Waxing lyrical

Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I’ve never understood the appeal of the Brazilian wax. In fact, I’m a bit disturbed by the thought that there might be guys out there who prefer women to be hairless. Do these guys like to imagine that the woman is very young? Erk.

There is a piece in The Age today about Brazilian waxes for teens and pre-teens. The piece references a site called girl.com.au which touts itself as “Empowering girls worldwide”. The site has a feature on Brazilian waxes. I thought I’d go have a look. I was horrified. It explains the concept as follows:

Removing all hair from the vagina area, the Brazilian Wax although sadistic in nature is surprisingly not as painful as you might think, to some.

My first comment is that this is an appalling sentence. (Yes, I’m a pedant). My second comment is that I have my legs waxed and it hurts! And once my sister persuaded me to have a bikini wax…owch! Not the kind of thing you want sensitive girlish skin to undergo. I think I’ve made the right decision to avoid Brazilian waxes. The piece goes on to describe the process in ways that make it sound like some kind of torture or violation:

Brazilian waxing involves spreading hot wax your buttocks and vagina area. A cloth is patted over the wax, then pulled off. Don’t be alarmed if the waxer throws your legs over your shoulder, or asks you to moon them, this is normal and ensures there are no stray hairs. A tweezer is used for the more delicate areas (red bits).

EEEK! Doesn’t sound very empowering to me. Apparently if I wanted to become a model this would be a “must”, but fortunately, I got over that particular desire at the age of 13.

I think they have changed the most offensive part of the feature since Dubecki wrote her article. Dubecki says that the site says “Nobody really likes hair in their private regions and it has a childlike appeal”, but the site now says, “Nobody really likes hair in their private regions and this removes it.” Nonetheless, it’s still pretty full on. It suggests that “nobody” likes people who have pubic hair and that “everyone” is removing it.

I suppose it’s all about what you’re comfortable with. I can understand wanting to remove leg hair, and if my 15 year old daughter wanted to wax her legs, I’d let her, with parental supervision. However, I don’t think I’d allow it before the age of 14. Also, if my daughter wanted to shave her underarms, I’d let her. It would be hypocritical of me not to let her do these things because I do them myself.

But I draw the line at Brazilian waxing. The skin there is particularly delicate. And that area is private. It is a sexual area, in a way that legs and armpits are not. There’s no reason to undergo Brazilian waxing unless one is (a) wearing very revealing clothing or (b) exposing that area to others. I just don’t think that it’s appropriate for young teens to do either. Furthermore, I don’t want my daughter thinking that there’s something wrong with her when she hits puberty and gets pubic hair. The inference is that an adult body is somehow dirty or wrong, but girlish, thin and smooth is “sexy”. It’s just a continuation of the idea already present in the media that only girls are attractive, and that a womanly body (with curves, breasts, pubic hair) is ugly. I don’t want my daughter to believe that. And I’d encourage her never to undergo the process described above.

As I’ve said before, there are some very confusing messages out there for young girls these days. Girls’ magazines seem to assume young girls will be wearing makeup and revealing clothes before hitting their teens. Let’s not beat around the bush. Makeup, revealing clothing and waxing are all designed to make a woman more sexually attractive to men. Do we really want 8 year olds doing things which are ultimately designed to make them sexually attractive? I don’t. No wonder Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant at the tender age of 16: to be rather crude, she looks like “gaol bait”. If we sexualise girls at a young age, we shouldn’t be surprised if they then go out and behave in a sexualised manner.

I really don’t want my daughter to go out and explore her sexuality until she’s ready. And I want her to be comfortable with her womanly body when she grows up. Now, I think that’s an idea which is truly empowering.

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15 Comments

Filed under children, corporate paedophilia, feminism, media, morality, motherhood, parenthood, sex, sexuality

15 responses to “Waxing lyrical

  1. zombie z

    I’ve had a near-Brazilian (I guess they call it a “landing strip”) and I loved it. Of course I didn’t love the waxing itself — that hurt like a son of a gray whale. But it was certainly pleasing sexually and it happened to be swimming season, so it made it that much less to deal with on a daily basis.

    But it’s expensive — cost me about $50 a pop, which needs to be done every 4-6 weeks. It’s painful, of course; I was pretty tender in the “area” for up to two days after a fresh wax. The sexual benefits were certainly worth the pain, but….why the hell do pre-teen girls need to be experiencing that?

  2. zombie z

    Oh, and the one time I’ve gotten rid of ALL my pubic hair (via shaving), I felt really uncomfortable with it. My pubic hair came in when I was around ten, so it’s been with me just as long as it hasn’t now, and I certainly don’t want to portray myself to my partner as a child!

  3. Yeah, bikini waxes aren’t so bad – they don’t involve the same kind of violation that Brazilians seem to involve. Painful, but only a little worse than the legs. I don’t have any objection to them in principle, particularly if one has to have one to wear a swimming costume.

    I’m lucky, I’ve got light coloured hair, and only have to wax the bottom of my legs. I had a friend at high school who had dark hair, and lots of it. We went shopping for swimming costumes when we were about 17.

    She was desperately looking for something which wasn’t high cut so that she didn’t have to get a bikini wax, but there wasn’t much around at that time. I can understand why my friend might have had to get a bikini wax during her teens. If it would enable her to wear a swimming costume, and feel confident in public, then I’d be all for it – that is a situation where it is justified.

    Many swimming costumes these days are so terribly high cut that one has to get a bikini wax so as to not look indecent. Note to swimwear designers: I’d really like something that covered me up just a bit more, but without looking like a granny costume!

  4. zombie z

    I personally really dig “boyshort” swimsuits & underwear. Not only does it cover up any “indecent” hairs, but it makes my pretty-pathetic bum look better. 🙂

    But honestly, I’m just a hairy girl, and light-skinned and dark-haired at that. A certain amount of shaving or at least trimming is generally necessary, high-cut or not.

  5. I don’t get it. I don’t get my male peers who like the look, any more than I get obviously false breasts or tans.

  6. Just not attractive, is it? I saw someone with a terrible fake tan today, they looked sort of orange. Better not to bother.

    When I turned 14, I discovered make-up and slathered myself with it. I remember my grandpa telling me gently that the whole point with make-up is that it should look natural. I think this goes for most beauty enhancements. Otherwise, paradoxically, you can actually make yourself look a lot worse.

  7. Gotta find me some of those boyleg swimmers. There weren’t any in the shopping centre I attended yesterday. Boo hiss.

  8. I can´t bear the thought of having a Brazilian and would be horrified if my daughters ever wanted to have one, let alone as a tween. The whole point of them is based on the assumption that men like their sexual partners to look pre-pubescent. Why is that prospect acceptable to people? You don´t see men waxing their nether regions so they can look more boyish. The more we do to discourage the sexualising of kids (both by making tweens more sexually aware and by encouraging grown women to look more like tweens) the better. All these little things like waxing, suggestive clothing, young models adds up to very young girls trying to look and act like women.

  9. Of course its also natural for men to grow body and facial hair as they go through puberty… in fact, in contrast to their thicket, this hair is notably more present on males and so is a prime signifier of maleness. Yet those things are also removed out of expectation, making males conform to a look that is at best adolescent.

    And don’t get me, as a man with a shiny dome, started on the lack of respect for a masculine, hairless skull.

    Generally both genders as a collective could use a step back from the fetishisation of the young and of overly prescribed looks pushed by the mainstream.

    Jeez legals, I write more on your site than mine. Has nothing to do with the block on blog*er at my workplace…

  10. (Disclaimer: I think encouraging children and young teens to behave in an adult and sexualised way is highly inappropriate.)

    The whole point of them is based on the assumption that men like their sexual partners to look pre-pubescent.

    This is totally incorrect, at least in my experience. Personally I find the implication borderline offensive (yes, I am implicitly admitting that I like the look, as to plenty of completely normal guys I know). I won’t go into my personal views in too much detail on the WWW, but I can assure you that it is perfectly possible to like the effect of a Brazilian with the most adult and non-deviant of motivations.

    Counter-example. Men naturally grow hair on their faces, which they are typically encouraged to remove (either by other men or by women, particularly women in their lives). Said removal can often be a painful and bloody process, and is definitely a massive hassle.

    I can play exactly the same card – the women in my life have obviously all been closet pedophiles, after all, they have all made me shave my face so I look like a little kid. Sickos!

    Obviously this is incorrect. But in fact I think the real reasons are very similar between women waxing their nether regions and men shaving:

    1. It looks better according to some people
    2. It is ‘neater’
    3. It’s the present fashion
    4. It’s.. ahem.. not as scratchy*

    200 years ago men all had beards and women were no doubt all as natural as the Brazilian rainforest, rather than the Brazilian wax. Today that isn’t the trend in either case.

    As for why men don’t typically wax – well, for one thing, it may disturb you to learn that some men do in fact do it. Allegedly it creates an illusion of increased size. That aside, there is the unavoidable physiological differences which tend to make the benefits more obvious for the female anatomy.

    Believe me I am very pro feminism. But be careful that you aren’t confusing your personal preferences when it comes to sex and what you or your partner finds appealing with some kind of conspiracy to sexualise women in an inappropriate way.

    * I can even see a feminist spin which could be put on it – the less hair there is down there, the more, er, accessible it is and the more likely the average bloke is going to be prepared to try something that isn’t totally about his own enjoyment…

  11. I still think beards are distinguishable from pubic hair because of the way in which a beard is on public display and genitalia are not.

    My husband shaves, and it is a laborious and painful process. But he once tried to let a beard grow while on holidays. We both thought it looked terrible. He didn’t really have enough whiskers for it to work. And it was itchy.

    My Dad has a beard, and that looks good. He occasionally threatens to shave it off, but as I’ve never known him without a beard, I’m rather afraid of the idea. He won’t be my Daddy any more without his beard.

    Again, without going into too much detail on the WWW, a friend had an ex-boyfriend who waxed “crack, back and sack”, just for curiousity’s sake. I never asked her whether she liked it or not. Once I went to a hen’s night featuring male strippers, and I was somewhat disturbed to see that they were all waxed. Just not something I favour, I think.

    As for benefits of a Brazilian – well, of course I think reason no. 4 given above has merit for both sides of a partnership. I had not thought that far about it. So perhaps I was a little hasty with my initial comment. But I’d still find it a little disturbing to have no hair at all there – sorry, that’s just me.

  12. LDU

    Muslims are strongly encouraged to remove their pubic and armpit hairs as an issue of cleanliness.

  13. How did they manage that in the old days before there was no waxing? I’ve heard of a Middle Eastern depillating technique called “sugaring”, it’s supposed not to hurt so badly. Is that what they did?

    And how does that square with the wearing of long beards by devout Muslim men? Apologise if these questions are silly/naive, but I’m curious.

  14. LDU

    I’m not really sure how it was managed in the old days, but it is much easier for us today. Maybe they had some sort of shaving instrument back then too.

    Wearing a beard isn’t seen as something unclean by Islam. There are plenty of rules regarding the length of facial hair and how it should be maintained. For e.g, you have to trim the hair surrounding your mouth so it doesn’t interfere your speech or consumption of food. Shaving the moustache is encouraged though.

    I think it all stems from a religious doctrine which goes along the lines of “cleanliness is part of faith” or “cleanliness is half of faith.” I’m not sure which of the two is the correct one. Cleanliness of the body includes, cutting your nails, keeping the moustache short and shaving your pubic and armpit hairs.

    With this comes obligations such as thoroughly washing, then drying ones body parts after visiting the toilet in order to remove “filth” – traces of faeces or urine.

    You also have to smell good all the time so you don’t disturb other people with your smell. And your garments should always be clean and neat (even if they’re old).

    There are many more exhaustive requirements for staying clean which i’m not 100% familiar with. But if you ask me, it’s like religiously endorsed metrosexuality.

  15. I’ve got less problem with removal of hair as a hygiene thing than as a vanity thing. I don’t know if it’s some weird Puritanical streak in me. Still, if my legs weren’t on display, I wouldn’t bother to wax them…

    That’s interesting about the length of beards. And the hair not going into the mouth seems sensible.

    My Muslim friend and her family have the cleanest households I’ve ever seen anywhere. That squares with what you’ve said above. There is a similar Christian principle: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. I guess being clean is being respectful of others. If you are so dirty that you intrude on others, or affect them, it is impolite.

    Unfortunately, I’m naturally untidy. I do try to be tidy, but I always fail. I think I have too much stuff, and too little time to tidy up – always better things to do… I think I succeed in being clean, however, which I would distinguish from tidy. I certainly draw the line at mould on dishes or gross things like that. Before we were married, my husband shared a house with some boys who were very unclean. He had to keep his own cutlery and plates in his room, because everything else was mouldy. How disgusting. And the dog ate the other boys’ scraps from the floor. Ugh. He was glad to leave that house.

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