Health

What does it really mean when you wax "down there"?

Ladies engage in all kinds of grooming rituals; but who are we really trying to make happy when we do it?

A recent story in the GuardianPubic hair removal: The naked truth by Bidisha – has one columnist asking, what’s the point? The article points to the increasing popularity of being bare down there, especially now that technology makes way for permanent removal (if you have that kind of cash lying around and you wouldn’t rather spend it on a couple of trips to Paris or about 200 Manhattans). “The hot topic for winter 2011 is clear: to bare, or not to bare one’s labia?” says Bidisha, citing several recent magazine articles on the topic. First, she points out, was the trim, then the landing strip, and then the full-on Brazilian (the “Christmas goose look,” as she calls it.)

But why are we doing this? Why are we following porn stars off a cliff and into some sort of hairless abyss? A big part of the problem, says Bidisha, is that women are too accommodating: we anticipate what men might like and we do it – often with little regard for our own comfort or convenience. Men in pornographic images are also often waxed – and when was the last time you say a man in a bathing suit ad with back or neck hair? And yet, (most) men feel far less pressure to attain some sort of idealized physical embodiment of worthiness. “Men are not as cowed, self-hating, obedient or biddable as women in this regard,” she says. “They are not going to make the effort to do anything to please a woman, at the cost of their own comfort…Will a woman really do everything she can to meet every passing fad, even if it’s uncomfortable, time-consuming, irritating, expensive, troubling, humiliating? And look at the reward: intercourse with a porn-adoring male who actually loathes women’s real, naked, hairy bodies?”

The question is this: When you undertake any one of the millions of grooming and preening details that women commonly engage in on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, who are you really trying to make happy? True, there are loads of girly things that I enjoy: going to the hairdresser and painting my nails and putting on makeout – but hair removal (of any kind) definitely doesn’t top the list. I do it anyway, largely because it’s something I feel I should do. So where is the line between engaging in activities that make you feel desirable and sacrificing yourself in some bid to appease someone else’s idea of beauty? It’s something, I think, that a lot of women have yet to figure out.