To Shave or Not to Shave in Cuba

Irina Pino

Cuban teens.
Cuban teens.

HAVANA TIMES — To follow the latest fashion, Cuban teenagers shave their pelvises and genitals. Many don’t even like to have peach fuzz on their faces. Before this dominant trend, there are apparently only two alternatives: either we shave or accept being labeled savages.

When I asked the classmates of my fourteen-year-old son, they said they did it because that was in, and that those who didn’t were mocked or called “disgusting” (which is the same as being an outcast) – and this at a time when most of them haven’t even had sex yet.

The girls said something similar: nearly all of them told me they shaved. A few didn’t want to answer my question, perhaps out of embarrassment (something uncommon here).

I told my son that razors can create small lesions on the skin, bumps and ingrown hairs that become infected and can be very painful. He burst out laughing and told me he would rather be free of those “bothersome little hairs” and risk the consequences than be shunned by his friends.

There are many different hair removal methods: laser hair removal, waxing, the Brazilian method (with tweezers), permanent depilation through electrolysis, the use of creams that inhibit hair growth. I’ve heard of one method which uses sugar and lemon, natural substances that don’t involve health risks.

Hair removal has been practiced since antiquity. It was common in Rome and Egypt. Many millennial cultures practice it for hygienic, religious and even tradition-related reasons.

Before the 20th century, many painters and sculptors would often portray the human body devoid of pubic hair (though, between 1501 and 1504, Michelangelo sculpted a humorous bit of pubic hair over David’s groin; Goya did this in his La maja desnuda, painted between 1797 and 1800, and Gustave Coubert’s The Origin of the World, a realistic painting from 1866, shows a woman’s genitals with abundant pubic hair).

In the century that followed, we began to see nude bodies with such hair, particularly in photographs. According to one hypothesis, pubic hairs collect pheromones and heighten sexual arousal. People, however, ought to make a conscious decision regarding this.

Today, young people follow the shaved genital fashion, not as a conscious choice but because of peer pressure (this is what makes the trend negative). As I recall, when I was a teenager, my friends and I would shave only when we put on bikinis and didn’t want those playful pubic hairs poking out of our swimming suits. Afterwards, however, we would let the hair grow again.

I think the arrival of pornography (through the Internet and other means) has, in good measure, contributed to spreading this practice among young Cubans, because of the stereotypical bodies they see in it and because it makes oral sex more “comfortable.”

Behind all this, however, there is a huge publicity machine that sells you an image and a product, another way of luring us into the market and making profits.

I believe we must learn to respect diversity, the preferences of those, for instance, who may find it exciting to come across hairs in that delicate erogenous zone.


4 thoughts on “To Shave or Not to Shave in Cuba

  • Among women who are 25 years and above in Cuba, for many years until recent times, it was fashionable when growing up to have “un cerquillo” of dense hair on the thighs. Many Cuban men found it sexy. Don’t ask me why – it was just fashionable and desirable. Women who used to wear low-rise jeans sent guys crazy about the little hair fuzz around their navel. Many adhere to this grooming style until they are either exposed to western grooming ideals or influenced/replace by the younger generation’s trends.

  • Good one Irina… And I will keep my preferences to myself… Though I am not particularly fond of shaving my bits to the bone… Sort of speak… LOL. Though this reminds me of a good (hairy) friend of mine… This guy was not born he was knitted… He looks like a sasquatch… If that translation travels in Cuba… And to Moses… Maybe good razors are expensive in Cuba? It is my guess is that these women are just being frugal…

  • At least in Havana we all knew to trim it down during high school. I remember I heard a girl from my class talking about it, and it was back in 2000 so you can imagine how far this might be now.

    We Cubans tend to be pending of everyone else’s life. My circles of friend in Cuba always criticized each other regarding everything, from clothing to hair styles and that’s exactly how it happens today to adolescents with this way out of control tendency of shaving everything, specially in guys (shaved arms? legs? eyebrow depilation?) eww..

    This if Irina, who I think got a wrong translation of my past comments heheh.

    ES: Bueno en la Habana ya todo el mundo en mi secundaria sabia lo que era recortarse los pendejos. Yo aun me acuerdo de una chamaca que hablaba de eso todo el tiempo y fijate eso fue en el 2000 asi que hoy en dia la depilacion de los vellos debe estár sin control.

    Nosotros los cubanos nos pasamos la vida pendientes de todo el mundo. Mis socios en cuba siempre se estaban criticando entre ellos de cualquier cosa; desde la ropa (dando chucho claro) hasta los pelados y eso es justamente lo que le pasa a los adolecentes con la tendencia esa de afeitarse (especialmente los varones) las manos, sacarse las cejas, afeitarse los pies) candela.

  • It always cracks me up when I see Cuban women who shave their legs only halfway up their thighs. Because of the current (admittedly enjoyable) style of short skirts in Cuba, it is common to see fairer-skinned dark-haired Cuban women with hairy thighs peeking below the length of the skirt. My Cuban wife pops me in the back of the head when I ask her about this so can anyone else tell me why Cuban women don’t shave the whole leg?

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