I started shaving my pubic hair before I knew what it was. Having hit puberty at an early enough age in a repressed enough household that no one had gotten around to giving me anything resembling “the talk” by the time hair started coming in down there, I had no idea what was happening south of my waist or why, but I knew it had to go.
While the immediacy with which I took a razor to my nascent pubes probably suggests I had already managed to internalize a slew of gendered beauty standards before even reaching adolescence, the pursuit of hairlessness felt instinctive to me. In fact, it didn’t even occur to me that there could have ever been a time women didn’t immediately strip their nether regions of any sign of hair until years later, when I first saw a certain oft-memed scene from The Wolf of Wall Street as a teen.
“Suddenly, one week, nobody had anything down there anymore,” Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort tells his bemused father, detailing the brave new world of women “bald from the eyebrows down.”
The scene takes place in the early ’90s, but even by the time the film premiered in 2013, relative hairlessness remained the standard pubic-grooming preference among young women and their porn-fed male sex partners. A 2017 Cosmopolitan survey found that 57 percent of women between 18 and 35 go completely bare, and 46 percent of men prefer it that way. Just six percent of women said they keep things all natural, and the same meager percentage of men voiced a preference for a bush-sporting partner.
Since that fateful week in the ’90s when the women of the world apparently made the sudden decision to start stripping ourselves as bare as the day we were born, however, an underrepresented yet passionate army of men have been patiently waiting for the full bush to make its triumphant return. According to some of them, that day may finally be on the horizon.
“Bald or shaved is so ten years ago and so overdone,” the anonymous moderator of the subreddit r/HairyPussy tells InsideHook. The full-bush enthusiast, who moderates one of Reddit’s most impressive collections of masturbatory material for pubic hair lovers from his home in Tampa, Florida, says he’s been a fan of the full bush since his very first sexual encounter, “playing doctor” with a friend’s sister as a kid.
“I love how sexually mature and primal it is. It ignites the caveman response in me,” he says. “I appreciate a woman’s natural body.”
The bush-loving moderator reckons the cue ball look has been on its way out for the better part of the last decade, and he suspects the pandemic will only accelerate the trend’s flirtation with irrelevance.
With lockdown orders limiting access to professional hair removal and grooming practices falling by the wayside amid a pandemic that’s left many people largely homebound, Simon, a 44-year-old from New York, is also hoping a “triumphant return of full-on 1970s bush” is in his post-COVID future.
“I like the sensation of the first brush of pubic hair under my fingers,” says Simon. “I also like the scent — how it feels kind of trapped and sacred. It’s animalistic, almost.”
Like the mod of r/HairyPussy — which Simon, for his part, finds “a bit too gynecological” — the New Yorker traces his fascination with full bush back to his earliest experiences of sexual arousal, most of which took place over stolen peeks at his parents’ porn collection.
“The first porn I ever saw was ’80s magazine porn, which is very bushy,” he tells InsideHook. “Those were my first erections in response to visual stimuli, so that probably strikes deep.”
But Simon likes to think his affinity for the pubic-grooming style that dominated his earliest masturbatory material isn’t just a case of early imprinting. There are other reasons he’s nostalgic for the porn and pubic hair trends of his youth. According to Simon, the porn of decades past holds a certain artistic sincerity, one he’s come to equate with full bush.
“It reminds me of porn from the ’70s, which I like because it’s so earnest,” he says. “I think, or maybe I just like to imagine, that there was a brief moment in cinematic history when people took porn seriously as art, and that porn actors of the time were maybe not as cynical about what they’re doing as I imagine them to be now. This is obviously all just fantasy, but that’s what I mean by ‘earnest,’ and I equate that earnestness with bush.”
Chris, a 26-year-old from Boston, also traces his taste for pubic hair back to his earliest masturbatory influences. For a guy coming of age in the early 2000s, however, that material wasn’t the “earnest” porn of the ’70s nor the bushy centerfolds of the ’80s, but rather the leaked celebrity nudes that dominated Hollywood sex scandals in the early aughts.
Chris caught his first look at a fully nude woman at the age of 13, when Vanessa Hudgens became the victim of a highly publicized nude photo leak in 2007. It was a revelatory experience.
“I had no idea women were capable of growing body hair or being hairy down there,” he says. “From the second I saw that, I was instantly obsessed with pubic hair — partially because [Hudgens] was one of my first celebrity crushes, and partially because of the ‘taboo’ nature of viewing something I was not supposed to be seeing.”
But while his love for bush may be rooted in an early adolescent experience, Chris says he’s actually drawn to the sexual maturity plentiful pubic hair suggests.
“I like the natural look and feel of a full bush on a woman,” he says. “When I think of the difference between a ‘girl’ and a ‘woman,’ one of the first things that comes to mind is the presence of pubic hair. I think it’s a sign of maturity.”
By the way, it’s not just straight guys fighting back against the modern trend of aggressive pubic grooming. While Connor, a 29-year-old from Toronto, suspects members of the LGBTQ community may be more open to untrimmed pubic hair than their straight counterparts, he’d still like to see more guys rocking the full bush.
“Too many guys nowadays are shaving and trimming,” he wrote earlier this year in the subreddit r/AskGayMen, calling for the full bush to make a comeback. Like Chris, Connor sees pubic hair as a signal of sexual maturity, and finds it “off-putting” when a partner goes hairless.
“I’ve always been attracted to men with a hairier physique,” he tells InsideHook. “I find that guys who completely shave their bush look unnatural and very prepubescent.”
Unfortunately, while Chris says he believes full bush “is making a silent comeback,” he finds there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding natural pubic hair and those who prefer it.
“Unfortunately, I do not think there are a lot of men around my age who are into full bush,” he says, adding that he’s even felt some shame over his unorthodox pubic hair preferences. “I’m sure there are more men that prefer pubic hair than the statistics show, but I think it is still taboo — largely because of the porn industry,” he adds.
But while bare vulvas may still dominate mainstream sexual aesthetics today, these men remain hopeful that someday, bush will be back. And when it is, they’ll be ready.