It was the way he ran his fingers through me, between the strands, sometimes clasping his fingers together, a slight tug that simultaneously subdued the chaos of curls and heightened the awareness of human contact. It was, quite possibly, the first time a man loved my natural state fully. Or perhaps, it was the first time I allowed myself to be revered in the raw, unpolished, and wild.
It's not that the men who came before held a distaste toward pubic hair, so much as none of us ever challenged the societal expectation of its exposure. But there's a freedom that comes with age, an "I don't give a fuck attitude" one develops upon the realization that the only expectations that matter are that of one's own.
Of course, the discourse surrounding female pubic hair and its removal is nothing short of new, so why did the Atlantic recently inquire, "Has pubic hair in America gone extinct?" The article went viral, with publications such as New York magazine and the Daily Beast opining on said question. Huffington Post mocked the article, stating, "this reads like a trend piece that the Atlantic had lurking around in the coffers since 2004."
While, at face value, the topic comes off as passé, it seems to me the point of the piece is that the absence of hair down there isn't a past trend, but one that continues to permeate our culture. In the original article the author cites the findings of an Indiana University study in which "60 percent of American women between 18 and 24 are sometimes or always completely bare down there, while almost half of women in the U.S. between 25 and 29 reported similar habits."
Perhaps it's the subculture I associate with, or my dating of men who don't wince at a well-landscaped lawn, but honestly ... I'd forgotten. I'd forgotten that the average woman still shells out $60 to have her hair ripped from her follicles, that there exists men who are turned off by the sight of strawberry fuzz, men that will actually refuse to kiss a woman unless she waxes her lips first.
That's not to say I think it's wrong to bare some skin. When I've spoken to male partners and friends about pubic hair, there are strings of words commonly said: "A bald pussy is just weird. Who wants a woman to look like a girl?" Except, of course, that said baldness is not attached to an actual girl — that shaving doesn't otherwise strip away her physical or mental maturity. If anything, what's beautiful about fuzz-free lips is that you can see her smile — that you can better see the swelling, a signal of arousal; that you can make skin-on-skin contact.
The adult film industry is often held to blame for the popularity of a woman having a grass-free meadow, but isn't such finger pointing all too easy? We are living in the 21st century, after all. There are more than 260 million porn pages on the Internet, according to net-filter firm N2H2, and those numbers are from 2003. We have progressed into a society that prides itself on individuality, and pornography is no different. If you are an Internet pornography consumer, much like myself, then you know that there exists a wide plethora of niche genres.
For as many fully waxed, blond-dyed, fake-tittied, orange-skinned porn actresses as there are in the popular adult film industry, the Internet is also littered with amateur women with natural breasts and a bush to boot. Even within the mainstream porn market things have changed in recent years: the 1990s had adult icon Jenna Jameson, with her Barbie-doll packaging, while the 2000s have blessed us with star Sasha Grey, with her petite B-cup breasts and her proud bush.
Yet despite Grey's popularity, the now-retired porn star received backlash in 2010 after she appeared on the HBO drama "Entourage," where she showed off her nether abundance. Dubbed the "Pube-pocalypse," some people were outraged, taking to Twitter with complaints such as "did anyone else think that was disgusting. IT'S 2010!" The actress later responded to the haters, saying "If you're curious...that's what a grown woman looks like. Besides, I shave where it counts. I'm happy to contribute to making it ok again:) All 'fashions' have their cycles!"
If Sasha Grey and the Atlantic have taught us anything, it's that the conversation surrounding pubic hair is in fact a cyclical trend that will never go out of style, will always remain controversial, and will always have its fair share of lovers and haters. As for myself, I'd like to thank the man who first allowed me to roam free and wild, ruffling my thoughts and my tresses, who had no problem kissing me on the lips and saying, "That is so fucking hot."
Men and women: Do you shave, trim, or let it grow? Discuss on Twitter at @areyoushaved.