I recently had the pleasure of spending an evening in a very expensive and very chi-chi gym. So new and exclusive, the Spinning room didn’t smell of stale sweat, the yoga room didn’t smell of silent farts and the weighing scales were yet to smell of disappointment and self-loathing. £250 a month membership, Kiehl’s products in the showers, and £100 an hour personal training classes. It was lavish, it was swish, it was immaculate. With the scars from my recent tumble off my bike (torn, laddered tights and blood pouring from my knee), I stood out like a sore thumb. But worse was to come.
After a leisurely pilates class, we retired to the steam room. The application form for membership of this kind of gym stipulates that you must be perfectly formed. This is not a place to come if your goal is to shift a couple of pounds. You do not spend this kind of dosh if you are not already in perfect shape, and are simply using this as a hunting ground for other humans of equally idealised proportions with whom to procreate and share perfect genes. Such anatomical perfection, and such comfort in their own skin means that when it comes to the after-workout extra-curricular gym entertainment (steam room, sauna), there is only one way to go: in the buff.
I’m not uncomfortable in my nude self. I pay little attention to it, my body being one of those things that just happens, like council tax. I know I’ve got all the right bits in approximately the right places, in pretty much the right numbers. I’ve never done a full itinerary of my organs, but it does seem like I’m in possession of two breasts and a vagina.
But these women. Wow. Not only were they beautiful, but they were also groomed to within an inch of their lives. Every one of them. In a steam room of six women, I was the only one with pubic hair. I have been known to have a groom from time to time. Usually when I have recently accrued a lover, to add a bit of fun and spice to a budding relationship, but, on the whole, do to a far too hectic social life and choosing to invest my salary in nights out rather than evenings lying on a beauty therapist’s couch with my legs in the air, I remain relatively au naturel. Armpit and leg hair removal: yes. Vaginal depilation: to some extent, but *all* of it? I’m not so sure. But if, based on this sample, 83% of women are doing it, should I be too? Will there come a time when pubic hair becomes as socially toxic as female armpit hair? Will it become a requirement of 21st century womanhood to rid ourselves of this one last bastion of feminism?
A strawpoll of men I know hints that their influence is responsible for the latest fad. Porn in the 1970s was full-bush and in the 40 years since, it has gradually got balder and balder, until now
And it’s not just women. Men have started to get into it too. Out of the men with whom I have been intimately acquainted recently, most have experimented with crotch grooming to at least some degree. The natural man-bush is no more. The plume of pubic forest in a man’s pants is disappearing faster than the rain forests in the Amazon. That comforting cushion surrounding a man’s old boy has now gone. I’ve seen the entire grooming gamut; from fully waxed, through stubble and into “natural looking” manscaping. My consultation with men who are also into men confirmed that it’s even more prevalent in the pink community. There is barely a ballsac in Soho that has not been clipped, shaved or waxed.
But I wonder if, in this post-Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter world, when paedophilia is on people’s minds more and more, fashion may come back on itself and we will have a revival of a more adult looking pubic region.
I look down at my area, shorn to within an inch of its life, a tiny little patch of dark lawn just hinting at what lies beneath, and I know, that when I have a sexy man about to give me a good seeing to, it really doesn’t matter.