I used to spend a lot of time on naturist forums and message boards, hoping to find a few like-minded humans (largely a fail), learn about some new naked places I hadn’t found on my own (often a hit!), and get a pulse on how naturism was playing on the fringes of mainstream media. But anyone who has spent any significant time in such elusive corners of the world wide web has probably shared my dismay at the number of threads that have been hijacked by one of two following topics: “Erections” and “Pubic Hair.”
Now five years into my blog, I’ve been quite intentional about avoiding both topics, as it seems to me there were plenty of people on those boards to pontificate on those matters. I’ve been cornered a couple times on the erection topic by goofy reporters who have found my blog and have literally interviewed me to ask how one goes about applying sunscreen… down there… without… you know…
“Ugh! Don’t be a jerk!” Just go to a real naturist place and see what its really all about! Non-starter!
But I have to admit, the pubic hair thing remains an intriguing topic even after all this time. (Remember, my wife and I have been naturists for over thirty years.) It sort of hit home when we encouraged a young colleague to visit Therme Erding – a mega spa near Munich that attracts a LOT of 20/30-somethings. Our friend wrote to my wife after the first day there asking whether “women are expected to be hairless, or is that just a cultural norm in Germany?”
My wife wrote back, “Do what you want. Nobody cares!”
Some weeks later, we were at Erding, and by golly, nearly all the women were hairless! And half of the men – at least in the pubic region – were shaven as well. Since then, we’ve been to naturist places in Montenegro, Spain, and France, and I would have to say that those statistics are near consistent, regardless of age bracket.
In the too much information department, we are typically not hairless, but coiffed… one might say. Let’s face it, if you’re naked around other people a good bit of the time, you become aware of the fact that your pubes are similar to other hair-related bodily accents; the hair on your head, facial hair, even eyebrows, for god’s sake! There’s a whole separate post to be written about the discretion one employs when catching a glance of another’s pubic region, but to be sure, if someone has a stylish blunt cut on their head, and a seemingly unkept expanse of hairiness between their legs, people are gonna notice – at least this day and age. Just like that guy in the restaurant the other night with giant bushy caterpillars growing over the top of his eyelids! “Dude! Time to have a heart-to-heart with your barber.”
Before going any farther, let’s reiterate the ideal that most avid naturists agree that social nudity is about body acceptance, and the last thing this should invoke is additional paranoia about what people are thinking about your pubic hair, as I truly believe that in the last place, nobody really cares– any more than they care about the woman who died her hair bright Orangutan Orange, to which one might respond, “Well! That’s a choice.” (If you’ve not traveled much in Europe by the way, this is a fairly common sighting!)
But the psychology of it all becomes a good bit more complicated in the years that followed the Make love, not war era of the Sexual Revolution. Later, this became all but regulated by the porn industry when somebody in the back streets of Hollywood decided that all porn stars should look like pre-pubescent teenagers. Regardless of what you think of porn, I’ve always thought that tenant to be – at least – a bit creepy, but if you read any mainstream magazine like Vogue or Elle, they will tell you straight out how to manage your body hair to keep up with the latest trends, and don’t seem to blush when they identify those trends are set by the pornography industry.
SIDEBAR: You might want to take a look at this most excellent article in The Guardian – where I lifted the cover photo, btw – where the author talks about the intimate decisions related to managing one’s pubes.
For readers younger than myself, you probably can’t recall an era when there wasn’t a proliferation of sex manuals in print along with online advice for maximizing intimate pleasure. And god help you if you go on a date that leads to a home run, only to find your new friend is horrified by your hygienic decisions! (See related post: The Stigma of Social Nudity in the Era of Casual Sex.) So, there are plenty of reasons why one might choose to wax this, shave that, or trim the other, but when it comes the being stylish in naturist circles, I’m going to preach it again. NOBODY CARES!!!
Once more, TMI… but this summer my wife and I went the full monty before departing for naturist Europe this summer. Call us old fashioned, but I think we both still have issues with the pre-pubescent thing, and we both prefer some flavor of neatly manicured accentuation – though such decisions are not easily reversed overnight. I personally much prefer the “punctuation” of a neatly trimmed pubic region – on a male or a female – but can also appreciate the “naked all over” effect one might enjoy whether lying in the sun, or in more personal situations. But for those of you who might be lying awake the night before your first naturist foray wondering “what will the other naked people think?” I would advise, “WHY ON EARTH DO YOU CARE?” In the past week, I’ve seen a woman with a really full bush, and a man with a crazy thick beard. Neither elicited a response beyond, “Huh. Interesting!”
An interesting corollary arose last evening as we were sitting at dinner – most of us naked – at a boutique naturist hotel on Mallorca. The crowd, mainly European, started to grill us as the only Americans at the table, about the naturist places near Palm Springs until one brave soul came right out with it! [Insert snarky British accent here] “What’s the deal with all the people with fake boobs at those places in Palm Springs?”
Different body part, but same question, really. Being a male (who is not fond on breast augmentation, I might add,) I can only surmise that women augment their breasts to look better when covered with fabric, and I’m going to go out on a limb that most people choose to manage their pubic region to feel better when intimate with a partner, or perhaps to attend to the whims of even a would-be partner. Maybe it’s a fashion statement when nude, maybe not. But so are tattoos, and nipple piercings, and hair coloring, and mascara, and facial hair. When you realize that being naked with other people is pretty much exactly like being clothed with other people, you come to realize that nobody really cares about your pubes any more than they care about your eyebrows, and even if they do – WHY DO YOU CARE? You’re a naturist who’s come to terms with your body! YAY for YOU!
No wonder I’ve never met a psychologist who doesn’t complain about having more clients than s/he can possibly handle. We humans really do a number on ourselves.