There are two truths in life : 1. Brazilian waxes are very painful. 2. Guys are stupid.
Over the course of about 20 years, these two truths began to form a unique relationship.
Stupid guys felt they could convince us of ripping our genital hair out. And for a while, it worked.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
In 1987, Jocely, Jonice, Janea, Joyce, Jussara, Juracy and Judseia Padilha opened J. Sisters Salon in Midtown Manhattan. Although the salon first gained notoriety for its nail services, the infamous Brazilian wax really put it on the map in 1994.
On the salon’s website, Jonice reveals the purpose behind the procedure. She says it came about because in Brazil, “bikinis are so small,” hair removal is desirable. Completely understandable.
Women want to feel as comfortable as possible.
Six years later, Carrie Bradshaw brought the Brazilian wax into the living rooms of women across the country in an iconic episode of “Sex and the City.”
After Carrie tells her friends about her waxing adventure, Miranda says the reason this style is so popular in LA is because “men are too lazy to go searching for anything.”
Just like that, Miranda Hobbes publicly turned the Brazilian wax into something men had a say in.
Although Miranda will always be my least favorite “SATC” character, we can’t completely blame her for putting men in the waxing conversation.
Hugh Hefner and the pages of Playboy, porn in general and even Barbie all are proponents of a hairless vag.
Besides a lack of pubic hair, these three things have something else in common: the influence of men. Playboy magazine has a target audience of men, and the staff, headed by Editor-in-Chief Hefner, is largely male.
In 2011, CNBC’s Chris Morris dubbed the adult entertainment industry a “male-dominated business.”
Even Barbie’s origins are with an “all-male design team” at Mattel.
But why do naked centerfolds, an unnatural-looking doll and one episode in a romantic sitcom have anything to do with how real women choose to maintain their pubic hair today?
How is any of this relevant in regards to a singular woman and the upkeep of her privates?
Not only do men have very specific guidelines and preferences when it comes to female pubic hair, but they also have a significant say on the matter.
Their words translate into women's actions.
And since the Brazilian wax is more popular than ever, and women are willing to drop $50 or more every four-to-six weeks on the process, we know this male opinion has had some sort of influential, disturbing effect on the way we groom.
But when we go to the salon -- mentally prepared for mind-numbing, stomach-wrenching pain -- we aren't thinking about the bigger picture, society's standards or the cultural significance of choosing the Brazilian wax.
We just want smooth skin and hair that doesn't peak out from our swimsuits or require shaving every time we take a shower.
The overarching male presence is powerful and sneaky, though. It knows no boundaries.
For example, during my first visit to get a Brazilian, my waxer looked me in the eye and said,
First of all, I was annoyed. I don't have a boyfriend (yes, Mom, I'm still single).
Second of all, I was disturbed.
Even if I did have a significant other, he wouldn't be the one spreading his legs and having hair follicles ripped out of the most sensitive areas on his body, so he'd have absolutely no say in the matter.
I pushed her remark out of my thoughts and tried to focus on not screaming and crying for the remainder of the wax. After every bit of hair was removed and all the pain eventually subsided, her words rang in my head.
I began wondering how much of my personal decision to get a Brazilian wax had been consciously or subconsciously decided with the male species in mind.
I liked to think just I preferred to be clean-shaven.
And because shaving is tedious and time-consuming, a wax would be more efficient and it would last longer. It would be done strictly for me.
But I also had to be completely honest with myself; I knew I had an ulterior motive for both shaving and getting a Brazilian.
As embarrassing and anti-feminist as it is to admit, it's true.
I've been wary of the male opinion on pubic hair ever since I overheard boys in my freshman dorm incessantly mock a girl for not shaving.
Sure, it depends on where and how you are brought up, but most girls aren't told they need to remove their pubic hair.
It's not a subject usually broached by parents or brought up in ninth grade health classes.
It's often the sneering jeers from teenage boys and the assumption they'll find a full bush "gross" and "unladylike" that make pubic hair taboo.
It's a weird cycle men and women participate in every day: We wax, they think everyone waxes. They expect us to always be waxed, so we wax because we think they expect it.
Instead of assuming this was the case or inferring it from own personal experience, I did some relatively limited research among white, 20-something men.
Before you continue, however, I should warn you these opinions are from a very small pool, and therefore, they do not accurately reflect the norm.
I simply asked them what their preferences were on pubic hair and Brazilian waxes. Although their responses varied a bit, there was a rather alarming consensus.
Most of them expected and preferred the Brazilian wax on the women they were hooking up with.
With the exception of one 23-year-old, who said the expectation for absolutely no hair is “unrealistic and inappropriate,” the guys responded with rather judgmental and immature answers.
One of the participants informed me the Brazilian wax was "just a thing people did," you know, like brushing their teeth or going to the bathroom.
Another 22-year-old even went so far as to say he would not go down on a girl if she kept her pubic hair, but he would still expect her to give him a blowjob.
If that isn’t f*cked up and misogynistic, I don’t know what is.
The worst answer, however, ran along the lines of,
You can't make that sh*t up.
Throughout my poll, I tried to remain impartial and unbiased. Somewhere or someone -- maybe even a woman -- taught them female pubic hair was bad. These guys, just like women, weren't born with a deep-seeded aversion to pubes.
They were simply playing their parts in the cycle.
So, what are we going to do about it? How do we prevent our little girls and younger sisters from believing a Brazilian wax is necessary to attract men?
Given the current environment, one filled with waxing salons and men who think porn is real, there are two probable solutions to putting an end to expectations on hair down there:
1. Every single woman vows to stop seeking Brazilian waxes; and 2. We stop taking the male opinion on our pubic hair into consideration.
Although the Brazilian wax is basically weird and unusual torture, Option 1 seems highly unlikely. Especially if a woman personally enjoys hers groomed, shampooed and styled.
So we're left with Option 2; we allow our personal preferences to take the reigns.
If you like to look down and never see a speck of hair, you go to a salon every month, hand over your credit card and pray to God it won't be as painful as it was last time.
And if you also happen to find yourself in bed with a man who's into the style, so be it.
If your pubic hair makes you feel womanly and sexual, free the bush and don't let any man tell you otherwise. If he questions your choice, you don't need him in your life. He's stupid.
Because f*ck guys who think they have any kind of relevant opinion on pubic hair.
Or don't. They can watch porn instead.