Ever since we gave Brooke her Brazilian, I’ve been thinking about possible pro-woman interpretations of this practice. I know it’s a common feminist response to view take-it-all-off waxing as a form of genital mutilation that Western women partake in only because we’ve been brainwashed to think we like it or because our self-worth is all tied up in being attractive to men.
But I also wondering if maybe this doesn’t give women who love waxing enough credit for knowing their own minds. Which doesn’t feel like a particularly feminist place to be. Some women I’ve talked to just love how it feels (“clean” and “smooth” are the words I’m hearing most). They love the reactions they get from their partners. According to that New York Post article, a lot of women also love bonding with their waxer. A monthly maintenance appointment becomes an opportunity to catch up with a good friend. (Who you pay. To rip out your pubic hair. She editorialized.)
But tonight we do another Brazilian and start talking about how the popularity of the hairless look seems to have originated with strippers and porn stars. And we have this exchange:
“I could never be a stripper,” says Beauty U Teacher #1. “They don’t have any self-respect.”
“I can’t even do a strip-tease for my fiance,” says Beauty U Teacher #2. “I’m like, lights off, please!”
“Absolutely!” agrees Beauty U Teacher #1. “I hate being naked with the lights on. There’s no need for that.”
I’m taking even the fake names out of this exchange, because it’s obviously so very personal. But I will tell you that both women are bikini waxing devotees. One even does her own Brazilians, which has to be the dictionary definition of “nerves of steel.”
I’m not saying that two women simultaneously claiming to love removing their body hair and yet hate being seen naked is a statistically significant finding. I’m sure there are loads of women who wax it all off and revel in the loveliness of their naked forms. (Are there? Are you one of them? If so, please weigh in!) But it’s a troubling correlation because it does underscore a theme I’m encountering over and over in my travels, here: That you can go to every possible length to meet the beauty industry’s standard of perfection — and still not like what you see in the mirror.
Then Beauty U Teacher #1 reaches in to remove the final strip on our Brazilian recipient, who is pulling her knee in to her chest to expose what we often refer to as “the back garden.” Teacher #1 yanks off the strip, taking every last speck of hair off this woman’s vagina and anus, then pats on the tea tree oil, almost reverently.
“You look gorgeous,” she says. “So beautiful.”
PS. You might notice that I’m skimping on photos at the moment. This is because it’s extremely difficult to find photos that illustrate a post about Brazilian waxing and don’t perpetuate a harmful beauty stereotype at the same time. It’s also because I do get the occasional extremely disturbing hater on this blog — and I don’t feel good about running a photo of a woman that enables these people can objectify her. (It’s a big interweb and there are plenty of other websites that cater to them.) If you have ideas for images/resources for images that would work for posts like these, I’m all ears!