It seems the Brazilian is over with its less appreciated cousin, the fur coat, back in the game. With proud bushes sprouting up everywhere from American Apparel to Lena Dunham's Girls to photographic projects and even Cameron Diaz’s debut book, the free-and-easy look is de jour once more.
I can’t remember the first time I endured the torture of a bikini wax. I imagine I blocked the experience from my memory as a means of warding off PTSD.
Because no matter what your pubic stylist tells you, it does not become less painful with time. The hair does not grow back thinner and finer, as if with enough visits you’ll suddenly find that it all disappears in a puff of smoke. You do not get “four to six weeks” of respite until wispy fuzz begins to appear on the common. Your pubes will not return as a fine layer of powdered snow on a gentle ground cast glistening under the stillness of a winter’s starry sky.
Artist Petra Collins was deleted from Instagram because of this image of a model with, shock, pubic hair. Image via dailydot.com
If you’re lucky, you’ll get four to six days of hairlessness that, while temporarily smooth, makes your downstairs look like a plucked spatchcock.
But look, that’s just my experience. And far be it from me to advise other women against it. Hair, or the lack thereof, is a personal choice. Strip yourself bare or go full wilderness - whatever makes you happy. It’s your spatchcock, after all.
And so while I personally embrace news that the Brazilian torture industry is on its way out, I’m less enthusiastic about the reasons why. Unfortunately, attempts to reinstate the popularity of hair while redefining it as fashionable are just as silly as previous attempts to make it Verboten - especially when that advocacy is coming from companies whose ultimate goal is to make money.
Sure, American Apparel’s creative director sounds good when she says, “everybody’s got it all backward. Pubic hair isn’t a trend, removing it is. It’s like everybody’s suddenly acting like having hair is a new idea.”
Isn’t that refreshingly progressive? I mean, doesn’t that just sound like American Apparel is the kind of au naturale company that loves women and supports their natural bodies? And wouldn’t those natural bodies just look so great in the ‘semitransparent mesh lingerie’ American Apparel are selling for Valentine’s Day? It’s not as if American Apparel has had a heinous history of sexualising women’s bodies, or being dictatorial about the limited expressions of beauty demanded in their retail staff.
The problem with taking a fairly mundane activity - in this case, removing or growing hair that naturally appears on your pubic area in varying levels of ferocity - and fetishising a particular expression of it is that it still forces women to operate in the shame economy that is the beauty industry.
Instead of allowing them to live in their bodies as they see fit, free of judgment from others, their choices are still up for discussion by people with exactly zero to do with them.
Now we have well respected, progressive comics like Rob Delaney saying he was ‘horrified’ when he first saw a bald vagina - as if the contemplation of women’s bodies by men has been a field sorely underrepresented.
Meanwhile, the natural look is now being lauded as the domain of ‘eco- and health-minded women’, with Angela Kia Kim (owner of Savor Spa in the West Village) telling the New York Times, ‘the grown look certainly suits a girl who is more au naturel’. Because how you treat your pubic hair is clearly a reflection on your depth and values as a human being - especially when accompanied by the kind of class privilege that can see you afford regular visits to an upmarket New York spa.
In or out, proud or shrouded, I don’t care. It’s just hair and what you choose to do with it has no reflection on your worth as a person. As long as that choice is being informed by your desires and no one else’s, who cares whether or not you like to lay naked in the wind or hide your light under a bushel?