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Shaving required

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Sylvia asks:

My boyfriend said he would love to finger me. But there is no pressure. Thing is he wants me to shave that area to do it.

I have no idea how to do that! with a razor? Wax!? I have no clue. We've been going out for three months so is that too soon? And what if (if i let him) when he does it discharge or blood comes out? That would be really embaressing. How do I guide him to do what feels good and not what hurts? I shouldn't but I'm really paranoid about my body... and my legs and bum have the worst stretch marks on them ever. I don't think he'll mind at all because apparently I'm perfect. But it would be the first time we did something like that and what if he is shocked with how I look without clothes!? I like him so much and I want to be able to let him to do that to me because he said he would love to but how the hell do I shave down there without leaving marks or stubble?

Heather Corinna replies:

It's a pretty mixed message to tell someone they're perfect, then tell them that you're only interested in engaging in a certain sexual activity with them if they look a certain way per your liking (shaved, unshaved, what have you).

Sex with partners shouldn't have entry requirements based on what a person's pubic hair -- or other body part -- looks like. And those kinds of requirements are doubly harsh when you're grappling with body image issues already.

Honestly? Sounds to me like neither one of you is ready for this just yet. Sounds like he could be freaked out with having to see what a real vulva looks like (or just not in touch with what one does), and you're freaked out with your partner seeing what a real body looks like, too (the parts you don't feel great about, normal body fluids, etc.). It also sounds like you're saying that you don't feel you have any sort of foundation yet for sexual communication.

Bodies have hair on them in the places hair grows. Genitals also have fluids -- he's got'em, you've got'em -- that our partners will be exposed to (and per vaginal discharges, if you're not aroused enough to have some natural lubrication going, THAT is the problem, not that fluids are apparent). Skin also looks like skin: with stretch marks, with any bumps or redness due to shaving or waxing, the works. For the record, when you shave or wax your genitals, you do get bumps, you do get some redness, you do get stubble: there's no way to make your genitals look like an airbrushed pinup in real life. And if you're going to shave or wax, it needs to be because YOU want to do that, not because someone else wants you to or is putting a requirement on you.

When you're this worried about sharing the normal stuff sexual partners share with each other, and/or your partner is giving you cues they're not ready for that either, then it's sensible to hold off on further exposure until you both DO feel better about and more ready for that sort of sharing and exposure. Since you say there isn't any pressure to go here just yet -- and that's great and as it should be -- then you two can take the time to start the open communication you need, which includes talking about your body worries, asking him about WHY he's making this a requirement (and asking him to look at that per how fair it is in terms of you being a partner as you are, not tailored to his specifics), as well as talking together about how you'll let each other know what feels good and doesn't feel good if and when you do become sexually active.

When you are really ready for sexual partnership, you won't feel like you have to race to fulfill whatever beauty ideals someone else has: you'll feel pretty fully accepted by them just as you are, and when it's right to have someone as a sexual partner, they'll be sending that message loud and clear, not messages that you need to do anything to your body to make it the way they want it to be.

written 13 Jun 2007 . updated 27 Apr 2008

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