With my 21st birthday fast approaching, I am suddenly struck by how little I’ve got done so far in my life. In a world where there are so many teenage Olympic gold medallists, Quvenzhané Wallis and the unbelievable Malala Yousafzai, it’s hard not to feel that way. There are times when I am overwhelmed by my lack of achievements. It’s not that I’m expecting Oscars and gold medals. I give myself a hard time about the fact that my A-Level grades were disappointing, and my GCSEs even more so. I wish I had a single trophy or medal to stand or hang beside those of my brother, my mum and my dad.

To cheer myself up, though, I decided to really think about things that I do want to achieve in the future.

To achieve anything at all, I need to be more open to putting myself out there. I need to recognise opportunities and pursue them. My inability to put my finger on what it is I want to achieve is probably feeding my perceived failure. Admitting what it is you want is terrifying though because it’s a really specific failure when you don’t achieve it. Sometimes it’s easier to live in a cycle of abstract failures. I think it’s time to get out of the cycle.

I want to write for HelloGiggles.

HelloGiggles is such a positive environment. It’s fun and silly and feminist. As a reader, I just want to take it all in. A wonderful friend of mine writes for the site and since getting to know her, my desire to write for HelloGiggles has increased tenfold. It seems to me it’s just a community of people writing positively about things that they want to write about. It’s the dream!

I want to make the New York/ Washington DC trip happen.

Accompanied by an equally student-poor best friend, I am determined that one day I will be getting on a New York bound flight. I want to see a recording of The Daily Show, see a Broadway show and walk through Central Park. While we’re there though, as West Wing fans of the highest order, it would be silly not to take a little trip to Washington DC and see those sights.

I want to see a script I’ve written be performed.

I’m not that experienced when it comes to writing screenplays. I’ve always wanted to be a scriptwriter, to write the way Aaron Sorkin does when he’s high and to explore the intricacies of human interaction. The problem is that until now I’ve shied away from the opportunities. NO MORE.

I want to get a literary agent.

Whenever I read articles about how hard it is to get a literary agent, it terrifies me. The stories are worse than when actors talk about getting into Hollywood – and that shit is Jumanji fear-mongering! I really, really want to do this though and I think with a little self-belief I can. This is mostly to enable other goals related to my writing. Also: do they let you call them Special Agent Whatshername?

I want to walk into a bookshop and see my name on a shelf.

This means that if I don’t get published in my lifetime, you should at least buy me a memorial shelf when I die. I’ll take posthumous success.

We Need To Talk About Pubic Hair

To have it, or not to have it? As a teenager I didn’t know what to do with mine. Do I shave it? Do I wax it? Do I braid it? I feel like adolescence should come with a manual, a How To on everything from pubes to periods to kissing with tongue.

Let me be clear: I have no problem with a full muff, a half muff, a no muff or some pubic topiary. If you want to vajazzle your downstairs, I’ve got no beef. It seems like a bit of a palaver but to each their own. I’ve talked to a number of friends and fellow bloggers on this particular topic, all of whom agree that whatever women choose to do is fine. The trouble is, wider society doesn’t agree – there is enormous pressure on the shoulders of those who opt to keep their pubic hair. The overriding message from the media is that it is unsightly and unsexy. (Not all media. Teletubbies has no clear position.)

I was watching an episode of The Graham Norton Show a few months ago, with guests Cameron Diaz, Rod Stewart and Sarah Millican. Cameron Diaz began sharing an anecdote about her friend “who is obsessed with having a 70s bush”. Upon learning that this friend of Diaz was married, Rod Stewart expressed surprise. Obviously what a woman chooses to do with a few square inches of hair between her legs is more important than every other facet of her being put together, amirite, Rod?

Cameron Diaz goes on to tell the story of how she and a couple of friends pinned this woman down to remove her pubic hair – her pubic hair that she was comfortable with, but which her “friends” were so horrified by that they decided they needed to intervene. There is so much wrong with this, not the least of which is that this story was being told as a humorous talk show anecdote.

Then there’s my most recently binged TV series, Game of Thrones. Having watched all 22 episodes so far, I noticed something pretty striking about the nude scenes in Game of Thrones: a consistent lack of pubic hair. That’s not all that odd when you’re talking about 21st century lady gardens, but considering that the setting for Game of Thrones is a medieval fantasy land, when did they get time to Veet? As much as they may have had access to some methods of hair removal, some of these characters are wildlings. Wildlings live up to the name. Natalia Tena’s Osha looks like she may never have combed the hair on her head and yet I’m supposed to believe that she had time to get her pubes removed?

Natalia Tena herself has commented on this aspect of the show:

 “I’m a bit annoyed because I asked them whether they were gonna go lower [than the waist], not that I have a problem with that – showing my minge, but my character would definitely have a lot of muff. I asked them, ‘Give me a month in advance, I’ll grow it.’ And I remember, on the day I was like, ‘Do you want me to wear a merkin?’ Like, they’ve got some… I think it’s a bit unrealistic that she’s shaved.”

 It seems that even when having pubic hair would be more believable for the character, producers opt against it. Even with the actress fighting for the historical accuracy of it, they reject the suggestion. What’s most worrying is that while watching Game of Thrones, I’ve seen many characters come to gory, nasty ends. The show isn’t afraid to turn viewers off their dinner. So why is something that is perfectly natural, that everyone knows exists, considered too unsightly for even this show? Is it that important that all the women conform to 21st century standards of beauty to such an extent that accuracy is betrayed? It implies that having pubic hair is so unattractive that we should all be pretending it doesn’t grow at all. But it does. It’s yet another way in which the media perpetuates messages of body hating. It doesn’t even allow for the possibility that a woman might wish to keep it through personal preference before word reaches them that, nope, society does not approve the full bush.

At what point did pubic hair removal go from being a rarity to base level expectation? Can’t we feel the same way about vaginas as we do about cats: the standard editions come with a full coat of fur and there’s occasionally some novelty bald ones. If I’m going to wax it all off, I at least want that to be impressive.

I find the idea of minimal pubic hair as more sexual to be a little troubling, myself. Being that only pre-pubescent girls are naturally hairless down there, is it not a little weird that men want my vagina to resemble that of a child? I understand that for oral sex it might be more comfortable for the partner, but in terms of overall comfort, is it really more comfortable to be hairless? It keeps me warm, for a start. The process of hair removal in that particular area is more physically uncomfortable than simply leaving it. It seems to me that pubic hair removal is more about what men have been conditioned to find aesthetically pleasing, over and above anybody’s comfort.

As I’ve grown older, I think I’ve begun to recognise the importance of self. I think pubic hair is fine if you want it, fine if you don’t. It’s important that all choices are recognised and accepted. That said, there is enormous pressure on women from society to remove at least some pubic hair, and it seems unlikely that if that pressure were taken away a woman would choose to spend her precious pounds having hair ripped from intimate parts of her body. I wish I had known as a very stressy teen that not every woman is Brazilian waxing and that I have every right to style my vagina however I so wish. If I want to dreadlock my lady mane, that is my business. If only that had been communicated to me sooner. We need to talk about this more. So, what up Game of Thrones, how about some variety? How about a little open-mindedness?

Ladies, young and old, be proud of your vagina – no matter which choice you make. But, please, make sure it’s the choice you are comfortable with. If that means leaving it alone, so be it, and to hell with societal pressure.