The year wouldn't be over if a serious publication didn't devote some serious attention to Brazilian waxes and the women who get them. The requisite annual feature story comes this week from the Atlantic, which investigates a widespread pandemic of hairless vaginas on college campuses. We can all agree that it's not surprising that women in their twenties endure the torture of genital waxing regularly, right? Thanks to Internet porn, and certain dudes? Like University of Michigan finance student Bob Fitzpatrick, who told the magazine he's more likely to perform oral sex on a female partner if she has no pubic hair (the magazine does not say whether he has considered whether or not she would be more likely to perform oral sex on him if she knew he wouldn't ejaculate in her mouth).
"If she's seeking for you to pleasure her and you have pubic hairs in your mouth, you're not going to be pleased with that," the 21-year-old says.
There's also this uplifting story from Indiana University researchers Debby Herbenick:
Herbenick recalls one encounter in which a popular, well-liked college student in a class she taught openly professed that he had never hooked up with a girl who had pubic hair, and would frankly be disgusted to undress a woman and discover a veil of genital fur.
"Some girls talked to me and wrote in their papers that they had always had pubic hair, and in a couple cases never did anything to their pubic hair," she said. "They never thought it was a problem. But when he said that, they went home and changed it. They really started to feel ashamed about their bodies."
And so one of them gets waxed and tells her friends, and then they all get waxed, and tell more friends, and pretty soon everyone who can stand having 140-degree wax poured on their labia so that the hair can be ripped out at the follicle is doing it. And we have a nation with a very high number of twentysomething girls with bald vaginas. If we can agree that men unfairly perpetuate the practice, we can probably also agree that it would be nice if waxing was something women did because they wanted to and it made them feel sexy, rather than because it's something everyone else does and men consider it a prerequisite to sex appeal. But maybe women forget that not all nice men worth sleeping with are pubic-hair averse. One college student the magazine spoke to recalled one who reminded her of this:
"[O]ne time I had a consistent hookup and he told me, 'Either way, you're attractive. You're a naked girl, and you're in my bed. Doesn't matter.'"
In reading the Atlantic story, you may find yourself jarred by the practically poetic way it describes pubic hair:
Once upon a time, all vulvas were coated in a protective layer of coarse, woolly tresses.
Gone were the warm, velvety vaginas of yesteryear — the smooth, Brazilian-waxed vagina was the wave of the future.
Drawing back the curtain of pubic hair exposes the clitoris, the labia and the vagina for plain viewing.
Playboy has trimmed down the standard from the un-modified, detail-obscuring "fur bikini" it helped popularize in the 1960s to the vanishing act it promotes today.
But if we want to get on the road to pubic-hair acceptance (And maybe women don't? Maybe they de-pube because their men do, too?), we should probably first get used to describing it — or at least hearing it described.
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