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Although fine vellus hair is present in the area in childhood, the term pubic hair is generally restricted to the heavier, longer hair that develops with puberty as an effect of rising levels of androgens. Pubic hair is therefore part of the androgenic hair.
Additional recommended knowledge
Development of pubic hair
Before puberty, the genital area of both boys and girls has very fine vellus hair, referred to as Tanner stage 1 hair. As puberty begins, the body produces rising levels of the sex hormones known as androgens, and in response the skin of the genital area begins to produce thicker, often curlier, hair with a faster growth rate. The onset of pubic hair development is termed pubarche. The change for each hair follicle is relatively abrupt, but the extent of skin which grows androgenic hair gradually increases over several years.
In most females, pubic hair first appears along the edges of the labia majora (stage 2), and spreads forward to the mons (stage 3) over the next 2 years. By 2-3 years into puberty (roughly the time of menarche for most girls), the pubic triangle is densely filled. Within another 2 years pubic hair also grows from the near thighs in most young women, and sometimes a small amount up the line of the abdomen toward the umbilicus.
In males, the first pubic hair appears as a few sparse hairs on the scrotum or at the upper base of the penis (stage 2). Within a year, hairs around the base of the penis are too numerous to count (stage 3). Within 3 to 4 years, hair fills the pubic area (stage 4) and becomes much thicker and darker, and by 5 years extends to the near thighs and upwards on the abdomen toward the umbilicus (stage 5).
Other areas of the skin are similarly, though slightly less, sensitive to androgens and androgenic hair typically appears somewhat later. In rough sequence of sensitivity to androgens and appearance of androgenic hair, are the armpits (axillae), perianal area, upper lip, preauricular areas (sideburns), periareolar areas (nipples), middle of the chest, neck under the chin, remainder of chest and beard area, limbs and shoulders, back, and buttocks.
Although generally considered part of the process of puberty, pubarche is distinct and independent of the process of maturation of the gonads that leads to sexual maturation and fertility. Pubic hair can develop from adrenal androgens alone, and can develop even when the ovaries or testes are defective and nonfunctional. See puberty for details.
There is little if any difference in the capacity of male and female bodies to grow hair in response to androgens. The obvious sex-dimorphic difference in hair distribution in men and women is primarily a result of differences in the levels of androgen reached as maturity occurs.
Patterns of pubic hair vary. On some individuals, pubic hair is thick and/or coarse; on others it may be sparse and/or fine. Hair texture varies from tightly curled to entirely straight. Pubic hair patterns can also vary by race and ethnicity.
Pubic hair and axillary (armpit) hair can vary in color considerably from the hair of the scalp. In most people it is darker, although it can also be lighter. On most women, the pubic patch is triangular and lies over the mons veneris, or mound of Venus. On many men, the pubic patch tapers upwards to a line of hair pointing towards the navel (see abdominal hair), roughly a more upward-pointing triangle. As with axillary (armpit) hair, pubic hair is associated with a concentration of sebaceous glands in the area.
Pubic hair in art
In ancient Egyptian art, female pubic hair is straightforwardly indicated in the form of painted black triangles. In classical European art, it was very rarely depicted, and male pubic hair was often, but not always, omitted. Sometimes it was portrayed in stylized form. The same was true in much Indian art, and in other Eastern portrayals of the nude. In 16th century southern Europe Michelangelo felt able to show the male David with stylized pubic hair, but female bodies remained hairless below the head. Nevertheless, Michelangelo’s male nudes on the Sistine chapel ceiling display no pubic hair. In renaissance northern Europe, pubic hair was more likely to be portrayed than in the south, more usually male, but occasionally female.
By the 17th century, suggestions of female pubic hair appear in pornographic engravings, such as those by Agostino Carracci. By the late 18th century female pubic hair is openly portrayed in Japanese shunga (erotica), especially in the ukiyo-e tradition. Hokusai's picture The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, depicting a woman having an erotic fantasy, is a well-known example. Despite this Fine art paintings and sculpture created before the 20th century in the Western tradition usually depicted women without pubic hair or a visible vulva.
It has been argued that John Ruskin, the famous author, artist, and art critic, was apparently accustomed only to the hairless nudes portrayed unrealistically in art, never having seen a naked woman before his wedding night. He was allegedly so shocked by his discovery of his wife Effie's pubic hair that he rejected her, and the marriage was later legally annulled. He is supposed to have thought his wife was freakish and deformed.  This theory originated with Ruskin's biographer, Mary Luytens. It is much-repeated. For example Gene Weingarten in his book I'm with Stupid (2004) writes that "Ruskin had it [the marriage] annulled because he was horrified to behold upon his bride a thatch of hair, rough and wild, similar to a man's. He thought her a monster." However, there is no proof for this, and some disagree. Peter Fuller in his book Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace writes, "It has been said that he was frightened on the wedding night by the sight of his wife's pubic hair; more probably, he was perturbed by her menstrual blood." Ruskin's biographers Tim Hilton and John Batchelor also believe that menstruation is the more likely explanation.
Francisco Goya's The Nude Maja has been considered as probably the first European painting to show woman's pubic hair, though others had hinted at it. (Lucas Cranach's 'The Nymph of the Spring' c.1537, Washington National Gallery, has distinct pubic hair.) The painting was considered quite pornographic at the time.
Gustave Courbet's L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World, 1866), was considered scandalous because it showed the exposed female genitals in their totality with thick hair.
Examples of male pubic hair in contemporary art are harder to find.
In Japanese drawings pubic hair is often---such as in hentai---omitted, since for a long time the display of pubic hair was not legal. The interpretation of the law has since changed.
Ironically, it is also in Japan where pubic hair is seen as something highly attractive. However, in many Middle Eastern and eastern European cultures, pubic hair is considered unclean, and for matters of both religion and/or good hygiene, women in those cultures have removed their pubic hair for centuries. Some examples of regions where this is typical are ancient Persia, Turkey, Albania and ethnic-Albanian portions of Kosovo, and in many other cultures throughout the Mediterranean.
Modification of pubic hair
In Islamic societies, removing the pubic hair is a religiously endorsed practice.
Trimming or completely removing pubic hair has become a custom in many cultures. A preference for hairless genitals is known as acomoclitism. The method of removing hair is called depilation (when removing only the hair above the skin) or epilation (when removing the entire hair). The trimming or removal of body hair by men is sometimes referred to as manscaping.
Removal of pubic hair is not common in East Asian cultures. However, with more exposure to Western attitudes, pubic hair removal is gaining acceptance.
Some arguments for modification of pubic hair have included:
The modification of pubic hair can also be considered a statement about one's style or personal lifestyle as can leaving it unmodified. The fashion designer Mary Quant was famously proud that her husband trimmed hers into a heart shape.
Some styles include:
The health issues of pubic hair are controversial. Some studies show that removal of pubic hair may cause fungal infection of genitalia, especially in women.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pubic_hair". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|