are willfully ignorant. It was how our country was founded but now is the time for a “change.” It is an election year and you can make a choice or the choices can be made for you.

I am telling my lovers that pubic hair in their teeth is their right of passage. The other option: I will be pulling out the Haagen Daz and licking the spoon. As you know. I am still very serious about ice cream.

Trojan is doing this campaign called “Evolve”. I think it is very savvy and smart. Please go to to check it out and support.


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