The Bush is Back: The Return of the Hair Down There

Detail of “The Birth of Venus”. Photo: Getty Images

Blame fashions’ current lust for all things seventies – and the starring role played by Anastasia Steele’s uncultivated crop in 50 Shades of Grey - but the “bush” like bellbottoms, is back. Which begs the rather uncomfortable question, will you let it all grow out? If it’s any consolation – especially for those millennials born in the era of the landing strip - Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow are both advocates. And in her new photo book “Plush” (French for shaggy carpet) photographer artist Marilyn Minter offers up 70 shades of fuzz in all its free-flowing glory. “I think the bush is sexy and beautiful, but I talk to young boys and most of them have never seen it, or find it disgusting. Even my lighting guy admitted he hadn’t seen once since college. Anything that is culturally forbidden is troubling.” Herewith a timeline.

2015 Fifty Shades
Clearly the sight of Anastasia Steele’s untamed nether regions— more shocking than the prospect of anal fisting in the red room – has hit a nerve. Not that this is news to Korean women who consider pubic hair a sign of fertility. Some even opt for a pubic hair transplant.

2014 In Praise of Pubes
Last December, Marilyn Minter releases Plush, a racy photo book starring variations of the bush from every angle and in every color of the rainbow. “Fashion is fleeting so the message to young girls is don’t laser. I plucked my eye brows back in the 60’s thinking the bushy eye brows would never be a trend and they never grew back.” In her Body Book Cameron Diaz dedicated a chapter to pubic hair explaining,”There’s a big fad these days of undergoing laser hair removal on all lady bits. Personally, I think permanent removal sounds like a crazy idea. The idea that vaginas are preferable in a hairless state is a pretty recent phenomenon, and all fads change, people.” And she’s not the only Hollywood advocate. In 2013, her pal Gwyneth Paltrow admitted on Ellen DeGeneres she “works a 70’s vibe.”

2004 G marks the spot
Gucci’s 2003 “Public Enemy” campaign caused much controversy thanks to the appearance of a G-style logo manicured into model Carmen Kass’ pubic hair. Spearheaded by Tom Ford and shot by Mario Testino, it was instantly banned worldwide and condemned for being vile, course and degrading to women.

2000 Wax much?
Women winced – then promptly booked an appointment – after witnessing Carrie Bradshaw undergo her first Brazilian wax during an episode of Sex and the City. In the 2009 movie, Samantha, Carrie and Charlotte are mortified when married lawyer Miranda flashed an untamed bikini line while poolside. A decade and a half later, medical experts praise the franchise for effectively eradicating pubic lice.

1990s Flying the flag for the bush
The Black Crowes release their third album with a cover image lifted from a 1976 Penthouse issue, showing pubic hair protruding out the top of an American flag print bikini bottom. WalMart banned it and the record company was forced to create a (hair-free) version. Two years later, in the hit play The Vagina Monologues, going hairless is described in a scene as “creepy and degrading”. And who could forget the vagina-stealing scene in Basic Instinct (1992) when Sharon Stone sans knickers crosses her legs to reveal a hint of her natural ways.

1987 The Brazilian hits America
In a blow to the bush, seven South American sisters introduce American women to the Brazilian bikini wax at their Manhattan salon J. Sisters, which still remains to this day the go-to waxing spot.

1970s Let it grow, let it grow
The hippy decade signaled something of a hey day for the hair. Penthouse ignited a “pubic war” with rival Playboy by showing an unobstructed view of Ada Grootenboer’s pubes— the first US men’s mag bold enough to bare all and against lawyers advise. Naturally Madonna was soon in on the act, photographed nude and sporting a thick bush in 1979 for a series that would later run in Playboy when she was more famous.

1960s Helmut Newton Nudes
Photographer provocateur Helmut Newton shot to fame with his erotically charged black-and-white portraits of women, many naked, bushes a plenty. Shooting for French Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar at the time, he is credited with contributing to the sexual revolution.

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