An “unwinnable battle”

Hair is such a fascinating, complicated topic. This stuff GROWS out of our bodies! And as much as we trim, wax and will it away, it tends to grow back. When it DOESN’T grow back – like in the case of bald men – there are industries there to sell you products to encourage it to start sprouting again.

And yet, we have such different relationships to the hair on our heads and the stuff on our bodies. Hair on men’s bodies is generally taken to display a sort of rugged masculinity (although that seems to be changing).

Hair on women’s bodies, on the other hand, is called “superfluous,” “excess”, or “unwanted.” As I’ve written before, while it was generally standard to hear those terms applied to things like leg, armpit, and facial hair, pubic hair wasn’t necessarily viewed as superfluous. It was kinda your thing, to do with what you will. Now people of both genders (but especially women) seem to be understanding that doing away with your pubic hair is just par-for-the-course body maintenance.

I recently came across an interesting article in The Western Front – the online edition of the student paper for Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

The article, written by Dr. Emily Gibson, explores pubic hair removal as “an unwinnable battle.” Dr. Gibson opens her article with “I must have missed the declaration of war on pubic hair” (see? I’m not the only one!), and then goes on to describe why fervently trying to abolish it is hard on the body. In fact, she says it can even cause harm.

Here are some of the best bits:

“Pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds. Rather than suffering a recurring comparison to a bristle brush, frequent hair removal is necessary to stay smooth, causing regular irritation of the shaved or waxed area. When that irritation is combined with the warm, moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture media for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens, namely group A streptococcus, staphylococcus aureus and its recently mutated cousin methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA). There is an increase in staph boils and abscesses, necessitating incisions to drain the infection, resulting in scarring that can be significant. It is not at all unusual to find pustules and other hair follicle inflammatory papules on the shaved areas.”

Whoa, people. If ever you needed to justify not whisking it all away, here’s the support material.

She also writes that “freshly shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable to herpes infections due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to viruses carried by mouth or genitals. It follows that there may be vulnerability to spread of other sexual transmitted infections as well.”

Here’s a link to the original article:


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