The Forest for the Trees

By Parn Neery

Reprinted from Back to Old School, 2015


“Oh honey, don’t blame marriage. This one’s married and she’s not growing a national forest. How do you even cross your legs? Let me make you a spa appointment. Any thicker, and you won’t be able to find it.” -Samantha Jones


When my boyfriend and I were getting ready for our first trip together to Mexico, I informed him that I was never going to shave or wax my bikini line. He cautiously asked, “What will you do then?”

“I’ll wear boy short swimsuits, or I’ll just walk around and show off my national forest!”

I like Rosie O’Donnell’s take in the movie Beautiful Girls. She goes off on Timothy Hutton and Matt Dillon about how messed up their idea of beauty is. She pulls a smutty magazine off the rack, opens it up to a naked woman, and goes point-by-point over the woman’s body and how unconnected it is to reality. The best part: “And look, my favorite: the shaved pubis. Pubic hair being so unruly and all.”

Ah—those unruly pubes. I shaved all of mine off exactly once, in high school, just to see what it looked like. I looked like a little girl, and it freaked me out. It was seriously creepy, and it remains creepy to me still. It weirds me out that countless women throughout the world routinely wax all of their pubic hair off because naked, shaved, little-girl-like vulvas are considered sexy, while vulvas and upper thighs covered in soft, unruly, wild-forest pubes are considered abhorrent not just to the naked eye, but to the very psyche of our It-Shall-Be-Hairless cultural concept of beautiful skin.

I ask you to put down your positions, your dearly held beliefs about pubic hair for one minute, and think hard on this. Why do we value the hair on our heads so very much, and fight with every lumberjack tool in our toolbox the hair that grows pretty much everywhere else on our bodies? If you owned a forest and you chose to cut it down just because you liked the look of a smooth landscape, I would expect you to be able to explain your motivation. But if all you could give me was, “Well, my neighbor cut all her trees down, so apparently trees are unsightly,” then I would think you were not too keen on thinking. Please take a true minute to think about it, and then give me one really good reason why I should be motivated to remove my awesome, lush, national forest. Personally, I think it looks cool—at my upper thighs the hair starts to darken and thicken, and it reminds me of the excitement I feel when I’m walking down a meadow path and the trees start to appear and the landscape starts to change, and I know that the forest is just up ahead. How cool is that?

Beauty is still in the eye of the beholder, and from my eye’s perspective, when I see a woman walking down a beach with a hairless bikini line, all I get is sad for the loss of trees that continue to be cut for the sole reason that, as a culture, we’ve taught ourselves the natural landscape is abhorrent and something to be fought until our dying breathe. After which, I’d like to point out, the hair will continue to grow on our dead bodies. Ah, poetic justice.


Parn Neery grew up exploring the thick forests of the Colorado Rockies. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she always remembers to wear her boy shorts swimsuits when she goes surfing.

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