To fulfill another promise, I’m covering some questions I commonly get from models. I recently covered some male model concerns that resulted from several emails I received. While I didn’t receive emails regarding female model concerns, I have been questioned regarding these issues during my model interviews or right before a shoot. I get at least 3 particular questions with regard to female models wanting to know about “that area”, but today, I am dealing with one. Almost every model I have worked with has asked me about the age old question of “to shave or not to shave”. There is a strong trend toward shaving the nethers amongst girls nowadays. Chances are, most girls I shoot will be shaven, or at the least, trimmed. Very few have a “full bush”. Personally, I have chosen not to be selective in this sense anymore.
At first, I did have a tendency to prefer a model who did not shave. I am a natural-as-possible artist, and since having pubic hair is certainly natural, then it was preferred. The idea of not shaving lent itself to more open poses (or at least less restrictive ones), since even though a model’s legs may be apart, the area of concern was still covered. In my mind, this allowed the viewer to see my work without the distraction of bare skin down there. They could see everything in the composition and not zero in on one place, thereby possibly appreciating my efforts closer to the way I had intended. So at this stage, I had a stronger sense of caution as to not offend anybody, ignoring the fact that nudes in general might cause offense to the people anyway.
Today, I have changed this line of thought. First, I realize that models also shave underarms and legs, so why not the pubes if they prefer. So while I have shot women au natural, I hadn’t really shot anyone totally natural. Next, I also prefer to present the model as she presents herself. This is who she is and that’s the way I will portray her. I still have a preference for one or the other, however. I’d rather not shoot the strip, although I don’t mind close trimming as much. I also still cling to the idea of no jewelry or makeup, in most cases, but not all. In addition, I have come to not care so much about what the viewer is concentrating on or whether or not I may be offensive. I shoot the total nude, not just in parts. If the model’s legs are open and she’s closely trimmed or shaven, so be it. Genitalia is part of the nude and I am not inclined to hide it. I take what the model gives me and applaud her for it. I respect the model either way: shaved or not, exposed or not. If the pose lends itself to my project, great and if it doesn’t then I won’t use it. As of yet, I haven’t tried to do anything overtly sexual as a theme…sensual, yes.
I also find it absurd to hear other photogs or critics say that anyone who uses the cleanly shaven models are clearly into child porn or prefers children. To me that’s a serious allegation and in these times today, I think it’s a bit over the top. Women do it for several reason apart from fashionable trends and to suggest that men have a sadistic reason for showing it or preferring it … well, let me just say, I would find it personally offensive if someone told me that to my face and my reaction would be personally offensive to said person for saying so. So far, I have only heard men making that assertion. I could also submit that the kind of man to make this claim may be dealing with his own demons, himself.
So if anything, ladies, be comfortable with your choice. It’s a good question, but if you prefer shaving, do it. If you prefer not, don’t do it. If it doesn’t make a difference to you at all and then leave it to the photographer’s preference and go make some great art.