Are We Headed Toward a Bikini Waxing Backlash?

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lush garden bush greeneryI’ll admit it. I was a late bloomer where self-grooming is concerned. I was in junior high when my best frenemy shamed me into finally shaving my legs. So it should surprise none of you when I say I was still sporting a full bush at the age of 20.

Of course, I’d never even considered that my lush, lengthy pubic hair might be a problem. Sure, I trimmed my bikini line during bathing suit season so things would look nice and neat. But it never occurred to me that pubic hair was disgusting or unseemly or unsexy. It was the boyfriend who took my virginity who taught me that.

We were watching the 2000 parody flick Scary Movie. Anna Faris’s character was about to have sex for the first time in a long while and, as her panties were pulled down, a yard’s worth of pubic hair popped up with a comical sproing! My boyfriend laughed. “That’s like you!” he said and, for the first time, I realized my pubic hair was something to be ashamed of.

Once upon a time, going au naturale was the norm, even in porn. Women sported nice, healthy bushes in those Playboy centerfolds, and ladies everywhere followed suit. But as pornography became more explicit, adult magazines and films had female porn stars shave their pubic hair to make their genitalia more camera-visible. Male porn stars soon began to do the same.

And slowly, insidiously, mainstream culture followed suit.

We were watching Scary Movie…Anna Faris’s character was about to have sex, and as her panties were pulled down, a yard’s worth of pubic hair popped up with a comical sproing! sound. My boyfriend laughed. “That’s like you!” he said.

We’re good at manufacturing scientifically-based justification for our shifting beauty ideals. And so, when shaving, waxing, and laser hair removal became popular, the scientific community followed suit, scrambling to prove that bald crotches among both sexes were connected to falling rates of pubic lice.

These days, of course, things have been taken to the extreme, with treatments like vajazzling and labiaplasty. It’s slightly more difficult for the health industry to justify these.

And perhaps that’s why we’re seeing a possible backlash brewing.

Recently, a small study at a French health clinic found that Molluscum contagiosum — a pox virus normally rare in healthy adults — was becoming more common among men and women who had eliminated all traces of pubic hair.

Another study by the University of California San Diego, released in the December 2012 issue of the journal Urology, reported that the rate of emergency room visits related to crotch shaving had skyrocketed in recent years, increasing fivefold between 2002 and 2010.

(When I read this, I couldn’t help but think, with a slight shudder, of the combination razor / vibrator I once reviewed.)

And in addition to these studies, there are many health and sex education sites listing the dangers that come with removing the hair down there. In addition to the pox virus and a countless number of unfortunate blade-related accidents, die-hard hair removers can also get razor burn, rashes, chemical burns from over-the-counter cream hair removers, cuts, pimples, blisters, itchiness and irritation, and folliculitis (infection in the root of the pubic hairs).

Is maintaining that pre-boobage, prepubescent look really worth it? Oral sex-related hairballs aside, isn’t being healthy sexier than being possibly inflamed and infected?

Personally, I maintain hope that we’ll see the Return of Pubic Hair in our lifetime. After all, if porn can make hairless hot, it can also bring au naturale back to its sexy status. Even now, there’s been enough of a backlash against bald crotches that a niche fetish for full bushes has emerged.

Granted, I myself use depilatories and tiny scissors once a month to keep my own bush neatly trimmed. But I’ve never gotten myself waxed, and I can’t see myself ever being the type of person who gets rid of it all, popular trends be damned.

Besides, everything lame eventually becomes cool again. Just look at the entire geek chic movement. And Bruce Springsteen. And bowties.

And magically, my husband still manages to desire The Sex with me on a regular basis. So take that.

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