I remember being somewhere around 9 or 10 the first time I shaved my legs. I didn't need to, the hair was blond and "peach-fuzz" but it was thicker and (in my opinion) more visible than my friends. I didn't ask my mom or someone to help me with how. It just seemed instinctual. Now years later, I'm still shaving my legs and often wish for thin peach fuzz again.
I think my first real exposure, however, to the conversation about hair "down below" was when I first read Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues in college, and the piece called "Hair"
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"You cannot love a vagina unless you love hair. My first and only husband hated hair. He said it was cluttered and dirty. He made me shave my vagina. It looked puffy and exposed and like a little girl. This excited him. When he made live to me, my vagina felt the way a beard must feel. It felt good to rub it, and painful. Like scratching a mosquito bite. It felt like it was on fire. There were screaming red bumps. I refused to shave again. Then my husband had an affair.
When we went to marital therapy, he said he screwed around because I wouldn't please him sexually. I wouldn't shave my vagina. The therapist had a thick German accent and gasped between sentences to show her empathy. She asked me why I didn't want to please my husband. I told her I thought it was weird. I felt little when my hair was gone down there, and couldn't help talking in a baby voice, and the skin got irritated and even calamine lotion wouldn't help it. She told me marriage was a compromise. I asked her if shaving my vagina would stop him from screwing around. I asked her if she'd had many cases like this before. She said that questions diluted the process. I needed to jump in. She was sure it was a good beginning.
"This time when we got home, he got to shave my vagina. It was like a therapy bonus prize. He clipped it a few times, and there was a little blood in the bathtub. He didn't even notice it, 'cause he was so happy shaving me. Then, later, when my husband was pressing against me, I could feel his spiky sharpness sticking into me, my naked puffy vagina. There was no protection. There was no fluff.
"I realized then that hair is there for a reason-it's the leaf around the flower, the lawn around the house. You have to love hair in order to love the vagina. You can't pick the parts you want. And besides, my husband never stopped screwing around."
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I've heard feminists and friends (sometimes one person in both roles) speak on both the pro-hair and pro-shaving side. Women who wax all together, shave a "landing strip", a "V" and those who don't trim at all. I personally don't think there's a "right" or "wrong" way to keep your hair.
Do I have preferences?
Earlier in my blog I praised the NYTimes for having an article (in the Fashion & Style section) about the choice women make on whether or not to shave (arms, pits, legs, vaginas, etc). Then later on they ran another article - this time focusing on men and hair.
We seem to be at a tug-of-war struggle between women encouraging others to let it grow (au naturel) and marketing ads pushing men it's time to take the razor plunge and remove it all.
Would you shave it all or let it all grow in for the one you love?
Do you have a preference for hair or no hair?
Do you see it as a political statement or a marketing ploy?
To shave or not to shave?