Straight Talk Advice

Feb 04, 2014

Girl faces pressure over not shaving

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 16 and unlike most girls I know, I prefer to be natural and don't shave or wax. My friends accept this as my business, however, my stepsisters, with whom I share a room every other weekend, say I look gross with pubic hair and proudly display their shave and wax jobs. They say their boyfriends and nearly all guys prefer it. I have a boyfriend, but we aren't to this point, however, someday in life, this point will come. Does it really matter to guys if a girl shaves and waxes? Also, how do I deal with my stepsisters? —Molly, Petaluma, Calif.

Sarah 16, Monclova, Ohio Ask me a question

The pressure to shave and wax is another way girls are made to feel insecure about their appearance. In all honesty, it's a huge hassle and even harmful. Due to porn, it has become the norm for many guys to expect a hairless girl. What I've learned: If a guy respects and loves you, he'll accept the natural you. If he doesn't, he doesn't deserve you.

Katelyn 19, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

That your stepsisters make this an issue, but your friends don't, shows who really cares. Remind them that you're free to make your own choices. And dress in the bathroom.

Mae 21, Santa Cruz, Calif. Ask me a question

It's true that today's young men expect women to be shaved — BUT many guys (usually the good ones) don't care at all. They're just thrilled to be with you. I stopped at 19 because my then-boyfriend said, “Why do you shave?” And I was like, “Because I'm supposed to…??” And he said, “Well, I don't care.” And that was it! I stopped. It's incredibly uncomfortable to shave pubic hair and Brazilian waxes (I've had one) are alarming painful. It's great that you don't shave. I'll never go back. Your stepsisters are insecure. Don't undress around them or anyone immature. As you get older, people become accepting. Tip: If things deepen with your boyfriend, explain ahead that you don't shave in case he's really reactive in the moment.

Brandon 22, Mapleton, Maine Ask me a question

Find a way to ask your boyfriend about it. Lots of guys are grossed out by pubic hair. Others think it's beautiful. Regarding your stepsisters, don't let them bully you. It ain't their junk down there.

Carlos 18, Fairfax, Va. Ask me a question

I just asked my guy friends if it mattered and they all said they don't care. Molly, be happy with who you are!

Moriah 17, Rutland, Vt. Ask me a question

I'm on your side. I've given this thought and talked with both sexes about it. My conclusion: Girls tend to freak out over body changes and try to reverse them (losing weight when they develop hips, covering up acne, and shaving/waxing pubic hair). Their insecurity makes them act and look like ten-year-old girls! Boys admire a female confident in her womanhood, so stay confident! Let your stepsisters know you are comfortable looking like a woman.

Dear Molly: It's true what Sarah said: This trend came from the porn industry and according to the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, contagious viral skin infections (Molluscum contagiosum), genital warts, folliculitis, cysts, and scars are increasing from it.

It also has emotional costs for girls. All the focus “down there” (starting in middle school for many), causes girls over-the-top objectification of themselves as sex objects. This consumes tremendous mental energy that would normally be spent on studies and activities that develop confidence and intelligence — which is what's really attractive. Congratulations on avoiding an unhealthy trend. Like many girls, your stepsisters are caught up in it — and they're being mean. Projecting confidence is your best defense. You might also pity their insecurity.

Editor's Note: Will pubic hair shaving eventually become as "normal" as underarm shaving? I doubt it. Shaving the genital region every couple days is a big hassle (as Sarah reports), waxing is painful (as Mae reports) — not to mention expensive ($500-800 a year) — plus the negative health effects of giving yourself micro-wounds in an area so moist and so close to the body's waste-treatment outlet are starting to make mainstream news. That said, to parents reading this, it is a huge fashion trend right now, and has been for over a decade, coinciding with the popularity of internet porn. Girls have just been good at hiding it from most parents.

We did a column on it two years ago when a mother accidentally saw her daughter clean-shaven and worried that it meant she was sexually promiscuous. It is not an indicator of that, simply a fashion, and one with huge peer pressure to follow as today's column demonstrates. To read that earlier column, which includes tips on how to talk to a daughter about it, click HERE. 

For parents, I recommend first trying to hold back the tide on giving the body this much sexual attention (see emotional costs below), not to mention health risks, and if that won't work, I suggest you promote trimming, which provides some of the basic "look" without the health problems.

More about emotional costs: It is common for girls today, as young as 5 or 6, to self-objectify as sex objects. Girlhood has been taken away from them at huge cost to their womanhood. Dr. Leonard Sax, in his book "Girls on the Edge," talks about a study where girls were put alone in a room doing math problems. Some were wearing regular clothes, others a swimming suit. Well, guess what? Just wearing the swimming suit, with nobody else around, made a girl unable to think compared to when she was wearing regular clothes. Sitting alone in the room, wearing that bathing suit, she was consumed with sexually-objectifying herself! Girls today put SO much mental attention on their shave and wax jobs that this may be the biggest cost of all. The longer a girl can remain a girl, and not relate to herself as a sexual object, the stronger and more successful (including sexually), she will be as a woman. —Lauren

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  1. By Taylor, age , from Santa Rosa, CA on 02/04/2014

    I have noticed that older guys don’t mind natural because that’s what was “in” but now most younger guys do prefer a clean look. It really does depend on the guy, but also on you. It is your body and ultimately your decision of what you do with it to feel comfortable.

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  2. By Nicole, age , from Santa Rosa, CA on 02/04/2014

    This is a good question! I am curious what the young men think, too! Personally, the guys I date love a natural woman….But I do tend to date older men…And I do believe that makes a difference. :)

    Reply to this comment

  3. By Colin, age , from Sacramento, Calif. on 02/04/2014

    To be honest, I think most men do prefer shaved women, although this preference is by no means universal.  What your stepsisters say certainly isn’t very kind and I suggest you ignore them when they are being this way.  It’s important for you to remember that your body is yours, and you’re still very young, so you have a lot of time to make this decision.

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  4. By Leah, age , from Yuba City, Calif. on 02/04/2014

    Ultimately, it is your body and your decision on whether or not you want to shave and wax. And to be honest that is all you have to tell them. All that matters is whether or not you are happy with it. Don’t listen to anyone else’s opinion on your body, just do what you want.

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  5. By Lisa, age , from Carmichael, CA on 02/04/2014

    Molly,  I really feel sorry for you. I think your stepsisters have a real problem if they’re checking out your pubic area and putting you down for having pubic hair and then “proudly displaying” their shave and wax jobs!  The problem is theirs not yours!  They also sound like real sluts if they’re letting their boyfriends see them this way and are trying to impress them like this.  I’m not shy about my sister or my friends seeing me nude, but I still would be very uncomfortable sharing a room with and undressing in front of jerks like this!  You may not be able to avoid sharing a room with them but as Katelyn says, you can avoid at least undressing in front of them by changing in the bathroom.  That’s what I would do.

    I don’t shave and wax but my sister does.  Some of my friends do and some don’t.  It’s a personal choice.  However, I’ve never heard someone comment on whether someone does or doesn’t or put someone down because they do or don’t shave and/or wax.  I think that’s totally out of line.  Nobody I know ever comments about another girl’s private parts when they’re in a situation where they happen to see each other nude, and that’s the way it should be.  Private parts are called that for a reason.

    Lisa

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  6. By T.N., age , from Anaheim, CA on 02/04/2014

    From a guy’s point of view, I don’t worry about how a girl looks down there; I’m more concerned about how it feels, and based on my experience, sex is much better with girls who have pubic hair.  I know this is rather graphic, but when a girl gets “wet” during sex you need public hair to be properly lubricated and sex is much more pleasurable with lubrication.  I’ve also found that many girls who shave and wax find sex painful and sometimes they get infections and can’t have sex.  This doesn’t happen with girls who keep their pubic hair.  Pubic hair is natural, and you shouldn’t mess with nature.  Nature always knows what it is doing.

    T.N.

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  7. By Sarah, age , from Salinas, CA on 02/05/2014

    Molly, don’t do it.  You’ll be sorry! I decided that I wanted to shave and wax 2 years ago when I was only 14.  Big mistake.  I did it because I wanted to be like my 17 year old stepsister whom I idealized and wanted to be just like her.  We also shared a room on visitations and weren’t shy about nudity in front of each other in the bedroom.  She didn’t put me down or anything, but I thought her cleanly shaved and waxed pudenda looked so much better than mine, so I decided to do it.  Nobody ever saw me naked but my stepsister and a couple of close friends (who didn’t shave and wax) and once in a great while by mom, so I don’t know who I was trying to impress.  I certainly wasn’t letting guys see me naked.

    I couldn’t afford a professional job and knew my mom wouldn’t pay for something like that at my age and I didn’t want to tell her anyway, so I tried to do it myself.  I didn’t know what I was doing and totally botched it and it looked terrible.  When my stepsister saw what I had done, she laughed at me, and I was totally devastated.  To make matters much worse, I got a bad infection from it so I had to show my mom who was furious.  The doctor gave me medication that cleared up the infection, but it was very humiliating to have to show our male family doctor what I had done.  My mom didn’t punish me any further as she figured that I had suffered enough and learned my lesson (and I had!).  It took 6 months before my pudenda were back to normal, and now I am happy to be natural.  I will never do this again and I hope you and others reading this will not make the same mistake.  I also think that any guy who would judge a girl by whether she shaves and waxes isn’t worth having.  I now agree with T.N. that you shouldn’t mess with nature.

    Sarah

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  8. By Gabriella, age , from Santa Ana, CA, USA on 02/06/2014

    It’s true that there is lots of peer pressure these days to shave and wax.  I don’t believe in doing it, and I’m not going to give in.  As others have pointed out, pubic hair is natural and is there for a reason.  I stopped going to slumber parties with a group of friends because it got to where most of talk was about this and how best to do it and comparing their shave and wax jobs.  Since I don’t do it, I had nothing to talk about and nothing to “show.”  I’m not a prude, but I have absolutely no interest in looking at other girls’ shaven and waxed pudenda.  I found better things to do.  However, my little sister who is only 14 wants to do it because she wants to looks like her friends and feels out of place and because she has lots of hair in those places as we’re Hispanic and we tend to have lots of pubic hair and some girls have made fun of her because of it.  We share a room so I see her nude and I have tried to tell her that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way she looks there.  Our mom won’t let her do it, so she wants me to help her do it behind her back, but I won’t.  I think it’s really sad that something like this has become such a major thing to so many girls.

    Gabriella

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  9. By Mark, age , from Yorba Linda, CA on 02/07/2014

    My younger sister (15 years old) gave into peer pressure and did this with the help of a friend.  She doesn’t have a boyfriend and hasn’t even ever had a date.  She did it because all of her friends were doing it and she wanted to look the same as them when they saw each other naked at sleepovers and slumber parties and in the locker room, etc.  Even so, she said she wanted a guy’s opinion and asked me to look and give her my honest opinion.  We share a room and have always been casual in our family, so seeing her naked was nothing new and does not give me a turn on.  I told her that it made her look like a “slut.”  She was devastated and was furious with me for telling her that.  But she asked for my honest opinion and I gave it.  Maybe I could have said it in a more tactful way, but that would not have gotten the message across. 

    I can only speak for myself but as a guy, I would be less attracted, not more by a girl who does this.

    Mark

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  10. By Max, age , from El Dorado Hills, CA on 02/07/2014

    There is a middle ground, and I don’t understand why no one has mentioned it.  I find it much more attractive when a girl’s pudenda is neatly trimmed, especially around the bikini lines.  That’s what my girlfriend does, although she has also been under peer pressure to shave and wax all of her pubic hair off.  I have seen girls who are “clean shaven” and I find it a big turnoff to expose everything this way.

    Max

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  11. By Lynne, age , from Toledo, OH on 02/08/2014

    I agree that trimming is much better than shaving and waxing.  That is what I do and I have never been sorry.  I share a room with my older sister, so I knew that she trimmed rather than shaving and waxing. She has always been a great role model for me, and I have never gone wrong by following her example.  I was scared about doing it the first time, so I had her help me learn how to do it.  I couldn’t have had anyone else help me with something so intimate, not even my mom, but I was totally comfortable with my big sister.  I do know girls who completely shave and wax and think it makes them superior and like to show it off, but I think that’s really stupid.  I recommend that you try trimming.  If your pubic region is neatly trimmed,  nobody can say you look gross.

    Lynne

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  12. By Claire, age , from Lodi, CA on 02/08/2014

    Personally, I wax even though it’s a hassle because I like the clean look and my boyfriend also likes me that way.  My best friend and I help each other do it since we can’t afford a professional job but we’re able to do it pretty well.  However, I agree that it’s your personal business.  From what I’ve seen, the majority of my friends also wax and some also shave.  But some don’t, and I wouldn’t think of putting somebody down because they choose not to do this.  I think that it’s totally inappropriate to check out another girl’s pubic area when your in a situation when your sharing a room and undressing in front of each other and putting somebody down for having pubic hair.  The same for proudly displaying yourself.  I don’t do this and don’t know anybody who does.  Molly’s stepsisters need to get a life if they have nothing better to do than this!

    Claire

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  13. By S.T., age None, from Vacaville, CA on 02/08/2014

    My sister and I are close in age and have always had a lot of sibling rivalry.  We have to share a room and even though we don’t get along well we’re still sisters so we’ve never been shy about nudity.  She waxes and I don’t (I do trim) and we both use it to put the other down.  She says she looks better than me and I say that she’s “slutty” because she does this. 

    After reading this column and the comments, I realize that we’re both being stupid and immature about this.  I now agree that nobody’s better or worse than anybody else because they do or don’t wax and nobody should put anybody down because of what they choose to do in this regard.  I’m going to stop putting her down and hopefully she will also stop if there’s no more back and forth and maybe we can get along better since we’re stuck sharing a room and undressing in front of each other whether we like it or not.

    S.T.

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  14. By Jeff, age , from Oxnard, CA on 02/09/2014

    I’ve never seen an older girl nude.  I used to sometimes see my sisters when we were younger, but once their bodies started maturing they’ve always kept the door to their room closed when they’re undressed and wear a robe when they go to take a shower and keep the bathroom door closed and locked when they share it in the morning.  That’s fine with me, as I don’t want to see them this way and maybe get aroused like others have written about in Straight Talk.  I have overheard them talking about it with each other and their friends and it sounds like they and most of their friends wax.

    I have seen pictures of nude women both ways, and I find the pictures of those whose pudenda are neatly trimmed are the most attractive and the biggest turn on and sometimes look at those when I masturbate.  The pictures of the ones who are totally shaved and waxed show too much and I don’t find it attractive at all.  It turns me off, not on.

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  15. By Bob, age , from Fair Oaks, CA on 02/09/2014

    My girlfriend shaved and waxed because her older sister whom she always tries to emulate had done it and she liked the way her sister looked and her sister told her that her boyfriend liked her better that way.  She didn’t ask me ahead of time what I thought of it.  When she showed me and asked me what I thought I told her that I liked it even though it wasn’t true.  I’ve learned from experience that when a girl asks you if you like something about her appearance whether it’s her hair, her makeup, her clothes or even her pubic area, you better say you like it whether or not it’s true or you’re in big trouble!  I also agree with T.N. that sex was better when she had pubic hair and she also seems to enjoy it less now that she has shaved and waxed all of it off.  I agree with the others that there’s nothing wrong with trimming and that can make a girl more attractive, but pubic hair is normal and there is nothing wrong with it.  You don’t see guys shaving theirs off!

    Bob

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  16. By Dick, age , from Irvine, CA on 02/09/2014

    I’ve seen and screwed girls who shave and wax as well as those who don’t.  I find it more attractive to look at a girl who shaves and waxes.  However, it is much better screwing a girl who has pubic hair.  I’m more interested in screwing than looking, so I much prefer a girl who has pubic hair.  As others have said,  you shouldn’t mess with nature.  I know I may sound blunt and sexist, but I believe telling it like it is.

    Dick

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  17. By Robin, age , from Oceanside, CA on 02/09/2014

    I’m with Claire.  My sister and I and my friends and I aren’t shy about undressing in front of each other since we’re all girls and all the same.  However, we don’t go out of our way to look at each others pubic part.  I do my best not to look.  We couldn’t care less whether somebody else waxes or shaves or doesn’t.  Why should we care?  And I’ve never known anybody who waxes to show it off.  My sister and I believe in being natural, but we couldn’t care less what others choose to do.  Molly’s stepsisters are totally out of line both to be putting her down and to showing themselves off this way!

    Robin

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  18. By Henry Blake, age 22, from Ottowa on 05/11/2014

    NO NO

    Don’t Shave it all off.  Think about the future.

    Reply to this comment

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