The Politics of Hair

There is a fascinating article by Lisa Germinsky up on Salon right now about the trend of women moving away from the fully nude Brazilian style pubic fashion.

This is going to be incredibly difficult to write about, because I am not interested in sharing my personal grooming habits, but I have some fairly definitive opinions on this issue. So please bear with me while I try to navigate this issue without crossing my personal boundaries.

Anyways, the most obvious point is hard to argue with: keeping it bare down there is expensive. A cheap Brazilian runs a woman about $50 or $60 a pop, and you probably don’t want to go bargain basement when dealing with your fragile bits. So expect to shell out anywhere from $70 to $90 for a decent waxing–oh, and don’t forget tip. This is something you need to do once a month. Ouch. Remaining hairless is, in essence, a luxury commodity–but something that our culture has mandated as near-obligatory for women. The alternative is shaving at home, and that can become expensive too, when one considers the cost of shaving cream, razors, and aftercare lotions to avoid ingrown hairs and razor burn. I’ve also heard numerous accounts of women cutting themselves, and even with the best aftercare, ingrown hairs and razor burn happen (guys, you think that hurts on your face? Try your tender parts!).

The writer goes on to argue that ditching the Brazilian is also something of an act of social release for many women:

While I’ve become accustomed to some benefits of the Brazilian — it does clear a nice path for action — I’m aching for change. The act itself is invasive. I’m feeling a little rebellious.


I don’t know whether or not I necessarily buy it. Is not getting a bikini wax really an act of rebellion that we should be celebrating as we celebrate the change of bringing Obama into the White House? Maybe. I’ve never considered myself particularly rebellious for not subscribing to most beauty regulations and fashion expectations, so it is hard for me to relate to that sort of a standpoint. However, I actually think it’s a pretty cool idea that the financial need to stop getting Brazilians could be leading women to feel a little more ownership and affection for their nether regions.

But as a woman, I think there is something powerful in deciding that products and waxers and experts don’t need to come between you and your private parts. It’s OK to be a woman again — a real woman, hair and all.


Truly, if this economic downturn is leading to women feeling more accepting of their bodies in a trimmed state instead of a mauled into hairlessness state, so much the better. Perhaps the reemergence of pubic hair will lead to a decrease of labiaplasty. I for one would be thrilled if we could take the vagina off the list of body parts that women feel need to go under the knife in order to feel attractive and normal.

I plan to enter this new era with a tailored modern mini-bush and a reclaimed sense of womanhood. […] But the promise of a new America under an Obama administration gives me greater optimism. I envision a country where we can one day have it all — a booming economy, national security, a healthy respect for sexuality and even a little bush. I say, Yes we can.

This is, perhaps, a bit of a simplistic take on things. I don’t think that a decline in women’s ability to afford Brazilians is going to generate a healthy respect for sexuality–female sexuality is still vilified with the virgin-whore dichotomy and still painted as scary and wrong; when and how will we even begin to move past that to healthy masculine sexuality or homosexuality or any shades in between? I don’t think that fewer Brazilians are the answer to our woes. However, as I said, if there is any sort of empowerment being generated out of a little bush between the legs of some ladies, then I’m all for it.

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12/11/2008. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.