Some great ideas come to you in the middle of the night. You jolt awake, every fiber of your body vibrating with excitement as you fumble for scratch paper in your nightstand, desperate to pen every detail before drifting back to sleep. And some great ideas come to you while sitting naked in a hot tub in Northeast Portland with your friends, arguing about women’s inability to grow mustaches. The argument’s counterpoint is that beard hair and pubic hair aren’t texturally discernible when mixed together in a clogged shower drain, so technically a woman could grow a mustache—just not on her face.
Not one to back down from a challenge, hot tubber Kimberly Hillman did just that: she vowed to grow a pubic mustache to prove it could be done. After a year of preening what she describes as a “turned landing strip,” Kimberly unveiled her gracefully groomed groin. It’s magnificence inspired two friends to join her mission to grow what she had started calling a “muffstache.” They joked about making a pinup calendar. Kimberly laughed at first, but then inspiration struck: they really would make a calendar.
And thus, the Muffstache Calendar project was born.
Kimberly and her friends found nine other women willing to grow muffstaches, and put together a surprisingly tame, artistic pinup-style calendar, the proceeds of which will be donated to helping underserved women in the Pacific Northwest obtain cervical cancer screenings, annual pap smears, and HPV tests through Planned Parenthood.
When asked why Kimberly chose cervical cancer and HPV instead of a more mainstream disease like ovarian cancer, she replied it was personal. Falsely diagnosed with HPV and cervical cancer herself, Kimberly decided that no one should have to go through the terror of thinking they have a disease they know nothing about. “When I had my first HPV scare I received a lot of misinformation—it’s something people don’t talk about that much. That’s why we wanted to do this project—to spread awareness.”
Taking a leaf out of Movember’s book—the month-long men’s prostate cancer awareness through facial hair growth event—Kimberly and the girls felt it was only fitting to raise money for a cause that was close to their hearts (and vaginas).
Despite its honorable intentions, the project has faced a large hurdle when dealing with society’s view of the subject matter itself: pubic hair. Even though the photos are only partial nudes (each girl has an almost full body shot featuring a theme and a costume), because their pubic hair is visible it’s been hard to market the calendar beyond sex shops and open-minded friends.
“The very large, very loud sentiment on the internet about pubic hair—especially on women—is ‘it’s foul and we don’t want to have anything to do with it,'” Kimberly said. “We never even considered that [viewpoint], and then we started vending and people were shying away from it; they looked a little disgusted because it had to do with pubic hair.”
In April 2013, Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines when she admitted to rocking “a 70’s vibe” in her nether-regions. She recounted the tale of needing to shave for a revealing dress she wore to an Iron Man 3 premiere, under which she couldn’t wear underwear. When her stylists went “scrambling for a razor,” she said she “went from being the most beautiful to the most humiliated.”
While a lady’s style of coochie coif is as personal as a man’s facial hair style, society at large still views “hair down there” as unnecessary and gross. Fortunately, the Muffstache girls’ vision focused more on their quirky spirit as a way to ease viewers into the idea of accepting pubic hair, stating on their website that the calendars feature “expressive and beautiful shots highlighting the female genitalia as graceful art.”
“[The pictures] are all very tastefully done—there’s no maneuvering of the vagina toward the camera,” Kimberly said. “I didn’t want people to focus on the vagina of it all; I wanted people to focus on the muffstache.”
With shapes and colors such as a teal Salvador Dali muffstache, and a pink, heart-shaped muffstache for Ms. February, the women of the Muffstache Calendar used the opportunity to playfully downplay the stigma of pubic hair and women’s genitalia. According to Kimberly, if her calendar is compared side-by-side with a traditional “girls on motorcycles” calendar, it’s clear her models feel good about what they’re doing and they’re having fun doing it—they’re not just trying to sell something with their sexuality.
“When you’re looking at the pictures you don’t even see the vagina in it, it just sort of blends in,” Kimberly said. “There’s something sort of nice about the fact that that just happens.”
Currently, the Muffstache Calendar project has an IndeGoGo account to help raise funds to cover the costs of printing, with additional funds going toward cervical cancer screening for underserved women in the Pacific Northwest. To learn more about how you can help the Muffstache Calendar project, read about the models, or to purchase one for yourself, visit http://www.muffstache.org/.
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Cover photo courtesy of Jessi Waters.