Thursday, 17 August 2017

Cyclists - To shave or not to shave?...I’m not talking legs

Earlier in the year I sent out an anonymous questionnaire on social media to address the issue of pubic hair removal. I was amazed to get so many responses, reaching over 300 people of all genders and ages from 16 – 80 years old. The majority being 18 – 26 years old. So I felt it only fair to share some of my findings, at the risk of a little embarrassment to myself. I wanted to confront the 'hairless ideal' that has become the norm for women within our Western culture.

Often women shave to appear sexy and to please their partner. It has become a taboo subject and commonplace behaviour that is trivial and unimportant. However, in my research I found that not enough people actually understand the risks associated with pubic shaving, especially for cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts.

The shift towards less hair has become a central role in the construction of sexual identity. However, previous studies prove depilation of female pubic hair can cause bacterial infections, inflammation of the valva, viral infections, in-growing hairs, hair follicle infections, damage to the epidermis and more. Similar problems can be caused to men. Pubic hair helps to evaporate sweat away from skin and provides a layer of protection that is needed for good hygiene when doing regular activities such as: cycling, fell running, hill walking, camping and more.

Even British Cycling’s physiotherapist, Phil Burt told the media:

“We had to try and persuade the girls to stop shaving and waxing if we were going to sort out the saddle pain we knew all of them were suffering with” and told the Olympic athletes “they need to stop getting bikini waxes if they want to win.”

Despite this, I was shocked to still find in my research that 35% of the men and 20% of the women think women should shave fully. However, my hope was slightly restored by the fact that a higher percentage are content with a “tidy and clean” down below, mostly focused on “neat aesthetics” rather than a “baby’s bottom” look. My findings showed 60% of women and 50% of men believe women should shave their pubic hair just "a little".

Therefore, the best solution for health and aesthetic pleasure, seems to be that women should trim hair using a bikini trimmer and not shave fully. As the results prove that this would be accepted within society as shaving “a little”, and having a “neat and tidy” look. It would also be better for hygiene than shaving completely - still keeping a layer of protection.

I found a great one in Boots for £10.99, “Wilkinson Sword Quattro For Women Bikini Razor”, as it’s a women’s trimmer and razor in one. I personally found an instant difference in comfort when riding my bike from trimming only, and have come across a lot less problems since doing so.

Please don't be enslaved by the beauty standards of the 21st century. We are governed by social influences that prescribe what is normal to do...but not necessarily the best thing to do.