When I saw an email from my editor asking if someone wanted to do a no-shave experiment, it seemed like a no-brainer. Because I am lazy, I can be apathetic — at least when it comes to body hair — and I'm always looking for an excuse not to shave. However, I should clarify a few things, as the title of this article — "I Stopped Shaving My Vagina" — is a bit of a misnomer. If we want to get technical, I didn’t stop shaving my vagina for a month, because I've never shaved it — and whether you realize it or not, neither have you. What I have shaved is my labia, or, if you want to get descriptive, my outer lips. I've shaved my inner thighs and my mons pubis, the rounded mass of fatty tissue you see when you pull your underwear away from your body and take a peek. And I've shaved my vaginal area, not my vagina, which is, by definition, the muscular canal that connects the uterus to the outside world," according to WebMD.
With that bit of housekeeping out of the way, it's time to talk about the fun stuff. The juicy stuff. The experiment.
The premise of this experiment was simple:stop shaving my vaginal area for a month. I didn’t think it would be hard, or that there'd be any backlash over my choices from my husband, and I honestly didn’t think there'd be a downside to going a month without shaving. Going into it, I thought this was going to be a painless experiment — in every sense of the word.
Week 1: The Beginning
There was one thing I had to do before I started this experiment: shave. Before things got underway, I absolutely, positively had to shave. I wanted to start the experiment off on a clean slate so that I really got to experience every step of the right: from bare, to itchy, to full-blown bush. So on day one, my skin was smooth — barring a few red marks and razor bumps — my skin was soft, and I was clean-shaven. I was hairless and bare. Though this is my preferred look, I knew it wouldn't last. And by day three, I was right: stubble appeared on my lips and mound and along my inner thighs. By day five, the stubble was lengthening and the texture of my pubes was softening, and by day seven, a thin — but complete — layer covered my entire vaginal area. And you know wha? It didn’t bother me.
For some reason I felt that there was something really sexy about this state. There was something about this trimmed 'do that made me feel incredibly feminine, not to mention, rocking pubes made me feel a little racy. Being in my natural state made me feel more mature.
However, as fine as it was, I hated having hair on my upper legs and inner thighs, and as subtle as it was, I really wanted to shave it off. I wanted it gone, mainly because it made me feel messy and unkempt. I felt like, with hair there, I looked careless. Not to mention, the thought of that hair showing if I went out to sit by the pool or went for a swim or was, for some reason, in underwear around someone other than my partner, they'd see it. Sure, this concern was a totally personal thing, but I don’t like it when my bush can be seen from my bikini.
Week 2: Getting Self-Conscious
Week one was OK, but week two didn’t go quite as smoothly. To be honest, the Hair Down There was growing — fast. And it was darkening. And thickening. I was certain my husband noticed and, on that note, did I mention I was more than 14 days into this experiment before I told my husband what I was doing? It's not like I needed permission (I didn't), but I was curious if he'd say something or if he'd notice the change, and I was waiting to see what he would say, or not say about it. And part of me was pretty interested to see whether or not going au naturel turned him on or off. (For those wondering, he wasn’t turned off, but he also wasn’t a fan.)
Though my husband's reaction was interesting, week two marked the beginning of my discomfort for a few reasons. Though nothing physically was wrong — having hair didn’t make me feel gross or dirty and it didn’t hurt at all like shaving often does — but I didn’t like the way it looked on me. I didn’t think it was flattering or appealing, and I didn’t like the fact I had pink hair on my head, blonde hairs on my arms, and a dark brown bush.
I started thinking about all the reasons why this was. We've been taught that having hair on your vagina is disgusting, a "retro fad," and in lots of ways, women are conditioned to believe that not shaving your body regularly somehow makes you gross or undesirable or dirty. I wondered how much of my own thinking at this point, now that my hair was growing back, was of my own accord, or things I'd internalized.
Week 3: Touching Up
Here’s the thing: I know the premise of this experiment was to stop shaving for an entire month, but sometimes things pop up and you have to bend the rules a little to make them work for you. Thanks to a date night and a trip to an indoor waterpark, I had to make some adjustments. I had to do some trimming to make myself comfortable enough to slip into my swimsuit. (See above.)
I shaved my inner thighs. And since we're being honest, I also used a pair of scissors to trim some of the longer hairs along my labia, but I promise I only touched up spots in dire need of a trim. I did my best to keep true to the experiment, so I only shaved or cut those sections that showed.
Part of me felt like a traitor for giving in, but I realized that I never would have gone in the pool otherwise. I'm just not comfortable. And though I was embarrassed by my own discomfort with my own body's natural look, I realized that I can't punish myself for feeling that way. If I went full-on bush to that waterpark, I would've never been able to kick back and relax, and I would've robbed myself of an amazing day — and an even better evening. (I won't delve into the details, but let's just say that my husband and I had a great night alone.)
Week 4: Time To Shave!
By week four, I was counting down the days until I could shave. I mean, my bush wasn’t getting in the way of anything, and as I’ve already mentioned, it wasn’t causing me physical discomfort or problems, but it was full. And hick. And I was over it. So on day 27, I stocked up on shaving supplies — I bought a new blade and strawberry-scented shaving cream — and on day 28 I scheduled a date with myself and my shower. On day 30, I got in and took my time shaving each and every last bit of hair off. And you know what? It felt amazing.
When I was done, I took a look at myself in the mirror. My mound is sleek again, I thought. My skin is finally smooth. I felt instantly reconnected to myself — something I didn't realize I'd lost during the course of the experiment. I felt like myself again, and that made me feel incredibly happy. I know having hair on my vagina didn't change me, but it changed the way I saw myself. It altered my confidence and it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable.
Did Going Shave-Free Change Me?
This experiment wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Sure, I didn't have to do anything, but I didn't enjoy that feeling. In truth, I felt like going shave-free made me lazy. I didn't openly embrace my knew look, and I didn't like it. It just wasn't for me. That said, just because I like to keep myself clean-shaven (or closely-shaven) doesn't mean there is anything wrong with body hair. It isn't inherently unsexy and it isn't gross. I might've caved and shaved and been totally relieved when the experiment was over, but that doesn't mean that this is a self-care policy all women should subscribe to.