A 2017 study by the American Journal of Men’s Health found that male pubic hair grooming is a growing phenomenon among men in the United States. Pubic hair grooming falls under ‘manscaping,’ a term that describes “the trimming or shaving of a man’s body hair so as to enhance his appearance,” according to Merriam-Webster.
AJMH’s study found that 73 percent of men surveyed were grooming in preparation for sexual activity, 61 percent for hygiene purposes and 44 percent for routine care. The most reported reasons for grooming were focused on the areas of sexual activity and sexual expression. Overall the study found that pubic grooming is common and is prevalent in younger, college-age men.
In a 2016 Vox article, Thomas Gaither, a medical student at UCSF School of Medicine and leader on many research papers on the subject of pubic grooming laid out the statistics on women versus men grooming their pubic areas.
“We know that 50 percent of men groom on a regular basis — that’s daily, weekly, or monthly,” Gaither said. “For women, it’s about 84 percent — much more common.”
A spike in male grooming trends, whether it’s manscaping or even facial grooming, shouldn’t come as a surprise as male beauty and self-care have become more mainstream in the past couple of years.
With a bursting scene of male makeup artists and gurus on platforms like YouTube and Instagram, male self-care and grooming are being deemed more and more mainstream within American culture.
“Men grooming themselves is essential to life,” junior communications studies major Yogi Hawkins said. Hawkins has a kit for his facial routine that includes a brush, pick, shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer.
Junior broadcast journalism major Travis Peterson said facial grooming is apart of his routine but that it’s not necessarily part of everyone’s routine.
“I think it depends on the man,” Peterson said. “Some men don’t need to do. It depends on your hairstyle and what kind of hair you have.”
Peterson said within the black community that male grooming is common with hairstyles such as dreads and waves because they require routine care.
In regards to manscaping, additional studies have made connections that the increase in access to pornography and sexually explicit material online has influenced grooming trends.
“People point their fingers at porn as helping to normalize or even encourage it,” Gaither said in the Vox article.
There are risks of injury and STIs with manscaping. Gaither told Vox that the most common injury among men is “little lacerations.”
But he has advice for preventing these injuries.
“It’s a taboo topic nobody talks about,” Gaither said. “In our surveys, people learned about pubic hair grooming from friends or something they saw on TV or porn. You don’t have this as part of the birds and bees talk from mom, ‘This is how I shave my pubes.’ But it’s going to happen regardless, and discussing safe ways to groom could make a big impact.”
Peterson thinks the reason it’s taboo is there is a lack of conversation.
“It’s not a casual conversation we have with each other,” he said.
Just as education has helped teach safe sex, education can also be the key in helping grooming for both men and women less taboo and therefore safer for those who choose to do so.
“That’s hard to answer,” Hawkins said. “I don’t know why it’s taboo.”