Pubic hair and body positivity can be a tricky issue. On the one hand, people absolutely have the right to cut, shape, dye, remove or in any other way sculpt their own personal body space! I get how it can be liberating and a way of taking control of your own body and quite literally shaping your intimate identity.
On the other hand, there seems to be a growing repulsion for body hair that isn’t manicured. A dislike for ‘natural’ hair, particularly (but not exclusively) when it comes to vulvas. Some people specifically find it ‘unhygienic‘. This despite the fact that pubic hair, like the hair on your head, has specifically protective functions.
So trim and go as bare as you dare around your nether regions if you want to. But maybe think about why your doing it!
This week, artist Laura Dodsworth’s latest piece hit the news. This is a collection of photographs of 100 vulvas. One of the reasons this is great is that it taps into and challenges taboos around vulval genitalia. One of the misconceptions very publicly elicited was the language and terms use- Dodsworth correctly uses ‘vulva’ to refer to the externally visible parts of this type of genitalia:
That ignorance around this exists became very evident, very quickly. One twitterer tried to ‘correct’ it. I’m doing so, he used the term ‘vagina’ which, although a common mistake, refers to the passage between the cervix (entrance of the womb) and outside of the body. These bits can be photographed, but it’s rather tricky and involves specialist equipment!
Professional and amateur vulva and vagina owners alike were swift to correct him. I really recommend reading this link, with popcorn.
This non-fiction graphic novel is a glorious, witty and visually engaging look at a history of attitudes towards vulval genitalia throughout the ages. It kicks off with a run down of top 10 men who were interested in vulvas in unhealthy ways. I was educated, outraged and entertained, all in equal measures. This is a book I wished I had doodled!
I’m on holiday abroad at the moment. It’s got me thinking about cultural norms and attitudes to various things, including nudity and attitudes towards sex.
The more I meet and talk to people from outside of my own country, the more I reflect on our own general national attitudes. It’s inherently difficult to get an unbiased and honestly reflective impression of yourself. With that caveat, it seems to me to be evident that in the UK we are a little more uncomfortable talking about sex. Whenever I travel I seem to see a wealth of examples of people being generally more at ease with their bodies. From the presence of wrinkly, black bikini-clad Nonnas on Italian beaches, to the communal changing rooms in Japanese Onsen.
I’ll be taking a few souvenirs back with me to London. Above are some I’d like to share with you: various types of nudes from the Montreal Musée des Beux-Arts. Enjoy!
Resister of of society’s preconceptions of femininity?
Or just a human without a razor?’
Recently a group of the Midwives were scandalised by a woman who arrived on to labour ward with proudly hair legs. I laughed and smiled when they told me how ‘unkempt’ she was – unknown to them, I too had a pretty good going leg thatch, hidden beneath my theatre scrubs. This tends to change as the weather heats up and I start to don Summer dresses and skirts. It’s not necessarily that I like smoother legs, I just have a feeling it would be unseemly to show off the lovely down that keeps me warm over winter.
The latest from my life drawing group.
I go to life drawing classes once a week. The first couple of times was an odd experience – I’ve never been in an environment before where nudity isn’t very directly linked with sexuality. My ultimate body-positive goal would be able to model myself but I’m not quite there yet.