In Search of Bush

Does anyone have vagina hair anymore? I mean seriously, anyone other than me and Cameron Diaz?

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am when all my friends tell me they are getting all of their pubic hair removed for an upcoming beach trip. Or, they just do that all the time and claim to really like it or that they enjoy sex more that way. Having never done this, I can’t imagine the sensation, either of not having any hair in that area or of the in between phase before when you get it all taken off again. It sounds painful, uncomfortable, and… cold.

Friends claim they feel cleaner with out their private lady’s department curtains, and don’t share my opinion that the girls in 70’s hustlers are sexy. Pubic hair is sexy to me, is that weird? I mean, you don’t get it till you’re an adult, and then it covers up your sexy parts. What isn’t hot about that?

I am a brunette, and hair removal is the bane of my existence. A childhood best friend and I shaved our legs the summer we were ten (we were both so fucking hairy already). Our conservative mothers (Catholic – mine, Baptist – hers) had forbidden us to do so at a young age but clearly had no idea what we were dealing with on the playground. Pretty much like, no time to grow up girls, you better be a woman as soon as you’re in double digits. Start painting your nails and wearing a bra, men are going to look at you. We were so scared to tell them that instead we recorded our confession on a cassette tape which we then listened to with them.   Clever children of the eighties.

As I do with most things, I took it upon myself to be my own waxer as a teenager. I remember a dorm mate in upstate New York complaining about pubic hairs on the toilet seats of our bathroom. “I know what people are doing, they’re trimming their pubes in the bathroom. You don’t trim your pubes on the toilet, you trim them over your fuckin’ basket!” I’m pretty sure the light bulb for me was “oh my god, you can trim it?” other than thinking “oh my god, you can’t do that on the toilet?” Don’t even get me started on the early 80’s, my earliest memories of what a woman looks like. It was Hustler magazine and beyond.

Have you seen the cartoon showing the progression of women’s pubic hair and men’s facial hair?


(I got this from Alexi Wasser’s Instagram – thanks Alexi!)

I think even the five year gap between my age and some of my friends makes for a huge disconnect in pubic hair stylings. The Brazilian was a big deal in my twenties and a great plot device in “Bergdorf Blondes”, by Vogue contributor Plum Sykes (she almost seems like a relic of the “Sex and the City” era now).  My more millennial leaning girlfriends went straight past Brazil to bald.

The older you get the worse dealing with body hair gets, just like hangovers. Things start to just be rebellious. In direct proportion to the more sensitive every inch of my body seems to be, everyone has less and less hair.

I wonder, did the guys I’ve had sex with feel a sense of surprise when they got me out of my panties? Was it novel to them or did they hide their disgust? Do they care? Are women doing this for us? Much like I’m not interested in men who are most attracted to my polar opposite – a woman with fake breasts, artificially blonde hair, the works – I assume the guys who are attracted to me aren’t into the sphynx cat look. I mean, I feel like my luxurious head of natural hair should be some kind of indication that I’m probably not going bare everywhere else. But I could be wrong.

If a guy’s own manscaping proclivities are any indicator of his interests, I’ve certainly been involved with some men who like things on the bare side. I feel a negative sense of surprise in the situations when I’ve encountered a bare man area (what is this called?) or, even worse… stubble. I don’t care that it looks bigger. I appreciate some manscaping on someone who can use it, but it’s unfair that women are expected, or even think they look better with negative pubic hair when in my experience most men still seem to let it run wild.

An old boyfriend (a very brief one) gave me a telephone warning before I came over one night: “sometimes I shave down there”. He didn’t want me to be surprised. I assured him that this wasn’t a new idea to me. However, we hadn’t really spoken for several days after an argument when this happened. All I could think was, he was so excited we were going to have sex again, he got all stoked and shaved his pubes. No flowers or anything like that, just a hairless package. What a douche.

I’ve heard stories of guys who really like to go down requesting a bit of consideration, and while I’m sure this is embarrassing for any woman involved, we all must admit that we can relate. Why not tend to the hair down there just like the hair on your head, and use it as a well thought out accessory? Maybe the next trend should be special pubic hair conditioners?  Does this already exist?  (There are some online articles about how to soften it!)

Cameron Diaz caused somewhat of a stir when her book “The Body Book” came out and dedicated 367 words to pubes. Her biggest message was non-support of laser hair removal, and her pertinent mention of gravity was humbling. Upon googling this I was pleasantly reminded of Gwyneth Paltrow’s obsession with her big, 70’s bush. Like others have said, and I don’t care what anyone really says, Gwyneth is a true gangster.  And her hair probably grows in a perfect blonde triangle no matter how much Cameron says it’s waving in her bathwater “like seaweed”.

Do you remember the weird vagina flashing moment Britney Spears had? My stomach turns just thinking about it. Who wants non-select people to see that, and who doesn’t wear underwear with a skirt that short? Just think of the bacteria you’re exposing yourself to, and, like Amy Poehler said on Weekend Update at the time, “nobody wants to see your roast beef sandwich!” Ew. But true. Was this a reaction to what Fred Durst said about her bush on Howard Stern? Were Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan behind it?

I was less offended by the vagina flashing of Alana Haim. I’m not sure she CAN wear underwear with her shorts. During Haim’s amazing set, I realized I was basically looking at Alana’s vulva. “Is this ok?” I wondered. I felt weirdly comfortable with it, like, maybe just that part can be shown if it’s because of short shorts, and you’re also a badass musician powerfully owning your presence before an audience. I also wondered if she was magically just not hairy, or really dedicated to a waxing regime (hard to tell, as Baby Haim is from a distinctly different generation than me). My friend put it very well at the end of the show when she said “I enjoyed looking at Baby Haim’s poonanny a lot more than I expected”. It was weirdly feminist in her case. Should I be okay with vagina flashing being like a hint of thong or midriff or something? I’m pretty into my cleavage.  I mean, is it just like an “accept my vagina!” thing? Because I still can’t think of a male equivalent, or Americans getting European about vaginas like Europeans are about breasts.171733157

 Alana Haim (see photo for credit).

I think Amy Schumer’s skit best portrays how I feel about all this. Isn’t it hard enough to be a woman already? Let me list the things I already worry about:


grey hair


unpainted nails



pale skin

dry skin

sun spots

The list of unacceptable traits goes on and on. I don’t know how any of us have time to go to work or have social lives. Extreme hair removal is like another thing to keep us out of the workforce… pair it with how expensive daycare is.

And here is where I end on a feminist note: The most recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. I don’t have a problem with photos of beautiful women, though of course there should be more woman-directed beefcake out there (i.e. not for gay men). Fuck that shit about women not being visual, have you seen @hotdudesreading on Instagram? Anyway, not only is the bathing suit bottom tiny (and check out Kate Upton’s 2012 cover), but the girl is pulling it down to reveal an area that, on most women who haven’t been to the salon, would have a few hairs growing.

I’ve never been a “keep that off the newsstand!” person, but if I had a daughter, I’d be 100% supportive of keeping this off the newsstand. Because, what it is saying to me (and I’m 37!) is that, it’s not enough to show your tits, your ass, your legs, your pretty face you better hope stays pretty, you’re gonna have to show your vagina too. So get that ready, won’t you?




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Free Fallin’

Free Fallin’ I will stay in the car for. Like, if I get somewhere, and this is on, I’m not getting out until it’s over. It’s the Marky Mark of songs to me; it came into my life at such an influential point that I’ll never fall out of love with it.

I can still feel what it was like to watch this video at eleven or twelve years old. There was so much I related to visually – the Vision Streetwear (I’ll never forget the ads for Vision in my sister’s YM magazines), the eighties shopping mall Tom Petty lurks in between ghosting around the youthful story that is the video narrative, the sweet sixteen party around a pool (a fantasy), and being the kind of girl who would drop in on a vert ramp with the guys (another fantasy though eventually I learned to skateboard in my late teens). I don’t know if I paid much attention to the lyrics then, though I was probably already imagining myself as a good girl “home with a broken heart”, because I got dumped twice in fifth grade and spent junior high tall and goofy, with mostly awful haircuts.

There are few late eighties time capsules as effectively poignant as this. Even though the story jumps decades, it ends on a vert ramp starring pro skater Gator Rogowski. Gator’s story is told in the excellent documentary “Stoked”. It’s unclear to me whether or not the woman he murdered, Jessica Bergsten, is in the video (the female protagonist star, Devon Kidd, thinks she is), but Gator’s girlfriend and Jessica’s best friend (as well as star of Vision ads), Brandi McClain, is.


Gator and Brandi

When I originally googled and found this blog interviewing the “good girl”, Devon Kidd (née Jenkin), I thought she was the most boring part of the story. I admit, I got turned off by her Jesus references, but on second reading I see her Jesus references are no different than my universe references (I mean except that I’m not Christian – you get the point.). She describes being inspired by the song before she was ever cast in the video and its continuing presence in her life. And, she is bleeding positivity, which can’t hurt anyone. You can actually look her up on Facebook… she was an ultimate California girl but lives in Colorado now – as I do.

I grew up mostly in suburban Boston, and “Free Fallin’” is, of course, an L.A. story lyrically. In fact, the geographical references were part of why Tom Petty’s record label originally rejected the song.   In my early twenties, the imagery I was infatuated with took on new meaning when I moved to L.A. with a guy I knew from Denver. It was September of 2000, and the idea was that we were going to live in a house in the valley together, joined within a couple months by another close friend.  Then a bunch of other stuff happened.

I quickly got a job on Santa Monica Blvd. just East of Vine. Every day I made the drive “over the hill” from Sylmar (if you’re wondering, the place where Linda Kasabian stashed the wallet in a toilet tank after the LaBianca murders). I listened to the classic rock station in the car, and at work, where I could put our hold music on the crackly speakerphone on my desk.

Every day I heard “Free Fallin’” and every day I could apply its lyrics to my own life, which of course is the hallmark of a truly great song. Sylmar wasn’t Reseda, but it was darn close. Though Craig Rosen points out in this blog that the “freeway runnin’ through the yard” line is misrepresentative of Reseda, I felt like I spent my life on freeways for my first few months in L.A. It was these confusing freeways that caused me to get fired for lateness on my second day of work at the Virgin Megastore in Burbank, a weekend job I took to get out of “roommate debt” with the guy I was living with. I blamed this financial setback on a check my former Brooklyn roommate didn’t mail me for three weeks, and my refusal to ask my parents for money at the time (this changed later on!).

Being fired was a failure of colossal proportions to me. I had never been more in a state of free fall in my sheltered young life. I slept on a pile of blankets, and then an inherited single futon mattress, and had a metal shelf as my only furniture. Mulholland Drive was just a fantasy street I might someday be able to drive on if I made it out of the valley.

If you’ve ever googled “what is Free Fallin’ about?” you’ll find that 1) people have interpreted it as much as I have and most decide it’s either about Tom Petty leaving a girl behind in Florida before he got famous, (which leads me to the question, was Tom Petty hot???), or an archetypical story of a good girl in the valley who loses her ambitious boyfriend to the hills of Hollywood and 2) Tom Petty just kind of wrote the song and it’s not necessarily about anything specific. God, you can read that “Free Fallin’” line a million ways; it is beautiful. And I enjoyed very much reading here what people think of it.

When I originally became obsessed with this song, my twenty two year old coast-to-coast free fall seemed negative. I thought I was a humongous loser by the risky nature of my existence and lack of tangible success. Hearing it now, I connect to the time when my adult life was just beginning. I seriously yearn for that kind of freedom.  This untethered existence I dream about that I can choose now but was happening to me without my choosing then – and taught me so much. My pathetic and romantic life gave me the grit I needed to grow up and become a little bit fearless. I almost wish I’d be in that situation again to shake me into some desperate ambitious pursuit. But I remember it painfully well.

Within a year of my time in the valley I was living much closer to the LaBianca’s house than the Spahn ranch (another Manson reference!), in the maid’s quarters of an old mansion in Los Feliz. There had been several stops between, but I did settle here for several months. I was driving an actress to set and picking her up on Mulholland Drive. I did manage to get drunk with George Clooney, spill a drink on the B-list actress sitting next to him, and throw up in my friend’s bathtub all night. I can see now that I was luckier than many in my L.A. trials, as in many other aspects of my young post-college life. I got a job, made it to a prominent music video and commercial production company, and when that company went out of business, began my most successful year of the two I lived in L.A. as a freelance production assistant, and finally was able to buy new clothes again.

But, this luck was not without painful steps along the way in all aspects of my life. I was told, as a young entertainment professional, that in L.A. you’re always looking for a “job, a boyfriend, or an apartment”. Yup.  Frequently I was getting screwed by all three at once.

I don’t move as often as I used to, but things haven’t changed that much.  Thank god for perfect songs to remind me why I love not being in control.


Polaroid circa 2001, Los Angeles, when I only wore Sauconys, Dr. Scholl’s, and clothes from the thrift store.  And that amazing vintage Lee jacket.  (DAMN IT why did I get rid of that?)

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