By Skirt Club Jem
It’s something many of us have wondered about. In an era of body positivity, inclusivity and body confidence, why do so many women continue to wax their most intimate of places?
Legs, bikini, chin, underarm...there are no limits to the surface areas available for beauty therapists to wax and make a pretty little profit. But when did it become so important to replicate the look of a prepubescent Barbie doll?
Have the tentacles of the male-dominated porn industry extended so far into public discourse that we can’t actually remember a time when women had hair ‘down there’ and under their arms?
Is this a case of the tail wagging the dog? Male ideals of beauty now seem so firmly entrenched into our culture that beauty standards continue to plague us even when men are taken out of the equation. Just remember the horror and outrage a few years back when Julia Roberts dared to tread the red carpet without shaving her pits first. Or the level of vitriol and ridicule towards polycystic ovary campaigner Harnaam Kaur when she refused to shave the excess hair on her face and was publicly shamed on social media.
Female body hair is a very visual representation of failing to comply with the ‘social contract’ that women should look or behave a certain way. You can have as much pink or blue hair and piercings as you want, sweetheart - but don’t forget to shave!
When we’re not busy shaving our entire bodies so they don’t offend anyone (not to mention provoking a visceral feeling of disgust towards ourselves), we’re now being told that our vaginas need products too, to recreate the sensation and smell of a meadow on a summer’s day or an English country rose garden. We’re being sold Yoni eggs to make sure our vaginas are strong and powerful, just like the glutes and abs we’re supposed to curate and sculpt at the gym.
Is there no end to the aesthetic improvement bandwagon?
I remember being particularly shocked one night while out drinking with a friend when she confessed she’d tried anal bleaching. “But….why…?” I spluttered. My friend is an intelligent, successful and incredibly independent woman of the world with an important job and an obscenely fantastic salary.
Why did she feel the need to go down on all fours in a beauty salon somewhere in the North of England so her asshole could be a few shades lighter? What for? For whom!? Even the most gifted of yogis would struggle to see their own assholes without a mirror.
Later it would turn out that her (now ex) husband had an unhealthy fascination for ‘sploshing’ (food splattering kink) so it appears her bleached asshole was not sufficient to maintain his sexual interests anyway...unless it was ‘sploshed’ with beans or custard, of course.
But I digress.
We still seem to be obsessed with ‘getting our look right’ for the sake of others instead of serving our needs and feeling good about ourselves first and foremost. Despite my education and claims of being a woke feminist, I’m guilty of this. I’ve consulted others on how they groom, how long their pubic hair is and how often they trim.
What the hell should it matter? Their pubes are their pubes!
One simple google search spews out a cacophony of womanly anxt, head scratching logic and paranoia surrounding the politics of hair.
‘Feminists get bikini waxes too!’
‘Is pubic hair a feminist issue?’
‘Waxing and feminism - it’s ok!’
‘Does waxing make me a bad feminist?’
‘Can women ever balance feminism and the need for smooth, hairless legs’
‘It’s time for women to stop waxing’
‘Hairy and proud: body hair through a feminist lens’
‘Is waxing your bikini line Anti-Feminist?’
We are so hyper focused on doing the right thing as women AND as feminists, that we’re searching for answers from others, asking for validation and questioning our own authenticity. We’re still fearful of going against the grain.
Waxing is a beauty trend that has snowballed and gathered pace, pulling us along to a destination that has no end point. Where there are women...there are waxers, ripping out hair like there’s no tomorrow. But while we all rationally know that nobody is forcing us to undergo these painful practices, we seem paralyzed to stop the expectation that we’ll continue.
The sight and feel of the merest stubble can bring about anxiety and dread for me. I’m booked in next week to a salon called ‘Royal Wax’ for a bikini wax which I assume will be fit for a princess. She’ll also do my full leg, arms and underarms too. I may get some threading done on top.
I hate myself for feeling like I need to. It troubles me greatly that I will love the feel of my skin afterwards, that my husband will find my freshly waxed body arousing. I joke with him about ‘rejecting the patriarchy’ and going ‘full chewbacca’.
But these are empty words. I haven’t figured out an answer, I will most likely return again to Pahola the beauty therapist and Royal Wax.
I was struck at a London signature party a few months back when a guest commented "So many women here wax...I kind of enjoy a full bush, but everyone else has a landing strip, so that’s what I do too."
For me too, it’s still a case of ‘wax on’. But I wonder if there will ever be a time when a waxed bush will be as passe as a mullet. If future generations will quip about how lame it was that their grandparents’ generation used to wax their intimate parts.
I wonder if there will ever be a time when waxing is looked upon as something akin to bleaching skin or foot binding.
Time will tell.
How about you - are you a 'wax on' or a 'wax off' kinda girl? Join in the conversation on skirtclub.co.uk and connect with Jem on Insta: @skirtclub_jem