Over the last few years, there have been about a thousand and two articles floating around the Internet that feature both men and women deeming what they think the socially-acceptable amount of pubic hair is for a woman to have. There have also been a few recent pieces calling for a stop to this constant analysis, calling for a world of crotchal autonomy (I just coined a new phrase there… ). Crotchal autonomy rocks! It means that you are the rightful and glorious owner of your own vulva (Vulva is an all-encompassing term for what most people refer to as the vagina; the actual vagina is the particular canal that periods and babies traditionally come out of, and that penises/fingers/toys usually go into). You are the one who gets to call the shots when it comes to your vulva's hairstyle, or lack thereof: not the mainstream media, not the porn industry, not your best friends, not your significant other. There's a world of grooming options if you so choose to groom.
In the spirit of No Shave November, that silly yet charitable concept of dudes not shaving their beards for cancer awareness, I am putting out the somewhat radical option that you do not have to remove hair from your downstairs. Some of you may already take the no-maintenance approach, and that's awesome. Some may just want to switch things up, not unlike the hair on your head (I know in the colder weather, I always want bangs and never get them). Either way, take it with a grain of salt and allow me to tell you some warm and fuzzy benefits of going/staying au natural this month:
Razor burn be gone
It may be painfully obvious, but if you aren't shaving your bikini area, you aren't at risk for getting those awful red bumps. Growing out hair to at least a quarter of an inch between shaves is key to avoid irritation, and depending on how quick your hair comes back, can take anywhere between a week to a month. If you decide to shave again after a pleasant razor vacation, be sure to use a fresh, sharp razor that has more than two blades, apply a thick, non-foaming shaving cream (shout out to Trader Joe’s for making the dreamiest cream of all), thoroughly towel-dry and medicate with an aftershave gel specifically formulated for the bikini area – these tend to contain salicylic acid, which cleans out newly-shaven pores so bumps cannot be formed whatsoever.
Less risk of infection
People who shave and wax are more prone to pesky yeast infections – hair down there acts as a natural, cooling barrier between you and whatever underwear you've got going on, and when that barrier is gone, Candida (the fungus that causes yeast infections) can grow more easily due to the warm, damp conditions. If you do tend to go bare, always wear 100 percent cotton undies!
Look like a historic XXX painting
Women have been varying their pubes styling since the dawn of time, but the fluffy, romantic bush has colored erotic art around the world, from the Renaissance up to the 1990s; bushes provoked the masses into a frenzy of sexual desire, considered to be the most mysterious and tempting part of a woman. Interestingly, classic artists like Michelangelo shied away from including pubic hair on female subjects, but framed all his male subjects’ ... focal points ... in masses of curls. I really, truly wish there was a combined gender studies/art history course that examined this phenomenon, because who wouldn’t want to know a complete history of privates in paintings?
The pheromone factor
It is no new news that our sweat is teeming with magic chemicals that call out to potential mates and say "DO ME, DO ME AND DO ME." Just look at any given frat basement dance floor. The top locations that secrete pheromonal secretion? Areolae, hands, cheeks, and wherever we grow hair post-puberty. And don't think this is the same as regular body odor; pheromones are largely undetectable to even the most discerning noses, instead being picked up by two pit-like structures located deep in the septum called vomeronasal organs and translated not into a smell but instead, a vague sense of wellbeing. When pubic hair is shaved, less pheromones are trapped in the genital area, making it harder for mates to get subconscious signals to feel great and come on over.
Keeps you warm
Yes, frozen-crotch is a thing, especially in the lovely Chicagoland area. For those ladies who enjoy wearing thin cotton leggings or maxi skirts into the winter (add a cropped sweater, ankle boots, chunky scarf, OH MY!), you know all about that permanent icy draft that paralyzes you for the entirety of those walks up and down campus. Hair, believe it or not, was created to protect creatures from the elements. And until North Face starts making down-stuffed thongs, it’s good to at least consider your natural abilities to grow your own form of insulation. As our moms told us from a young age, if you’re going out in the snow, you’ve got to layer-layer-layer.