Pubic hair has always been personal, but it’s also been publicized since the dawn of civilization. In Ancient Egypt, abrasive depilatory agents and fire were used to burn off all body hair below the neck, including, courageously, the genital areas. Jumping forward to the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, letting hair grow in its natural, unperturbed state became a way to stick it to “the man.” Rebels against cultural conformity introduced the world to the 70s bush.

Later, however, as women’s clothes became shorter and the bikini became socially acceptable, bikini waxes and other hair removal methods came to be pressed upon women. The growing power of the media has played a large role in such gender-based expectations. “Sex in the City” popularized the Brazilian wax, and many women under 30 felt compelled to remove all their pubic hair.  

Men also began to feel the pressure. The once-celebrated hairy-bodied and mustachioed Tom Selleck made way for less-hairy men like Ryan Gosling and Abercrombie & Fitch models. With the advent of the Internet, pornography has become enmeshed in American culture. For many, porn is the only time naked bodies are viewed, causing mass confusion as manufactured illusions of sex are accepted as normal and natural.

Synthetically hairless bodies moved from fantasy into reality as this was deemed normal, even desirable. But, within this decade and the last, there has been a push for celebrating pubic hair. The Internet has even documented cases of people dyeing their armpit hair and their pubic hair in wild colors.  

The proliferation of porn culture, the lasting impacts of feminist and free love movements, and “Sex in the City” have confused many as to what is “normal” for pubic hair.  The real normal, meanwhile, remains under the radar, as this is a topic that many feel uncomfortable speaking on.

To gauge the pubic hair climate at the University of Rochester, I created an anonymous survey survey on multiple UR Facebook groups. For a taboo topic, I was surprised to get 76 responses that represented all class years, with 60 females and 16 male responders.

Survey respondents were asked how they maintain their pubic hair and were allowed to choose more than one option. A little over half kept their hair trimmed. In second place was bald all over, and “untouched” came in third. Four of those surveyed had shaved designs, like landing strips or triangles. Four others answered without an explanation. None had colored or bedazzled genital regions.

A lot of the anxiety about pubic hair might stem from how peoples’ sexual partners feel about the hair. Thus,the second question on the survey asked how they preferred their partners’ pubic hair. A few didn’t respond, on account of being asexual or not having a partner. Of those who did, 67.1 percent preferred their partners’ hair trimmed. In second place was “don’t care” and in third was “bald back to front.” Eight people preferred “untouched.”

As for your own hair, do with it what you will. For those worried about their potential partners’ preference, have confidence in knowing that 22.4 percent of the people I surveyed don’t care, and that many others chose multiple preferences for that question. Take comfort in knowing that there is no “normal” when it comes to pubic hair.

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