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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.

 

 

 

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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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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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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I know — this is not a pubic hair story, but it is a vagina one. I couldn’t resist sharing:

The fine people at Open File Halifax have posted an article about the fact that the statue of Edward Cornwallis (widely credited with founding the city of Halifax, though he’s a controversial figure) has got a  new felted vagina.

This is guerrilla art at its finest, no?

Read the whole article here:

http://halifax.openfile.ca/blog/curator-blog/photo/2012/felted-vagina-edward-cornwallis-improves-statue

 

 

 

Thanks for your kind and encouraging words after my last post. I’m glad to be back — though as you can see, still not keeping up with posting as readily as I would like. Still, I’m back in a pubic-hair-state-of-mind again: I’m having more conversations with people about the ol’ short-and-curlies (I’m a joy at a party, let me tell you), and am starting to pay more attention to the issue in the media again.

Speaking of which:

I was listening to CBC Radio the other day — for those you not in Canada, it’s our public broadcaster — when I heard some subject-appropriate material on the morning current affairs program called The Current. The host, Anna-Maria Tremonti, was talking to the people behind a new documentary called ‘Sext Up Kids’ (a trailer of the doc is available here). The film explores the “hyper sexualization” of kids — from the availability of kiddie lingerie, to the complications girls contend with when their sexy cell phone pictures get sent out to the world by spurned (and immature) boyfriends. The normalizing of pubic hair removal among young women also came up.

I have to admit that I didn’t manage to catch the doc when it aired on TV last week, but I did enjoy the conversation Anna-Maria had with the filmmakers on the radio. I think this is a fascinating and complicated issue — and while I know plenty of teenaged girls who haven’t allowed the media to convince them that their most powerful tool is a flaunted body, it’s also hard to ignore how powerful and pervasive sexed-up culture is these days (do I sound like an old person yet?).

If you have a few minutes, listen to the CBC Radio interview here:

http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2012/02/23/sext-up-kids—how-children-are-becoming-hyper-sexualized/index.html

And as always, I’d love to hear what you think.

(and just as an aside: I was just going to search for an image I could use with this post, but I’m writing from a local cafe and I realized that any search for “sexy little girls” would not leave me looking very good. I’ll leave it for now…)

 

 

Hi all-

Firstly, let me apologize for disappearing on you for months like that. As I may have explained back in November, my life recently got a major overhaul. I moved to a new city, started a new job (which wasn’t going to be full-time, but now is), and have been busily working at building myself a community and a life in this new place.

I haven’t forgotten about you, though. It’s just that the days keep blurring together…and while I’ve been whole-heartedly intending to post new stuff to this blog, somehow the months have slipped by.

I’m grateful, too, to the friends and regular readers who have been continuing to send me links and letters (yes! I got a fabulous letter IN THE MAIL from a reader!) full of ideas they think I’d be interested in sharing. When a friend wrote recently to say “I miss your blog”, I knew it was time to take action: I either had to give up on the site altogether, or I had to kick it up a notch and start posting again. This is me opting for the latter.

So – here goes. Consider me back. I won’t be posting every day, but I’ll do my best to post whenever I come upon something relevant and/or interesting.

Today, I’m going to start here:

This is a pair of women’s underwear by a company called ‘House of Holland’ — these are the “Full Bush Cheeky Short”. A quick glance through their lingerie collection reveals that the company’s tastes tend towards the slinky and sexy…so my guess is that this suggestion of full bush is meant to be a cute joke… an homage, perhaps, to the hair that is likely never allowed to rear its pesky little (curly) head(s).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, for those women who just want to state it like it is, there’s always this option:

These are the “Bald Cheeky Shorts”. I’m inclined to think that the designer probably imagined these as being an updated version of the famous “days of the week” underwear — only perhaps in 2012,  the idea is that you can use your briefs to declare the state of your nether regions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun? Offensive? As always, I’d love to know what you think.

And if you’ve got any ideas about stuff you want to see posted here, feel free to send ’em my way. I’m looking forward to being back in touch…

 

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but as we near the end of November, I’ve been thinking a fair bit about ‘Movember‘. Everywhere I look these days some guy is proudly sporting a moustache. While I have nothing against raising money for worthy causes, the conformity of Movember has been doing my head in. At my graduation ceremony a couple of weeks ago, I watched man after man stride across the stage and shake hands with the university admin while wearing a silly ‘stache. I couldn’t help but wonder what the photos were going to look like in, say, twenty years.

That’s why I thought this blog entry about “No Shave November” was interesting. Here in Canada I don’t feel we’ve heard a lot about it — at least if it’s happening, it’s not getting anything near the press that Movember’s getting. The idea is to avoid shaving altogether for the entire month of November — and unlike Movember, both men and women are allowed to participate.

In fact, I just found this nice little editorial on doing just that — growing out your hair — written by a young woman at Indiana University South Bend. She makes some good points and it’s worth taking a gander at.

If you’re participating in No Shave November, drop me a line. I’d love to hear what the experience has been like for you…

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Vulvapalooza!

Well… I have become a very bad blogger, indeed. Sorry about that. You give the girl a Master’s degree, and then bam.. she gives up on you and stops posting regularly. You, my readers, have been on my mind, but my mind has also been pulled in a million other directions lately. I’ve started a new job in a new city, I’m moving, I’m trying to sort out the “what’s next?” questions… you know. Life – it’s busy.

But I haven’t forgotten about pubic hair! Every day, things pop up, crying for attention on the blog. And every day slides past without me getting to posting. So – here we got again! Though I can’t promise daily posting, I will do my best to keep the conversation alive here at The Last Triangle.

Today seems like a good day for me to direct you to a site a new Danish friend of mine sent me. The project, called ‘Kussomaten’ was initiated by a feminist group in Denmark. Women basically sat in a booth and had their genitalia photographed. The goal of the project (and this is crucial to note), was not pornographic – it wasn’t about taking under-skirt photos for arousal purposes. Instead, the goal was to highlight the diversity among female bodies — something I know I’ve written about in this blog before (especially whenever the issue of labiaplasty rears its sanitized head).

So: if you’re reading this at work, or are in a room with a bunch of people you’d rather not see you look at a screen full of vulvas — don’t click on this link now. If you aren’t, or you’re fine with opening a discussion around labial diversity, here’s the link:

http://kvindekenddinkrop.dk/kkdkpix.html#

It’s a fascinating site — the diversity really is amazing.

Looking forward to your comments!

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