It pains me to write this, but Thursday night I (deep breath) watched Fifty Shades of Grey in a theater. While there were more than 50 things wrong with the movie, I’d like to talk about the one thing that was right: Anastasia Steele’s bush.
The ingenue's pubic hair only accumulated a whopping three seconds of screen time, but against a backdrop of sleep-inducing BDSM and laughable emotional development, those pubes were the real stars of the movie. More importantly, the presence of female body hair in a film so mainstream, so hyped, marked yet another milestone in the ongoing pubic renaissance.
For more than a decade, society's message to women was clear: Wax, shave, or risk being relegated to the crazy hippie chick stereotype. In late 2011, an Atlantic feature posed the question: "Has Pubic Hair in America Gone Extinct?" And in her 2012 bestseller How to Be a Woman, feminist writer Caitlin Moran wrote: "We're at risk of a situation in which every boy expects to undress a girl and find a thorough wax job, and every girl—terrified by the idea of being rejected, or though abnormal—waxes for them."
Christian Grey asks many things of Anastasia, but—at least in this chapter of their saga—he seems perfectly content with her hairy situation.
Slowly, female pubic hair has begun to appear more and more in glossies and pop culture. Women like Gaby Hoffmann, Lady Gaga, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Matron Saint of Bush Cameron Diaz have been increasingly open about their lack of landscaping down there. And in 2013, a series of think pieces honored the return of the bush. As Amanda Hess wrote for T Magazine, "there’s something refreshingly retro, delightfully expressive and confidently grown-up in getting back to nature."
Despite the fact that director Sam Taylor-Johnson has hinted that Anastasia’s bush may embark on "a journey" throughout future films, for now, it appears Fifty Shades is something of a (happy) trailblazer and could potentially mark a turning point for body hair in movies.
So before the sequels get under way and things get even worse, let’s just bask in the glorious bush—the only legitimately heartwarming part of Fifty Shades besides the end credits.