Brazilian, Hollywood or au naturel?
GP Emily Gibson has called for an end to the 'war on pubic hair', claiming bikini waxing, laser hair removal and 'vajazzling' are increasing the risk of infection and STDs amongst youngsters. Two herald writers give their views...
BARELY a day goes past without us being informed by a medical professional that some kind of beauty regime we've been undertaking for donkey's years is suddenly bad for us, be it dyeing our hair, wearing deodorant or fake tan, or using certain kinds of toothpaste.
HOWEVER, I firmly believe that pubic hair removal is not up there with sunbathing or injectables in the realm of vanity dangers, and saying that is so is simply fear-mongering.
While the good doctor is, of course, correct in stating that pubic hair serves a function by protecting the vagina, so does armpit hair -- is she recommending we cease to remove that and walk around like Julia Roberts at the premiere of Notting Hill?
Of course, the genitals are more sensitive organs than the lymph nodes and sweat glands found under our arms, but they're also the site of more intimate goings on and in this day and age it's seen as good manners to keep a neat lady-garden, just as a bit of man-scaping doesn't go amiss with his hair down there.
Dr Gibson states that "surely human beings are not so naive as to be susceptible to fashion trends and biases".
It would be nice to think otherwise, but surely the doctor must realise that we're more susceptible to trends in celebrity culture than ever, be it dieting, fashion or grooming.
Currently the trend is to be free of any visible body hair in public and neat in the bedroom, but who's to say that won't change and revert to a more natural-looking ideal in coming years?
And regardless of the current trend, a sort of middle ground will forever be occupied by those unwilling to go neither completely hair-free nor fully au naturel. There's no war on pubic hair as Dr Gibson would have us believe, but many women aren't exactly at peace with theirs either.
The removal of pubic hair is a personal preference that, yes, is culturally influenced, whether we like it or not. The trend for bare vaginas may have trickled down from pornography, with all its anti-feminist implications, but women have embraced it nowadays along with other beauty trends, encouraged by men in the past, like wearing make-up and perfume.
I'm girly and well-groomed, does that make me less of a feminist? No way. We're choosing our own shape, and even colouring and vajazzling (or adding temporary jewels to) our bikini areas, and we're not doing it because men tell us to -- I certainly wouldn't ask my partner for his opinion on my pubic hair -- but for ourselves, to feel more confident, and quite frankly, less like a great ape. It's an owning of an area previously not deemed polite to discuss.
While a full Hollywood wax (the removal of every bit of hair from the nether regions -- yep, every single hair) is not for everyone, few women I know would take a stroll down the beach with pubic hair on full view sprouting from their bikini and feel happy and secure, the same way most women wouldn't delight in a bald head on their wedding day.
Some might, and more power to them, but they're in the minority.
Regardless of where this cultural abhorrence of body hair comes from, it's now up to each woman to choose what to do with their own bits, and telling us we might be at greater risk of herpes and other infections isn't going to deter us, only make us more afraid while continuing to de-fuzz.
I'm no body hair fascist like Kim Kardashian (who thinks we should all have every hint of body hair lasered off), but I have enjoyed my own bikini waxing experiences -- if not during... then certainly afterwards -- and don't plan on neglecting my nether regions any time soon.