Photographer: Craig White
One month before I went to a nude beach for the first time at 59, I started dreaming up ways to camouflage my private parts, scars, pale skin, and stretch marks. It had been awhile since I'd needed to worry about beach-body stress.
Typically before going on vacation I spend a good long time picking out swimsuits that look attractive and hide any body areas that I don't want to show off. But, since wearing a bathing suit at a nude beach was out of the question, I decided on the next best thing:
I'll get a tan and grow back my bush!
Both of these were big leaps for me. My body hadn't experienced a deliberate tan in 15 years, and my bush -- well, let's just say I should have invested in Gillette. I was very nervous, but I felt like having a little color on my skin and some natural coverage down below would give me the courage and confidence I needed in order to try nude beach-going. I figured my skin would survive a few sessions of a light bulb tan, and I knew I could always shave afterwards if I hated the return of the long-absent bush. I was on a mission, and there was no turning back!
I found a tanning salon near my house, and the first thing I noticed while I was filling out the client intake form was that I seemed to be the only person in there that needed a tan. I'd never seen tanner people in my life, including the receptionist and all the clients entering and exiting the tanning rooms. After a few minutes of waiting, I entered a beginner's tanning booth. The receptionist showed me how to turn the bed on, and then I was left alone to read (and, of course, disregard) a sign that warned "Do not go nude for the first two tanning sessions."
After three seven-minute tanning sessions in the weeks before I hit the beach, I was golden from head to toe, and my bush was growing back nicely.
When nude beach day finally arrived, I stripped down and starting looking around at the other nude sunbathers, only to discover that my master plan had backfired -- I was the only woman on the beach with a bush! Instead of blending in, I stood out, and in those first few anxious moments, I wanted to go back in time and slap some sense into my month-younger self.
But then a funny thing happened. I noticed that, even though I looked different from the other women there, having a bush did make me feel more confident. I felt like I was embracing my womanhood and all that being a woman entails, and I was happy and comfortable as I let my body be exactly how it naturally wanted to be.
Photographer: Craig White
Soon, I started wondering why I ever shaved down there to begin with, and the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous a bald V-spot seemed to me. Where did I get the notion that having a bush was a problem that needed to be fixed? That it was unsightly or undesirable? Was it from society, the media, a trend, or men? Most likely, it was a little of all the above. All I knew for sure that day, though, was that I was suddenly tired of judging myself based on other people's standards of beauty. All because of my newly grown-out bush, I started feeling really good about loving every part of me.
I'm not a porn star who needs to show every crevice to her fans, and I'm not an 11-year-old pre-pubescent girl. I'm a grown woman, and I think having grown pubic hair is sexy as hell. I'm not saying that a little grooming is not in order, and of course everyone has different preferences, but for my part, I have no intentions of ever shaving down there again.
That day on the beach, I learned to love my bush -- to view it not as something to be ashamed of or to hide, but as a beautiful, honorable badge of womanhood.