As the world begins to open back up, my partner and I have been spending a little time delving back into the online swinging scene. It’s probably going to be a while yet before we feel safe meeting or hooking up with anyone in real life, but it feels good to even be able to consider it again after being isolated for so long. (#FuckYouCovid.)
As we browse pics and read profiles, I’ve noticed an upsetting trend. Of those individuals and couples who won’t even consider anyone with body hair (and that’s already a majority of swingers,) many are using language that explicitly or implicitly conflates body hair with dirtiness and being clean shaven everywhere with being hygienic.
Where did this idea come from? When did it become so normalised to equate body hair with being unclean? How are an enormous majority of ostensibly sex-positive grown ass adults so disgusted by something so natural?
Whenever I see statements like “we expect clean and shaven” or “hygiene matters so not interested in hairy people” or “no gross bushes,” I want to say this: my body is not dirty.
Body hair is one of the many arenas in which women’s and AFAB folks’ bodies have been turned into political battlegrounds. Whether I intended it as such or not, my choice not to remove my body hair is seen as a statement. Shaving or waxing everything off has become so normalised that the literal natural unaltered state of my body is automatically viewed as having a deeper meaning.
Sure, in a certain light it can be a useful way to wear my politics on my body. People who have a problem with women’s body hair will probably have a problem with a lot of things about me. But what if I just… like my body like this? What if I just find hair removal a time-sucking pain in the ass? What if I hate ingrown hairs and the inevitable itchy-as-fuck regrowth period? What if I just leave my body hair as it is because I, and my partners, find it kinda sexy?
I get that we all have our preferences, and that’s fine! Do what you want with your own body, and feel free to date people whose grooming habits align with your preferences. I certainly don’t want to have sex with anyone who is grossed out by an aspect of my body! But if you’re that disgusted and turned off by body hair, I challenge you to ask yourself why.
It’s not unhygienic and it’s not dirty. That’s a myth. Pubic hair actually helps to protect your sensitive genital tissue from infection and bacteria. The only time body hair is unhygienic is if you don’t wash it… and frankly, if you don’t wash regularly you’re going to be unhygienic regardless of whether you have hair or don’t.
Body hair is a natural thing that adult bodies have. Shaving everything off is a relatively recent cultural norm. It’s literally the result, as so many beauty norms are, of corporations convincing women there’s a problem with our bodies so they can sell us the “fix.”
I want people to stop talking about a normal feature of the human body like it’s something disgusting. I want people to stop equating hair removal with cleanliness. If you’re grossed out by it, then admit that that’s on you. Stop acting like “body hair = gross” is some unavoidable law of the world that you are powerless to question or examine. Keep your socially-imposed expectations off my genitals.
Because my body is not dirty.