I started this blog a few years back as part of my graduate school thesis project. If you had told me then that in 2014 pubic hair would be turning up regularly in the headlines, I would have laughed.

But it’s doing just that. Bush, it would seem, is back.

Or at least that’s what I keep hearing.

Evidently, The Guardian has declared 2014 to be the Year of the Bush.

On December 31st, actress Cameron Diaz published a ‘health guide’ called The Body Book in which she sings the praises of cultivating our mighty pubes (though not in those exact words).

UnknownAnd of course, clothing chain American Apparel, famous for their eyebrow-raising marketing schemes, recently dressed their front window mannequins in pubic hair on a New York City street.

I don’t feel particularly surprised about any of this, of course. There’s nothing the media loves more than finding some aspect of the female anatomy to make a fuss over, especially if it’s a topic that has been traditionally been a little taboo.

But hearing that 2014 will be pubic hair friendly makes me laugh. Oh, thanks great fashion and body care advisors – you mean it’s OK for me to wear my body hair au naturel this year and not face scorn or shame from or anyone else? We shall see.

Since there is so much going on the pubic-realm these days, I will do my best to keep my commentary fresh on ye ol’ blog. The fact is, however, that I worry about getting repetitive. Once you’ve spent a lot of time writing about a particular issue, it can get challenging to find fresh avenues to travel down.

There are a lot of smart women letting their voices be heard in the media these days. I’m certainly glad we’re having these conversations in public. But I’m taking it all with a grain of salt.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

 

 

Pubes on (web) TV

Hello, fair readers!

I know I haven’t exactly been keeping on top of the blog, but thoughts of body hair are never too far from my mind. I hope you’re all thinking critically about the stuff you see depicted out there in the world, and the ways in which you regard your own body and the bodies of others. There’s always lots of good material for discussion flying on ye ol’ internet. When it comes to this blog, however, I sometimes feel like I run out of stuff to say. I don’t really want to get to the point where I’m just posting stuff and going “SEE!?” and then repeating the same rants over and over again. I hope that explains something of my recent online silences. I’m also finding myself busy with work, new extracurricular activites (I’m learning spanish!) and with a recent move to a different city.

BUT: I did want to let you know that I’m taking the pubic hair discussion back into the world later today. I’m going to be making an appearance later this afternoon on HuffPost Live – the live streaming network on The Huffington Post.  I’ll be part of a panel of guests (so far I’ve been told the others will be an esthetician and someone who has had a “bad experience” with waxing) who will be chatting with host Caitlyn Becker via webcam.

Our discussion will be based on a recent Huffington Post article that garnered a whole lot of feedback and discussion called “Waxing on your period & more ‘down there’ grooming questions you were too afraid to ask“.

Apparently our segment starts just after 5:30pm EST. I hope you’ll be able to tune in and maybe throw a question my way!

(oh- and have you heard the good news? Pubic hair is back! An article in the Telegraph told me so!)

 

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Well, with summer’s start tomorrow I know we’re all freaking out about getting ready for bathing suit season right? What, no? Ok, you’re right: bathing suit season is low on the list of things competing for space in my mind right now. This is the time of year, however, when the mainstream media like to post helpful tips and tricks for getting ready for the aforementioned “season” – and for women, that usually involves some kind of well-intentioned piece about how to whisk away “unwanted” hair.

That’s why I was amused (and sort of pleased) to see an article in the Toronto Star called “My First Brazilian Wax“. Written by Victoria Ptashnick, the article charts her first foray to the salon for a full Brazilian – ie. a wax after which very little is left to the imagination. Victoria doesn’t break any ground with her tale – it’s charming and funny and pretty much exactly what you would expect – but I did think it was refreshing to see a young woman opting out of what appears to be the dominant pubic-grooming practice of her age. In a video added to the site yesterday, Victoria answers reader questions about her article and experience. She is very clear about one thing: her future will not include intimate waxing.

Speaking of intimate procedures, I recently learned about “ball ironing”, sometimes known as “tightening the tackle” (apparently) in a brief article on an offshoot of the NY Magazine’s website called ‘The Cut’. According to the article, the thin testicular skin gets wrinkly and discoloured with age, so men can now pay good money (and lots of it) for a procedure that “involves using lasers to remove hair, erase wrinkles, and correct discoloration on the scrotum.” Will we ever run out of things to worry about?

 

 

 

 

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The other day a video popped up on a friend’s Facebook feed. It featured a small image of what appeared to be a t-shirt on a mannequin. There was a big, blurry circle in the mannequin’s crotch area.

Next to it was this headline: controversial window display in Halifax, N.S. turns heads. Figuring it might involve pubic hair, I could resist clicking the link. I wasn’t wrong. (you can watch it for yourself here).

It took me to a news segment that aired earlier this week on CTV news in Halifax. Before running the item, host Steve Murphy looks at the audience and says “we caution you that some of you may find this offensive, and it may not be appropriate for younger viewers.”

Which is what made the item so extra hilarious. In short: it’s a very short news item about an “art installation” that’s getting “mixed reviews” in a store-front window on Barrington Street in downtown Halifax. Apparently a whole whack of people are incredibly offended by it and there’s a petition circulating to have the work taken down. The news item, which is shabbily put together, clips a couple of people talking about how terrible they find it, along with a few who shrug their shoulders and say they don’t really know what it’s about. While the item fails to credit the artist entirely, it does clip the curator, Scott Saunders, who makes a couple of valid points about how there is much more offensive stuff going on  in the windows of the sex shops down the street. He says the work is about “Canadian identity, sexual politics, and the idea of Canadiana.”

At no point do we ever get to see what everyone is so upset about because of the HUGE, BLURRY CIRCLE shielding us from the display’s horrors.

Well here, ladies and gentlemen, is what the news needed to protect you from:

That’s right: a mannequin wearing a T-shirt reading “Canada: Go Beavers!” and a furry, pubic-hair-esque loin cloth. Though she is not mentioned in the controversy, it didn’t take me long to figure out that the artist is Bonita Hatcher, a NSCAD grad.

Here’s a wider view of the entire window:

(Sorry it’s so small! Halifax’s alt weekly, The Coast, posted a great photo to Instagram, too). 

Curious to know more (and so thoroughly dissatisfied by the news item), I booked a call with the artist.

Our chat was wonderful – hilarious, energizing, and informative. Bonita immediately filled in some of the blanks around the window work for me. Firstly, the news item omitted some significant details: most significantly, that the beaver featured in the lower left hand corner of the window IS COMPLETELY SHORN! That’s right – in what sounds like a painstaking process, she SHAVED A TAXIDERMY BEAVER. She then cut up a bit of an old (beaver) fur coat, adorned a particularly phallic piece of it with red ribbons, and turned it into a loin cloth. She had the T-shirt created especially. Though it’s hard to read at first, the beaver in the image is hairless.

Bonita, who is in her early 40s with a background in marine biology, was as appalled as anyone by the upset her piece had elicited among Haligonians. She said she was most fascinated by the fact that there was nothing ACTUALLY offensive in what she had created — a shorn beaver, a furry merkin, and a printed t-shirt. It was, she pointed out, up to viewers to make connections if they wanted to – and in order to do so, one had to be properly equipped (a shorn beaver, for example, has no meaning in itself unless you know that ‘beaver’ is a slang term for a woman’s genitalia).

While Bonita told me she hadn’t sought out to make a statement about pubic hair (in fact, the shorn beaver was originally part of a larger piece addressing ‘Canadiana’), normalized pubic hair removal among women has fascinated her for some time. She described re-entering the dating scene after the end of her marriage and coming to terms with what a ‘Brazilian’ was (“it took me awhile to figure out what it was,” she recalled, “I remember going ‘oh-my-god, are you kidding me?’ In my mind, if I had a hair caught in the elastic of my underwear I would cry.”

For Bonita, who only started making art as an adult has always been interested in feminist art and performance. In one of her first performances at art school, she cut off her clothes and painted herself with latex. “I got that stuff out of the way,” she laughs, later wearing a wedding dress 24-hours a day for a week in a bid to explore the idea that traditional female wedding garb serves to cover the body from head to toe and restrict movement.

I don’t even think that Bonita has a precise grasp on what she was trying to say to the world with her “controversial” window display — but she definitely managed to make a statement. The shorn beaver is visually clever, the phallic merkin, provocative. It’s not entirely clear whether we are supposed to celebrate the hairless beast and lament the loss of his fur, or whether we should be re-embracing our own Canadian short-n-curlies, but in a sense it really doesn’t matter. The work does (as Bonita intended) start a conversation that is definitely worth having.

Bonita also let slip that she’s intended to start selling her “go beavers’ T-shirts. I can’t wait to stroll the streets of my city in it this summer. No blurry circle required.

 

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hi all -

Just a quick note to say that even though I haven’t been writing much, I’ve been thinking up a storm. I sometimes feel like I don’t have much new material to offer up when it comes to discussing the specifics of pubic hair. I do, however, continue to feel passionately about questions of gender representation and body control, among other things.

That’s why I am particularly thrilled to be able to announce that I will be presenting at the fourth Body-Image and Self-Esteem Conference, which is presented bi-annually by the National Eating Disorder Information Centre. It takes place on May 9-10, 2013 in Toronto.

The conference is billed as a “unique opportunity in Canada to learn more about current research, evidence-based practices and innovative outreach in a multi-disciplinary, action-oriented environment.”

I’ll be giving a 90-minute (gah!) session on body hair, body image and self-esteem with a focus on… you guessed it… my favourite short-n-curlies.

Here’s the whole program!

If you want to come, early-bird registration for the conference ends on Friday, March 22, 2013.

If you’re in T.O, or not too far away, or interested in this kind of thing, please do consider joining us!

 

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I just came upon a really well-written and interesting post written by a young woman who has wrestled with the question of how and why to love her own pubic hair. Interestingly, she doesn’t love it, but she doesn’t love that she doesn’t… her writing on the issue is really great — raw and real. These are the confessions and the conversations that make the internet so amazing.

A second, similar entry on the Feminist Dating website — called “A Bushy Dilemma” — is also worth a read. Both articles raise all kinds of issues around socialization and body-hatred (an important issue that never seems to go away, no matter how we wrestle with it).

The site itself doesn’t seem to be particularly active, which is a shame, ’cause it’s got some good stuff on it.

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Yep, that’s right – this exists.

I could say something about how tiring it is to read another “just for fun” article thriving on hilarious stereotypes (full bush? “You definitely have spent at least 10 minutes looking at your own vagina in a hand mirror”), but I’m not sure I have it in me.

 

 

 

 

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Yes, I know… in my last post I swore up and down that I was back at it, and that the posts would be coming fast and furious. And then what happened? I dropped the ball.

I certainly haven’t forgotten about you. Every day I read some interesting thing about pubic hair out there, and think “gotta update the blog” and for whatever reason, that day slips away and it doesn’t happen.

I suppose the fact is that at some point it all comes around again. The to-shave-or-not-to-shave debate rages on as it has for the last few years. Sometimes I can’t help but feel that I’ve said what I need to say – and that I’ve run out of things to add. People are going to do what they want to do (as they should!). My issue is, and has always been, that people should be made aware of what their choices are – and I guess that’s what has driven me in the past. It often seems that young people (especially women) aren’t always entirely aware that they have a choice about the body they choose to present to the world: that they have a choice about how to groom their hair, about whether they want to wear make-up or not, about whether leggings are an appropriate alternative to pants.

Pubic hair has been back in the media again lately, though.

I found the debate continuing to rage on Jezebel in an article inspired by man describing pubic hair on a woman as “fossil of human anatomy” (pubic hair as endangered species).

Apparently scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, are also finding that pubic hair grooming injuries are “on the rise” these days. Seems like a very good reason to stick with a good trim and leave full hair removal for bits of the body that are more readily accessible.

I guess I’ll leave things there for now. I look forward to being in more regular contact…

 

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Wow. Months, people. It’s been MONTHS. I didn’t mean to let months go by without writing, but somehow life just got in the way. A few updates for those of you who need to be brought up to speed: I got the degree last year (the reason I started writing this blog in the first place), which eased the need for frequent posting. Then I went back to working in daily radio which, let me tell you, is a (fun but) relentless (and tiring!) job that didn’t exactly leave me wanting to sit at a computer when I got home from work. I kept promising myself that I’d sit down and write…and then I’d keep not doing it. So I decided to let myself off the hook and stopped writing altogether, even as some of you continued to correspond, sending me amazing personal notes about your own experiences. I slacked. I’m sorry.

Now the universe decided it was time for pubic hair and I to get back together.

Two things happened in the span of a very short period of time.

Firstly, though my blog had essentially been dormant since April, an editor with The Coast alternative newspaper in Halifax wrote me out of the blue and asked me to contribute something about the demise of pubic hair to their annual Back-to-School issue.

(wondering what pubic hair has to do with heading back to school? You can read the whole article here)

The second thing to happen is that I’ve been invited to be a guest speaker at the National Eating Disorder Information Centre‘s 2013 conference. They want me to talk about (surprise, surprise!) body hair, body politics and popular culture.

So: it’s time for me to starting thinking about all this stuff again. And there is, of course, lots of stuff to think about. So again – apologies for not being here when you needed a place to rant. More updates coming soon.

Really.

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes, that’s right: when you spend your spare time thinking about the political significance of public hair, you never run out of fodder for party small talk. Nor do you ever run out of things to make you mad. Here’s the latest thing — send to me by a number of friends/readers/allies.

Seems besides having intimate bits that are too hairy, it’s also possible to have genitals that are “too brown.” At least that’s what the people who produce a new product aimed at Indian woman. Evidently, the product is some kind of intimate wash that also helps to make your vulva “many shades fairer”. Curious? Here’s the television ad:

http://youtu.be/9Tx9vVVMWw0

Predictably, our protagonist is sad with her ordinary vagina, but is radiantly happy once she’s doused it in chemicals. I’ve written before about the notion of the vagina as being “dirty” until all its protective hair is whisked away. This is a product that actually exactly embodies “your vagina is dirty” mentality. That graphic, with the product lightening an animated groin seems to say it all. Sigh.

Huffington Post’s got a good article on the top. Have a read here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/04/12/vagina-brightener-indian-feminine-hygiene-product-promises-to-make-genitals-many-shades-fairer_n_1420052.html?ref=canada-living&ir=Canada+Living

And as I’ve written before, I love it when readers get in touch. I had a nice little note from Emily recently, who got in touch to tell me about a recent experience she had reading Cosmopolitan magazine.

Here’s what she wrote:

I was at a friend’s house the other day and found something in a magazine that seemed relevant to The Last Triangle. 

Looking at Cosmo is like looking at a car crash. I know I’m going to be horrified by what I see, but if there is one there, I still look. The image I attatched is a snap of “99 sex questions answered”. I know not to expect much from Cosmo, but it was still upsetting to see that when one’s lover has a preference for pubes, this publication is encouraging her to leave him the bare minimum. Oh, the implications. 

She also sent along this snapshot:

As Emily points out, the problem with this is, of course, that at no point is the poor woman told that her boyfriend would probably be just fine with nothing more than a little trim. But the only option this mainstream mag can offer up is the landing strip: a (probably) salon-driven grooming practice requiring pain, money, time, effort.

As I’ve said a million times: I believe women should be allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, as long as they know what the options are. Magazines like this would have all young women believe there are only a few ways of being in the world.

 

 

 

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