For all of the fuss and attention paid to deodorized and sanitized parts these days, hairy and smelly and messy and downright dirty is the only way to go for some. Au naturel was never better.
Maybe it started with porn. But then again, I know better. I’ve seen those Playboys from 1974; bear-chested men with their arms wrapped around busty and bush-coiffed women. But if it didn’t start with porn, it has made it there. Watch any hot-and-sexy movie made in the last ten years and you’ll find tantalizing fantasies of bright-lighted skin, every pore showing. You know what I’m talking about.
Where’s the hair?
And it’s in the mainstream media too. We’ve heard the sitcom cracks about men’s hairy backs, or the Sex and the City shits and giggles about bikini waxes. Somewhere after blow-jobs and Bill Clinton, our country took a collective oath: Body Hair is Bad. Body Hair is Funny. Body Hair is Shameful. Your body hair has to go.
Of course, in the midst of any trend, there are hold-outs. The ever-hairy West Coast firmly rebelled during these past years of body baldness. Healthful hairy men and women have been happily walking the streets of San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon. The men have even stopped shaving their faces. Women’s legs – God forbid – are as free and natural as the day they first won a three-legged race. And underneath those unisex thrift-store t-shirts and sleeve tattoos, you’re likely to fine a tuft of soft fur, right in the precious armpit, deodorant (or au naturale salt deodorizer) and all.
But the rest of us have been shaving, waxing, plucking, and electrolysizing our hair away, or at least feeling like we should.
How many times have I heard my girlfriends complain about the in-grown hairs and unsightly red bumps, not to mention the excruciating pain, of their monthly maintenance to make-it-bare-down-there? How strange was it to get a gorgeous man back to my bedroom, lips locked, lights out, only to rip off his shirt and hear him apologize, meekly, “I’m hairy,” as though I needed to be warned?
Enough already! Enough with the shame and the razor bumps and the nasty smelling depilatory creams and the bikinis that simply do not cover a reasonable triangle of space! Enough with asking grown women to be as bare as pre-pubescent little girls and grown men to be as wax smooth as surfboards! We are apes. We are humans. And when we grow up, guess what? We get hairy.
I begin to wonder if this fear of body hair is just the most recent incarnation of our country’s great flirtation with the sex-is-bad obsession our Puritan founders happily bequeathed to their descendants. (Of course, their babies came from storks, not dirty, smelly, hairy humping.) If so, that’s too bad. Because adolescence and sex in America do not have to be fraught and awkward bedfellows. Before my budding breasts, before my period, sprouts of brown pubic hair were my first indication that I would someday be a bleeding, buxom, va-va-voom woman, and they were the first bits of me that I learned to really love. Not in the way that a baby discovers his feet and thinks that I-have-not-existed-til-now. I mean self-love. I mean onanism. I mean falling asleep at night, gently stroking that soft new hair right betwixt my legs.
I learned to think it was bad, of course. We all did. I learned to think I should shave it, remove it, pretend like it wasn’t there. There was that boyfriend, freshman year of college, who said he liked how soft the vagina could be without its downy covering. I couldn’t do it for long. We didn’t last. And then, there were the men whose chests I touched, whose skin I felt, who had shaved themselves – their nipples bare, that nest, now gone, above their penises. They even shaved their balls.
But I was also lucky. I learned about sex and sexiness and how adults are hairy and messy and how that is the whole point. When I finished college I went off, alone, to Europe. That part isn’t interesting. It’s an old story, the kind withmuseums and sunrises and hostels and new friends. But one night at the end of my trip, after six weeks on my own, I went to the beach. In Italy. After I had drunk a liter of wine.
My waiter came with me.
He didn’t speak much English, but that was okay, and I didn’t speak much Italian, but that didn’t seem to matter either. He had a little bit of a paunch and kept smiling at me like he couldn’t believe I’d invited him along (a series of gestures and stuttered bilingualism). Some deep fear of STDs and a hint that he had once been in the Italian Navy kept me from jumping right down to business, but he was okay with that. He wanted to touch me. I wanted him to touch me. And so that’s where we started.
Where we ended up was on a reclining beach chair, him on his knees, his darling mouth buried in the fully-grown-out tangle of my very wild nethers. In between our collective moaning, he stopped periodically, careless of my hairy bits, and muttered to himself, “Bella, bella, bella, bella…”.
I’m tired of being ashamed of being a woman who has hair. Or, to be more accurate, I’m simply not ashamed, and I’m tired of being ashamed for not being ashamed. I have pubic hair, damn it. I trim it, so that it doesn’t get tangled in the elastic of my niceties, but it is there. I even let the semi-dark hair on my stomach (oh yes, women can have happy trails too) grow out now and then. I shave my armpits, and when I get a random hair on my nipple, I pluck it, because I like my breasts round and smooth. My legs? Depends on the season. Shaving in winter can be such a hazard. I’m not talking about the end of all grooming. What I’m talking about is the end of madness. The end of hair fear.
None of my lovers have complained. In fact, post-coital and exhausted, one even leaned into me, stroking the follicles that I have. “You’re real,” he said. Real.
Let’s be real, my friends! Real, hairy, animalistic, hump-loving adults. Let’s throw off our shame, and keep our natural adornment. Let’s be hairy.
Back in the bedroom with my gorgeous man, the one who had warned me, the one who had gone from beast to meek in three seconds flat, I discovered he hadn’t been lying. His chest was covered in wiry man-hair, and his back even had a soft down. It was more hair than I was expecting, but it wasn’t a turn-off. I ran my fingers down his back and along his sides, where I could feel the hair so often lampooned in stand-up comedy and sitcom slapstick. It was new to me. You know, it is nice to discover something new, now and then. I called it his “angel wings.”
He was relieved.