Lately I’ve been wondering about hairstyles. Not the public ones, ascertainable from casual on-the-street perusal, but the PUBLIC MINUS THE ‘L’ styles that you can’t see unless everyone takes off their pants. (Writing this piece, I’ve been advised to employ euphemisms when possible, but hopefully you catch my drift.) What have other lesbians got going on, I’ve wondered. How do they differ from straight women? What about those wily bisexuals? I ask these questions so you don’t have to, people. And I ask them in front of my mother.
The result of my queries is this totally unscientific account. Based on self-reporting, a minuscule sample and a skewed selection, it’s not about to be picked up by the New England Journal of Medicine, however it does offer some insight into what’s going on between other peoples’ legs (which is also the title of my new Tumblr.)
Let’s cut to the chase or head for the bush if you know what I mean. (OK, ew, that’s not about to catch on. I’ll do better next time.) Out of 122 female respondents, 69 were straight, 12 bisexual and 41 lesbian. Yes, it would have been nice to have more lesbians. Yes, I know this is a lesbian site. Yes, I’m a terrible person. Can we move on?
Of straight women, 3% described their style as natural. Given everything we’re hearing about porn culture shaping men’s preferences for hairless this and anal that, I wasn’t expecting any hold-outs in this category. One straight woman in particular defied my expectations, commenting: “My husband is a big fan of full on bush and would prefer I shave nothing, ever.” However, she acknowledged that her situation probably isn’t the norm, writing: “This encourages me to remain in my state of married monogamy, as I have thick dark hair that gets easily ingrown and from what I infer this might put me two strikes out on the straight dating scene were I to re-enter it.” Another ‘natural woman,’ (no, not Aretha Franklin) said, “Hair retains your scent. My boyfriend likes that.”Too much information? Remember guys: What they do in their bedrooms is their business.
From there, the numbers become unremarkable. 32% of straight women trimmed, either with clippers or scissors. Side note, never trim when drunk. A respondent preparing for a hook-up learned this the hard way. Or should I say, the sharp-dear-god-my-labia-way. 23% sported a landing strip, and 42% went bare. To explain her changing tree-line (Nope, that doesn’t work. On to the next awkward euphemism.) one straight, Milwaukee woman wrote: “There seem to be a lot of straight guys who are a little bit — I don’t really wanna say obsessed, but yeah, OK, obsessed with the ‘bare’ look. It’s probably because of porn, which I don’t have an issue with, but it’s always seemed like a hell of a thing to ask a girl to rip out all the hair in the absolute most sensitive spot on her body.” Still, she has acquiesced, but before you go blaming the patriarchy, consider this: who among us hasn’t made a physical change to please a partner? I once grew out my armpit hair for nearly a month because a girlfriend thought it would be sexy. [Spoiler alert: my armpit hair grows really slowly.] But the thing is, if you don’t feel sexy, it hardly matter how you look. Milwaukee straight woman agrees: “I’ve [gone bare] twice, both times at the request of a guy, and hated it. Not just the pain, but the way it looked and felt. I thought I looked LESS like a woman, which did not in any way make me feel sexy. So, now in addition to the other must-haves and absolutely-nots that occupy my list of things I look for in a guy, “being okay with me having all my pubes” is there, right by “willing to help me clean,” “must love dogs,” and “NO MORE MUSICIANS.”
Let’s move on to bisexuals who — I’ll just say what everyone’s thinking — were woefully underrepresented. You guys are everywhere when I search Craigslist missed connections. Where the heck were you when I needed input? Of those who responded, 8% went natural. 42% trimmed. An LA proponent of trimming commented “I don’t like to look like a prepubescent nor do I care to see other women look like that — it kind of skeeves me out.” However, in LA she notes she’s in the minority. “The L.A. locker room,” she says “varies between a little howdy-do on top of the mound to hello, I’m 11, look at my big puffy pout. There’s a lot of nakedness going on there but I guess when you go through all that waxing pain, you want to show it off.” This proved true across the country with 17% of bisexuals going for the strip, and 33% bare. One bisexual respondent blew my mind with the rationale behind her south of the border stylings. She wrote “when I was with women: waxed in back, landing strip in front. With men, I don’t actually wax, just use scissors and trim as much as possible. In other words, I’m more concerned about appearance with women, less so with men.”
Anxious for more bisexual feedback, I turned to AfterEllen’s own Anna Pulley, as one does. Anna was characteristically blunt in her analysis. “Life is like a box of snatches,” she wrote, channeling Forrest Gump, you know, if he were up for discussing pubic hair. “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Now, finally, onto lesbians. A reported 20% are natural. “What can I say,” wrote one. “I like big bush and I cannot lie.” I’d expected more lesbians than straight women to favor an untamed mane, however, the 3%-20% split surprised me. Although I believe all god’s pubic mounds are beautiful, the 1970’s feminist in me (her name is Whispering Pines btw) is secretly pleased that in our appearance-focused culture such a relatively high percentage are comfortable in their natural state.
Moving on. 24% said they trimmed. One California lesbian wrote: “I trim and shave to make a nice “V.” I think landing strips are silly. I don’t require a runway to land where I want to land.” Thank you, thank you. She’ll be here all week. Make sure to tip your server.
Of lesbian respondents, 12% apparently do require a runway—they sculpt their down there hair into a strip. “I like how it looks,” a Chicago burlesque dancer says, simply. From there, 44% go bare. Of the bare advocates, one wrote “two words: more sensation.” An Oregon lesbian observed that many in the area go for “the completely bald thing.” (The title of my second Tumblr which is dedicated to Patrick Stewart.)
On that note, let’s look at the numbers regionally. We can do this because a friend of mine is a Geophysicist and got super amped to organize your crotches by geographical location as well as style. I would have just summarized the feedback and called it a day, but thanks to Dr. Anonymous, we’ve got ourselves a spiffy map. Overall, we can see styles trend toward strip or bare in the east and south, with more trimmed and natural in the Midwest, northern California, and the pacific northwest. None of this seems remotely surprising. Certainly not to Anna Pulley who wrote “Hippies=hairy.”
So what have we learned here today, girls and girls (other than the fact that my predictions are stunningly accurate. Seriously, ask me anything. I’m especially good at predicting the fate of other people’s relationships. Also whether or not the Whole Foods salad bar will have run out of roasted beets on a given day.)? To summarize: We’ve learned that if you’re bisexual, sometimes even your pubic hair goes both ways, that in addition to making you “feel all right,” as The Beach Boys wrote, Midwest farmers daughters also tend to trim, that a large percentage of lesbians sing ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ when they unzip their jeans, and that I am terrible at creating euphemisms for — I’ll just say it — pubic hair.