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Wax On
February 24, 2011 9:27 AM   Subscribe

"So, handicap bathroom crying fits are just this thing I do now I guess." A woman with a graduate degree and a self-professed aversion to touching people goes to beauty school, finds she fits in, likes it.
posted by kittyprecious (78 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was fascinating. Thanks for posting.
posted by wittgenstein at 9:34 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're all women, as this industry is almost completely female (a fact I think has a lot to do with the eye-rolling it receives from “serious” people, more so than other skilled trades).

This is a really important point, I think (more than the quotes about "waxing butt holes," which will probably get more use, if I know me, but...). Thanks for the post!
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:44 AM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


amazing read, thanks for posting this.
posted by clavdivs at 9:59 AM on February 24, 2011


I wonder if the cultural context of how much you share with your esthetician changes over time. Like, in one era it'd be totally weird to expect to get your asshole waxed in a particular type of establishment and the staff aren't into attending to one's privates, in another era it goes without saying, etc, I mean I bet there are some weird in between mental and interactive spaces just as there is in terms of how comfortable you feel with your doctor or massage therapist etc. And the deal about lack of men can sometimes be similar in terms of who you're comfortable dealing with
posted by the mad poster! at 10:07 AM on February 24, 2011


The final line of the author bio, interpreted as prophecy rather than willingness, made me laugh.

On the topic of eye-rolling, I think another large part of the gender disparity in esthetics is the unwillingness of women to have a dude see and work on their genitals. I'm a dude, so I don't hear many of these conversations, but I know my wife and the few friends I've overheard talking about it don't even tolerate male ob/gyn doctors.
posted by Fraxas at 10:09 AM on February 24, 2011


What a thoroughly likeable soul she seems, the writer (Julie Lauren Vick).

Super post, thanks.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:16 AM on February 24, 2011


The second most awkward part is figuring out how to clamp your hand down after removal (this confuses the nerve endings and makes waxing hurt way less) in the least sexual way possible.

As a classic conflict-avoidance-prone socially awkward misanthrope, this sounds like my new recurring nightmare.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:18 AM on February 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


A great article, but how can such a smart and educated lady who is directly involved with tending to that part of the body NOT know the difference between a vulva and a vagina?
posted by ErikaB at 10:20 AM on February 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


> On the topic of eye-rolling, I think another large part of the gender disparity in esthetics is the unwillingness of women to have a dude see and work on their genitals.

Is this a bad thing somehow?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:21 AM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have more than a few family members involved in salons/beauty schools so hearing about it from a student's perspective is interesting. Thanks.
posted by SirOmega at 10:25 AM on February 24, 2011


how can such a smart and educated lady who is directly involved with tending to that part of the body NOT know the difference between a vulva and a vagina?

I understand your point and share your general frustration with the uncomfortable-with-ladybits culture, but I also think there's a certain colloquial usage of 'vagina' to mean 'vulva' that some people employ because it's a snappier word. (N.B.: I'm sure there's also some influence on this vernacular of the idea of mirroring linguistic usage for male anatomy, i.e. if-vagina-is-parallel-to-penis-in-one-instance-it-should-be-parallel-in-all-instances, the politics and so forth of which I will leave undiscussed presently.)
posted by shakespeherian at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think another large part of the gender disparity in esthetics is the unwillingness of women to have a dude see and work on their genitals.

Nowadays men get waxed too, along with mani-pedis and skin treatments. I don't think they're finding a lot of male esthetitians to service them.
posted by muddgirl at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2011


The Awl and The Hairpin continue to be some of my favorite blogs. Thanks for linking to this article; I somehow missed when it was posted.
posted by flatluigi at 10:27 AM on February 24, 2011


I love insights into worlds I don't have a clue about. This was really interesting.

Being leftover from the 60s, for me hair is just what it is. But I realize my views are almost outside the norm these days.
I teach photography and, along the way, showed some 70s era nudes. My students were shocked. Not about the nudity, but because "OH MY GOD, SHE HAS A BUSH!"
posted by cccorlew at 10:29 AM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nowadays men get waxed too, along with mani-pedis and skin treatments. I don't think they're finding a lot of male esthetitians to service them.

yeah I'm not sure a man's reluctance to have a woman waxing him would be the same as the sexes reversed. I mean if someone asked me (as a guy) who I'd rather have waxing my crotch a random guy or a random woman I'd choose the latter (and I don't mean that in a skeevy way, just in an antiseptic professional way too.) Do the general biases towards or against a type of provider really mean anything about how you interact with a specific service provider, no, but they're the trappings you end up with in a culture.
posted by the mad poster! at 10:33 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have an amaaaazing massage therapist. A couple sessions ago, we started talking about all sorts of weird, personal shit in both our lives. It was very difficult to parse, because hey, that's what good stylists/aestheticians do, right? They listen to you and treat you nicely and basically do all of the things you wish other people would do for your ego. This is especially true for a massage therapist, who sees you at a very vulnerable point (buck nekkid, occasionally writhing in pain) and has to work very hard not to absorb all of the tension that a client gives.

We did finally figure out that yes, we did want to hang out together, and we went to karaoke after my last massage. And she IS really awesome. But there's still something that will probably take me a while to get over. She's touched me pretty much everywhere. She is very professional, and that quiet, calm room is like a confessional, where I can leave all my crap. I don't worry about her spilling anything. But it's so hard to navigate those personal connections when you have expectations of how they began and how they will be.
posted by Madamina at 10:36 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


that isn't to say that more men shouldn't do 'beauty school' (a misnomer if we want the practice and service to have a less gendered connotation I think); they should, just as there are a lot of men doing ob/gyn and other intimate work regardless of personal preferences by clients just cause there's enough work/clients to go around and mindsets about who you're comfortable with change too as fields become less gender specific.
posted by the mad poster! at 10:37 AM on February 24, 2011


I mean if someone asked me (as a guy) who I'd rather have waxing my crotch a random guy or a random woman I'd choose the latter (and I don't mean that in a skeevy way, just in an antiseptic professional way too.) Do the general biases towards or against a type of provider really mean anything about how you interact with a specific service provider, no, but they're the trappings you end up with in a culture.

This makes sense, given the sort of general cultural assumption that men are just kind of skeevier than women.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:39 AM on February 24, 2011


I really enjoyed this. Does she have any other writing online?
posted by Zozo at 10:45 AM on February 24, 2011


This makes sense, given the sort of general cultural assumption that men are just kind of skeevier than women.

Also, this cultural idea/fear that if two men touch each other then they are homosexual. I think this is part of the idea that esthetitians are subservient to their clients - we're more comfortable with the idea of subservient women than with subservient men.
posted by muddgirl at 10:48 AM on February 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think the intent of my comment above has been expressed better by others in the thread, but I wanted to reply to Burhanistan's comment to say that, no, I don't think it's a bad thing for anyone not to want a dude working on their genitals, or their faces. I was merely positing a partial explanation for the gender disparity in esthetics.
posted by Fraxas at 10:48 AM on February 24, 2011


"I know my wife and the few friends I've overheard talking about it don't even tolerate male ob/gyn doctors."

Dude, I heart my male ob/gyns. I have two dudes and one chick at my practice (and we rotate through all doctors) and they're all fantastic but in terms of personal preference/personal connection with the doctor, I like both the dudes better than the chick. The practice is so popular it's almost impossible to get into.

It's awesome for people to have choices and to be able to express their preferences in terms of a male or female physician, but to say no women want male ob/gyns is just false. And I do wish some women who just reflexively say, "No, I would never see a male doctor," would reconsider, just as it seems problematic for men to reflexively say they'd never see a female doctor. (Note "reflexively" ... some people have very good reasons for choosing one or the other, and some have a well-considered personal preference. But too many people it's just knee-jerk.)

I similarly have no preference on masseuses. I can't speak to aestheticians, that's not my thing. But I've gotten pedicures from dudes many times.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:49 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would totally pay her to wax my butthole.
posted by honeydew at 10:51 AM on February 24, 2011


This part made me teary:

My first actual client, a man who came in for a facial after a year of serious illness, cried in my chair while I gave him a pressure point massage. He told me I was the first non-medical-professional to touch his skin in months. He thanked me for making him “feel human again.”

Now I feel like hugging everyone I see for the rest of the day to ensure everyone's getting enough physical human connection.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:55 AM on February 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


yeah I'm not sure a man's reluctance to have a woman waxing him would be the same as the sexes reversed. I mean if someone asked me (as a guy) who I'd rather have waxing my crotch a random guy or a random woman I'd choose the latter (and I don't mean that in a skeevy way, just in an antiseptic professional way too.)

I read an article some years ago (for work no less!) by a gay porn actor who had a contract for a toy line and need ed to have molds made. Apparently, the crew doing the casting were women with (as he recalled it) terrifyingly long fingernails. Hilarity ensued, only some of it involving hair removal issues.

(I am not sure what actually relevance this story has to the discussion at hand, but I don't get to bring this memory out that often, so, hey.)
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:00 AM on February 24, 2011


Is the hesitation about male OB/GYNs are based on weird gender assumptions or something else? From my own experience, I think I prefer female OB/GYNs working on my ladybits simply because they're already familiar with the OEM equipment, if you know what I mean. Sort of like I'd prefer to take a VW Beetle for service to a mechanic who owns one on the theory that they've got an instinctive feel for the machine because of personal experience.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I loved this essay. It kept exceeding my expectations and surprising me.

That part made me teary, too, McGee.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:06 AM on February 24, 2011


Eyebrows, I think that some of the reluctance (real or assumed) to have a down-there doctor of the opposite sex may come from hearing or reading about people like Bruce Smith. Cases like that are relatively (and thankfully) rare, I think, but the ratio of male doctors who abuse their patients to female doctors is pretty lopsided.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:09 AM on February 24, 2011


From my own experience, I think I prefer female OB/GYNs working on my ladybits simply because they're already familiar with the OEM equipment, if you know what I mean.

Caveat: I'm a guy (which is lame). But I can, at least in theory, imagine someone preferring a private-bits doctor of the opposite sex specifically because this imaginary someone figures that to make it in such a profession, said doctor must have studied twice as hard just to break even. In other words, to make a potentially problematic parallel, the Jackie Robinson effect.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:11 AM on February 24, 2011


Nowadays men get waxed too, along with mani-pedis and skin treatments. I don't think they're finding a lot of male esthetitians to service them.

It's true, in the neighbourhood where I work there's a fair amount of men going to spas and salons etc, and no shortage of cosmetics for men in the local shops. I still think there's a far larger percentage of female customers than males for these places, and a far larger percentage of males than females for whom maintenance never involves more than a bar of soap, shampoo, a toothbrush, nailclippers and a razor. The industry is still heavily weighted to one side.
posted by Hoopo at 11:12 AM on February 24, 2011


I have no preference re. male or female OB/GYNs. I have had many, many male healthcare practitioners tend to my ladybits in the course of my medical life. I also have no preference for male or female massage therapists. But you can bet your bottom dollar that the person waxing anything I ever have waxed is always female (or at least post-op TG. That would be fine too.)
posted by DarlingBri at 11:18 AM on February 24, 2011


"But I can, at least in theory, imagine someone preferring a private-bits doctor of the opposite sex specifically because this imaginary someone figures that to make it in such a profession, said doctor must have studied twice as hard just to break even."

I have heard a few women say they prefer male ob/gyns because they feel that male ob/gyns LISTEN better than female ones, who (they claim) are less sympathetic BECAUSE they have the OEM equipment and make assumptions based on their own experience of their own ladybits, while male ob/gyns can't fall back on that particular sort of laziness.

I haven't had that experience with female ob/gyns as a group, personally, but there's certainly some of that attitude out there.

I've also asked my male ob/gyns over the years how they got interested in gynecology (since there's such a "ew, why would a man want to look at lady parts all day? is he a pervert?"). Answers have generally been along the lines of, "My wife and I had a baby while I was in med school and I couldn't IMAGINE a more fulfilling branch of medicine than helping families have babies, and you get so much personal patient contact and real relationships with patients and families," OR "I wasn't at all interested, and then I did the ob/gyn rotation and I attended a C-section/complicated hysterectomy/something typically surgical and complicated and I was just stunned and amazed at the complexity and beauty of the body systems involved and the more I studied it, the more I wanted to study more and learn more and so I ended up in gynecology."

Which is pretty much the same answers I've gotten from female ob/gyns. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:20 AM on February 24, 2011


I'm in my late 20's. I've had friends getting their chests and backs waxed since high school. Girls don't like hairy backs, especially, so getting it removed is something I think most guys I know have done.
I do it now whenever it gets to be summer time and I will be out without a shirt (cottage, beach, poolside, etc).

I remember a few tried to do the at-home methods like Nair, but that can be very painful and, from what I've heard, cause rashes.

I know a few who get their girlfriends to do it for them. Hell, in one of the weirder offers I've gotten, I brought it up in front of a girl I was seeing for a while last year and she offered to wax my back for me the next time I was going to do it.

I think men getting waxed is very common at this point.
posted by smitt at 11:21 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


*that attitude = patients who think that men have to work twice as hard and are therefore better ob/gyns. Not doctors who think "I am a girl and therefore know your parts better than you." Sorry, wandering antecedent there.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:22 AM on February 24, 2011


It's awesome for people to have choices and to be able to express their preferences in terms of a male or female physician, but to say no women want male ob/gyns is just false.

I do remember laughing (and cringing) at the old Saturday Night Live skit which started with a medical receptionist fielding non-stop phone calls from patients desperate for an appointment with just one of their male ob/gyns - and trying to persuade the callers that there was another male ob gyn who was free to see them immediately.

The popular doc was played by Mel Gibson. The unpopular one, Jon Lovitz.

(The skit would probably not work today!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:27 AM on February 24, 2011


> (The skit would probably not work today!)

Oh, judging by the occasional peek into SNL skits made in the past few years I'd say it would fit in nicely.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:29 AM on February 24, 2011


Oh, you probably meant because Gibson has since been exposed as a raving lunatic, not because of sensitivity on the part of SNL writers to gendered sexy OB/GYN issues.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:48 AM on February 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah men getting waxed is very very common. So common that I knew one dude in particular that thought not getting waxed was preventing him from meeting women. Like women could tell from talking to him that he had back hair.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:48 AM on February 24, 2011


Girls don't like hairy backs, especially, so getting it removed is something I think most guys I know have done.

The fate of my son. He's 2 and has a fuzzy back. It's going to be a buy one get one free waxing-bonding session.
posted by stormpooper at 11:50 AM on February 24, 2011


This is great. I was brought up in the opposite of touch-averse culture, so it's always interesting to hear accounts of how touch can be destabilizing / distressing.
posted by LMGM at 11:51 AM on February 24, 2011


Oh man, I would totally be a patient of Dr. Lovitz, OBGYN.
posted by muddgirl at 11:51 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The gender thing is funny. I'm a straight white male, and I want to see only female doctors, because I want to relax and not have to feel like I'm competing with the smart guy with the fat wallet and nice car that paid attention in school. But you know, if I were going to get waxed ... I'd want a gay man to do it, for the same reason -- I don't want to feel like I'm failing to impress someone.

Go figure.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:55 AM on February 24, 2011


I've been considering getting my first bikini wax ever recently. I had somehow managed to not think too hard about exactly what position and physical contact that calls for. This...oh dear, I have a sudden urge to cross my legs and never uncross them again.

On the other hand, great writing, and really a surprisingly moving take on what being an aesthetician means.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 12:18 PM on February 24, 2011


I was conflicted about my niece becoming an esthetician instead of going to college, but hell, looks like we'll all be working in the service industry soon; at least she didn't rack up massive debts and still have to do it.

Of course, I think waxing your bits is asinine and masochistic, but hey, it's paying her bills, so *shrug*.
posted by emjaybee at 12:27 PM on February 24, 2011


I similarly have no preference on masseuses...

All masseuses are female. Males who perform massage are masseurs. The neutral term is massage therapist.

posted by Karmakaze at 12:46 PM on February 24, 2011


This story is another proof of my long-held theory that any job is interesting if you listen to the right person talk about it.
posted by immlass at 12:49 PM on February 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


My students were shocked. Not about the nudity, but because "OH MY GOD, SHE HAS A BUSH!"

I'm way too old for this to be my reality, but I'm a little shocked how quickly this has become a cultural norm. I mean, it can't be more than 10 years at the most since this became mainstream. I remember reading a "review" of the Paris Hilton sex tape back in the day where her, er, appearance was one of the most shocking things about the video, and that's not more than 12 years ago, is it?


Great article, thanks for posting.
posted by maxwelton at 12:49 PM on February 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


But you know, if I were going to get waxed ... I'd want a gay man to do it, for the same reason -- I don't want to feel like I'm failing to impress someone.

Uh, you still might feel that way.
posted by liketitanic at 12:56 PM on February 24, 2011


I'm w/Eybrows McGee on the bit of tearing up at the guy who hadn't had any human touch besides medical professionals... I still have some tears a littl.

Made me think of Affection by The New Monkees (or rather, one member of them... yes... It's New Monkees... Deal)


RE: People just crying in the handicap stalls these days...

I go to the bathroom to cry, but that's only when I get too angry/overstimulated. I don't want to be violent/ragey, and all this pent up energy has to go somewhere, so it goes and releases as tears in the bathroom. qq

Also, I'd just like to say. GOOOOOOOOOOO BUSH!!! (I've gotten over some of my revulsion of unshaved crotch, but I still think hair is a wonderful beautiful thing) Oh, and ladies, learn to love your pussies! (Hell, dudes, love your cocks!)
posted by symbioid at 1:34 PM on February 24, 2011


immlass: "This story is another proof of my long-held theory that any job is interesting if you listen to the right person talk about it"

So, when is that Mike guy from "Dirty Jobs" gonna do an episode of this! LOL.
posted by symbioid at 1:35 PM on February 24, 2011


I go to the bathroom to cry, but that's only when I get too angry/overstimulated.

I just pretend I have horrible allergies and am feeling really ill. I smile and laugh and cough and rub my nose and ask for Claritin. I hope that people buy it.
posted by anniecat at 1:37 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


> So, when is that Mike guy from "Dirty Jobs" gonna do an episode of this! LOL.

Way ahead of you, pal.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:39 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course, I think waxing your bits is asinine and masochistic, but hey, it's paying her bills, so *shrug*.

It's not asinine to have a preference that involves your own body. I remove my leg hair and my bush. I wax myself at home while drinking wine. I love the feeling of silky underwear against my crotch afterwards. And I'd say what else I like about going bare, but my spouse wouldn't like me sharing intimate details of our sex life.
posted by anniecat at 1:43 PM on February 24, 2011


Oh, and ladies, learn to love your pussies! Hell, dudes, love your cocks!

The issue with vulvas is that they're really hard to see without a mirror and some contortion. They're mysterious. Sometimes they smell funny, and stuff comes out of them even if they're healthy (I assume this isn't a problem guys have - if something that's not urine or spunk comes out of their dick, it's pretty much doctor time) - and no one tells you about healthy vaginal discharge in health class. Or really anything important about menstruation (like about chunks, or fainting cramps, or what I call "blowouts"). So it can be really frustrating having to learn this all by ourselves, over and over - maybe we have an older sister or an unembarrased mom or aunt to talk to, but I didn't. So yeah, I've made peace with my pussy, but it's taken like 15 years since I hit puberty and a lot of feminism to get here. (Also, in case this hasn't been tldr for someone -- making peace with my pussy doesn't mean I'm anti-pubic-grooming)

I don't want to speak for guys, but it seems to me that while they might experience penis anxiety - like maybe their penis doesn't match up to what they see on xtube - actual distasteful disconnect is pretty uncommon outside of people who are transgender.
posted by muddgirl at 1:51 PM on February 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh I can grok that muddgirl. Certainly was less judging and more supportive like "GOOOOOOOOO PUSSY!" But yeah, of course, it's not easy when you can't really *see* it in the first place without a lot of work.

Of course, the lack of info in health class says some sad things for our educational system (thanks, patriarchy!) Wish we had a more enlightened society where this kind of thing can be properly discussed without jokes or fear or awkwardness.
posted by symbioid at 2:10 PM on February 24, 2011


I think the important point is that a shaved pussy can be a loved pussy.
posted by muddgirl at 2:23 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


men getting waxed is very very common. So common that I knew one dude in particular that thought not getting waxed was preventing him from meeting women

Weird. I don't actually know of a single guy among my friends that has had any waxing done, and I know some hairy dudes. I'm in my early 30s though--am I too old for this phenomenon?
posted by Hoopo at 2:30 PM on February 24, 2011


> Weird. I don't actually know of a single guy among my friends that has had any waxing done, and I know some hairy dudes.

Not to be stereotypical, but most male waxing probably only occurs around NYC and SoCal. The majority of manscaping is self-mowed, usually with a waterproof beard trimmer in the shower or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:32 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huh. This article from the same site about 1700s masturbation clubs looks interesting.
posted by symbioid at 2:42 PM on February 24, 2011


Huh. This article from the same site about 1700s masturbation clubs looks interesting.

The First Rule of 1700s masturbation club: DO NOT EAT THE CREAM CHEESE DIP.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:10 PM on February 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


That was a really enjoyable read. I do always hear about women getting waxed everywhere, all the time and I don't get it. I'm young but I don't think those are universal expectations the way some people think.

Is it a coast thing?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:15 PM on February 24, 2011


My husband doesn't wax a thing and he is incredibly hairy all over. But that is a good thing! I married a mammal on purpose.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:23 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've actually got a lot of inquisitive behaviour about me keeping a partial bush, from the photographer I did nude modelling with, to past partners. It's weird, no pubic hair is less sexual to me- it would be like a vagina without labia. And in my case I can't orgasm well without my pelt (or "tuft" as the affectionate nickname my partner gave it) so it was a serious thing to have a male partner who had no hang ups about my desire to leave the labia covered.
posted by Phalene at 4:54 PM on February 24, 2011


The kind of intimate attention to detail and aesthetic esthetic experience is why I try to get shaved at a barber whenever possible. It's such a nice ritual with nice smells and warm foam and the pleasure of being fussed over that is still considered terribly manly.
posted by The Whelk at 5:46 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh and were talking pubic hair and not linking to this video? For shame
posted by The Whelk at 5:52 PM on February 24, 2011


A good shave at the barber's is something worth doing, I agree. You just can't beat that razor for closeness.
posted by Mister_A at 7:28 PM on February 24, 2011


The majority of manscaping is self-mowed, usually with a waterproof beard trimmer in the shower or something.

Or this.
posted by The Gooch at 8:25 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the ladies: beard trimmers are perfect for womanscaping as well, if you don't want the bare look but like to keep things neat. I also use one for my underarms, because they're too sensitive for a razor-shave and I'm kind of a hippy.
posted by muddgirl at 9:37 PM on February 24, 2011


Not to be stereotypical, but most male waxing probably only occurs around NYC and SoCal.

And within that, I'd bet that it skews more gay than hetero. Certainly (as someone who lives outside of NYC/LA), the only guys I know who talk about waxing are gay, whereas I know quite a few guys who do the manscaping thing with razors and clippers.

I really liked the essay in the FPP. I liked it because it was well-written and interesting, and also because it was in some ways a female version of the "Shopcraft as Soulcraft" book -- an essay about the pleasures and satisfactions of a highly educated person engaging in hands-on vocational work.
posted by Forktine at 10:27 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


"My students were shocked. Not about the nudity, but because "OH MY GOD, SHE HAS A BUSH!""
Is it really that rare now? I see naked women in the changing rooms when I go for a swim and (not that I'm looking!) they tend to have hair there.


We don't so much have ob/gyns here - not sure how it works if one is pregnant but our GP will refer us to a gynaeocologist if there is something that needs looking at - but the last two I saw were male. They provide a choice as some might prefer it for cultural or other reasons, but I've always felt that, for a doctor, it's just the same as looking at a foot or an elbow.

Half my year at school seemed to go off to be beauty therapists. Now nail bars and threading are catching on more here, it must be a growth industry as much as the childcare option taken by the other half of the girls.

"So yeah, I've made peace with my pussy, but it's taken like 15 years since I hit puberty and a lot of feminism to get here."

My mum is 64 and has never had a bra fitting, because she doesn't want another woman/a stranger to see her in her bra and fiddle about.
posted by mippy at 4:20 AM on February 25, 2011


Forktine, I think that's why crafting has become a big thing with feminist bloggers/sites. You do it with your hands, you are making something, but also, it's a traditional and oft undervalued skill and also you literally have the means of production in your hands rather than paying a sweatshop money to get something mass-produced/.
posted by mippy at 4:21 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it really that rare now? I see naked women in the changing rooms when I go for a swim and (not that I'm looking!) they tend to have hair there.

Having pubic hair is not unusual or weird. This article (Google Docs view; original pdf) is the most recent serious scholarly article I found in a quick look, and in their survey, only about 20 percent of the younger women were "typically hair-free," and that percentage declined fast with age. (See the chart on page five.) Their lit review was really cursory, but they did reference a 1968 study of a nudist beach where 10 percent of women shaved and another 50 percent did some trimming, suggesting that the current numbers might not represent quite such a dramatic shift as we might think.

But depicting pubic hair has become unusual and weird. Maybe only 20 percent of young women are waxing, but a glance at nekkid photos (both of the porn and art varieties) would suggest that almost all of the models are removing most or all of their hair. I think this is maybe where the depictions and the reality have really diverged. My partner uses a couple of locker rooms that are mostly used by younger women, and she says that they mostly have hair. But if you want to see photos of women with hair, you either need to find photographs from a couple of decades ago, or one of the many fetish sites for "hairy women."

There's something kind of crazy-making in that divorce of portrayals from reality, in the same way that the extensive and wildly unrealistic photoshopping creates around shape and size. The original article in the FPP is refreshing to read because it isn't adding to the crazy.
posted by Forktine at 5:50 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not to be stereotypical, but most male waxing probably only occurs around NYC and SoCal.

And within that, I'd bet that it skews more gay than hetero. Certainly (as someone who lives outside of NYC/LA), the only guys I know who talk about waxing are gay, whereas I know quite a few guys who do the manscaping thing with razors and clippers.


Speaking only from personal experience here, but I live in the suburbs of Toronto. Waxing among men is very, very common, just not talked about much. I'm the type who talks about everything, and once I brought up waxing, I heard a lot of stories from my friends about their experiences with it.

I can't speak for whether it's a gay vs hetero thing, mainly cause I don't have any close gay friends that I'd talk about this with.

But straight dudes wax all the time.
posted by smitt at 9:55 AM on February 25, 2011


WRT your mention of the nudist beach, Forktine, they may not be representative of the general population; David Sedaris, in his essay "Naked" (in which he visits a naturist resort), talks about how everyone carries a towel around with them, which they put down on a seat to keep from leaving pubic hair on it (as well as, one presumes, vaginal secretions and ball-sweat). Trimming or completely removing the pubic hair would help with this as well.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:01 AM on February 25, 2011


I almost thing it's a class/ social group thing, at least around here. It's a joke that all the Jersey Shore straight boy clubbers practically denude themselves of hair while gays over 35 are all about embracing the body fuff. If I had to put a name on it, I'd say the general feeling is that lots of waxing is somehow ...unseemly and boorish and a kind of trimming/lazering is what " normal" guys do.
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 AM on February 25, 2011


WRT your mention of the nudist beach, Forktine, they may not be representative of the general population;

I completely agree. I wish the article had had a better lit review, or had directly addressed questions like that. For all the frenetic discussion that waxing receives, there seems to be very little solid information on the broader phenomenon.
posted by Forktine at 10:22 AM on February 25, 2011


All I know is that once one of my favorite waxers got featured in the local paper and I brandished it in my boyfriend's face and said: "dude! she has TOTALLY seen more of me than you have!"

(I think we'd been dating for about 5 years at that point)

A good waxer is worth her weight in gold.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:13 PM on February 25, 2011


I didn't know that an essay on waxing could be that fascinating in a non-pervy way.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 8:17 AM on February 27, 2011


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