Ladies and gentlemen, the festive season is almost upon us and there is reason to rejoice: the bush is back.
According to a poll of 2000 women this month, the razor is no longer a romantic necessity, with pubic hair reclaiming its reign atop and amongst our genitalia.
In UK Medix’s online pharmacy poll, 51 per cent of respondents said they did not “style or groom their pubic hair” while 45 per cent could “no longer be bothered to keep up the grooming” and 62 per cent said their partner “prefers the natural look”.
I’m surprised by these results. I’ve always assumed men prefer no hair down there, not only because porn tells us women are sexiest waxed (“hairy women” is a fetish category) but from talking to my peers, women recounted unanticipated encounters in which they had rushed into the bathroom to “hack it all off”.
Some admit waxing worries stopped them submitting to their carnal desire. Others say they went out hairy so they wouldn’t be tempted to have sex. Some women, it seems, consider their own pubic hair so disgusting that it works like a self-imposed chastity belt. Some friends told me they worried that if he doesn’t call, it’s because they “weren’t shaved”. It was if this “shameful” aberrance was rendering them undesirable.
This led me to suspect women are pruning due to peer pressure. I’m not against a bit of trimming, it’s going bare that bothers me. What you look like naturally shouldn’t make your beloved gag. Yet we don’t want to talk about pubic hair, despite what we look like ‘down there’ being a source of anxiety for many women. Just look at the recent alarming report into "designer vaginas". More and more women, including adolescents, are seeking out surgery because of a distorted image of what is normal presented in popular culture, pornography, and private clinics' own advertisements, according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Ethics Committee.
We need to make it clear that normal is whatever you choose it to be. It is your body, and whether it lives up to fad or fashion shouldn’t hinder your enjoyment of sex. We need to talk about these issues, because if we are too squeamish, what hope do sex-education campaigners have of teaching our children?
So let's make a case for bringing back the bush. Hair is on our most sensitive parts for a reason - it protects us. Not only from the (inevitable and pleasurable) friction of sex but from bacteria. Family physician Emily Gibson has seen pustules, Group A Streptococcus and cellulitiscrop up from shaving, the latter an infection you can pass on to your partner. Being bald looks a lot less attractive now.
Yet there are sexier reasons to keep your hair. It is thought to trap pheromones, bodily scents that others can find sexually stimulating. Scientists have speculated we developed pubic hair to signal we are sexually mature. In many ways, hairlessness comes with the unwelcome suggestion of a childish body.
The unspoken issue here is oral sex, and some men’s reluctance to have to “deal with” hair. A number of couples I know go halves on Brazilians. Getting rid of hair, after all, is an expensive business. If you do it yourself, instead of that oh so stylish “landing strip”, you get something that looks like the cat coughed it up. Pubic hair removal is big business - in the US in 2012 it was estimated to be worth as much as £2.1bn. But price isn’t really the issue here. If he is so put off by your natural state that he doesn’t want to get anywhere near it, then you might want to re-evaluate your relationship. What you do with your own body should always come down to you, and this survey is worth highlighting because it shows that you don’t need to prance into the bedroom like a porn star to be considered attractive. If you want to stay natural, you aren’t alone.
Personally, I try not to worry. After all, I figure if you’re dating me, this should be the least of your concerns.