News Ltd must be the official Australian source for hair removal news. They can’t stop writing about it. Here’s three recent articles. One reports that girls as young as 14 are going to waxing salons to undergo Brazilian waxing, and it is claimed that they are doing so because of pressure from boyfriends, who supposedly want their girlfriends to look like porn actresses.
A previous article reports that parents (mothers) are forcing daughters as young as 9 to have their legs waxed. Another claims that mothers have brought daughters as young as 8 into salons for unspecified treatments, and it blames peer pressure and the media for generating demand for such treatments.
There’s so much emotional rhetoric in these stories, but little analysis. In this post I will analyse some of the unfounded claims in these articles. There is a contemporary concern in our culture about the sexualisation of children, particularly in terms of media and corporations encouraging children and teenagers to adopt some forms of adult behaviour, including being sexually self conscious and consuming sexualised goods and services.
These articles don’t take into account that young people often want to mimic the behaviour of older people to appear older or more adult, regardless of whether they are aware of the implications of their behaviour or its effect on them. It could be argued that the commercial sexualisation of children manipulates and exploits this natural tendency.
Then there’s the issue of parental pressure. Women who are neurotic about their own appearances are likely to model that behaviour to their daughters, who learn from their mothers that it is apparently normal to obsess over and constantly modify their bodies. Women are likely to monitor and obsess over their daughters bodies the way many parents seek to live through the achievements of their children, whether it is through sport or beauty pageants.
Next, peer pressure. The pressure on girls to engage in hair removal may come from both boys and girls. The idea that women (or girls) engage in beauty treatments or body modification to please men (or boys) is rarely challenged, and any man who does so is immediately labelled a misogynist based on emotion rather than reasoned argument.
I think that many of the things women do to their bodies are based not on an attempt to give men what they supposedly want, but on peer pressure from other women to conform to fashion trends. Hair removal has been a fashion trend representing wealth and sophistication since the time of the Egyptians and Romans.
Dieting is another social trend. Some (straight) women claim that they diet in order to become thin in order to please men, despite the obvious fact that (straight) men don’t all find the same thin figure attractive. Why try to appear thin to please a man who prefers plump women? And how do you account for lesbians with eating disorders if women only diet to please men?
Many of the things that women do to their bodies in the name of beauty make them less attractive in the eyes of many men. Fake breasts, fake tans and fake nails are examples of things that men often think are unattractive. Yet many women pursue these behaviours.
This suggests that women value these behaviours regardless of their function as signifiers of sexual attraction. Their motivation lies elsewhere. These behaviours can be read as symbols of wealth and social status. The pressure to conform comes from the pressure women place on each other to display and perform their social status.
Hair removal has increased in popularity in recent years. Women are removing more and more body hair, and men are starting to do the same. The images we consume of bodies model and reflect this behaviour. While it is true that it is common to see waxed women in porn, not all women in porn are waxed.
The tanned, waxed and artificially inflated Hollywood porn aesthetic is common, but not dominant. The natural amateur girl next door aesthetic is also common. According to the 2008 book The Porn Report, the genre of porn featuring amateur performers with natural bodies is the most popular kind currently consumed on the internet (p69).
Boys looking at porn on the internet may be just as likely to see images of women with pubic hair as women without. Therefore, blaming porn for the pressure on girls to remove their pubic hair is a weak argument. Peer pressure is as likely, or perhaps more likely, to be the cause of this behaviour.
Never mind that the cause and effect relationship between hair removal and its representation in media is a complex issue. Mothers and women friends are good, so blaming them is difficult. It’s much easier to blame nasty manipulative men and their dirty pornography.
I’ve never asked a woman to change anything about her body. I have repeatedly expressed the idea to partners that I accept them the way they are (however they choose to groom themselves) and that I actually prefer a natural aesthetic. I make it clear that I don’t want to be held responsible for the grooming choices of other people.
In my opinion, body modification can make you look different, but not better (though it can often make you look worse). Hair removal and many other beauty behaviours are a waste of time and money, and are the cause of much unnecessary self-inflicted physical and psychological suffering.
I was rejected by one potential partner because I allegedly had too hairy a back. Her request for me to wax it was rejected, so she rejected me. Gender double standards annoy me. Why is it that when women tell men how to dress and groom themselves it is ‘fashion’ or ‘style’ but when men tell women how to dress and groom themselves it is sexual harassment and discrimination?
I recommend reading Nio for more common sense pubic hair philosophy.