I have to admit that I grew up in a rather proper home, with a proper mother who knew how to set the table just so, and how to use which spoon when and with what. However, as proper as my own mother was, my grandmother was even more so. My grand-mother, having been born in 1906, had the unfortunate situation of being born to parents who survived the Victorian era. The reason I use the word survive in regards to the Victorian era is because it was a very restrictive time– so restrictive that women wore corsets that were only tied properly if the woman herself couldn’t breathe. I imagine this suited Victorian men just fine since if their wives couldn’t breathe, they certainly wouldn’t be able to talk– and therefore, then men wouldn’t be the recipients of ‘nattering’ or ‘henpecking’. Another restrictive thing about the Victorian era is their famous culture of sexual restriction. Married couples were encouraged to conceive children while wearing as much clothing as possible. In fact, being fully dressed while conceiving children was even better. I suppose these were the same gentlemen who must have invented clever items such as crotchless panties. These little beauties would have surely allowed them to adhere to their Victorian standards of being fully dressed while conceiving children. I might also add that the Victorian era made the publishing industry very wealthy. Having a Masters degree in 19th century studies, my professors taught the class, while snickering of course, that the Victorian era was the time in history that published the most amount of written pornography, thus having the effect of making the publishing industry very wealthy indeed. Yet, with all societies, there is deep hypocrisy– and though it seemed they were incredibly sexually repressed on the outside, other things must have been happening behind the delicate lace curtains of stately manner houses.
Fast forward in time to the 1950’s. This is another era where all was not as it seemed. People today, who haven’t even been there, also refer to it as sexually oppressive and backwards. I was not there either, so I cannot tell you for sure. However, my parents were there, and they reported that the 1950’s did have its problems, but it was also a very exciting, and prosperous time to live in the United States. And, well, they also have an opinion on the late 1960’s, and many stories about what they did- including stories of my mom shedding her properness and becoming a hippy. But, after I was born, alas, she returned to her properness, and with a vengeance, at that.
Coming to me– I cannot be referred to as the most proper girl on the planet, as no topic of conversation is taboo. I am a writer, after all, and the more I can know about people and untoward topics, and what they think about untoward topics, the better. These are enriching experiences for me– and I meet the most offensive topics with a stealthy, unflinching gaze.
I have been called the ‘person no one can offend’ by my friends. However, recently, between the fact that I have two small sons who are extremely inventive with bodily excretions, and between the fact that the most private things have become topics of conversation between total strangers in the grocery line, I seem to have lost my reputation as the ‘person no one can offend’.
Dear reader, thank you for wading through my three paragraph diatribe, because now I am going to get to the meat of the matter, and this will be a juicy topic indeed. What we are going to talk about is the current fashion trend regarding the sculpting of, or the lack of, female body hair on a woman’s ‘garden of Eden’. I prefer to use this euphemism because it’s so much more original than the words that are currently over-used for this sacred area. I assure you dear reader, that I am aware of these ‘common’ words, and even aware of these common words in different languages, as I happened to make the acquaintance of men of different nationalities before I met my husband, and these men, like many men had a favorite topic, or obsession, revolving on acquiring, keeping, describing, ruminating over, pining over, or complaining about the fact that they are not granted access to this garden often enough. For some of these men, season passes were not enough. So, let’s cut to the chase. When I first heard of the Brazilian wax, and was asked by my aesthetician if I wanted one, I declared, “Oh, what is that? Do you mean you’ll take off a little more than usual?” She just rolled her eyes back at me and said she’d give me the usual. But, she still wouldn’t tell me what it was. So, I didn’t ask again. Then, a year later, over a corporate lunch, one of the women announced that she has taken to coloring her landing strip. Again, I thought to myself, “Landing strip? She must mean she has a small plane and marks the plane’s landing strip with color so that she can see it from the sky”. All of the other women nodded with her empathetically many of them announcing what a great idea it was. Hmm… they all must have had private planes. Then, one day my husband came home and said he had noticed a very interesting trend going on in society. My husband is a general practice M.D., and he doesn’t normally do female exams, but every once in a while, a patient will require an examination.
However, his female colleague who did perform female exams mentioned at a social event that she started to notice that ‘women in their 50’s were all shaving their pubic hair completely off’. He just didn’t understand *why* they would do that and felt it odd. His female colleague shook her head at those raising their eyebrows. Ding! The light went on in my mind, and I thought, “Ah Hah! Finally I know the meaning of the fabled Brazilian bikini wax, and, well, those landing strips that women discuss- those aren’t real landing strips.”. I have to admit it didn’t sit well with me thinking so many middle-income women could afford private jets– did I have the wrong financial planner?!! Alas, no!! My husband and I went on to discuss this phenomenon.
His opinion that it was rather ‘creepy’ for grown women to do that, and he was certainly a fan of trimming the bushes in the garden, but not taking off all their leaves, for heaven’s sake!! When I went on all-female business lunches, the topic became even more saucy because women started discussing the different ways to sculpt the bushes in the garden. One woman trimmed hers in an arrow pointing downward, another trimmed hers in a heart, another, a butterfly, and another triangles. Triangles? Hmmm. I guess she must have been a geometry major in college.
So, I am genuinely intrigued about two points: how has sculpting and/or completely removing hair in the garden come into fashion, and WHY has this topic become casual lunch time conversation? Girls, we aren’t comparing whitening tooth-pastes, for goodness sake!
I assert that I am not a prude, but, is there no topic that can be confined to private, hushed conversations with your best girl friend? That’s MOST of the fun! The day that the shaving techniques of one’s pubic hair became fair game for business lunches was a sad day indeed. But, then this impropriety just got worse. Worse, you say?
After I gave birth to my second son, Daniel, I enrolled him into a Music Together class. (Music Together, by the way, is an excellent program, and I recommend it to every parent I meet.) One of the moms there had a very inquisitive 3 1/2 year old boy. He was always grabbing at her breasts during class or fixating on why another child was wearing orange socks instead of blue. One day, this little boy wouldn’t participate in class because he got fixated on the fact that my son was wearing a shirt with tiny small frogs on it and then one gigantic frog on the front. He kept asking why my son needed so many frogs and if there were any frogs left for him. It was very charming and funny. After class ended and all the mom’s were talking, this little boy yelled, “Hey everyone, guess what!!! My mom pees from a GIANT BALL OF FUR!!!! I want to pee from a giant ball of fur too!” Ooooh, oops, her son had just revealed her shameful secret. She was one of the last hold-outs who was allowing the bushes in the garden to grow wild. Gasp!! One may think the mom would slink out of the room mortified, but instead, she laughed heartily and said, “Yeah, we’re really into full nudity at my house. We figure the kids are going to see it anyway, so why hide it?” I’ll mention this woman was from Germany, and in the 1990’s, Germany had a reality show where regular people cleaned their houses in the nude. It’s just goes to show how popular culture can influence an entire population, no doubt, already in the nude.
From there, women started swapping stories in front of their children about the permutations of when and how to shave after having a baby, how often to shave, if you are even expected to shave at all, for whom do you shave, and when and if to give children advice on this particular form of shaving when they get older. But, as each generation rebels against the previous, I can see these future children as teenagers, and when they become teenagers, they might, *gasp*, actually return to a little bit of propriety. They may make the very rebellious and cutting-edge decision NOT to cut. They may decide that the gardens of this world require liberation from scissors and razors and painful waxing procedures. They may thumb their noses at their mothers and say, “Free the garden, man!! Wild makes your lover beguiled!” And then, of course, they may also march in the streets, burning razors, melting scissors with blow-torches, and dumping gooey wax on the boots of riot control police, causing them to stick to the street. This rebellion will be very bad for the large corporations that sell garden-shearing products, and they too, might seek to discredit those who want to free the garden. Or, they might look at it as a new marketing opportunity and use it to their benefit.
My final words are, be safe, walk in peace, and do whatever it is you please to do with your garden, regardless of fashion dictates. And finally, don’t tell me about it because you run the risk of me working it into one of my editorials.