Discuss: Trimming the Hedges

A few years ago, someone skilled in the art of torture, taught my Father how to forward email.  From prayer requests to hunting videos to funny cartoons, the man is a mail forwarding machine.  And while I usually just tolerate his fwd proclivities, sometimes he sends me a gem. 

Last month, my Father sent me an article about a Florida woman who caused a traffic accident because she was shaving her bikini line while driving.  Strike that.  While she was sitting in the driver’s seat, the car was actually being piloted by her ex-husband, who was sitting in the car’s passenger seat.

And if that scenario wasn’t unbelievable enough, please keep in mind that Pubic Enemy Number One was engaged in a little high-speed shaving because she was on her way to a date with a new boyfriend. 

(The mind, it boggles.)  

Apparently, her ex wanted out of his alimony payments so badly that he was willing to do just about anything to help his former wife land a new spouse.  And given that the woman’s mugshot could stop a clock and wreak devastation on a jeweler’s case full of small watches, a clean bikini line was probably an absolute necessity. 

After I stopped laughing, I started thinking about how, in just a few short years, bikini waxing went from an unmentioned taboo to a basic tenet of good grooming.  But why did so many American women make the switch?  What convinced us that paying a scary looking Ukrainian woman named Yuli $75 to trim the undergrowth was a good idea?  And why did a torture method, second only to water boarding, become an essential part of our twice-monthly beauty routine? 

I think the answer is pretty simple…men.

While men are usually oblivious to our beauty routines (happily so, I’m sure), proper bikini maintenance seems to be the one arena in which they are understandably, but somewhat uncomfortably, interested.  And given that younger generations of men (the under 40 set) came of age in a post-Sex and the City era, when everyone from Playboy centerfolds to tween pop-stars talk publicly about their intimate grooming habits, I think that many of the men in my peer group expect and prefer a cleaner look.  Or at least, it feels that way.  And that perception is driving women to great lengths to keep their landscaping looking pristine.

This reality was evident just last weekend when a neighbor, who had a date the following night, spent her poolside lounging time calling every salon in a 20-block area searching for an open waxing appointment. “I just don’t feel sexy without it.  If I forget, I start to worry that I’m being judged.” 

And in that moment, I realized that our new follicular foibles might be more about our own self-esteem and a desire to live up to expectations than they are about knowing what men really want.  Because as Miss M so bluntly stated some years ago when we were both naïve college students, “No man worth his testosterone would ever turn down sex because you didn’t wax.”

This discussion also raises another question for me: If a woman is practically expected to keep things neat and tidy, why are men just allowed to let the garden groweth over?  Few women who I know, even if they’re Brazilian devotees, would ever ask their male partner to go for a wax or get a trim.  So why are we so willing to indulge their proclivities (real or imagined) and unwilling to demand the same treatment?

What do you think ladies: do we endure the pain of intimate maintenance because we like it, because men like it, or because we just assume that it’s expected?  And as for the men, do you need it, prefer it, or fail to care either way? And finally, would you ask your man for some depilous reciprocity?

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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0 Comment

  1. Reply
    MGA
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I am a seasonal anti hair enthusiast (My inner feminist “I don't want to look like a child” persona comes out Nov-March but as soon as swimsuit season hits I'm back on the Brazilian bandwagon. Such a hypocrite, I know.) Anyways, I can't afford a $80/month trip to the esthetician but I abhor shaving down there bc of the itchy pricklies.

    My inexpensive solution?: Do it yourself.
    I've been giving myself cheap Brazilians in the comfort of my own home for years. You might need a hand mirror to get the more elusive bits and pieces but it isn't that painful and frankly, its worth it.

    In case anyone is interested
    My favorite microwaveable pick is Surgi Wax at Sally Beauty Supply (like 7 bucks) but I finally caved and bought a warmer, a pot of wax, and the little applicator popsicle sticks (just like the spa!).
    TIPS: take two advil before (like another reader mentioned) and cover everything down there with a thin application of baby oil to keep the wax from sticking where it is unwanted.

    For a couple of dollars per visit (to my bathroom floor)- no hair down there.

    Hooray!

  2. Reply
    MGA
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I am a seasonal anti hair enthusiast (My inner feminist “I don't want to look like a child” persona comes out Nov-March but as soon as swimsuit season hits I'm back on the Brazilian bandwagon. Such a hypocrite, I know.) Anyways, I can't afford a $80/month trip to the esthetician but I abhor shaving down there bc of the itchy pricklies.

    My inexpensive solution?: Do it yourself.
    I've been giving myself cheap Brazilians in the comfort of my own home for years. You might need a hand mirror to get the more elusive bits and pieces but it isn't that painful and frankly, its worth it.

    In case anyone is interested
    My favorite microwaveable pick is Surgi Wax at Sally Beauty Supply (like 7 bucks) but I finally caved and bought a warmer, a pot of wax, and the little applicator popsicle sticks (just like the spa!).
    TIPS: take two advil before (like another reader mentioned) and cover everything down there with a thin application of baby oil to keep the wax from sticking where it is unwanted.

    For a couple of dollars per visit (to my bathroom floor)- no hair down there.

    Hooray!

  3. Reply
    Aisha
    June 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I have been devoted to my brazilian maintenance woman for about three or four years now and I did it for me in the beginning (I was actually tricked into it but that's another story – I became addicted) and continue the upkeep for me and me solely. It's a great feeling and almost like having a naughty little secret. As for asking my mate to do it, I would never! I believe in overall grooming for a man because everyone should spend time grooming, but I think for a man, down there, that's too far. I wouldn't want him to trim it or wax it. That would freak me out! Not to mention probably cause them to scratch more down there….who needs that?!

  4. Reply
    Terri
    June 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Busting a gut over this post….nice add on Aisha. Now, because it is so good, I think I will read it again.

  5. Reply
    DCGal
    June 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Admittedly I come at this from a feminist AND an I-hate-pain perspective, but… absolutely no waxing for me. Men can be grateful I do anything at all about my hair – and reciprocate in kind.

  6. Reply
    AE
    June 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    my man luckily prefers the au naturel look so I do the “bare” minimum to be seen in a bathing suit. I've heard men lately like the well maintained look because of… Porn. That is how women look in films. I expect men to trim up down there at least. I have had brazilians before but to get a good one (aveda in gtown is great) is expensive and of course painful so I was all too happy to “cut back” on the maintenance.

  7. Reply
    alex
    June 3, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I've always kept the strays trimmed and shaved — especially during swimsuit season — but a boyfriend once asked if I'd be opposed to any “further maintenance”. He actually keeps himself fairly groomed (but not hairless — that's always been a major turn-off for me on any part of a guy's body) so I figured I could indulge him in that aspect.

    Now, it's just become routine, like shaving my legs and underarms. In summer, the less hair the better (especially in this DC heat!). Don't think I'd ever wax, though. Way too scary.

  8. Reply
    Belle
    June 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    The number of puns happening on this blog today is a pleasant surprise.

  9. Reply
    Jessica
    June 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I started my Brazilian regime as a surprise for my long distance boyfriend during one of our weekends together and then I got hooked. Now, after four years of dating, he couldn't care less but it's too late, I'm addicted. Once you get used to it it's hard going back. He trims for me but will not wax out of fear of pain. But the second he gets back hair he's getting my waxer's number. 😉

  10. Reply
    SB
    June 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    This is absolutely hilarious- such a nice break from the briefings that lay before me. On waxing though: I used to allow myself a piece of chocolate cake or a bowl of ice cream after every brazilian because it was such an ordeal for me to go through with it every time. But afterward- there was no better feeling. Like Aisha said, it is a secret only you (and maybe your significant other) know about. And you are hassle-free down there for weeks! Unfortunately, the fiscal note of the regimen became irresponsible. So I am back to razors (and their bumps, ugh annoying. Still looking for a remedy for that). But one day, with a higher salary, I will totally return to it! Thanks for the post Belle!

  11. Reply
    Belle
    June 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    SB-Bliss makes a glycolic post waxing wipe. Use that and a washcloth for exfoliation.

  12. Reply
    paleogrl
    June 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Luckily my significant other could care less, but since I live in a warm environment and frequent the pool, I too am addicted to brazilians… mainly in the summer months and for special occasions. My feeling is that if I'm going to go through that pain, I''d rather just take it all off at once and get the brazilian. I told my boyfriend that if he wants me to go through that pain on a more frequent basis, then he can fork over the $65 and buy it for me. 🙂 I don't need him to do the same, BUT I did convince him to book an appointment for his eyebrows and now he too is addicted – love it!

  13. Reply
    E
    June 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I trim always and I'm a new convert to Nair. You have to do it more than waxing (once a week maybe?) but it takes three minutes, less painful, and MUCH cheaper!

  14. Reply
    Jay
    June 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Imagine seriously living in a society where we are actually judged on the length of our pubic hair. Ugh.

  15. Reply
    MominHeels
    June 3, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I waxed – the Playboy (a strip) – but was not a real fan of the Brazilian. And my guy was a bit skeezed out by the total lack of what I'll refer to as “a follicular sign of maturity down there.” After a decade of waxing and the associated costs — I saved up and got laser hair removal on my bikini line. Halelujah and pass the bowl of joy! Best decision ever!!!!

  16. Reply
    girlnextdoor
    June 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    My husband didn't have a preference when we got married. For a vacation, I decided to get a Brazillian as a surprise. Let's just say, it's stayed smooth ever since. I now shave it once a week, and rub sunflower oil over the skin afterwards which prevent razer burns and makes it soft like a baby butt.

  17. Reply
    Nina
    June 3, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Jay: What world do you live in? Because in this one there is definitely judgment on body hair.

  18. Reply
    Belle
    June 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    MominHeels-I once asked a guy I was dating if he thought I should visit the waxing technician, and his response was something similar. I think most guys are just anti hair, no matter where it is underarms, legs, etc., nothing more sinister afoot.

  19. Reply
    Rose
    June 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Brazilian all the way – I think it just feels better, especially in this heat! And, waxing – 2 advil beforehand and it's really not bad at all. Also, every guy I've dated is all about the manscaping – from just trimming to fully shaved. If I'm going through that, he is too – and it's better for both of us!

  20. Reply
    Itchy
    June 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I got my “follicular maturity” (as Mominheels describes it) waxed – once, a brazilian, and it only lasted for a few days until it started growing back… and then when it did grow back, it was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. It got all red and bumpy, even pimples! And it was so incredibly itchy as it grew in, it was awful.

    I’ve tried shaving too, but it is also just miserably itchy when it grows back. Not on my bikini line, I never have a problem with that, and keep it shaved accordingly, it’s just where the mound is, and you know, the rest of it. This even happens if I just trim that area, always itching as it grows again. I don’t know why this happens. Am I the only one who experiences this?

  21. Reply
    Kitty
    June 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Why not just chuck it all and get laser? An investment for sure, but I'll take those six sessions of pain for a lifetime free from worry about errants, strays and the occasional ingrown.

  22. Reply
    barb
    June 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    wow reading this makes me really sad. i dont mean sad in a judgey way – i always shave when i'm going to see my boyfriend. it itches, and i get ingrowns, razors are expensive and i occasionally cut myself. i simply cant afford to wax or lazer – i have a staff assistant salary! the fact that we're now “expected” to do this really sucks, in my humble opinion. it's like if we dont shave, then we're somehow more disgusting than playboy models or porn stars.

    and that just seems sad to me.

  23. Reply
    Jess
    June 3, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I have never been “requested” to groom. I started doing it on my own for bathing suit reasons and hell, sometimes I was bored and wanted to try something new! I was always a shaver but get ridiculous amounts of razor burn. Last fall, a groupon in my city popped up for laser hair removal for $100. Best $100 I've ever spent! I get the sides and some off the top and at least now I never get razor burn… 😉

  24. Reply
    Terri
    June 3, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    This is a very interesting take on a new social standard for gals.

  25. Reply
    X
    June 3, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I used to shave pretty heavily there – but the fiance likes it natural. and lest he be deemed a hippie – I help him wax his back. He just likes the woman look better than the little girl look… He's not american though, so maybe that explains it?

  26. Reply
    Em
    June 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I'm with the people that think that taking it all off looks too much like a prepubescent girl. Creepy. Some work on the bikini line and taking volume off the top is one thing, but wowsa, what exactly are we striving for here?

    I've been with the same person for over 5 years (since I was in my early 20s), so I admit I haven't been on the market to face any pressure one way or the other.

  27. Reply
    arlgal
    June 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    I'm kind of inconsistent about it, since my fiance doesn't really seem to mind one way or the other. i do, however, wax religiously in the summer. i just feel better and cleaner in a swimsuit. i totally recommend Megan at Solarus Salon in Courthouse. She used to be the director of a skin/beauty school and she's super fast. you'll be in and out in under ten and that is a small blessing.

  28. Reply
    lexberns
    June 3, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    I totally sympathize with the people who have experienced discomfort after whatever it is they do… It's a hassle, expensive, and it hurts when it starts to come back in! I trim and do the bikini line, but that's about it. I've tried shaving a few times but being completely bare down there makes me feel like I'm 12 and it is unbareable when it starts coming back in. I would rather have hair down there than have my lady parts feel like a man's unshaven chin.

    And honestly, no one that I have ever been with has made any comments about the state of my underparts. I think most men should just be happy to be allowed down there!

  29. Reply
    MGA
    June 4, 2011 at 12:44 am

    I am a seasonal anti hair enthusiast (My inner feminist “I don't want to look like a child” persona comes out Nov-March but as soon as swimsuit season hits I'm back on the Brazilian bandwagon. Such a hypocrite, I know.) Anyways, I can't afford a $80/month trip to the esthetician but I abhor shaving down there bc of the itchy pricklies.

    My inexpensive solution?: Do it yourself.
    I've been giving myself cheap Brazilians in the comfort of my own home for years. You might need a hand mirror to get the more elusive bits and pieces but it isn't that painful and frankly, its worth it.

    In case anyone is interested
    My favorite microwaveable pick is Surgi Wax at Sally Beauty Supply (like 7 bucks) but I finally caved and bought a warmer, a pot of wax, and the little applicator popsicle sticks (just like the spa!).
    TIPS: take two advil before (like another reader mentioned) and cover everything down there with a thin application of baby oil to keep the wax from sticking where it is unwanted.

    For a couple of dollars per visit (to my bathroom floor)- no hair down there.

    Hooray!

  30. Reply
    Chris
    June 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    @ MGA.

    Wow. You're making some bold moves there. Love it! May try it…

  31. Reply
    EBT
    June 5, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    barb – I agree with you that it's sad to feel like it's expected (which I totally do). But I also kind of like it. It's like ironing my pillowcases. I feel like I'm expected to do it if my mom comes to town, but I've also just gotten in the habit and now it's part of my post-laundry routine.

    Also, I am WAY too poor to visit the salon for a brazilian, so I do it myself. I prefer strips to hot wax. Parissa from Whole Foods is the best brand I've found, and doing it yourself is not nearly as scary as it seems before you try it.

  32. Reply
    CynthiaW
    June 5, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Ugh… Just no. I'll trim and do shave the bikini line, but no way in hell am I waxing. Thankfully, my husband does not expect it and if I ever had to enter the dating pool again, it would be a deal breaker.

  33. Reply
    another
    October 25, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I didn't read ALL of the comments, so maybe I'm not the first to suggest it–but sugaring is FAR preferable to waxing OR shaving for me. I get awful irritation if I shave, and let's be honest–a real brazilian is one of the worst things on the planet. However–a brazilian done by sugaring (there are no strips with sugaring–a very friendly lady uses a thick sugar-based substance to pull the hairs out) is much more bearable, while still not pleasant.

    Not a lot of places offer it–but it's worth finding. Just trust me. In and out in 15 minutes, and no waxy residue, plus I have fewer ingrowns with it.

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