Have you ever seen Madonna’s nude pictures from the 1985 issue of Playboy?

If you haven’t, go ahead and Google it. In those pictures, you can see that the young Madonna boasted a fit and curvy body, perky breasts ... and a wild hairy bush.

Before you say "gross", just remember that au naturel pubic hair was the norm back then. It was considered sexy, and men and women everywhere proudly skipped the razor and sported (relatively) untamed bushes. It seemed they just couldn’t get enough of pubic hair.

Today, things are different. Pubic hair is considered so gross that we spend billions of dollars each year to remove it. So should it stay or should it go?

Why We Remove It

Fashion
In the 20th century, swimsuits and dresses got smaller and smaller and pants got lower and lower. As a result, Western societies declared war on pubic hair. Everyone agreed that while mini skirts and bikinis were sexy, a wild bushel of pubic hair blatantly peeking out was not.

Esthetics
Many people are embarrassed by how unsightly their nether regions become if left untended. People, especially those with sexual partners, often prefer a well-groomed appearance. In fact, of women who removed all of their pubic hair, most were found to have a sexual partner - and to be very confident in the appearance of their lady bits.

Cultural Reasons
We aren’t the only ones who view pubic hair as unsightly and embarrassing. For many Muslims, removing pubic hair is considered a normal part of adult grooming - for both men and women.

Media
It hard to argue that there's nary a pube to found in most pornography, and that applies to men and women. Some people would argue that porn and the media have introduced a new aesthetic, and women have jumped aboard with reckless abandon. Statistics do show that the removal of pubic hair is more common among younger women, 20 percent of whom tend to go hair free some or all of the time.

Are the Curlies Making a Comeback?

While you won’t find many people in the Western world encouraging you to grow your bush out, plenty of people in the rest of the world would readily swoon at the very sight of natural, untrimmed pubic hair. As far as they're concerned, pubic hair is sexy. Seriouysly. Korean women pay good money to undergo pubic hair transplants because Korean men view pubic hair as a sign of fertility. Many Europeans, including Italians, Greeks and the French, also believe that pubic hair represents beauty. It's even made a small comeback in high fashion. And people are certainly talking about it. (There's even such as a thing as a merkin, or pubic hair wig!)

So maybe those who think pubic hair is nasty have internalized some message about how women should look based on movies and pornography. Or maybe those who find pubic hair sexy think so because pubic hair is a sign of adulthood and sexual maturity. Or maybe how you wear your pubic hair is just a matter of personal choice. What's more likely is that pubic hair, whether it's beautiful, whether it looks sexy, and whether it feels sexy, is just as varied as everything else in the big, wide world of individuals out there.

Dare to Not Be Bare

There is one teeny problem though. Pubic hair isn't just there for esthetics. In medicine, theories abound about what it's for, but most experts agree that its main function is to catch and prevent bacteria from entering the body. Pubic hair may also help spread the natural aphrodisiac scents the body produces, and assist in lubricating the genital area during intercourse. Plus, removal of pubic hair isn't always pretty. It can inflame the skin in the area, and even cause micro tears that can make skin infections more likely. According to physician Emily Gibson, pubic hair provides a "cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury, protection from bacteria and other unwanted pathogens, and is the visible result of long awaited adolescent hormones, certainly nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about."

Here's the thing: Everybody has pubic hair. Even porn stars and swimsuit models have scraggles of hair in their crotches, inner thighs and butt cracks. They just don’t let anybody see it. As much as society doesn’t want to admit it, pubic hair is a very natural part of the human body, and it’s there for a reason. Plus, a 2010 survey of more than 2,000 women found that most women kept at least some hair down below. So while we might imagine that hair removal is the norm, what the few studies about pubic hair really suggest is that there isn't a norm at all - women hold all kinds of different standards for how their pubes should look.

Madonna rocked a full bush and few would say she didn't look great. So maybe pubic hair shouldn't be such an itchy area of contention. But if you do skip the razor and embrace the hair nature intended, just be sure to wear it like Madonna - with confidence! (Still can't stand that hair? Read Full Frontal: Waxing Your Vajayjay for tips on how to tidy things up.)

Pubic hair: Girly or gross? Tell us what you think!