To Pube or Not to Pube? Personal Grooming in the Modern Age

A row of four, naked, barbies. Superimposed over their groins are four different flowers in yellow, red, pink and orange

This is a funny old subject. It’s probably the only one I haven’t discussed ad nauseum with my friends over a bottle (or two) of wine. I have no idea how my mates have decided to fashion their lady gardens and it’s far too late to ask them now.

I suspect that most women my age have gone for the ‘oh as long as it’s not spilling out of my swimming costume it’s fine’ school of hair control. But maybe I’m completely wrong? Maybe they are all bald as coots down there?

This is my favourite ‘Smack the Pony’ sketch and it reflects how I thought most women viewed the subject.

It turns out I am COMPLETELY behind the times. (No surprise there) According to Cosmo, not a magazine I read now as I am waaaaay out of their demographic, 50% of young women are entirely removing their pubic hair. So not just a trim round the edges, but ALL of it!

Completely hairless!

Some research put the figure even higher. Is anyone else completely gobsmacked by this?

Of course I’m all for live and let live and happy to support any woman in their right to mow their lawn any way they see fit, but are they doing it because that’s how men like it?

I’m sure you’ve heard the story about the great Victorian Art critic, John Ruskin (1819-1900), who divorced his wife (apparently) because he was so repulsed by her naked, hairy, body. The story goes that until his marriage Ruskin’s only experience of nude women was through paintings and drawings; of course at the time women’s pubic hair was not shown. So this kind of thing.

See? No nasty unsightly hair. Apparently, to make up for it, the Pre-Raphaelites would then go completely over the top with the hair on the head.

I decided to do a bit of research and found out some really interesting stuff about the Artistic representation of pubic hair in men and women going right back to Ancient Egyptian times.

This website looks at the depiction of pubic hair across the centuries and in Egyptian times it was clearly drawn with a simple triangle.

In the the medieval ages, according to the ‘Oxford Companion to the Body‘ it was advised women shave their pubic hair to avoid lice, replacing it with a merkin (pubic wig) but even merkins didn’t appear in paintings of the 14th and 15th century except in this rather saucy depiction of Eve in Hubert and Jan van Eyck’s 15th Century Flemish masterpiece known as the Ghent Alterpiece. However, the portrayals of Adam and Eve were considered so naturalistic and rude, that panel was usually hidden away. Was it the pubic hair which caused the problem?

(I wish rounded stomachs were considered as beautiful now as they were then)

A renaissance portrayal of Adam and Eve painted on a wooden panel which would have formed part of the Alter. Both characters are naked and painted very realistically, including body hair.

Moving to the 18th century, I read the most hilarious quote from a writer called Denis Diderot who was a French philosopher and Art Critic. Like me, he pondered why it was that sculptures and paintings tended to show pubic hair on men, but not on women. Look at how beautifully he puts it: ‘Why has sculpture, both ancient and modern, depilated women of the veil of modesty which nature and the age of puberty have thrown on the sexual parts, and left it there for men?’

He concluded that women’s pudenda (which, by the way comes from the Greek word ‘to be ashamed’ (!)) has an ‘infinitely agreeable line’ and the pubic hair acted as an ‘isolated tuft’ which is ‘connected to nothing and serves as a blemish for the woman.’

But, and this is the best bit… Men, he concluded, have a ‘natural clothing’ of hair which acts as a ‘shadow.’ Without it, ‘these natural parts of the man will look like a small intestine, an unpleasantly formed worm.’


Well we can’t have that, can we?

But this is now 2018. I am reliably informed by my Best-Mate-Guy ALL gay porn now feature male stars with meat and veg as hairless as the day they were born. They obviously have no qualms about revealing their ‘unpleasantly formed’ worms.

So in  the 18th and 19th centuries, lady gardens continued to be considered acceptable only if hairless. From what I have read it would seem that hairless nudes are considered ‘Art’ whereas nudes with hair are considered ‘pornographic.’

Poor Francisco Goya (18th/19th century Spanish Artist) in around 1797, painted what is thought to be the first European painting since the renaissance to show pubic hair in his ‘The Nude Maja’.

A nude woman reclines on white sheets and pillows with a bold look at the camera. Her legs are together but you can make out a tuft of body hair.

It’s not really what I would call a giant hedge, but it was enough to lose Goya his job as court painter.

By the time we get to 1866 we have a wonderfully in your face painting of a woman’s bits. Check out this beauty. (Warning, it’s pretty graphic!)

It is a close-up view of the genitals and abdomen of a naked woman, lying on a bed with legs spread. The framing of the nude body, with head, arms and lower legs outside of view, emphasizes the eroticism of the work.

L’Origine du monde by Gustave Courbet 1866

Anyone remember the illustrations from the 1970’s book ‘The Joy of Sex’?

The depiction of the female nude has changed hugely since the medieval ages, but how big an influence, I wonder, have these cultural depictions had upon the way women present themselves in the modern world? Is there any truth in the picture below about the link between personal grooming and men’s beards since the 1970’s?

Graphic which shows totally unfettered pubic hair in 1970 compared with a hairless man's face. The list image shows a hairless woman in 2015 with a hipster man's face with a huge beard

Fashions have obviously changed over the centuries and fads come and go, so why do I have such a problem with women choosing to whip every hair off below the head?  To begin with I am uncomfortable with the idea of wanting to look like a prepubescent girl, and do men really find this look attractive?

Secondly, I think a bigger issue is the worry that women do it because it’s what men want. (It doesn’t seem to bother men that we have to put up with all their body hair – although don’t get me wrong, I do like a bit of hair on a man)

If you look at historical documents representing cultures from medieval Europe to Islam, most of which are written by men, the ideal woman is always young, firm-breasted and ‘Hairless except the eye brows and the head.’

Have a look at this Wikipedia article describing the sensual pleasures on offer in the Muslim paradise. Men get 72 virgins who fulfill a very strict list of requirements including non-saggy boobs and an ‘appetising vagina’ along with no hair. (By the way  Muslim women going to paradise ‘will be provided with only one man, and they ‘will be satisfied with him’.)

This ideal woman who is young, hairless and not inclined to argue with their husbands, is found across a huge number of cultures. Today you spend an hour watching TV commercials and you will see things haven’t changed much. Young women with no body hair is all you see.


However, I am a complete hypocrite as I feel skanky if I don’t shave my armpits and legs. If I’m on the beach I would be mortified if any ‘tufts’ could be seen around the bikini line so that’s neatened up. But I’ve never seen the need to get rid of the lawn that is not on display? What do men think? Do they really prefer something that resembles the patch round the cricket stumps?

Then again, there’s the whole process of HOW you mow your lawn. If you wax you have to repeat it every three weeks. THREE WEEKS?

Best-Mate-Guy who is very open about his personal waxing schedule has told me two hideous stories about his encounters in the waxing salon. Once, the wax was applied by a trainee who lost her nerve and couldn’t bring herself to rip off the cloth. She had to call for assistance from a senior colleague who roared into the cubicle with a jolly ‘right! Let the dog see the rabbit!’ before tearing off the cloth which was well glued on by then.

On another occasion Best-Mate-Guy didn’t realise they had used over-heated wax until he discovered second degree burns on his undercarriage when he got back home.


In the interests of research, I decided to cross another item off my ‘Things to do before I’m 50’ list, by going for what the young people call a ‘Hollywood’. I drew the line at adding any kind of glittery symbol (vajazzle) as requested by Rob. I have some dignity.

As expected the whole thing was awful. I will draw a veil except to say the following: pants were offered which looked like three thin strips of brown kitchen roll; thankfully ‘all fours’ was not necessary as this particular salon used the ‘recovery position’ technique;  the whole experience was carried out in grim silence punctuated by the sound of ripping (beautician) and gasps of pain (me); I was expected to hold certain folds of skin to facilitate ease of access – I suspect this is not something young people need to do. It was a lot of embarrassment, expense, pain and horror to end up feeling like this.

A Black and white photo of a plucked chicken reclining on its side with its legs crossed seductively

A week later the only thing I have really noticed is it is now more difficult to lather with soap in the shower. I have to add, following a hilarious Facetime with my dear, old American friend, we both have noticed the effects of a certain lack of… well, ‘wicking’ is the word she used and I know exactly what she means.

Final thoughts… I have a real problem with boys thinking my daughter is weird, odd or freaky if she has hair on her body. She is only 9 at the moment but it makes me cry to think of her wanting to wax off every sign she is growing into a woman.

Read the story of the Team GB woman cyclists. They suffered constantly from saddle sores and the like until their coach ordered them to go ‘au natural’ down below. Problem solved.

And here is a little video detailing some reasons to leave your lady garden to blossom.

Reasons not to get rid of pubic hair

What do you all think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this prickly problem. Is it for cleanliness? Aesthetics? Because your partner likes it that way? Do you wear a lot of very high cut clothes? Let’s have a chat in the comments!

Update: Since posting this, my dearest, oldest friend who lives in the US tells me she has completely mowed her lawn – permanently. I have known her since I was 11 and we are exactly the same age. It sounds like it has revolutionised her life. She is making me feel like I should try it for a bit longer. It looks like old dogs can learn new tricks after all! Not that we are at all old dog like – we are both gorgeous.

She said it helps if you have a really good beautician you can trust and feel at ease with. So true – particularly bearing in mind the positions you have to adopt. Gulp. It prob helps that she is much slimmer than me and looks 10 years younger, so she doesn’t have to do the holding up bits of flesh thing.


24 thoughts on “To Pube or Not to Pube? Personal Grooming in the Modern Age

      1. raynotbradbury

        Don’t know. I’m doing it almost 5 years…and don’t think I could handle the hair there now. Especially needed – when traveling, in warm countries or having periods/
        Takes only 25 min. Easy 🙂 no pain. At least I feel nothing…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Juliet

    Possibly shouldn’t have sat reading this in Starbucks Gatwick, hilarious. Quite frankly in winter Scotland is cold – we need all the layers we can get, and like an extra puffer jacket for the nether bits, the trapped air layers are probably useful for temperature or er, something. Quite frankly I am a danger to myself with sharp implements so apart from the armpits I leave well alone – at least in this weather. Come summer, general lowlevel garden maintenance happens but we grow it for a reason

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ceri

    But you didn’t say…? Did Rob appreciate your efforts? Worth the pain? Will you do it again?
    I wonder how long it would take my husband to notice …!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. middleagedwarrior

      Ha!!! Good points!! Rob said he wasn’t bothered either way – he just wanted to see what I would look like with a vajazzle 😂 not gonna happen – although who knows? 😉 I think I might do it again, actually. Interested to see if it’s easier to do when the grass hasn’t grown so long – if you know what I mean… part of the agony was caused by the fact she practically had to use a machete to handle the undergrowth. Not sure it was worth the pain – it hurt a LOT but I don’t think it was helped by the grim silence. I would have been so much more relaxed with a chatty and friendly beautician.


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