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must I submit to monthly waxing torture?
October 15, 2007 8:27 AM   Subscribe

sex-appeal-filter: what's the deal with bikini waxing? Is it necessary?

I'm not really feeling it for the bikini wax but it's been suggested to me by more than a few people. (and no, I'm not terribly hairy.) Just trying to figure out if everyone really does this? Some girl maintenance issues but I'm willing to give it a go if you all think it's necessary.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (91 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
God, no, it's not necessary. It's a matter of personal taste. I don't and wouldn't. If you have a partner who would enjoy you doing this, that's a discussion the two of you can have, but despite what you hear in some circles it's really not a personal grooming norm.

There are plenty of trimming devices that will give you an incredibly smooth shave, as well, if you want to be smooth but don't want the pain of waxing.
posted by Miko at 8:30 AM on October 15, 2007


No, it's not necessary, and anyone who suggests to you that it is needs to be told roundly to piss off. Groom yourself as you see fit. For what it's worth, I'm not waxed and don't plan to be.
posted by frobozz at 8:32 AM on October 15, 2007


Are you a swimsuit/lingerie model? If not, then no.

Women have survived and even managed to find happiness for centuries without having bikini waxes. If you're worried about your pubes poking out, just give yourself a trim.
posted by mkultra at 8:33 AM on October 15, 2007


Read The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. It's oppression, I'm telling you. Plenty of gorgeous women with loving, happy partners don't subject themselves to waxing.
posted by letahl at 8:36 AM on October 15, 2007


p.s. of all my female friends, the only two i know that do this do not have healthy body images or sexual relationships.
posted by letahl at 8:37 AM on October 15, 2007


I don't think it's necessary at all. Of course it isn't necessary. I had my bikini line waxed once - for my wedding. Big waste of time and money. It didn't last six weeks as all the beauty magazines claim. Mine lasted one or two. I'm all for getting buffed and waxed and primped, I just groom the bikini area myself, and it doesn't need much grooming.

I have a very close friend that gave me a beautiful piece of lingerie for my wedding. I tried it on for her and she asked me how my husband and I could stand the, "hairy bush"? Wow! I'm still married and she isn't. I credit the pubic hair.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:42 AM on October 15, 2007 [11 favorites]


I had a bikini wax before a recent cruise, and I was surprised at how easy it was. I had heard it was just awfulterribleOMGworsethanchildbirth! Maybe that's for people who wax it all off? I had just did the sides and it didn't hurt at all and it has lasted a really long time. That said, I wouldn't consider it something to do regularly; just for times when I'm not going to want to bother for 2+ weeks.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:45 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Do whatever you want.

(Also: Who the heck is suggesting it to you? Talk about needing to MYOB.)
posted by wintersweet at 8:46 AM on October 15, 2007


Philosophical answer: Must you? No. Is it necessary? No.

But I suspect you're really asking whether you should, not must. Here's the practical answer: What is your goal? Are you in the dating market? Do some men prefer women to be waxed? Yes, so if that's your goal, you might consider it to "impress" those potential dates (although I have no statistics on what percentage of men consider this a "must"). Are you in a relationship with a SO who doesn't really care? Then no, you shouldn't. Are you in a relationship with a SO who would like you to? Maybe you should -- depends on how much you like to "please your man." Lots of people (of both sexes) do things sexually that don't necessarily turn them on, but because they want to please their partner.

To sum up: Do you have to? No. Should you? You might want to, or you might not. Depends on who you're trying to please.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:47 AM on October 15, 2007


I like it - it doesn't hurt very much (and I go full Brazilian) and I think that it makes for more fun.

On the other hand, when I've gone to crappy waxists, it does hurt.

I'd recommend to go to someone who ONLY does waxing, not a hairdresser that does some waxing on the side. Also, with a place that only does waxing, the wax will be hot and of a higher quality.
posted by k8t at 8:48 AM on October 15, 2007


No...that hair is there for a reason---as is pit hair---I notice they feel much clammier shaved in humid weather.

Are these few people male? Tell them to try it first.
posted by brujita at 8:48 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think it's skanky. Aping pre-pubescents/porn stars =! good idea.

There was something in Esquire (I think) maybe a year ago that stood out (to me) -- the per cent of women de-bushing diminished considerably and progressively with age. If you're 19, maybe it's normal? Sure seems skanky to me, though.
posted by kmennie at 8:54 AM on October 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


Naomi Wolf: fighting shame with shame. Ugh. Not everything is about patriarchal conspiracies out to get you(TM).

Necessary for what, exactly? If you like the feel of being bald, most people feel that a waxing is "necessary" to avoid ingrown hairs. Don't use the same depilatory cream you would use on your legs: that stuff is caustic and can damage your mucus membranes.

If you've been told by your place of work that it's "necessary" (being an actor, dancer, fashion model, Cirque du Soliel or some other performer), you should be able to get tips from your sisters at work. You could probably get away with just trimming it really short.

If you're concerned that it's "necessary" in order to please a man or woman you want to date... no, it isn't, or rather it shouldn't be. You wouldn't rearrange the furniture in your home just because someone's visiting for a cup of tea, would you? So don't go landscaping just because your S.O. is used to porn-poon. You're the one that lives at your delta of venus, so do what feels comfortable to you.

Personally I don't do waxing. Too much maintenance, and my skin reacts to the wax besides.
posted by Mozai at 8:58 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do some men prefer women to be waxed? Yes

And believe it or not, some men emphatically do not -- especially once they are having more real sex than porn-industry-facilitated solo sex.
posted by Miko at 8:59 AM on October 15, 2007


Here's what it all boils down to: it's just hair. It doesn't define who you are any more than what you wear or whether or not you wear jewelry. Nothing about how you look defines you as a person, which is why I think it's ridiculous for anyone to say "If you don't do what I say with your public hair, you are a tool of society!!11" First and foremost, it is your personal grooming choice. Don't let anyone force their meaning on you.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:59 AM on October 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's very much a personal choice and it is NOT necessary. A lot of the stuff people do is a vanity. Some people like doing it, hopefully more because they like doing it. Not because a partner/friend/parent is pressuring them.

And kmennie, saying women that do do this are skanky are just as bad as the people that are suggesting the OP to do it for whatever reason.
posted by spec80 at 9:01 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ok, there's a general consensus here against the bikini wax, and I do understand it's all about personal preference and certainly NOT necessary, but I will admit to having done it more than a few times.

I, like k8t, go for the full Brazilian and am pleased with the results most of the time. I've also found that going to a place specializing in waxing is worth the money, and I enjoy the results as does my partner. Also, the results last much longer than shaving does, which is a plus.
posted by harrumph at 9:01 AM on October 15, 2007


I do it occasionally and think it can be an interesting change. It hurts, sure, but it's not unbearable and if you go to a good waxer (see advice upthread) it'll be over really quickly. I don't feel compelled to do it all the time but the couple of Brazilians that I've had have actually been fine. And I enjoyed the results!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:11 AM on October 15, 2007


As a male I shave complete and my gf does as well. It makes for a much more pleasant experience when you are face to face with the area. It's also cleaner and more attractive. I see nothing wrong with doing all that I can to encourage return visits.

Waxing is not necessary, but shaving is quite nice. Doesn't need to be fully shaved, but around the important parts is best.

BTW, powder does wonder for keeping things dry and comfy down there.
posted by wile e at 9:15 AM on October 15, 2007


Different strokes for different folks, but don't knock it until you try it.

I like bald crotches, whether waxed or shaved. Try shaving first if the pain scares you. And the women I knew generally enjoyed the feeling of being bald, especially during oral sex. Moreover, *I* regularly shaved my more serious girlfriends and it was a very erotic, intimate (but laborious) experience that they grew to expect from me. In fact, one complained when I got lazy with shaving her.

No...that hair is there for a reason

Those reasons have become less obvious in our sanitized, climate-controlled society.
posted by randomstriker at 9:16 AM on October 15, 2007


What is your goal? Are you in the dating market? Do some men prefer women to be waxed? Yes, so if that's your goal, you might consider it to "impress" those potential dates

If this was a deal breaker for anyone, it should be a reverse deal breaker for you.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:18 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nine tenths of the human body is hairless. We're the only primates with nearly no hair on our bodies, for crying out loud. And it's a documented fact that some men, bisexual women and lesbians like -- no, make that positively adore and lust for -- untrimmed, luxuriant bushes.

In fact, a quick Google of "70's porn" will confirm that the untrimmed look was all the rage back then. And, horrors, it included unshaven armpits in some instances as well.

Fact is, the child-porn look is just a fad. Nothing more, nothing less.

Will your partner be one of the chosen few who relishes the unshaved look? In our fad-driven society, it's not likely. But try this. Initiate him in to the look by stages. Talk about how utterly absurd and, yes, even a little sick it is for women to shave themselves into a pre-adolescent state of baldness. Maybe he'll catch on in the end.

And when it comes to lingerie, some partners are highly turned on by the stray hairs that peak from the corners of a tight pair of briefs. Believe it or not.
posted by Gordion Knott at 9:18 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think it's pretty gross - the idea of looking like a 10-year-old rather than an adult woman being sexually attractive, or the idea of intentionally cultivating a sideways Hitler mustache down there.

For a long time, I thought I was in the minority. But now I go to a new gym where women are much more prone to walking around naked in the locker room, and the portion that are significantly hairless down there is a significant minority - maybe one or two women out of the dozens I see every day. So, based on what I see of healthy women ranging in age from about 17 to about 70, hair is completely normal and hairlessness is unusual.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:19 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


What's with all the association of a bald-crotch with child-porn? I don't hear anyone condemning bald legs or armpits as pedophiliac.

If you're not into the look (or feel), fine. But let's drop the faux-outrage about how this is oppressive toward women or children. We all groom ourselves in different ways to meet a certain aesthetic or level of attractiveness.
posted by randomstriker at 9:32 AM on October 15, 2007 [13 favorites]


Nthing: Necessary? Heavens no. Lots of people enjoy being bald and think it's comfortable and/or sexy, and I imagine if you enjoy that totally smooth feeling, waxing is just easier than shaving all the time.

That said, there's a huge range of, um, styles between the full Brazilian and hippy super bush. It's just a question of finding one that suits you, your aesthetics, comfort, and desire for maintenance. If you want to wax, do, but if it really doesn't do much for you (and since you asked the question, I imagine it doesn't) there's no reason to think you can't be sexy if you don't. It's a lot of time, money, and discomfort to put into something that doesn't specifically turn you on just because some guy or guys prefer it.

The boy and I both prefer a sort of well-groomed but still present look. In fact, I know that he finds total hairlessness distinctly unsexy, so it's a good thing that I absolutely do not have the wherewithall to do the upkeep on such a thing.
posted by mostlymartha at 9:35 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


The consensus here is definitely more a reflection on Metafilter than on waxing in general. Hence, if you keep getting told that you should wax and you don't want to, switch your dating pool. If you want to keep your same dating pool and they say wax, then waxing is mandatory, no matter how silly it is (and really it's no more silly than only dating people who party a lot, or only dating people who don't drink alcohol, or only dating people who wear designer lingerie, or whatever other criteria people use to filter potential dates).
posted by anaelith at 9:35 AM on October 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


Obviously, it's a personal preference, and nobody should ever tell you that you must do it either way, since it's your body.

But, it is interesting to me how many people have opinions about it. It is a little painful, but for me, the results are well worth the money and the short unpleasantness, which you do get used to. Spending the money on a specialty place is definitely worth it, if you're interested in trying it.

I love the variety of thoughts on it from people. Some people think too much hair is gross and un-groomed. Some people (as evidenced above) think it's skanky.

Whatever. Do what feels good and makes you happy. And skanky? Seriously? Sheesh.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:35 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey randomstriker, I imagine part of the association between bald crotch and child porn is political outrage, but part of it is personal experience. The one time I went bald, it reminded me in a visceral, intense, and not terribly pleasant way of how I looked and felt with I was eight. That was the only context I had. So for a lot of women, who say their child bodies every day and then saw their women's bodies everyday, it can be hard not to associate it with sexualizing the person you were when you were a kid.
posted by mostlymartha at 9:38 AM on October 15, 2007 [4 favorites]


can someone clarify what a bikini wax is? i was under the impression that it was the grooming of hair that is visible when wearing a bikini. many of the responses make it sound like it is the removal of all pubic hair. which is it, because the two things seem quiet different?
posted by phil at 9:39 AM on October 15, 2007


We do not all think it is necessary.

I figure I'll always try to weasel out of any gender-based expenses. And, though I have some blondey-blonde-blonde privilege here in my non-hairiness, I did go about five years without shaving my legs, and as soon as I don't have to work in such an uptight industry I may resume fluffyleggedness, because that. is. okay.

Do whatever makes your party rock. Trimming is good, imo. If there's something between your clit and a partner, hack it off, says I. But bikini line? Meh. Only if you personally like smooth pelvical crevices.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:39 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


What's with all the association of a bald-crotch with child-porn? I don't hear anyone condemning bald legs or armpits as pedophiliac.

I don't consider the look instantly perverse, but I do remember a piece in either Nerve or Salon where someone described it as "little girl sexy" in a positive way. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

which is it, because the two things seem quiet different?

"Bikini wax" has become the blanket term for all pubic waxing, with "Brazillian" being used when all the hair is being waxed off. Presumably because "Partial pubic wax" and "full pubic wax" didn't have a lot of marketing mileage.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:41 AM on October 15, 2007


so the poster has not suggested they were going to remove all of their pubic hair. just wanted to clear that up because i was confused with all of the talk of looking like a child.

to answer the poster's question. my opinion is that groomed is a nice but not a deal breaker.
posted by phil at 9:45 AM on October 15, 2007


Some women really really like being smooth so much so that they go into this waxevangelist routine on the slightest lead. I'm no prude, but I do tend to give them the head-tilt of "WTF are we discussing pubic hair?"

Go with personal preference. Heck, I wax my legs and leave the armpits fuzzy.
posted by desuetude at 9:56 AM on October 15, 2007


No, not everyone does it. None of my girl friends do it, although one tried it because the guy she was dating at the time liked the hairless look, said it turned him on. They broke up, by the way.

Grooming is nice, especially when you are wearing a swim suit. But, it should be a personal preference. Anything you do to your body should be done because you want to do it, not because someone else wants you to. Yes, its nice to please your partner, but don't do if it makes you uncomfortable.

Incidently, I once dated a guy who shaved his whole torso, between the lower chest and upper thighs. It did not make his package look bigger and his hair was so coarse to begin with that the stubble always chaffed me. It made sex pretty miserable.
posted by socrateaser at 9:58 AM on October 15, 2007


What a sad thread - that the OP has to ask if a matter of personal choice is necessary, and that people making choices about their own body are automatically oppressed and skanky!

Try it - keep doing it if you (and your partner) like it, leave it if you don't.
posted by goo at 9:59 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you don't feel like doing it, then I don't see why you need to try it just to see what's it's like.

I have no female friends who currently wax, though some shave. I don't even think it's the majority, based on conversations that have taken place on the subject. Many of them trim it to some degree, but don't remove it all.

Not to mention that it's kind of rude for people to imply that people who shave or wax are "cleaner". I get that sometimes when I don't shave my armpits for a while. All I've got to say on that is, it's really hilarious when a dude who is covered with hair -- including armpit and crotch hair -- tries to tell a much more generally hairless female that she's dirty for not shaving.
posted by Coatlicue at 10:10 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


It is not necessary, it is your choice, and it mainly matter how you rock it so to speak.

That being said, it really depends on hairy you are down there. I (as a male) prefer some grooming, after all if I am going to shave my face I would appreciate some reciprocity. But if you think that your only options are bald, landing strip, or gorilla sandwich then you are thinking too narrowly. You might prefer something low maintenance that looks well kept, but is still comfortable for you, after all your comfort is primary here, and that is what will be sexiest.
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:16 AM on October 15, 2007


What's with all the association of a bald-crotch with child-porn? I don't hear anyone condemning bald legs or armpits as pedophiliac

Weeell...this take on female hair removal has been out there for a long time. The suggestion has been made many times by many people in the last half century that thincreasing American preference for body hairlessness (or less body hair) in women is a reflection of discomfort with mature, adult womanhood. In this view, women are encouraged to bring their body state back to a pre-adolescent appearance in order to emphasize their youth, and relative innocence by removing normal adult features.

From there, it's not hard to see how an aesthetic of body hair removal might have some ideas in common with child porn, and people who put forth this argument would say the same about armpit hair and leg hair, which are both naturally occurring, and are not as often removed in other cultures. Leg shaving began in the U.S. in the 1920s, when women's legs were first exposed by fashion, and when women had just gotten the vote - people were fearful, in some ways, that gender roles were breaking down and society would be pulled apart. Almost every time societies develop fears about gender roles, they also develop a method for re-emphasizing gender difference somehow through fashion. Leg shaving and armpit shaving fell out of favor among many people during the 1970s, largely because of the women's movement, and they've half-heartedly come back, though with nowhere near the consistency with which both were practiced in the 1960s.

We (in the U.S., at least) are a culture which has a widely shared obsession with youthfulness, so I don't think it's so crazy a suggestion that hairlessness is associated with values we consider good, such as cleanness, neatness, freshness, and innocence.

I think what Gordion Knott said sums it up: shaving is "just a fad. Nothing more, nothing less." The social historian in me emphasizes the "nothing less" -- fads reflect tastes, desires, goals, and anxieties as well as a continued desire for novelty. The sex industry has to keep tweaking images, anyway - if there weren't trends in body representation, you'd never have to buy any new porn - the old stuff would work just as well.
posted by Miko at 10:18 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also (this is what I have been told) some women prefer waxing to shaving because it lasts longer and you don't get stubble that way.
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:18 AM on October 15, 2007


Personal preference. I'd do it if it were anywhere near being in my budget. I have several friends who do it.
posted by iguanapolitico at 10:33 AM on October 15, 2007


Male here. I prefer groomed to ungroomed, and either to totally bare, but really, it doesn't make a whit of difference. My girlfriend doesn't wax, though she does often completely shave down there. It's her option; I couldn't care less.
posted by SansPoint at 10:35 AM on October 15, 2007


For serious, who are all these people saying ladyparts grooming is some modern thing? Anyone read Lysistrata (probably NSFW)? Specifically when Lysistrata gathers the women and Cleonice compliments one of the Boeotian girls by saying, "Yes, on my word! and her 'garden' is so thoroughly weeded too!" Yes, a play written by a man, but the point it may be a fad now, but it probably was one back then too, so don't let some sociological or gender studies thesis force you into deciding on something as trivial and personal as this.

Anyway for the real answer so this doesn't get deleted: No, it's not necessary...for everyone. Not everyone does it. A lot of people have already said it. It's just a matter of personal preference as well as your hair and skin type and a whole bunch of other mitigating factors that are personal to you.

Some people find it convenient, or a less painful/irritating than any other method of hair removal, or hell they just like how it looks and feels. Some people like having hair down there because they don't buy into that image or hell they just like it. Some people even dye it for crying out loud. And if some of you haven't notice, "gardens" don't all grow the same, so that obviously would play a factor into what method you prefer. Scorched earth tactics may be entirely unnecessary for some where scissors will do just fine and vice versa if you want to stay neat and it just takes too much time to hack away at the forest you have down there. Who cares. It'll come down to this: convenience, price, I suppose health since you may have sensitive skin not made for waxing or prone to ingrown hairs where constant shaving might be a hassle as well thanks to hair type or something, and overall satisfcation with the results on how it looks and feels. You might not find a professional that works for you, or maybe the place you want to go to is too far away. To pricey even? ALL perfectly OK reasons for going through or not going through with this. The point is you'll have to evaluate it all to find something that fits, *FOR YOU* not someone else.

No, you're not skanky and buying into the man's agenda if you're happy with the results, or even considering trying it out for that matter. And you're more than welcome to evaluate everything and not do it if it doesn't seem to be the thing for you and you won't, or at least should not be labeled weird or gross for it.
posted by kkokkodalk at 10:40 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've never tried waxing, but I use scissors to keep everything down there under an inch long. I just find it more comfortable short than when it's let to grow wild.
posted by happyturtle at 10:41 AM on October 15, 2007


Naomi Wolf: fighting shame with shame. Ugh. Not everything is about patriarchal conspiracies out to get you(TM).

Taking a point to its unreasonable abstraction is fun, isn't it?

The sex industry has to keep tweaking images, anyway - if there weren't trends in body representation, you'd never have to buy any new porn - the old stuff would work just as well.

Nthing that.

Also, I thought of a book that discusses this subject (as the author terms it, the porno-ization of our culture) fairly thoroughly - Female Chauvinist Pigs. Good and an easy read.
posted by letahl at 10:42 AM on October 15, 2007


I'll condemn it. We're a culture that's obsessed with having sex with children. Bald legs and armpits are pedophiliac, as are all beauty treatments designed to make adults look younger.

I agree with previous poster that whether or not to bikini wax really depends on whom you want to impress.
posted by medusa at 10:47 AM on October 15, 2007


I think some sort of trimming/maintenance is pretty standard and expected and taking it all off is pretty common (at least in the 18-30 age range), but not exactly required by any stretch. I've heard a few stories from guy friends about the horrors of encountering a "70's bush" but I also thought they were fucking idiots.
posted by whoaali at 10:49 AM on October 15, 2007


Not necessary. And not skanky, after all for the most part no one knows the status down there unless you tell them or have more specific data to go on.

Miko writes "this take on female hair removal has been out there for a long time. "

Telling though is you rarely see the equivalent claim that males shaving their faces makes them look like little boys.
posted by Mitheral at 10:53 AM on October 15, 2007


it may be a fad now, but it probably was one back then too

Absolutely: though I only went back 100 years, prior to which the female body hair situation was stable in the west for many, many centuries, the ways people ornament their bodies is always partly determined by the culture in which they live, and fads are a part of the culture. There have been multitudes of ways of modifying the appearance of the body since humans got human. Often the gender dimension of that is political and/or reflects anxiety, even if we'd prefer to believe we were just rocking style.

I still would hesitate to hold ancient Greek societies as hotbeds of female empowerment, though.

Anyway, if I wasn't clear, I'm for maximal choice - do as you want. I just wanted to speak up and say that not all men or women prefer the waxing, and if you encounter partners that do, you can work it out together and do whatever you're willing to do. It's not that big a deal.
posted by Miko at 10:57 AM on October 15, 2007


males shaving their faces makes them look like little boys.

Actually, you do see this claim. Since men were not usually asked to shave until the advent of the industrial revolution, there's some discussion that shaving was a way of emasculating men so they could be more easily commanded by a supervisor. There are still a lot of companies where you can't have a beard.

Some see the tie as a psychological replacement for the lost manhood of the beard.

You don't have to go for this line of thinking - I'm just presenting it. It can be interesting to look a bit more deeply into costume and fashions in bodily adornment and see what correlations arise with historical changes.
posted by Miko at 10:59 AM on October 15, 2007 [5 favorites]


Sweet! Thanks for responding to what I said, though I wasn't exactly claiming it as an example of "women empowerment" if you had read the rest of what I said. But, hey, thanks nonetheless for making me appear like I said what I didn't! In fact, I don't know, I think I was kind of trying to make a point that you can pull out all sorts of smarty pants cultural reference and draw arguments to and for it either way, making it quixotically silly? Maybe that's just me.

Anyhoo, OP, whatever you decide to do, be careful. There are some horror stories involving scabbing and losing a layer of epidermis to inept waxologist and too hot wax. Low threshold for pain? Might not be for you. And even after you get it done, you need to exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate to keep those pesky ingrown hairs at bay. If you still wanna go through with it, take an Advil before going in and not before your period, ya heard?
posted by kkokkodalk at 11:21 AM on October 15, 2007


There was something in Esquire (I think) maybe a year ago that stood out (to me) -- the per cent of women de-bushing diminished considerably and progressively with age.

To emphasize what others have said, this isn't because of age as an absolute, but age as an adherence to a generational trend. That is, current 19 year olds are more likely to wax because the current trend is toward less hair - 15 years ago a brazilian was pretty much only for porn stars, and now it's considered a reasonable option for people who just prefer less hair. Things have really shifted. Some older people, who became sexually active back when it was kinda weird and skanky by most (US) cultural norms may still feel skeeved out by going that far, while others have adopted the new norms as their own.

But, there is also a lot of room in the internet age for multiple trends, which is to say, the whole idea that "you can do whatever you like" is itself more universally accepted as its own category. That is, you've always been able to do what you like, so long as you don't care if anyone likes you, but I would argue that the toleration of various attitudes is wider now that we have access to a wider range of information (it can't just be the two or three popular kids who can claim for the whole school what "everyone does" when everyone can go on myspace or livejournal and find out what everyone else says about it...)

Sooo, there's room for hairy bushes, neat trims, "landing strips", and brazilians, and people will make different arguments about why they think one or another is a better choice, but in the end it is a personal choice. In my experience, people are less hairy in the dressing room than they used to be, but I still don't wax, myself, and my boyfriend is okay with it (I don't ask him to wax any body hair).

Telling though is you rarely see the equivalent claim that males shaving their faces makes them look like little boys.

men don't wax to make their faces smooth, though - stubble is usually considered sexy.
posted by mdn at 11:29 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is it necessary? Of course not.

OTOH, NOT everyone who chooses to wax, shave, trim, go completely or partially bare, etc. is oppressed or delusional, either. There are probably just as many reasons to do it as there are to not and most of those reasons are only applicable to some people.

And not all guys who might ask you to wax are evil or pedophiles, either. Politely asking isn't any different, IMO, than asking if you would please wear a certain type of lingerie. And your lover shouldn't get any more upset in either situation if you choose to say no. Again, IMO, anyone who thinks that a shaved woman looks like a pre-pubescent has obviously never actually seen a pre-pubescent. Trust me, there are differences that are even more obvious without the hair hiding them. But, that's off-topic. Sorry.

If it's someone you're in a relationship with who is asking you to try it, and you never have, go ahead, try it. If you hate it, don't do it again. If someone's is insisting, DTMFA. (Dump the Motherfucker Already courtesy of Dan Savage).
posted by INTPLibrarian at 12:19 PM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


People who insist that it's necessary are just as wrong as people who tell you that you if want to do it, you're a slave to the patriarchy who wants to have sex with pedophiles.

Lots of people do it. It's a personal choice. Don't let other people's hangups affect how you choose to look.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:58 PM on October 15, 2007


p.s. of all my female friends, the only two i know that do this do not have healthy body images or sexual relationships.

Jesu Cristo, there is so much emotional and political baggage in this thread that I'd be surprised if the OP is still reading this far. My favorite is how a bunch of you probably are also tewtally convinced that you're like, "really sex-positive, to the max." What, did I stumble into 1973?

Dear OP:

No, not every girl does this. Yes, the "norms" in your social / dating circle are really the only norms that matter, regardless of how MetaFilter clearly wants you to keep the massive afro-bush. Don't know who "suggested" it to you, but if it was a man with whom you were intimate, there's an equal chance that he's just an asshole, or that your natural pubic hair state is more than is the norm for your social cohort. If it was a sister or close girlfriend (the kind you go on vacation with or change at the gym with), then you might take more heed as they might be trying to kindly give you a hint. It doesn't mean they are trying to oppress you or take away your right to vote either. Hair trends are hair trends. No one is wearing the flapper bob or the Farrah Fawcett today, are they? Pubic hair is a grooming option like any other on your body, and you have to decide what's best for you based on what image you want that body part to present and what you can afford time and cost wise.

I am a full-time waxer, because it's what works best for me. I get the Brazilian every three months, and the bikini every six weeks; yes there is a difference between the two, and myriad options in between. I can go relatively infrequently because I've been doing it for so long, but I started with dark thick hair and it took me a full year to get to where I didn't have to go every month. I get the bikini more regularly because the hairs in that particular area grow back faster.

A bikini wax is one that you could ostensibly receive while wearing bikini bottoms or skimpy undies. The point is to remove the "whiskers" that would hang out from around the leg bands of whatever you're wearing... and also on some girls to remove the pubic hair that can fan out onto the upper thighs and the "treasure trail" (the line up to belly button). I don't care what anyone else here says: if you are going around in public in a bikini or underwear or other similarly cut piece of clothing, whether a dance class, photo shoot, pool party, whatever, and you've got wads of pubic hair hanging out... rest assured that people, likely strangers and acquaintances alike, have noticed it and think you're slacking in the grooming department or are making a political statement.

A "full Brazilian" means the esthetician waxs the front, the sides, and the back. By the "back", I mean, a good waxer will have you lie on your side and pull one knee up and away so she can get to the perineum and neighboring areas. I've heard that some salons have you get up on your knees and hands, "doggy style" for maximum cheek spread, but none I've ever been to.

Some salons offer a "Brazilian" that isn't a full Brazilian: the esthetician will do the front and down the sides, but basically stop right under the vagina. This creates the hairless vagina without the waxing of the anal area. You have to either ask when you call, or speak to the esthetician directly, to make sure you'll get a full and not a partial (or vice versa). There isn't much as awkward as having the waxer stop and tell you she's done and you have to go, "but, um, are you finished? because we didn't do the, um, you know, um, the ass part." Then, there is everything in between a bikini and a full Brazilian. You can wear a tiny thong into the salon, and ask to have everything visible removed. You can have the mons hair waxed into a heart. You can get a racing stripe, or a landing strip. (Google for pictures)

I have a few reasons for my preferences: I go to "alternative lifestyle events" on occasion, at which the cleaner look is more popular... I find it to be literally a cleaner experience, especially during those times of the month of either extra lubrication or menstruation... and, wait for the money shot.... IT FEELS GOOD. The skin that is usually covered by a big mound of pubic hair just happens to be incredibly sensitive... only, sadly, most women spend their whole life not enjoying those extra square inches of erogenous zone, because there is a jungle of coarse hair in the way.

One reason that waxing is preferable to other methods of pubic hair removal is that it lasts longer than shaving or depilation, there is no stubble (I mean, really, is it pleasant on your smooth skin when a man rubs his three-day-old beard on it? Why should your three-day-old "beard" be comfortable on his penis or his/her face or mouth?), red bumps or itchy regrowth phase like shaving, there isn't the chemical harshness and hit-or-miss efficacy of depilation, and it's mostly effortless. Once every couple months, you spread your legs for the nice lady, she waxes your business, you give her a few bucks, and you leave... and you don't have to think about hair removal again for several weeks. 30 minutes of your life every few weeks is so much nicer than the constant, constant shaving. Plus, after having tried the shaving routine for a while in college, I believe that shaving makes that skin tougher, which, no thanks.

Waxing is painful the first couple of times you go, and I think that's partially about the anxiety of the unknown. The wax that good salons use today is certainly not going to burn you or rip your skin off. The pain level varies from person to person so don't believe the idea that it's got to be more painful down there than waxing on your legs or armpits. I for one am waaaaaay too wussy to wax my pits, I find it considerably more painful.

The pedophile thing is absolutely ridiculous. People who believe it and repeat it with earnestness need to spend less time reading Gloria Steinem and more time having actual sex with real live people. Want a reason that men love the clean look? I believe there are two really blindingly obvious ones.

First: men like to look at pussies. Many men are very visual creatures (hence the "men like visual porn, women like written porn" chestnut, which I'm not saying is true, but anecdotally I do find that men like that close-up genital action porn POV, whereas women don't seem to go for the hardcore dangle-and-plunge as much). IF YOU HAVE A CLEAN BEAVER, MEN CAN SEE MORE OF YOUR VAGINA. It's not all hidden under a hair curtain. They can see majora, minora, and even their little friend the clitoris. And not to be all "sing it, my sister," but you know what? I think anything that helps men find the clitoris more often is a good thing. So, that's my first theory... that a totally clean pubic region lets men see more of the graphic details they seem to love.

Second: It started in porn and (ahem) trickled out. Here's my thought: once pornographers figured out that men like to look at all the merchandise on display, they started pushing for the girls to go hairless. And the porn stars learned that red bumps do not look good on camera; it became a professional choice. So, porn stars starting waxing it all. And what happens in porn eventually gets out to the masses. Less and less hair becomes the norm in strip clubs, less and less hair becomes the norm in Playboy... and many American men view Playboy as their bible of idealized sexuality. Once Playboy is showing trimmed or hair-free beavers, soon you've got plain normal vanilla people in Middle America are thinking, "hmm, my favorite vagina could look that way too."

Are there guys out there that are true pedophiles and therefore are turned off by hairy-bushed women? Sure, but, newsflash, those guys are not looking for porn of grown women. They don't get suddenly decide to get excited about 30-year-olds just because they went for the Brazilian. Nor can a smooth beaver turn a guy to pedophilia; it's just not how the human mind works. Does seeing a naked penis turn a man gay? No? Same dumb logic.

So, I say that every girl who wants to groom her pubic area should try waxing at least twice: once just bikini, and once the full meal deal. Until you try it, you can never know whether you'll like it or not. You might like it so much that you never go back, as I did. But one thing's for certain: until you've done it yourself, please keep your speculation on how "skanky" we are or how backwards or "aspiring porn star" or whatever other half-cocked opinion to yourself. Until you've walked a mile in my beaver, you don't know how it feels.

(Standard disclaimers here: YMMV, I am a pervert but I am not your pervert, etc etc. Most importantly, I represent the hetero/bi female perspective and don't know much about how lesbians feel about the hair down there.)

(also, damn, sorry for the novel.)
posted by Side Pony at 2:14 PM on October 15, 2007 [20 favorites]


A bikini wax is not "necessary" in that the sun will still rise tomorrow if you don't do it. No tickets are issued at traffic lights for lack of waxing. And for the most part, almost no one will know if you've done it or not.

It might be "necessary" to make your partner happy, to be able to wear some clothes without showing pubic hair, or to get your friends off of your back, although in each case a perfectly appropriate answer is "so what?"

Really, it is just hair. Like the hair on your head or eyebrows or legs, it will grow back if you cut it, so this is not a decision that you will regret for the rest of your life if you do decide to wax. I think that if your partner or friends are being especially pushy about waxing or not waxing, you might want to tell them to back off -- this is your body, not theirs. But at the same time, if they are willing to make the same degree of effort to make you happy, maybe this isn't the battle to fight.

Basically, head hair (and sometimes hair down below) and clothes and makeup choices by women have been publicly scrutinized for centuries, if not longer. Look at how intense the feelings expressed by some people above are; think back to "the world is ending" excitement of previous generations -- when some women started wearing pants, or cutting their hair short. As a society, we invest a lot of effort in the policing of women's fashion and expressions of sexuality; maybe we shouldn't, but it sure happens.

So you can't make a neutral choice -- every option carries a lot of baggage with it. But what you can do is first do what makes you happy, then in light of that do what makes your partner happy, and lastly you can worry about what your friends and family might think.
posted by Forktine at 2:38 PM on October 15, 2007


Just a suggestion if you want to consider something short of waxing the main area: buy a set of clippers and trim to your desired length. Yes, one can use scissors, but it's harder to get a consistent length and it's possible to snip yourself (I have done this and have a little 2-3 mm "v" notch in one of my labia minora - which is why I decided to spend the money on the clippers).

And I just want to reply to those who say that waxing will not leave bumps or foment ingrown hairs: this is not true for everyone. It depends on your skin type. I don't know exactly how rare it is, but I have the skin type that reacts horrifically to any kind of waxing. Once I was convinced (against my better judgment) to have my upper lip waxed, and it was a nightmare. It was red for hours, I got bumps immediately that were like little zits and filled up with fluid, and horrible ingrown hairs afterwards. Never again.
posted by marble at 3:38 PM on October 15, 2007


Wow Sidepony, what a lot of assumptions.

First of all, calling the hairless look 'cleaner' is both silly and offensive. There's nothing cleaner about it, not to mention the potential effects of going after (or having someone else go after) the roots of your hair with blades, strips, etc on a regular basis.

Secondly, the reason waxing hurts less after the first couple of times is that your skin gets LESS sensitive. So, yeah, thanks for the assumption that you're enjoying your much waxed pubic area more than others who have left their skin natural. Interesting that you think you know so much about others' erogenous zones and their enjoyment of it, anyhow.

Thirdly, noting the infantilization of women and problematizing it is not ridiculous.

You might want to hit up the Gloria Steinem! Or at least, stop judging other people's vulvas...
posted by Salamandrous at 4:01 PM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Umm yeah, wow. Let's all get off the baggage carousel shall we? Shaved just makes oral sex so much easier. Waxing isn't necessary. Just get a good electric shaver and go to town. It is a little extra work, but once you try it you might discover it's worth it.
posted by CwgrlUp at 4:43 PM on October 15, 2007


I prefer the natural look, myself, and so do not shave, wax or trim. I have, in my younger days, (I'm 42, female) experimented with shaving, but I didn't like the way it looked on me. The new sensitivity was exciting for a few days, then the novelty faded.

I prefer to look at naked women with pubic hair, so I'm one of those people Googling "70s porn" when I want to look at some smut. I see pictures of gorgeous naked women online and I'm always disappointed when my eye reaches the shaved nether regions, or a ridiculous little strip.

I've certainly looked at lots of naked bodies on the web, both professional porn people and amateurs, along with the spectrum between each. I think that women with the traditional pubic triangle look more balanced, somehow. The hair balances out the points of interest: breasts, pussy; hips, face.

I also think that the hips of shaved women look a lot wider, for some reason. A full bush seems to balance the outward curve of the hips.

The pubic triangle to me also signifies "woman", and I feel more at ease looking at pictures/video and allowing myself to be sexually responsive to it. The connection seems to be: woman, not girl-->adult-->old enough to know what she's doing-->likes what she's doing-->okay for me to like watching her do it.

Pubic hair can be fun to play with. I like having mine brushed with a fingertip, gently tugged, and stroked.

It's your fur; groom it as YOU please.
posted by Savannah at 4:54 PM on October 15, 2007


Wow Sidepony, what a lot of assumptions.

No kidding, and with a sock puppet to hide behind, to boot. She's made her contempt for AskMe posters pretty clear here.

However, SidePony provided some of the best reasons in the thread why we might want to think a little bit critically about what pop culture sells us as 'sexy'. She makes it clear that she thinks people who don't go in for total hairlessness or some form of topiary:

-are unclean
-need to spend less time reading Gloria Steinem
-need to spend more time having sex
-have no sensitivity left in the skin of their genitals
-don't understand men and their "visual nature"
-don't understand porn
-have not tried waxing/shaving themselves

Way to revive the whore-madonna thing for a new century! You agree with me, or you're a sexless, cold prude.

I think there's no good argument here about cleanliness - you can be clean regardless of what's up with your pubic hair. There's no good argument about sensitivity (if anything, removing the protective barrier of pubic hair will cause more friction on your skin from clothing and render you less sensitive - exactly what happens to circumsized men); and you can't possibly know whether any other poster here is speaking from the experience of having tried it (sure I have), whether any of us have sex and how often, and what anyone likes in porn.

This was an excellent illustration of what is discussed in Female Chauvinist Pigs: gaining power by dismissing other women's opinions on the basis of a supposed sexual inadequacy.

My stance remains unchanged: do it if you want, but don't be shamed into it by rhetoric like this. Experiment and have fun with it, and feel free to adopt or reject it, as you like. And to hell with anyone who suggests you should behave otherwise.
posted by Miko at 6:32 PM on October 15, 2007 [4 favorites]


Since people keep going on about the cleanliness aspect, I will say that being shaved short or bare makes it a lot easier for me to keep clean. Sure I have to spend time removing hair, but it's easier for me to schedule in a large block of hair removal every so often, as opposed to extra time in the shower every morning. Of course, a lot of people keep trying to talk me into cutting the hair on my head for the same reason and I'm still not biting at that one (nor is any of my hair unclean, just time consuming).
posted by anaelith at 7:11 PM on October 15, 2007


Trust me, sister, of all the vulva-judging going on in this thread, I'm the least offensive culprit. But it can be difficult to see one's own prejudices when one is cloaked in the Smug Mantle of Feminist Superiority, isn't it?

Wow. Apparently.

So, anyway, anonymous, to sum up the thread, the vast majority of responders think that you should do what you like with your pubes.
posted by desuetude at 7:55 PM on October 15, 2007


I think a fairly big difference between that post on male shaving and this post is that the man wanted to do it and was looking for tips while this one is basically asking for value judgment. Ask and ye shall receive.
posted by Green With You at 8:07 PM on October 15, 2007


Do shave your underarms?
posted by snowjoe at 9:57 PM on October 15, 2007


I <3>
As a mid 20's male, I'm all for the trimmed/bare look. I personally find it far more attractive. Of course, I hate overgrown hair on myself, so I wouldn't be in the camp of guys who wants it from a girl, but wouldn't do it myself.
posted by gregschoen at 10:00 PM on October 15, 2007


There's much to be said for respecting the way your body came.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:12 PM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


I get full Brazilians in the summer. My first one I got because my husband was begging me to do it. I had had regular waxes before but never a full-blown Brazilian, so I made him a deal — I'd wax mine if he Naired his. I went to an awesome chick in Houston to get it done, and she told me, "The first time you'll do it for him, but after that you'll do it for yourself." She was right, and she's still the best waxist I've ever been to.

I don't necessarily do it for sexual reason, though that is a plus. Let me put it this way. Nine months out of the year it is above 80 degrees and 80% humidity in Houston. I feel much cleaner and fresher if I'm naked. Less sweaty, too. I am an avid runner and I also spend a lot of time at the pool and at the beach, so waxing is way less time-consuming that grooming with a razor.

I tend to let it grow in the winter but I still get the "sides" waxed so they, ummm, don't hang out. I am not particularly hairy anywhere else but that area seems to get a little unruly.

In Korea, if I go to the public women's sauna and I'm bald I get a LOT of strange looks. But I get a LOT of strange looks here anyway since I'm 5'10" and blonde and I have tattoos, so who cares.

Incidentally, I haven't shaved the hair on my legs in three weeks. But the hair down there is still groomed.

It's no different than the hair on you head. Fix it however the hell you want and don't let anyone else tell you it should be longer, or shorter.
posted by Brittanie at 10:24 PM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Personally, I like to go bare. Which is based purely on comfort - having hair down there chafes something chronic.

I don't think it makes me look like a little girl. The E cups less than a foot away ensure that I'm not going to be mistaken for a prepubescent anytime soon.

For me, it's a choice based on comfort. My husband likes it; he reckons it tastes better. I find that the area is just in general happier.

Anyway, it's just hair. Give it a whirl, and it'll grow back if you don't like it.
posted by ysabet at 10:24 PM on October 15, 2007


I'll also add that when it gets to be longer it's kind of a novelty for my husband, since he's not used to it that way anymore.
posted by Brittanie at 10:25 PM on October 15, 2007


(OP:) Great question. This is something I've wondered about and agonized over myself. I was a bit disheartened by some of these answers, though. Reading some of the cattier comments, I went from somewhat insecure to "Mael Oui: Never Nude". If people who don't even know you, who aren't even face to face with the region in question are so judgmental, it's terrifying to consider what might be thought and said amongst people who actually are in the 'know'.

As a person who 1) has no experience at all with hair removal in the lower regions (so, yes, I don't have anything of practical value to add to the conversation) and 2) has never read a Gloria Steinem book, it's my general belief that you shouldn't do anything that you're not 100% okay with. I think it's a personal decision, and what's right for one person may be very wrong for another. Only you know the more intimate details of the situation, so you have to weigh those details and decide what's right for you. But, I think in no way is it necessary.

I think by this point, it's obvious that everyone has different tastes, and, just because one person finds hair, or lack thereof, a turn-on/-off, it doesn't mean that all share that preference. There is nothing wrong with whatever you decide to do, regardless of which direction you decide to go in, and it's really not fair for people to insist that you have to do something.. or even that, at the end of the MeFi poll, you have to follow through with the most popular result. I feel for you, is all.
posted by Mael Oui at 11:55 PM on October 15, 2007


[a few comments removed - METATALK for metacommentary plese]
posted by jessamyn at 6:06 AM on October 16, 2007


Forgot to comment on the tag...regarding etiquette -- seconding that it is "polite" to clean up the sides to bring things back into a triangle shape. You shouldn't have tufts hanging out of a bathing suit.

If you don't want to get waxed, a quick swipe with a razor isn't too much fuss (I must admit, those little bikini shavers from Noxema work well). If you do want to try waxing, this hurts way less than going smooth, and is less intimidating, since you're leaving your underwear on.
posted by desuetude at 6:29 AM on October 16, 2007


There's much to be said for respecting the way your body came.

On the flip side, some people like wearing earrings, shaving their face, getting tattoos, trimming their nails, getting nice haircuts, shaving their legs, wearing makeup, waxing their backs, shaving their armpits, and yes, waxing their pubic hair.

These people are also capable of respecting their bodies.
posted by turaho at 9:15 AM on October 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Jesu Cristo, there is so much emotional and political baggage in this thread that I'd be surprised if the OP is still reading this far. My favorite is how a bunch of you probably are also tewtally convinced that you're like, "really sex-positive, to the max." What, did I stumble into 1973

maybe you need to... There's nothing wrong with examining the symbolism of choices you make.

Yes, the "norms" in your social / dating circle are really the only norms that matter, regardless of how MetaFilter clearly wants you to keep the massive afro-bush.

norms are affected by the people in a circle. A person can affect what is accepted by explaining to her partners why she doesn't want to "submit to monthly waxing torture" if she makes that decision, and that can influence how that person thinks about things in the future (in 1973 I think they called it "consciousness raising").

as they might be trying to kindly give you a hint.

yeah, a "hint" that they think a certain thing is the "norm" or looks cooler or whatever. That does not mean that you are required to follow that trend.

It doesn't mean they are trying to oppress you or take away your right to vote either. Hair trends are hair trends. No one is wearing the flapper bob or the Farrah Fawcett today, are they?

actually, I think in this age you can pretty much get away with whatthefuckever you like as it's all post-ironic anyway. As I said above, I think trends are much more multiplicitous. But some of that, at least, is due to the whole consciousness raising stuff that those silly feminists went on about, which is to say, you actually do not have to live and die according to the passing fads of a period. Do what you like, get to know yourself and make your own choices, and you'll probably be a happier person in the end. You know how older people often stop paying attention to what's in fashion? I don't think it's because they get lazy, or are stuck in their own era or whatever. I think it's because they realized it's bullshit.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't be stylish - I'm just saying, choose what you enjoy dressing up in, what makes you feel good, and don't worry about what's expected or what other folks are chattering about.

The pedophile thing is absolutely ridiculous. People who believe it and repeat it with earnestness need to spend less time reading Gloria Steinem and more time having actual sex with real live people.

I think most people who bring it up do so because of their own visceral reaction to bald pussies. Since I became sexually active before waxing was normal, when I started to see it in dressing rooms, I found it very disconcerting. I could not help but think of little girls, because the only time I had seen pubeless vulva before was when i was a kid and had a pubeless vulva myself (and having been raised by hippies, had run around naked with other kids at the swimming hole & so forth). It looked weird to me - it obviously wasn't the same as a little girl, but it certainly seemed to somehow reference a little girl, because to me the body of a grown woman naturally had a dark triangle in that spot.

It had nothing to do with gloria steinem, and over the last few years or so it's become common enough that it doesn't trip me out quite so much, but the original response was just my natural thought process. If women started to remove their breasts for aesthetic reasons, you wouldn't have to read academic literature to have the thought that they reminded you somewhat of men or boys, right? It wouldn't necessarily be surprising if some people wondered if their partners, who asked them to please get masectomies, secretly had some bisexual fantasies or something.

Want a reason that men love the clean look? I believe there are two really blindingly obvious ones....First: men like to look at pussies. Many men are very visual creatures...Second: It started in porn and (ahem) trickled out. Here's my thought: once pornographers figured out that men like to look at all the merchandise on display, they started pushing for the girls to go hairless.

merchandise on display?
yeah, well, I think your theory is completely right on. I guess I just don't see it as necessarily the best route for women. I mean, I don't think of myself as any kind of hardcore feminist or anything, but I will say I'm a little disappointed by how completely and obviously the fashion trends have seemed to push toward gender difference, with mostly tiny sexy low rise / g-string / halter top-py crap for females. I feel like it's a good time for women to find or create other trends that push back against the "porn star" template as the ideal woman.

I actually think this is probably a more complex issue than we know how to deal with - we want a sex-positive, tolerant, open minded society, but we don't want Idiocracy. A healthy attitude toward sex is good, but is increasing the availability of porn actually the best way to create that? I love stuff like dan savage and toys in babeland, but when I pass the local newstand and notice that almost every magazine hanging is showing someone's airbrushed ass, I'm not sure that's a plus. I don't think women should be afraid to be considered "not sex positive" if they don't like traditional porn or don't want to wax their pubes. You can love sex without specificially embracing the current dominant marketing of it.
posted by mdn at 1:20 PM on October 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Some of the hysteria in this thread is really surprising and (quite truthfully) plain weird. Why are so many women being so oversensitive to and offended by other's viewpoints? I hope everyone has stepped back a bit.

I think when people say Brazilians are "clean" they primarily mean cleaner aesthetically, which has a positive connotation to them because they (obvy) prefer it. This is reasonable, yes? That being said, though I think it's completely possible to keep a hairy bush clean (sanitarily speaking) I still feel cleaner when I'm well-groomed or bare. I feel the same way when I have my legs and armpits newly shaved. And there are no stray pubic hairs on the bathroom floor or on my underwear or in my partner's mouth or on my sheets or whatever. These are my personal feelings and experiences of my body. I'm entitled to my perceptions of my own body, yes? It's certainly not a remark on your own perceptions of your own body. You're entitled to those. I wouldn't deny you your right to believe your genitals feel cleaner/dirtier/prettier/uglier. It's what our foremothers fought for.

Now. I used to get brazilians. It was the first and only kind of waxing I ever got, and I started when I was 29. I had shaved completely a few times in my 20s but got ingrowns. Then I waxed for a couple of years, but the last time I had begun to get realllllly brutal ingrowns, like basically a giant boil that I had to perform surgery on to relieve. It sucked to deal with so I haven't waxed since, about 10 months. I'm not sure where to go from here. Currently I use clippers all over (a basic model of hair clippers like they use on soldiers). I would really like to keep going bare but I've yet to sort that out.

Note: I am feminist, single and not sleeping with anyone.

The reasons I like to be bare: I enjoy the increased sensation and sensitivity during sex and masturbation. The skin in that area is very soft and feels nice to the touch. I feel less icky during my period. I feel neater, tidier, cleaner, and like air gets to circulate better and keep the area from staying moist and/or sweaty. That's just my personal experience and I don't expect anyone (partner or 'net stranger) to concern him/herself with it.

(NOT MUFFIST)
posted by loiseau at 9:26 PM on October 16, 2007


Which is the way it should be - not muffist, not baldist, not anybody's business but yours (and, maybe, your partner's).

I do think it's wrong to necessarily conflate going bald with the pornoisation of our culture - Islam has taught the removal of pubic hair for hygiene, for men and women, since the 9th century (Partial Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 1 Hadith 0052) so it is not a recent innovation.

The main reason, from talking to my friends and from experience, that women go bald is because it feels better. Not looks better, not to attract men, but because it feels good. It induces tactile stimulation, sexual and otherwise, that doesn't occur when you have hair. For some women this is liberating, and introduces new sensations and feelings and pleasures that can't be otherwise experienced - which is why so many are waxevangelistic - and by telling women they should feel skanky/ stop being oppressed/ examine the symbolism of their body's response is disempowering and just plain rude.

I love the body I was born with, and I love that I can play with it and adapt it to enjoy it even more.
posted by goo at 10:33 AM on October 18, 2007


To complete my part of the conversation I want to point out that it's quite possible to recognize the symbolism and potential meanings of things you do with your body and still do them. It doesn't mean the potential meanings are all bullshit, and it doesn't mean you shouldn't do what you feel like anyway.

After all, most of us actually live in this gray area born of personal taste, historical time period, cultural standards, whims, pragmatism, and the reactions of others.
posted by Miko at 2:37 PM on October 18, 2007


I think the important part is to partake in these grooming rituals conscientiously and deliberately. It makes me sad when personal choices are driven by cultural trends so broad and powerful that an alternate choice no longer seems available. That's when people begin to believe that their bodies aren't perfectly fine as they are.

I say this having recently returned from a five-year leg shaving hiatus, during which time the responses I got when talking about my decision to just let my rather sparse 1/4" blond leg hairs grow - because, well, why not, you can't even see them unless you really check - were overall less supportive than can be justified logically. I'm shaving again basically because I feel cowed, and want to be bare-legged even at work without confrontation or weird inexplicable judgment. It's a sad realization, and I await a time when I'm not surrounded by people who threaten me with slavish adherence to meaningless cultural mores.

I guess I'm sharing this to underline the weightiness of the "cultural standards" element per Miko, and to mourn the fact that at a cultural level, disrespect for natural bodies, whether manifest in attraction preference, personal notions of comfort, or dress code, is still the order of the day.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:16 PM on October 18, 2007


I do think it's wrong to necessarily conflate going bald with the pornoisation of our culture - Islam has taught the removal of pubic hair for hygiene, for men and women, since the 9th century

It would be difficult to attribute the modern trend to a rise in adherence to strict religious ritual, though. I recognize what you're saying, but the congruence of "the pornoisation of our culture" and the current styles is not random. We are part of the trends of our culture in the choices we make in our own lives, and if we embrace norms which specifically appeal to the visual senses of male sex partners, giving them better access the "merchandise on display", as a proponent of waxing put it above, then there is a sense in which we do strengthen one cultural notion of what a woman should or will be like over another. I'm not saying people don't have the right to do this - I have friends who wax, and I support your right to do what you want. But I still hope it's something people think about, not just as an issue of "doing what's done", but as a real choice that takes into account potential negative aspects in the long term.

Just like liposuction and plastic surgery are becoming more normal, the embracing of certain actions changes the expectations for all women. A bare pussy does has some cultural meaning that we can't evade entirely, and the more normalized it becomes, the more it is "weird" for the rest of us to not "submit to monthly waxing torture" - the more those "kindly hints" might come up, etc. I mean, I used to not shave my legs, and it was really kind of a pain to deal with the responses of people - it wasn't considered just another choice; it was seen as a deliberate political statement or intentional rejection of standard beauty practices, whereas I just didn't think my legs were that hairy or that it was that big a deal. But cultural standards affect how people understand things, and everyone's decisions affect cultural standards, so, basically, I'm just advocated for informed and conscious decisions, rather than let the tendencies of others blindly push a certain view

by telling women they should feel skanky/ stop being oppressed/ examine the symbolism of their body's response is disempowering and just plain rude.

well, apologies if I was rude - I'm not trying to judge anyone's individual choices, just trying to look at the bigger picture. But isn't it at least equally rude to talk about people's hysteria, afro-bush, or obvious lack of sexual experience?

on preview, ambrosia voyeur said what I was going for, I think :)
posted by mdn at 5:45 PM on October 18, 2007


I think the important part is to partake in these grooming rituals conscientiously and deliberately. It makes me sad when personal choices are driven by cultural trends so broad and powerful that an alternate choice no longer seems available. That's when people begin to believe that their bodies aren't perfectly fine as they are. (Ambrosia Voyeur)

But I still hope it's something people think about, not just as an issue of "doing what's done", but as a real choice that takes into account potential negative aspects in the long term. (mdn)

I totally agree, but I would argue that the social and cultural consequences of women choosing to go bald are negligible to nil, because most people will never know. It's a moot point. Most people's genitals are not on display for public consumption, and therefore choosing to groom is less the result of social pressure than leg shaving or any other visible form of easy body adaptation. The only effect, for 99.99% of the people who do it, is that they find pleasure in themselves and can further celebrate and enjoy their bodies. So implying that the bigger picture is of women as slaves to marketing for men, instead of the bigger picture of women enjoying their bodies and the cultural and social implications of that, comes across as patronising, and I think the comments about not being sex-positive, baggage etc came from there.

It would be difficult to attribute the modern trend to a rise in adherence to strict religious ritual, though. I recognize what you're saying, but the congruence of "the pornoisation of our culture" and the current styles is not random.

I agree - my comment noting the practice in Islam was to demonstrate that it is hardly a recent innovation. I also agree that the perceived increase of people choosing to go bald (and the number of people waxing is the only reliable data we have) isn't random, but I think it's more to do with spreading the word, the increased availability of waxing and the evolution of waxing techniques - hot wax barely hurts - than of women slavishly following fashion.
posted by goo at 9:48 AM on October 19, 2007


Oops: "the negative consequences of women choosing to go bald are negligible to nil"... sorry.
posted by goo at 10:13 AM on October 19, 2007


The only effect, for 99.99% of the people who do it, is that they find pleasure in themselves and can further celebrate and enjoy their bodies.

Well, there the effect of a a mini-industry being based on it, fueled by the money women spend. (Someday I want to get research on how much more women spend than men on socially prescribed grooming and hygiene.)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:32 AM on October 19, 2007


The only effect, for 99.99% of the people who do it, is that they find pleasure in themselves and can further celebrate and enjoy their bodies.

Just a side note that this is also cultural. Anyone who is in any sort of gym culture as the body-conscious and others also are (as well as people who do sports for school etc) will know what everyone else's pubic hair preferences are. This can go both ways actually. Where I live I'd expect to get some odd looks more if I was someone who did a lot of waxing/grooming. I'm sure in other places this is the exact opposite. But in any case you can bet if I decided to go bald/mostly bald/whatever, many people (women in the gym, who are also often my students/colleagues/etc.) would notice which *is* something I might also think about, not that I'd care terribly much. This is just another data point to the general discussion - I usually feel that letting your freak flag fly is the way to go.
posted by jessamyn at 11:10 AM on October 19, 2007


the social and cultural consequences of women choosing to go bald are negligible to nil ,... choosing to groom is less the result of social pressure than leg shaving or any other visible form of easy body adaptation ...
So implying that the bigger picture is of women as slaves to marketing for men, instead of the bigger picture of women enjoying their bodies and the cultural and social implications of that, comes across as patronising,


I think that's just wrong. People sleep with multiple partners, guys get used to seeing bald pussies in their porn, and then, in their partners, and then they will have an expectation and a reaction to that "afro bush" the next time they see it. In a way it could be an even bigger and more anxiety-producing issue, because you won't really know, until a pretty intimate moment, how much it matters to this potential partner. But take a look at the original question here!

must I submit to monthly waxing torture?
October 15, 2007 11:27 AM Subscribe

sex-appeal-filter: what's the deal with bikini waxing? Is it necessary?

I'm not really feeling it for the bikini wax but it's been suggested to me by more than a few people. (and no, I'm not terribly hairy.) Just trying to figure out if everyone really does this? Some girl maintenance issues but I'm willing to give it a go if you all think it's necessary.


Obviously there is room for social pressure. Obviously some people do feel that they may be required to take up a certain form of grooming that they would really rather not, in order to be considered "normal". Sure, we can each make our individual choices and reject being "normal", but in general we should at least recognize the fact that we (re)define what normal is by making these choices. The amount of time, energy, and money women spend on trying to be attractive is staggering. People say they shave their legs because it feels nicer, too, but I still notice that there are a lot more hetero women who keep up with leg shaving then there are lesbians -maybe part of what "feels nicer" is when a guy runs his hand over the leg and says "I love how smooth your leg is", and the dynamic in a lesbian relationship often just works differently (because somehow the sexiness of another woman is less about her smooth legs I think, though I don't want to get into a whole psychological breakdown here - just my experience).

I mean, none of which is to say women shouldn't give men something of what they want - we should all try to make the ones we love happy, and so long as they're doing the same for us, yadda yadda, what's the harm, but again, it's just the awareness that these things are being done, and not rule-following without consciousness. Waxing is more money, more time, more pain, more effort, and for what rewards specifically? If guys were turned off by it, or usually wished you had an afro-bush, would you still choose to do it?

All I'm getting at is, it's good to try to understand our own choices all the way through, and how they may affect larger social dynamics. I'm not trying to condemn any conclusions in particular, just short-sighted decision making.
posted by mdn at 11:48 AM on October 19, 2007


Ladies, can we please stop using "afro-bush" as a default term in this thread for "big/hairy/wild/ungroomed/untrimmed/unwaxed bush?" It's a little weird.
posted by desuetude at 12:11 PM on October 19, 2007


(sorry - if that was directed to me, i was referencing the above, 16-favorited comment, that begins :

Dear OP:

No, not every girl does this. Yes, the "norms" in your social / dating circle are really the only norms that matter, regardless of how MetaFilter clearly wants you to keep the massive afro-bush.

posted by mdn at 12:32 PM on October 19, 2007


...mini-industry being based on it, fueled by the money women spend. (Someday I want to get research on how much more women spend than men on socially prescribed grooming and hygiene.)

I think that in general you're probably right in assuming that women spend more than men, but when I actually think about what my partner spends on grooming himself and what I spend, it's pretty much equivalent - his bi-monthly wax costs more than mine, his moisturiser costs more than mine (and he uses more of it), his shaver cost more than my epilator (and he uses his more often). I don't wear make-up, so the only difference I can think of is head hair, and he has arse-length dreds so his hair care expenditure is the price of a bar of Dove, where I have frizz issues and don't mind balayage every now and again. Clothes and shoes might bump my end up a little; and we are 25- (he) and 30-year-old (me) white middle-class professionals living in a major world city, and perhaps our experiences are totally different to those of other people in other places and contexts. But this is tangential, I think.

Just a side note that this is also cultural (jessamyn)
Obviously there is room for social pressure. (mdn)

Sure, which is why my first comment in this thread was to the effect that the whole discussion saddens me, as does any blanket condemnation or dictatorial statements regarding women's choices.

This is a very interesting discussion - thanks!
posted by goo at 12:40 PM on October 19, 2007


mdn, no offense meant. It's just that the repeated usage was starting to rankle a bit.
posted by desuetude at 12:56 PM on October 19, 2007


mdn, no offense meant. It's just that the repeated usage was starting to rankle a bit.

if it wasn't clear, I thought it was obviously questionable, and was repeating the usage to point out the kinds of attitudes being casually espoused by the pro-wax contingent. I would imagine Side Pony would "kindly" give me "hints" to help me see that my "afro bush" is not actually appropriate, if we were in the same social circle. I think this is unfortunate.

posted by mdn at 12:20 PM on October 22, 2007


mdn, I totally agree with you. Reading the comments as they roll in also makes the individual discussants less noticeable -- I didn't actually realize that several of the comments were yours, it just seemed like I was seeing the term a lot. I just had a WTF-can-we-please-stop-saying-afro-bush moment after I read it for the fourth time, ya know?
posted by desuetude at 1:02 PM on October 22, 2007


For posterity's sake, thought these mefi threads might be pertinent.
posted by mdn at 10:31 AM on November 5, 2007


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