Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The end of childhood
April 4, 2008 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Where has all the pubic hair gone? After sweating through the [eight-year-old girl's] eyebrow wax, Engle [...] was directed to give her pint-size client a … bikini wax. “But … there’s nothing there, right?” I ask Engle. “I mean, at eight? Am I forgetting something?” “Nope,” she says. “There’s not. Doesn’t matter. That’s when the mothers are starting them these days.”
posted by desjardins (207 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
and by mothers she means lunatics.
posted by zeoslap at 9:11 AM on April 4, 2008 [13 favorites]


"When I was in my teenybopper heyday, there were no pop chicks who I aspired to be. There were boys I aspired to marry ... Not anymore. Today’s girls aren’t looking at posters; they’re looking in the mirror. They have a new obsession — a self-obsession — and it’s being aided and abetted by their mothers."

So the pube-waxing epidemic isn't bad because it reflects an unrealistic standard of beauty that's impossible to attain, it's bad because it leads girls to focus on themselves instead of their future husbands? I'm not sure I can get on board with that.
posted by transona5 at 9:13 AM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


You can have my lunch. I'm not hungry anymore, and I'm moving out of the solar system.
posted by not_on_display at 9:14 AM on April 4, 2008 [44 favorites]


I haven't read the link, but regardless I'm calling bullshit. No slight to you desjardins, but I'm not certain I want to live in a world where such a thing takes place. I find it easier to plug my ears, hum and shout "I'm not listening". Sometimes willful ignorance is the best policy.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:17 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't suppose there's any chance that this is just a beautician fucking with the reporter, is there?

Or maybe there's, like, two examples of this in the history of the world, from seriously fucked up moms, and it's just been turned into a feature story to get readers? Is that possible?

Because I have a lot to do, and I really don't have time to work in hours of weeping in rage and desperation at the bottomless ignorance of the human race today.
posted by lore at 9:17 AM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


The end of childhood

Not sure it ever existed for a few...this logically follows from things like JonBenet Ramsey style beauty pageants...what concerns me more is that mindset seems to be expanding outward.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:19 AM on April 4, 2008


Ugh, as a resident of the Upper east side in Manhattan, who is currently half way through my pregnancy, I am terrified of having a girl and having these mothers be the mothers of her peers.

I think we may have to flee before the kid starts walking.
posted by gaspode at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2008


“It was clear that this girl was getting a bikini wax no matter what,” she says. “Better for her that we did it, instead of her mother dragging her off somewhere else to get it done.”

Really? Seriously? I am not so sure about this. I would not have done it. I don't understand. If some rabid mom brought you her eight year old daughter and insisted that you punch her in the face, would you do it because someone else might if you don't? I kind of get that maybe she thinks that their wax is less painful than others, but there's no painless wax, and frankly, a bikini wax on an eight year old girl makes me incredibly uncomfortable. When I read that, I immediately thought it was abuse.
posted by prefpara at 9:24 AM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


Dear Western culture,

Quit fucking up your kids,

love,
Common Sense
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:25 AM on April 4, 2008 [9 favorites]


No, not just a beautician saying these things:

“I’ve actually been joking that I’m going to write a book called Where Has All the Pubic Hair Gone?” Janice Hillman, a doctor in the Penn Health System at Radnor who specializes in adolescent medicine, tells me. “It’s such a rarity to find it these days in 10- and 12-year-old girls, and older girls. I need to check for it at that age — it’s an indicator of puberty and development, how much there is, where it’s growing. And now, I need to ask girls, if it’s not there, ‘Do you wax? Do you shave?’ Because so many of them do.”

You know, there are reasons why grown women may choose to wax or shave. I can't think of any reason that would apply to a 10 or 12 year old girl who wasn't being raised in a turn of the century New Orleans bordello.
posted by rosebuddy at 9:25 AM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Every generation has had fatuous dipshits with unhealthy (and creepy) obsessions about the beauty and sexuality of their children (among other things). Until there's some way to measure an upswing in such a thing as a social movement, I have to assume that articles like these are anecdotals intended to fuel book sales for reactionary fools like Wendy Shalit or some other idiotic right wing/puritan political agenda.
posted by psmealey at 9:27 AM on April 4, 2008 [9 favorites]


But that is part of the point-- you can't flee it--this is a growing phenom with lots of trickle-down.
Remember when tatoos were just about the nastiest thing around?
Then rich people got them.
Then the Soccer Moms and Dads.
Now little Cindy and Johnny.
From the manicured Hamptons lawns to the suburban duplex next door, sex sells and kids and mommies and daddies are buying.
Yikes.
posted by Dizzy at 9:27 AM on April 4, 2008


You know, there are reasons why grown women may choose to wax or shave. I can't think of any reason that would apply to a 10 or 12 year old girl who wasn't being raised in a turn of the century New Orleans bordello.

Same reason some girls wear bras before they need them -- they want to feel like grown-ups.
posted by brain_drain at 9:29 AM on April 4, 2008


Amen, prefpara. "I'm a crack dealer, and it's really sad how young some of my customers are these days. But they make it clear that they're getting crack no matter what. Better for them that I sell it to them, instead of them going to another dealer to buy it."

If the esthetics industry- you know, the one that INVENTS this bullshit and the one that sells self-hate to women (and men- look at all the hair removal ads in gay mags these days)- offends you, maybe it's not the line of work you should be in.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:30 AM on April 4, 2008


Narcissism by proxy.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:30 AM on April 4, 2008


Remember that crank from a couple weeks back who said what we really need in this country is a reprise of the Great Depression? Sometimes I think he has a point.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:32 AM on April 4, 2008 [10 favorites]


A number of sub-Saharan Africans have started a campaign to stop this mutilation of young girls' bodies.
posted by GuyZero at 9:33 AM on April 4, 2008 [29 favorites]


Here's what I found most frightening in the (excellent) linked article:

“I’ve actually been joking that I’m going to write a book called Where Has All the Pubic Hair Gone?” Janice Hillman, a doctor in the Penn Health System at Radnor who specializes in adolescent medicine, tells me. “It’s such a rarity to find it these days in 10- and 12-year-old girls, and older girls. I need to check for it at that age — it’s an indicator of puberty and development, how much there is, where it’s growing. And now, I need to ask girls, if it’s not there, ‘Do you wax? Do you shave?’ Because so many of them do.”

Up next? Computer programs based on photos, X rays, and MRIs which show you what your kid will look like all the way up to 25 or so, and plastic surgery now to improve the trajectory and the final destination.
posted by jamjam at 9:36 AM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


If there's no hair, can you even wax it?
posted by dabitch at 9:36 AM on April 4, 2008


A friend of mine down in the South told me his high school daughter told him some of her friends were getting breast enhancement surgery as graduation presents.

That floored me.
posted by dw at 9:38 AM on April 4, 2008


Dear women; stop making yourself look like 9 year old girls. Signed,

all men who aren't fucked up.
posted by Justinian at 9:38 AM on April 4, 2008 [25 favorites]


W. T. F.
posted by VicNebulous at 9:39 AM on April 4, 2008


Or maybe there's, like, two examples of this in the history of the world, from seriously fucked up moms, and it's just been turned into a feature story to get readers? Is that possible?

That's what I'm thinking.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:40 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry. I know I should read the whole thing before posting. But I keep getting tripped up by how complicit the salons are and how they don't even bother to justify their involvement.

They go from telling them it might be a bad idea... to telling them... to having them sign a waiver? I used to work at a beauty salon. We would have refused to give an eight-year-old child a painful, unnecessary wax on her vagina. End of story. What is this nonsense?

This new, unstoppable desire of mothers to pluck and paint their daughters has created an unexpected conundrum for spa owners and aestheticians, who can’t afford to lose the moms’ lucrative business — but who also don’t want to be partners in crime. When moms book appointments to get their preteens waxed at Pierre & Carlo European Salon & Spa inside the Bellevue in Center City, owner Joseph Cutrufello makes it a point to run through with them exactly what will be happening to their child (read: pain, sweating, high ­probability of ensuing red bumps on young, sensitive, not-in-need-of-a-wax skin). At Bernard’s Salon & Day Spa in Cherry Hill, it wasn’t enough to simply suggest to moms that it’s not the best idea to apply harsh chemicals to the scalps and hair of their six-year-olds just to make their hair “more blond.” “We’ve flat-out told mothers that highlighting such a young girl’s hair is a bad idea, and something we’d rather not do,” says Carla Ciociola-Toppi, the spa’s marketing director. “But so many mothers push anyway that now we have them sign a waiver.” The waiver basically states that the spa prefers not to perform various services on children, that the mom understands this, and that she decrees it happen anyway. “It’s so weird,” says Ciociola-­Toppi. “It’s like they’re stage moms.”
posted by prefpara at 9:41 AM on April 4, 2008


I'd rather a mother indoctrine their daughter with the concept of bikini waxes than rabid homophobia. In the scheme of things, I'm not sure why I should be outraged by this.
posted by Stynxno at 9:43 AM on April 4, 2008


I still can't believe they sell bikini underwear to eight-year-olds. Who the hell is going to see it, apart from her mother?
posted by desjardins at 9:43 AM on April 4, 2008


Why are we insisting on increasingly sexualizing our pre-pubescent and pubescent daughters? This isn't an isolated incident. It's part of a trend, the same trend that brought size 6X thong underwear and pants for little girls with terms like "juicy" emblazoned across the ass. The trend that made it ridiculously challenging at times for me to find clothes for my daughters, when they were pre-teens a few years back, that were reasonably modest. The trend that has faux tattoos with "sexy," "juicy," "hot," etc., marketed at kids barely old enough to ride a bike. The trend that involves young model-wannabes' parents setting up web sites with glamour shots of their pride and joy in bathing suits and skin-tight gowns and miniature exotic dancer wear. And we talk about a crisis with pedophiles on teh internets coming after our kids, oh noes!, all the while feeding the monster.
posted by notashroom at 9:43 AM on April 4, 2008 [8 favorites]


Stynxno, go get a bikini wax yourself and then report back if you think it's a good idea for children.
posted by desjardins at 9:45 AM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Stynxno, I am also outraged by homophobia. I'll let you know when I hit my outrage limit so that you can make sure I've included all the important causes.
posted by prefpara at 9:47 AM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Is there a definition for the uncanny valley-effect when talking about human behaviour? Because this shit right here is a text book example of a concept that almost resembles something a human would come up with but is still so fundamentally inhuman and wrong that it makes me want to run to the hills screaming.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:49 AM on April 4, 2008 [10 favorites]


A friend of mine down in the South told me his high school daughter told him some of her friends were getting breast enhancement surgery as graduation presents.

Just last week: Florida Teen Dies After Complications During Breast Surgery.
posted by ericb at 9:51 AM on April 4, 2008


Why are we insisting on increasingly sexualizing our pre-pubescent and pubescent daughters?

I don't think "we" are doing any such thing. I think that garment manufacturers make this crap, and a certain amount of it is snapped up by thoughtless parents who think it's "cute" or "hip" or something, without much a plan in mind.

My problem with articles like this. It sounds the alarm for OH NOES WE'RE ALL GOING TO HELL, while at the same time stoking resentment for either the rich ("these motherfuckers have too much God damn money"), or playing on the envies of the insecure.

The fact of the matter is that most everyone I know that has young kids, is reasonable, thoughtful, mindful, and has nothing but the best of intentions for their childrens' well-being and emotional growth. It's only OTHER PARENTS that are whoring out their kids, at least as reported by New York Magazine and its ilk.

Seriously, guys. Move along. You're getting played.
posted by psmealey at 9:51 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why are we insisting on increasingly sexualizing our pre-pubescent and pubescent daughters?

I'm not totally convinced that's what this is. Beauty rituals aren't transparent bids for male attention, there's more to it than that. This is something women do that girls want to do- mom gets her nails done, daughter wants her nails done, mom does her eyebrows, daughters want her eyebrows done. I'm not offended if a mother wants to model or share various methods of self-care to her daughter.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:53 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Couldn't you call the cops on these bitches?
posted by Vindaloo at 9:54 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


About face: more and more teen girls are willing to do almost anything to look good, including going under the knife.
posted by ericb at 9:54 AM on April 4, 2008


Dear women; stop making yourself look like 9 year old girls. Signed,

all men who aren't fucked up.
posted by Justinian


The article is about 9 year old girls, not women. But thanks for taking the time to tell us your own personal hang up, even if it has nothing to do with the story.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 9:54 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I feel unclean just knowing about this.

I'm going to go bleach my anus now.
posted by adamrice at 9:55 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


"It were better for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones."
posted by resurrexit at 9:56 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


What I find the most annoying about the Shaven Standard (hey, in grown women, that is) is that as a straight man, the moment you find out about the hairless status of your newfound amorata and think "oh God, how unimaginative, I knew it" that's just a bit of a turn-off, and that's exactly the moment you're not supposed to be a bit turned off at all.

And I don't even care that strongly: personally I like it if my paramour leaves a little patch on top, or you know the "landing strip" thing - hell, even a completely untended garden can be beautiful purely for its raw, uncultured, animal attraction. And I don't mind the totally shaven variety either. Of course, women should do with their bodies whatever they please and I really don't care either way - it's just the widespread pubic conformism that I find so trite and saddening.

Did I just type all this out loud?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:57 AM on April 4, 2008 [13 favorites]


What psmealey said. The parents I know wouldn't do this sort of thing. There are a few weirdos, though...

I'd add that reports of rampant bikini-waxing for eight year olds sounds like a moral panic. However, as the article reports, it seems more than likely that the 12-and-up set has probably adopted bikini-waxing with a vengeance. Girl, you'll be a woman soon.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:57 AM on April 4, 2008


I'm going to go bleach my anus now.

If you must, you must. But please, for the love of God educate yourself about it.
posted by psmealey at 9:57 AM on April 4, 2008


Stynxno, go get a bikini wax yourself and then report back if you think it's a good idea for children.

If the point of the article was to discuss how horrifying bikini waxes are then I might agree with you. But they're not. Instead this is just an article that illuminates that there are moms out there with the pagent girl syndrome and how teach a small subset of young girls to act and practices adult behaviors for ridiculous reasons. It's no different than the recent ny times article about girls getting pedicures or about the new "kids only" hair saloon.

Stynxno, I am also outraged by homophobia. I'll let you know when I hit my outrage limit so that you can make sure I've included all the important causes.

Thanks. But this article, and the faux outrage to it, is pretty blah and misdirected. I don't think people are upset about the bikini waxes but more upset about whatever beauty standards that are culturally practiced that they feel are ridiculous or get defensive about. Young girls in this country have nothing on Argentinians or Koreans where plastic surgery for teenage girls is the norm so, yeah, I don't think bikini waxes by neurotic moms is worth my time to get upset about.
posted by Stynxno at 9:58 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


At least they aren't beating them with sticks.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:00 AM on April 4, 2008


If girls are not dressing to attract guys - which certainly at that age they are not really - what are they doing it for? Some kind of beauty superiority? If so, I'd rather they not do it. They should be playing sports. Forget plastic surgery. Sports from age 6 up will set a person far further ahead beauty-wise for the rest of their life.
posted by niccolo at 10:01 AM on April 4, 2008


Ugh, when I read that article I immediately thought of "Rocky" (the mom on I Know My Kid Is a Star). I worry about the girls growing up now, but most of my friends seem to be erring on the sane side of things.

Still, perfectionism is a form of self-abuse that should not be passed on to children. We're all neurotic enough as it is.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:05 AM on April 4, 2008


if so, I'd rather they not do it. They should be playing sports.

Exactly my point: they ARE playing sports. There may be some tiny cohort that is taking this route, going to Barney's and buying Dolce and Gabbana, getting Brazilian waxes, having co-ed sleepovers and snorting methamphetamine off each other, but the vast majority are playing sports, wearing sloppy jeans and baggy sweatshirts, little makeup and generally, just being kids.
posted by psmealey at 10:07 AM on April 4, 2008


I don't think people are upset about the bikini waxes but more upset about whatever beauty standards that are culturally practiced that they feel are ridiculous or get defensive about.

No, dude, I am definitely upset about the bikini waxes on EIGHT YEAR OLD GIRLS. The rest of the article, I agree, is the usual blah blah fucked up rich people blah blah crazy beauty culture. The 10% of the article that was about yanking pretend hair from an eight year old vagina really upset me.

And, let me again reassure you that I am aware of the greater universe of human suffering. Can I please stop doing that now? Can we talk about this problem despite the fact that other people are also suffering elsewhere, many in worse ways without getting cited by the outrage police?
posted by prefpara at 10:08 AM on April 4, 2008


Where Has All the Pubic Hair Gone?

Where did my lunch go? I was certain I just ate it.

Oh, there it is, on the floor.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:14 AM on April 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the recession, rising level of debt, etc, will keep this from becoming too much of an issue.
posted by drezdn at 10:15 AM on April 4, 2008


so, to paraphrase...

Motherfilter: damn lawns, get off my kid!
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 10:17 AM on April 4, 2008 [56 favorites]


This is a crappy article. psmealey nails it.

How old could the reporter be? She talks about typing her senior papers on a computer - that puts her around my age at the oldest. And she didn't idolize any pop stars? You could not convince me that she, or at least 90% of her female peers, didn't want to be or pretend to be Madonna in the '80's. And Madonna was a pretty slutty role model.
posted by peep at 10:20 AM on April 4, 2008


If girls are not dressing to attract guys - which certainly at that age they are not really - what are they doing it for?

To win their mother's approval.
posted by desjardins at 10:21 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I absolutely never thought I would say this but,
please, God, bring back the 70s.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:21 AM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the recession, rising level of debt, etc, will keep this from becoming too much of an issue.

I'm pretty sure that the fact that this is abso-fucking-lutely ree-diculous will keep this from becoming too much of an issue.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:24 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dear Western culture,

Quit fucking
up your kids,

love,
Common Sense


FTFY.
posted by quonsar at 10:26 AM on April 4, 2008


Why is it such a concern for people when dickwads act like idiots?

If these parents are so emotionally and ethically crippled that they think encouraging obsessive vanity is a good thing, don't you think they're creative enough to find whole stacks of ways to mess up their kids if we all poo-poo the premature bushwhacking?

These kids are doomed anyway. At least they'll go down with nice skin and shiny hair.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 10:28 AM on April 4, 2008


"Where has all the pubic hair gone?"
Long time passing...
Where has all the pubic hair gone?
Long time ago...
Where has all the public hair gone?
Shaved or waxed, every one.

Oh when will they ever learn?
Oh when will they... ever learn?!
posted by markkraft at 10:29 AM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


If girls are not dressing to attract guys - which certainly at that age they are not really - what are they doing it for? Some kind of beauty superiority?

Attracting boys and being superior aren't necessarily the only motivations. There's peer pressure added into the mix as well.
posted by CKmtl at 10:29 AM on April 4, 2008


I believe that this is a positive step forward for the chastity movement. My rationale is as follows: if there is no grass on the infield, when then, would be an appropriate time to play ball? Answer: never.
posted by Flem Snopes at 10:31 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is something women do that girls want to do- mom gets her nails done, daughter wants her nails done, mom does her eyebrows, daughters want her eyebrows done. I'm not offended if a mother wants to model or share various methods of self-care to her daughter.

No, as the mother of a now thankfully grownup daughter, neither am I. That's why you let your four year old have an empty lipstick tube in a glamorous sequined evening bag from K-Mart and why you take your 15 year old in for a big fancy makeup session on the morning of her first dance. However, you draw the line somewhere and I think that line is actually quite a ways before you get to bikini waxing. You can explain the bikini wax to your daughter just fine when she actually has hair there and is curious on her own accord which may happen by the time said child is fourteen or thereabouts. Having it done to your eight year old is completely psychotic. For that matter I don't think eight year olds need eyebrow waxing or highlights or deodorant or perfume or nylons or high heels or anything like that at all, by the way, just the occasional bath with some baby shampoo, sneakers, jeans, a T-shirt and a big old chest full of lengths of shiny cloth for costumes if it's raining and a good day to play movie star. Wow, and I thought I was outraged by little girls in high heels and slutty clothes; this is a brand new low.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:31 AM on April 4, 2008 [10 favorites]


If the point of the article was to discuss how horrifying bikini waxes are then I might agree with you. But they're not. Instead this is just an article that illuminates that there are moms out there with the pagent girl syndrome and how teach a small subset of young girls to act and practices adult behaviors for ridiculous reasons. It's no different than the recent ny times article about girls getting pedicures or about the new "kids only" hair saloon.

I am so sick of Stynxno Ring the FA.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:31 AM on April 4, 2008


Ah well, you know what they say... there's a lot of ruin in a nation.

You'll know things are *really* going to hell, when moms start getting their daughters their first genital piercing at that age.
posted by markkraft at 10:34 AM on April 4, 2008


Or maybe there's, like, two examples of this in the history of the world, from seriously fucked up moms, and it's just been turned into a feature story to get readers? Is that possible?


I'd say probably not, although the bikini wax example is probably rare.

I live in a 'Desperate Housewives/Footballers' Wives' area, where over the past few years all the normal shops (butcher, newsagent, fishmonger, hardware, pet supplies, etc.) have closed and been replaced by exclusive clothes shops, nail bars, beauty salons, designer wedding boutiques, tanning salons, puppy couture wear and recently TWO stores next-door-but-one to each other which sell prom/cruise/evening wear.

Far too many of the girl children (9, 10 years and upwards) in the area wear clothes that are far too adult for them (you know the kind of thing, those horrible shortie t-shirts and low, low-cut pants with glitter slogans written on them like 'Jailbait', 'Superbitch', etc.), high heels, their hair is highlighted, they wear makeup all the time, I've seen them getting acrylic nails as I've walked past the nail bars ...

At fifteen the girls are trying to look 25. Their 40-year-old mothers are trying to look 22. It's all fucked up.

The friend of mine who ran the place where you can paint a pot and have it fired sold the business recently. He told me that when he bought it he thought, in an area where there are lots of families, he'd be busy with children's parties, but the only parties he booked were for the (few) Lubavitch Jewish families in the area, whose children still apparently have a childhood.
posted by essexjan at 10:35 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


The irony is that when I read the article online on the Philadelphia Magazine web site thee was a sidebar ad touting lunchtime-no-surgery face-lifts. So is Philadelphia Magazine gonna stop accepting ads for salons that wax prepubescent girls?
posted by fixedgear at 10:35 AM on April 4, 2008


It seems like more than ever television's coverage of young stars and their personal lives has increased. It has also become drastically more critical of small cosmetic flaws.

Another thing I've noticed is that they spend no time talking TO these celebrities, instead, television news (has become nothing but an outrageous tabloid) will only talk about them personally, and rarely about anything they've done professionally.

With this increase in subjected bullshit that the public receives it might provide some insight into why parents and children are both feeling more pressure to add up. It could just be the next evolution in already criminally insane beauty pageant tactics.

transona5, It is frightening to me that this innocent dating game that girls used to do (guys did it too but in different ways, obviously) has turned into a nasty beauty superiority war. When it's no longer a cute way to grab someone else's attention its a bitter and mean spirited way of trying to fill a void that cannot ever be filled, I think.
posted by hellslinger at 10:46 AM on April 4, 2008


I'd rather a mother indoctrine their daughter with the concept of bikini waxes than rabid homophobia.

Holy shit, I had no idea that was what was at stake, here. If these pre-pubescent bikini waxes are in some way preventing children from being homophobic, then bring on the bikini waxes!

In the scheme of things, I'm not sure why I should be outraged by this.

Well, the article gives some decent reasons for, if not being outraged, at least thinking it's a bad idea and a sign of horrifically bad parenting. skim through a page or two, see what you think of it.
posted by shmegegge at 10:50 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Philly Magazine usually winds up ironically underlining the grotesquerie of Main Line living by doing appraisals of top titty job doctors and tanning salons, the martini mommy set, and other assorted lifestyle profiles that sex up being a middle aged pillhead shopaholic as much as humanly possible. This article is a little unusual in that it's a pretty literal portrayal of an entire social class of being totally sick and insane. They probably can't run too many more stories like this before the jewelers and Bentley dealers and real estate agents whose ads fund the publication start to get nervous that they're going to bring the whole shit pile crashing down.
posted by The Straightener at 10:51 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I'm pretty sure the recession, rising level of debt, etc, will keep this from becoming too much of an issue."

Actually, when the economy tanks, that's when we see an increase in prostitution and some women doing everything they can to attract what they perceive as a meal ticket. They do this because they don't believe they can handle life on their own, and they hold this belief because that's the underlying message you internalize after a lifetime of crap like bikini waxes for 8 year olds. They are groomed to think of themselves as meat: their mothers are complicit, the salons are enablers, and mefis claiming it doesn't matter are minimizers.

Far better to hand these women a brochure for science camp (for their daughters) then Glamour Ghetto magazine.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 10:52 AM on April 4, 2008 [10 favorites]


psmealey harrumphed:
"The fact of the matter is that most everyone I know that has young kids, is reasonable, thoughtful, mindful, and has nothing but the best of intentions for their childrens' well-being and emotional growth. It's only OTHER PARENTS that are whoring out their kids, at least as reported by New York Magazine and its ilk.

Seriously, guys. Move along. You're getting played.
"

AKA "It isn't affecting anyone I personally know, so it's not happening."

Like so much else in the world, it doesn't take personal experience to be concerned about this kind of development. If we don't consider it when it's starting, we won't have time to put a solution or counter-message out as it gains popularity.

These things tend to start small amongst one group of narcissistic idiots and then ripple outward to those who are even more idiotic (i.e., choosing to do these things by spending money they don't really have, which would lead to a compounding of eventual impact on the kids involved), especially when it involves youngsters.

As a society - a whole society, globally connected and intertwined - I think there's a lot of good possible if people would just stand up en masse and say, "that's not okay, I'm not going along with it nor just nodding my head and pretending it's not happening".

Not that anyone's going to do that, but it sure would be good.

At minimum, the salon business as a whole should just put some age limits on things - like tattoo artists - and go from there.

My personal wish would be that parents aren't allowed to indulge in permanent modification or advanced cosmetological procedures until their kids are at least 13, but I know I'm in the minority.
posted by batmonkey at 10:56 AM on April 4, 2008


My 14-year-old asked her mother a couple of weeks ago if she can get a Brazilian wax. Our response was not just no, but "FUCK NO ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND HOW IN THE THE HELL DO YOU EVEN KNOW ABOUT THAT?"

You know the old adage about "don't ask the question if you don't want to hear the answer?" Well, we heard the answer to that question: her best friend (13 years old) has been getting Brazilian waxes for a year now - her mom took her as soon as her pubes got dense enough to wax off.

Mrs. Deadmessenger and I then had a long conversation where we considered whether to allow our daughter to be around this kid anymore. In the end, we decided not to do anything, but for a while it could have gone either way.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:57 AM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


lol rich people
posted by MillMan at 10:58 AM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


also-

which is more traumatic to a high-schooler: obesity or bikini waxing? both are a result of parenting...
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 10:58 AM on April 4, 2008


What they need now are Tramp Stamps. Lucky for them, Toy R Us has them.
posted by FunkyHelix at 10:59 AM on April 4, 2008


I tend to agree with those calling BS on this; either that or it is a Pennsylvania thing. I work in a pediatric operating room and at least here in Georgia the girls tend to have the appropriate secondary sex characteristics for their age.
posted by TedW at 11:00 AM on April 4, 2008


Really, is it necessary to read past "...we’ve seen a tidal wave of this rising luxury-class culture — you’ve seen it in these pages... "?
psmealy's right on.

In a related story, my tsunami of popularity and charisma and my ascension to the A-List of MetaFilter - as mentioned in many of my comments - continues unabated.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:01 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, I haven't checked but I can imagine the tramp stamps FunkyHelix mentioned are pretty widely available here.
posted by TedW at 11:01 AM on April 4, 2008


AKA "It isn't affecting anyone I personally know, so it's not happening."

That's not at all what I said. If you'd actually read and understood my several comments above you'd probably not have misrepresented me so badly.
posted by psmealey at 11:02 AM on April 4, 2008


Eight-year-olds, Dude.
posted by isopraxis at 11:02 AM on April 4, 2008 [13 favorites]


I'd rather a mother indoctrine their daughter with the concept of rabid homophobia than cannibalism. In the scheme of things, I'm not sure why I should be outraged by this.
posted by EarBucket at 11:06 AM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


psmealy, I agree. It seems unlikely that this is anything other than a practice embraced by a small minority of parents in some parts of the country. Nevertheless, it's a practice that I find disturbing. I don't think I would object if it were outlawed. And the fact that most people aren't going to encounter it doesn't mean, to me, that it doesn't matter.
posted by prefpara at 11:07 AM on April 4, 2008


It would be so easy for me, a Brit, so say, as would many of my countrymen, "(Some of) you Americans are so fucked up", but I suspect that a story very much like this will be appearing soon in our domestic press.

I despair.
posted by No Mutant Enemy at 11:13 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think I would object if it were outlawed.

I would object to our lawmakers wasting their time on something so trivial.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:13 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Having my wife wax my back hair a couple of days ago was bad enough; its hard to imagine that grown-up women do this sort of thing all the time on more sensitive areas.

The thought of preteen children getting a bikini wax makes me want to start drinking bleach.
posted by mrbill at 11:23 AM on April 4, 2008


If this kind of shit is going down in Philadelphia, imagine what they're doing in LA...
posted by VicNebulous at 11:25 AM on April 4, 2008


transona5, It is frightening to me that this innocent dating game that girls used to do (guys did it too but in different ways, obviously) has turned into a nasty beauty superiority war.

I agree, but the main problem I have with these kinds of articles is that the focus tends to be on the "narcissism" of the girls -- the problem isn't that girls and women are judged for their looks rather than their talents or character, but that the losers by this metric aren't content with their station in life and insist on trying to compete with their betters.
posted by transona5 at 11:26 AM on April 4, 2008


Philly Mag is not an authority for much of anything.

Just putting it out there.
posted by supercres at 11:29 AM on April 4, 2008


Eight year olds, Dude.
posted by Roman Graves at 11:30 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Some guys shave it up, and the woman won't reciprocate. Then, when they have sex, it looks like Castro smoking a cigar" - Bob Saget
posted by porn in the woods at 11:30 AM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


I would object to our lawmakers wasting their time on something so trivial.

As long as the style media push salacious little bits like this out there, inciting the masses to clamor that the fashion and beauty industries are turning our precious little angels into street whores and we're powerless to have any influence over our own children's fashion decisions, you can bet your ass that someone in Congress will introduce such a bill. It's a certainty.

But back to this...

As a society - a whole society, globally connected and intertwined - I think there's a lot of good possible if people would just stand up en masse and say, "that's not okay, I'm not going along with it nor just nodding my head and pretending it's not happening"... Not that anyone's going to do that, but it sure would be good..

Seems like that kind of thing, while honorably and rightly utopian, could be just as much a force for bad as it would be for good. Who's to say what's universally, a priori, good or bad? You? Me? What you suggest is mob rule wrapped up in an idealistic bow. But I digress.

Reasonable people still do have the good sense not to engage (and not to permit their children to engage) is this type of ridiculousness. They bring their kids up well, and are careful to guard against destructive behaviors that injure their children's self-esteem, trigger body image issues, or cause them to be anti-social, hyper-competitive twerps in their adolescence.

Are there shitty parents out there that constantly give into the social pressure (whether real or imaginged) to give their children $50,000 sweet sixteen parties, and think it's cute when their kids wear to school, clothing that's most appropriate for the nightclub? Is this the bane of the society, will it trigger our collapse, are they sapping our precious bodily fluids?

I don't think so. It's a handful of people with really bad taste. And last I checked, people were still free to have bad taste. Let's not overreact.
posted by psmealey at 11:36 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or maybe there's, like, two examples of this in the history of the world, from seriously fucked up moms, and it's just been turned into a feature story to get readers? Is that possible?

That's what I'm thinking.



From the article:
“I’ve actually been joking that I’m going to write a book called Where Has All the Pubic Hair Gone?” Janice Hillman, a doctor in the Penn Health System at Radnor who specializes in adolescent medicine, tells me. “It’s such a rarity to find it these days in 10- and 12-year-old girls, and older girls. I need to check for it at that age — it’s an indicator of puberty and development, how much there is, where it’s growing. And now, I need to ask girls, if it’s not there, ‘Do you wax? Do you shave?’ Because so many of them do.”
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:36 AM on April 4, 2008


She beat Britney to it
posted by CeruleanZero at 12:09 PM on April 4, 2008


Actually, this is as logical as it is revolting.

Current 'grooming' norms -- no pubic hair, no real breasts, no fatty deposits of any kind, and absolutely no wattles, wrinkles or gray strands -- are designed to make all adult women look like 9 year olds with a boob job. So if you give a 9 year old a wax and a boob job, you have the ideal woman.

I might as well give up: I have tits, I have thighs, and I still have pubic hair. I'm sure the Vile Old Hag Disposal Team will roll up to the door forthwith.
posted by jrochest at 12:20 PM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


My personal wish would be that parents aren't allowed to indulge in permanent modification or advanced cosmetological procedures until their kids are at least 13 ...

Hello, circumcision!

The guy with the red Honda on Fulton St. (you know, the one with the Mohel = Mengele bumper sticker (among hundreds)) would agree with you.

I see lots of little babies with pierced ears. Like *babies,* man, less then a year old. Whoa! I guess their parents want to make sure people know that they are girls.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:21 PM on April 4, 2008


Metafilter: where all the pubic hair has gone.
posted by toastchee at 12:30 PM on April 4, 2008


Today, my girlfriends and I laugh when someone busts out evidence of “the ugly years” — the pictures from school dances, or those heinous school portraits from the fourth to ninth grades. They’re awesome. They make us feel better about how we look today.

This graph stood out for me as utter bullshit. If the author enjoys looking at pictures from the "ugly years," I don't think those years were so ugly. I wasn't nearly as bad as other friends, but I don't look back fondly at pictures from bad-looking years.

No mom wants her unibrowed nine-year-old getting teased at school, or a 13-year-old suffering the angst of bad acne when a solution is at hand.

I think back to junior high, and the girls that were mercilessly destroyed by classmates (and it was always girls who were destroyed) were those who looked "ugly" by prevailing standards. Those standards haven't changed much.

What I'm saying is that your lack of a bikini wax will not lose you friends, nor will it prevent you from educational opportunities. Bad acne, unibrows, bad posture, etc. can definitely do both at puberty age, i.e. outcast becomes shy, non-participatory, etc. It's sad.

So if this new "trend" keeps improves the self-esteem of "ugly" girls and gets them more involved socially and educationally, I can see it as no more evil than any other part of the "beauty" industry.

NB, of course, these thoughts all come from a distant observer. I can't say it's not a good experience for mother-daughter bonding, for I am neither. I do remove hair from various parts of my body, mostly head, face, neck and nostrils. I also occasionally grab a fistful of (thin) hair from my back to extract. ;)

If there's no hair, can you even wax it?

I don't think anyone answered dabitch: Of course you can. You just won't pull up any hair. I'm not sure how it affects healthy follicle formation/growth.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:36 PM on April 4, 2008


I'm a cosmetologist and would not ever wax or perform a chemical service on a child under the age of sixteen without her parent's verbal permission. This whole article made me dry heave.

Also, this is not entirely related, and I'm sure it's TMI, but at my last annual checkup, my (female) gyno looked up from between my legs to comment, "you know, it's so refreshing to see a woman with pubic hair these days." That's just sad, man.
posted by tits mcgee at 12:37 PM on April 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


tits mcgee, you wrote, "I'm a cosmetologist and would not ever wax or perform a chemical service on a child under the age of sixteen without her parent's verbal permission."

If you had a parent's verbal permission, would you do a bikini wax on a child under the age of sixteen?
posted by prefpara at 12:42 PM on April 4, 2008


Why is this surprising? Kids want to do what their parents do, whether their non-conformist little souls acknowledge it or not. Parents smoke, kids smoke. Parents are lushes, kids are lushes. Mom is a hoebag who pops out three kids before she is 18, the odds are the daughter will be a similar hoebag. Dad beats mom, son eventually beats his wife. Mom thinks pubic hair is bad, daughter thinks pubic hair is bad.

I'm especially fond of cunnilingus. I prefer it to any other sexual activity. If I had to give up vaginal penetration or cunnilingus, goodbye penetration. This means that in the approximately 30 years that I've been sexually active, I've inspected a lot of vaginas. Every year, the quantity of pubic hair has diminished. Virtually all women used to have hairy vaginas. Occasionally I would ingest a pubic hair. No problem. I wasn't going to develop hairballs. But then porn became more accessible, and depilation became de rigueur in the porn world, and masturbatory boyfriends became husbands who had acclimated themselves to shaven vaginas, so the wive's obliged. Now the 17-year old girl sitting beside you at church on Sunday probably shaves her vagina. She might even be a virgin, with a vagina uninspected by anyone except possibly her doctor, but shaving is now something that teenage girls do, courtesy of their masturbatory fathers.
posted by Chasuk at 12:42 PM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


I see lots of little babies with pierced ears. Like *babies,* man, less then a year old. Whoa!

Yeah, seriously. What is UP? When I did a foreign exchange program in France in the late 80s, I saw a baby adorned in that way and remarked on it. My host family dad (a homeopathic pharmacist by profession), told me that piercing babies' ears prevented them from having a lazy eye (as it kept both their eyes fixed forward). I thought he was fucking nuts.

At any rate, I hadn't thought of that for a long time since, until a couple of years ago when I actually saw a number of babies in various parts of the US with pierced ears.

Weird. I mean it's not nearly as egregious as, say, ritual female circumcision, but all you can do is look and ask "why?", just "why?"
posted by psmealey at 12:46 PM on April 4, 2008


Chasuk: "Why is this surprising? Kids want to do what their parents do, whether their non-conformist little souls acknowledge it or not. "

How the hell does the girl know that her mom is getting bikini waxes, anyway? These families are very different from mine.

(I've said it before, I'll say it again. Vulva! Vulva! Vulva! Not vagina. Hairy vaginas need doctors, not waxers.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:59 PM on April 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


If the author enjoys looking at pictures from the "ugly years," I don't think those years were so ugly.

Retouching Grade-School Pix.

Teens Retouched by Photographic Angels.
posted by ericb at 1:07 PM on April 4, 2008


How the hell does the girl know that her mom is getting bikini waxes, anyway?

Perhaps they've seen their mothers naked? I don't think that's a horrible thing. When did Americans become such prudes about seeing each other naked?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:13 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't believe it was 18 years ago already, in April of 1990 that I underwent a little genital-area risk taking of my own and had a vasectomy.
And now, I am SO SO grateful that the issue of how the world does sick and weird things to little girls is at least a little bit abstract to me.
As long as I don't think too much about my nieces...
posted by arcadia at 1:21 PM on April 4, 2008


This is an interesting article, although I'm not sure how widespread the problem is. Part of me wants to believe it can't possibly be that pervasive, that it's just a couple of rich moms, but then I never thought anything like that Super Sweet 16 show really happens. But regardless, it's damaging enough to have it happen to one young girl.

One thing the article didn't mention that I think is more harmful than the distorted physical self-image is that girls like that are not taken seriously. Having gone through a phase where I went through the same motions as these girls, I found that people assuming I'm a frivolous idiot is more damaging to my self-worth than people thinking I'm not pretty enough. Let me explain, and please forgive the impromptu essay...

Until I went to college, my mother did not allow me to wear make-up. I could wear nail polish, but I couldn't wear red nail polish, even. In middle school, this irked me. By high school I didn't much care anymore. I didn't keep up with fashion or anything either. I was happy and even popular, and people took me seriously. There were certainly those who judged me for not looking "hot," and sometimes I felt self-conscious about it. Mostly, though, I was confident and knew those people were shallow idiots I didn't want to be friends with. The first time I ever got "dolled up" at all was for prom; people were shocked by how good I can look with that kind of effort. I'm convinced that's the case for most seemingly average or unattractive people.

Anyway, the real story begins after high school ends. My boyfriend of two and a half years breaks up with me. I get depressed and find it very difficult to handle the break-up. College starts and I decide I'll bother to wear "cute" clothes, I'll do my hair, wear make-up, wax what I'm supposed to, get manicures, etc. And when I say make-up, I mean the whole shebang: concealer, foundation, blush, eyeshadow, mascara, lipstick. I'm not sure that I actually want another boyfriend so soon, but I figure it will help me get over my ex to at least know that I could get another boyfriend.

I look pretty good; I get whistles and cat-calls and cars honking when I walk down the street, even. Guy friends tell me their other friends said I'm pretty. People I've known since high school are happy for me.

It's all an ego boost, certainly, but a rather empty one. It doesn't compare to the kinds of compliments I would get in high school about my personality or character; that sort of thing actually warmed me and made me feel good about myself and how I connect with other people. I feel like most people would look just as good if they put effort into it -- that's all I had to do -- and the ones who still wouldn't look good shouldn't be judged by the luck of the genetic draw. Furthermore, it's an expensive effort I could only afford because I got a job; growing up with little money made me sympathetic to people who really can't afford to do it.

Yet somehow, it doesn't occur to ask myself, "So why am I bothering?" I figure there's no harm in taking pride in your appearance.

There isn't any harm, to a great extent. But I begin to find out that the amount of effort I was putting into my appearance was transparent -- it takes a certain amount of time and effort to do all that make-up, get manicures, etc -- and it's giving people the wrong impression of the things I find important. I get attention from guys, but the guys don't even know me. I come to realize that their demeanor belies the idea that they don't think I could possibly have anything of substance to say... and more importantly, my appearance has given them this impression. It's not as simple as "guys don't take attractive girls seriously;" merely being attractive isn't the cause, I don't think. When it's obvious you've spent a lot of time on your appearance they assume you place an inordinate amount of value on shallow things. As much as they appreciate the physical product of that effort, they still judge you as a frivolous person.

Most of the guys are douche bags, but a lot of them are sincerely nice guys who just can't shake their subconscious assumption about me. I get tired of being talked-down to, and because they don't engage me on any meaningful level I don't find them appealing no matter how "hot" they are. (A lot of my crushes have been on traditionally "ugly" guys. For whatever reason, I'm not a very visual person.) What's worse is guys who value personality more than appearance -- in other words, the kind of guy I would want to date -- just write me off when they've barely spoken to me. They don't need to get to know me, after all; anyone who spends that much time on her make-up isn't someone they'd be interested in.

On top of it, some girls will just glare me when I don't even know them. Friends of friends sometimes won't even give me a chance and dislike me before I've spoken to them. This upsets me because some of these girls seem like people I would be friends with if circumstances were different, mostly because they seem smart. The first assumption here might be jealousy, but I don't think that was usually the case. More often than not, I think it is a snap-judgment telling them that I value things they find stupid. More than that, they assume that if I value those things then I must already think ill of them for not being more attractive. They don't have to be self-conscious to feel this way, I don't think.

Regardless, I don't talk about appearance or make-up or clothes, so this strikes me as unfair on their part. I tell myself that I don't want to be friends with someone who would dismiss me out of jealousy or a snap-judgment, and I suppose that still holds true. Snap-judgments, though, are hard to prevent, and I have trouble holding this against them; when I run into girls who seem to put hours into their appearance every day, don't I think the same thing?

So after all this effort, who do I end up dating? A guy I worked on debate files with in high school, who had a small crush on me before all the tarting up. He treats me the same as he ever did. He doesn't complain about my appearance, certainly, but it is ultimately irrelevant. (It's nearly six years later now, and we're engaged.)

Once I have him, the contrast between him and the guys who hit on me grows. It finally gets to be terribly annoying to be hit on. Usually the guys are nice and it's only irritating as an unwanted intrusion -- I don't take it out on them and politely decline. But the guys that talk down to me while doing it make me want to scratch their eyes out. It becomes more and more offensive to me, and harder and harder to remind myself to be polite because they don't realize they're doing it.

Furthermore, people who don't know me still assume I have no substance, and I have to do a lot of work to disavow them of that notion. I never had to do that before, and it frustrates me.

Gradually I wonder why I'm still wearing all the make-up and getting all the manicures and waxes when it annoys me and eats up money. I knew that I started doing it so I would have reminders that I'm desirable, but my boyfriend thinks that even without the make-up, and that kind of shallow desirability isn't even something I value.

I start to look in the mirror after I put on all my make-up, and I consider my reflection. I begin to think that it looks nothing like how I feel as a person. The person in the mirror is overtly girly, by which I mean more to convey immaturity than femininity. I start to see what other people see, that the make-up does imply values. Something about that volume of it tends to wipe the intelligence from the eyes and replace it with an agreeable, but vacant look. Physically I know it can't do that. I think that deep down, I must feel the same as everyone else: putting this degree of effort into one's appearance is a stupid thing to do. It's all too easy to make the jump to "someone who does such a thing must then be stupid." It's certainly pretty, and a little voice tells me I'm supposed to like it, but I just... don't. You wouldn't know by looking at this girl that she cares about anything important at all.

One day I sleep too late to get out of bed and devote the requisite hour to getting ready. For the first time in two years, I leave my dorm without make-up. I feel awkward about it at first, but it's nice to sleep an hour later -- more make-up free days come to pass. Gradually, the days I wear make-up become the minority. And when I look in the mirror on those days, the girl staring back at me wrinkles her nose and looks like she doesn't want to be there.

On the days I have time, I start looking at the mirror right after I get out of the shower. That feels better. There is nothing there that gives a false impression of me. For some reason, though, I dredge on with the make-up and it feels wrong again. I feel conflicted, disoriented. What am I going to do though, wash it off? I leave my room and go about my day.

But one day I get out of the shower, look in the mirror, and things go differently. I know I have time to do my make-up. I even reach for it, but I stop. I wonder what I'm doing. I go over all the negatives in my mind. When I review the positives, they just sound stupid. And then I think, You know what? Fuck it.

Somehow, even though I didn't truly value appearances, I came to wear the make-up just because society told me I was supposed to want to. That realization was one of the weirdest feelings I've ever had; you think if you have your priorities in order, you're immune to that sort of thing. The best thing I can compare it to is a superstition. I didn't actually care much what I looked like, even knew that I felt better without the make-up, but somewhere in me I had the idea that Something Bad would happen if I stopped wearing it.

That's when I came full circle. I realized that it's more effective to change the impression I give people than to be angry that they have the impression. My solution was to quit wearing as much make-up, and it worked well. I wear light foundation and a natural blush now and that's it. I wear the foundation because my complexion can get bad during certain points in my cycle, and it's distracting enough to make me self-conscious. Then I wear the blush -- and barely any of it -- just to make up for the foundation giving my face a single color. One of my guy friends thought I don't wear make-up at all, which pleases me. I don't bother spending money on manicures, which just made it more difficult to type anyway. This is all much less work and I don't look unnatural. More importantly, it doesn't give people the impression that I spend a lot of time thinking about my appearance. I take pride in it, but there are better ways to spend an hour a day.

The difference in how I'm perceived is huge. I still get hit on sometimes, but no one talks down to me. Girls don't hate me for no reason, and people in general don't seem to think I'm a "silly bitch" anymore. If I say something about a topic, I don't get looks of veiled incredulity from people who are looking for the smallest hint that, even though I sound legit, I may not actually know what I'm talking about.

I'm not saying it's fair that people see an attractive person and assume he/she has no other concerns, but it's what happens. It's unfortunately true of enough women that I can't blame others for having that impression. Plus, I don't disagree with the general premise of the judgment -- that appearance should not matter more than other things -- only that people are prematurely judged as caring only about appearance. I think for a lot of people, it becomes the sort of superstitious thing I've described. But the bottom line is, like it or not, if you signal to other people that superficial concerns occupy a large amount of your time, they will tend to think you are shallow and you will have to fight that perception.

So, from someone who's been there and back again, I worry less that these young girls will have body image issues than they'll find that the things their mothers have taught them to value will cause others to think less of them, not more. I had the benefit of being forced to accept early on that I would have to value things other than appearance; it was either that or have no self-confidence. When I did the "pretty" thing, my core values were still the same and it was easy to realize that compliments of my appearance were empty. I knew that what was making me upset was that people didn't value me anymore, because I remembered a time where people definitely valued me and not merely my appearance.

These girls' only experience of being valued, though, might only be for their appearance -- even by their mothers! -- and they will just feel confused and lost when being pretty doesn't make everyone like them. It will be harder for them to put their finger on what they're missing because they've never had it. They will either dismiss others' ire as jealousy -- which is sometimes true, but often not -- or think they still aren't pretty enough for that person to like them. They won't easily realize that others find their values silly or even appalling, and furthermore, that maybe those people have a point. That makes me very sad.

I think one of the best things a parent can do is let their child become accustomed to looking average. They may think they're helping their daughter's self-esteem with all these silly procedures, but that's only, well, superficially true.
posted by Nattie at 1:23 PM on April 4, 2008 [57 favorites]


Pennsylvania already regulates cosmetologists down to the level of the number of combs they must have on hand (twelve). Most states have a pretty well-established body of regulations governing the vocations, from barbers to funeral directors to veterinarians. It doesn't seem like much of a stretch from this to establish a minimum age for a wax.
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 1:33 PM on April 4, 2008


I don't think the 8 year old would wonder what happened to her mom's pubic hair. The article doesn't make it seem like these girls are running around making their parents get them waxes. it sounds like the parents are insisting on it.
posted by shmegegge at 1:35 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


excuse me, that was in response to this.

Perhaps they've seen their mothers naked? I don't think that's a horrible thing. When did Americans become such prudes about seeing each other naked?
posted by shmegegge at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2008


You know, with all the talk in the tabloid rags about Britney Spears and her embarrassing lifestyle choices, I haven't once seen someone point the finger at our culture's increasing sexualization of young girls. Because, you know, it's just *preposterous* to think that tarting up a young teenage girl, putting her in a little Catholic schoolgirl outfit, and having her sing "hit me baby one more time" could possibly mess with her head.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:39 PM on April 4, 2008


our culture's increasing sexualization of young girls...

Oh, how I love this scene from the film Little Miss Sunshine. [5:14]
posted by ericb at 1:42 PM on April 4, 2008


There could be some weird, counter-intuitive consequences from all this, it occurs to me.

As far as I have heard, most biologists continue to believe that menstruating human females who spend a lot of time together tend to synchronize their periods, presumably by the agency of pheromones. These pheromones are thought to be produced by the actions of bacteria on secretions in the underarm and genital regions. Shaving these areas and keeping them shaven could be expected to drastically reduce the habitat for these bacteria, as well as reducing the surface area from which pheromones could be produced and released and the elevated temperature which would would aid volatilization of the pheromones that are produced.

So if everyone shaves, there may be less menstrual synchrony.

But even more important (in a modern context), there may be less of a collective effect pushing everyone in a close knit group into development of pubic hair and menarche as the first few reach it (the little sister effect, if you will).

Encouraging your prepubescent daughter to shave and wax her body entirely could, therefore, paradoxically become a means of keeping her prepubescent longer than she otherwise would be-- but only if it becomes a fashion almost universally adopted by the other girls and women she is close to.


posted by jamjam at 1:44 PM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, the article gives some decent reasons for, if not being outraged, at least thinking it's a bad idea and a sign of horrifically bad parenting. skim through a page or two, see what you think of it.

No, it really doesn't. There is nothing in the article is all that interesting or enlightening. Sex and the City did an episode about this 5 years ago where all the women were happy that they had a "real childhood". When I first saw that, I thought it was ridiculous and in the last few years, this article confirms that it's ridiculous too. There is nothing to be outraged because it's merely an article about how one woman was shocked that their are moms out there who dress up their young daughters. Guess what? Girls across the country still do all the things they did fifteen years ago - it is just a small subset of the rich and wealthy that still practice behaviors that every generation has viewed as "too adult" and "too luxurious".

The author of this article puts too much faith in her own experience as being the way childhood should be. She generalizes in stupid statements about her "ugly years" and beliving it forced her to "accept herself". It is bogus and her statements about "good moms" and "bonding" are misguided and ridiculous as well. For every mother who is taking their daughter for a bikini wax, there is another mother who is taking her daughter to mcdonalds for the 4th time that week and lettering her get fatter. Both are examples of bad parenting and establishing lasting habits that could cause their daughter health/body/whatever issues later. Both instances, to me, come from the same place and deserve the same amount of outrage.
posted by Stynxno at 1:47 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Er, to correct an error that completely changes the meaning of what I was saying: *their demeanor belies the idea that they think I could have anything of substance to say.
posted by Nattie at 1:50 PM on April 4, 2008


I think one of the best things a parent can do is let their child become accustomed to looking average.

Oh good God no.
posted by Stynxno at 1:52 PM on April 4, 2008


so hang on a second. when I said the article gives decent reasons to think that this is a sign of bad parenting, your response is "No, it really doesn't." Then you say:

For every mother who is taking their daughter for a bikini wax, there is another mother who is taking her daughter to mcdonalds for the 4th time that week and lettering her get fatter. Both are examples of bad parenting and establishing lasting habits that could cause their daughter health/body/whatever issues later.

So if it IS bad parenting, what is it about the article that doesn't make it seem like bad parenting? you're not being consistent. is your entire point that people shouldn't get upset about this because there are other things to get upset about? because otherwise I'm forced to try to piece together your ultimate point by reading the subtext, and the only thing I can gather from that is that you seem to believe that young girls should be raised to embrace the ideal of beauty generated by advertising and to think of themselves as needing bikini waxes and makeovers in order to be beautiful. Those two ideas are not consistent with one another and I'd like to think that you don't believe the latter, so I'm confused.

do you think it's bad parenting? do you think the article makes it seem like bad parenting? do you have a problem with people in this thread talking about how they think it's bad parenting? what on earth are you trying to say?
posted by shmegegge at 2:03 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think one of the best things a parent can do is let their child become accustomed to looking average.

Oh good God no.


Yes, horror! Raising children who don't believe they have to look airbrushed! That would indeed be terrible, and I hope God prevents it. I pray that my little girls will be 30% silicone and 100% bald down there. I plan to tell them every day that I will only love them if they're prettier than (vomit) a v e r a g e. I sleep better at night knowing that many a v e r a g e looking people will never become accustomed to their nasty, filthy bodies and faces.

I dunno, am I reading to much into your comments because I'm responding to this thread with strong emotion, or are you actually saying things that are crazy?
posted by prefpara at 2:07 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Stynxno said: "Oh good God no."

What is wrong with looking average? Notice I didn't say "ugly." Part of the problem is that people think being average isn't enough, if they're not smoking hot they're not anything, and that's the message the mothers are giving their daughters. If a kid is sincerely "ugly" in some way that's abnormal and distracting, I don't see the problem in addressing it. For example, while I think it's premature for a 16-year-old to get breast implants -- I was naturally flat until I was 20 -- it doesn't bother me to see a 16-year-old get a single breast implant because one is just obviously and embarrassingly larger than the other. There's nothing wrong with treating acne, or wearing make-up to cover a distractingly unattractive complexion. It doesn't teach them ridiculous standards of beauty and that appearance is all that's important.

I think you'll agree that's not at all what the article was about, though. There's no reason whatsoever for a 12-year-old to get a bikini wax, and getting your 5-year-old daughter a lighter shade of hair is not addressing a source of crippling self-esteem.
posted by Nattie at 2:11 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


do you think it's bad parenting? do you think the article makes it seem like bad parenting? do you have a problem with people in this thread talking about how they think it's bad parenting? what on earth are you trying to say?

Oh, it's bad parenting. But bad parenting, in this way, is going to make me rage. I was responding, in general, to that idea (and trying to stay away from the idiots who wanted to talk waxing pubes in general). It's a matter of degree. I'm not outraged that parents are doing this and don't see it as a OMG I'M GLAD I'LL NEVER HAVE KIDS kind of way.

I dunno, am I reading to much into your comments because I'm responding to this thread with strong emotion, or are you actually saying things that are crazy?

You're reading too much into it. Have you seen average fashion? It's utter crap. Where you're focusing on plastic surgery and plastic boobs, I was thinking of the whole individual. I'm also a fan of the show What Not To Wear which shows how above average a person can look while understanding concepts such as fit, form, makeup, hair styles, etc. Teaching a kid to be average, to me, is the same as teaching a kid not to care and not to provide them with any kind of tools that would be helpful for them. Why not teach your kids what fit mean and what it means to dress their body? Do that and your kids no longer will be "average".
posted by Stynxno at 2:17 PM on April 4, 2008


is going to make me rage

ISN'T going to make me rage.
posted by Stynxno at 2:22 PM on April 4, 2008


I'm also a fan of the show What Not To Wear which shows how above average a person can look while understanding concepts such as fit, form, makeup, hair styles, etc.

I'm in love with Stynxno.
posted by pieoverdone at 2:22 PM on April 4, 2008


Stynxno, I feel like we're not speaking the same language. I think this is a bit of a "two ships passing in the night" situation.

You really want to talk about how bad things are in general, and you insist that this example in particular is not significantly worse than everything else. I disagree, and feel that this example is in fact worse than what goes on in general, in part because none of the other examples you name (e.g. "average fashion") don't involve needless and intense physical pain. We've both stated and restated our positions several times, and it doesn't sound like either of us is succeeding in convincing the other, so this seems to be an area where we are likely to continue to disagree. Oh well.

I do want to mention a place where I think you read something that wasn't there:

Teaching a kid to be average, to me, is the same as teaching a kid not to care...

I don't think this is the idea that Nette and I were expressing. I won't speak for her (she is clearly more than capable of doing it herself), but what I was expressing far less eloquently is that in our society, girls (in general) are not happy with their bodies and faces even when they look FINE and even GOOD. Our society has redefined beauty in an unhealthy way. Therefore, it would be really great if parents could teach their children to be happy with and accepting of their physical selves. This is not the same as saying, screw it, just wear a potato sack and the BO that God gave you.
posted by prefpara at 2:32 PM on April 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


psmealey huffed:
"That's not at all what I said. If you'd actually read and understood my several comments above you'd probably not have misrepresented me so badly."

Try decaf. I hear it helps cure bad cases of the Grumps.
posted by batmonkey at 2:33 PM on April 4, 2008


I'm gonna get flamed for this, but the waxing thing doesn't bother me.

This is exactly the kind of thing that, unless I had been given some experience with it as a child, I would be nervous about later in life, avoid it, and become neurotic about it from all the media portraying it as all but mandatory, and just be miserable about it. Whereas things that were demystified early even when I wanted to be anywhere but there at the time, I'm comfortable with and confident about and can choose whatever suits me regardless of what the media says, and consider to be examples of good parenting. So I file this under providing a broad education, which to me is a good thing. (Also, I'd assume the pain comes largely from the hair being pulled out, so no hair no harm no foul)

What bothers me is if the mothers are teaching their daughters that they'll never be loved unless they do this every month for the rest of their lives. That's a separate issue, and may well be present.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:40 PM on April 4, 2008


It's a matter of degree. I'm not outraged that parents are doing this and don't see it as a OMG I'M GLAD I'LL NEVER HAVE KIDS kind of way.

Eh, your outrage is obviously yours to spend where you wish. I think the only place I really disagree is that (I think) you're saying that 8 year olds are demanding bikini waxes, and I'm getting the impression the PARENTS are insisting on them for kids who wouldn't have asked for them, because they couldn't possibly know what one is since they don't have pubic hair and at that age aren't likely to be aware enough of their bodies and sexuality to understand the term if they heard it. Where I get a little bit ouraged, and just a little bit, is the idea that moms are dragging these girls out and saying "go through this pain that you don't understand so that you can be beautiful. you being beautiful means having someone hurt your genitals for no god damn reason."

but that's my take on it.
posted by shmegegge at 2:41 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


although, if there are 8 year olds asking for it first and the parents are going along with it instead of sitting them down for a talk then I'm also inclined to see that as bad parenting.
posted by shmegegge at 2:43 PM on April 4, 2008


Nattie wrote:

When it's obvious you've spent a lot of time on your appearance they assume you place an inordinate amount of value on shallow things.

I confess, when I meet a girl who looks like a Paris Hilton tart, I assume that she is shallow. Usually, if I get to know the girl, I discover that I needn't have bothered -- my first impression was correct. Occasionally, I'm startled when she has depth, but not often enough that I stop myself from reacting to the stereotype.
posted by Chasuk at 2:45 PM on April 4, 2008


Usually, if I get to know the girl, I discover that I needn't have bothered -- my first impression was correct.

Any chance you could crawl back under whatever rock you came from? Both of your comments in this thread are simply frightening.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:51 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


psmealey considered:

Thanks, monkeybat. I'll give it a try. I was going to suggest a little something to you to help you communicate like an adult, but I'm afraid it doesn't exist. It is just going to take a little bit of time.
posted by psmealey at 3:00 PM on April 4, 2008


If you can convince me that either of my comments were frightening (simply or even unreservedly), I'll keep your request in mind.
posted by Chasuk at 3:03 PM on April 4, 2008


These girls' only experience of being valued, though, might only be for their appearance -- even by their mothers! -- and they will just feel confused and lost when being pretty doesn't make everyone like them.

In addition, I think they would find it particularly devastating when their looks start to fade. If that is the only thing they get their self-respect from, it's just going to destroy them when they inevitably age. Not to mention how common it is for people to put on some pounds once their youthful metabolism starts to slow down.
posted by marble at 3:04 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Remember that crank from a couple weeks back who said what we really need in this country is a reprise of the Great Depression? Sometimes I think he has a point.

If we have another Depression, these crazy, too-much-money-not-enough-sense moms will still force this on their daughters, but the stylists will all have Ph.D.s.
posted by oaf at 3:06 PM on April 4, 2008


The corpse in the library: (I've said it before, I'll say it again. Vulva! Vulva! Vulva! Not vagina. Hairy vaginas need doctors, not waxers.)

I was totally going to say that exact thing. Pet peeve of mine.
posted by peep at 3:10 PM on April 4, 2008


I'm especially fond of cunnilingus.

No one fucking cares.

The entire paragraph that follows that statement is poorly worded and really not fit for the mixed company of strangers. While I get your point, I just. don't. care. about your sexual history or even the vaguest of details of the acts you done.

Jesus man.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:10 PM on April 4, 2008 [8 favorites]


Yes, what prefpara said; I don't think we actually disagree with you Stynxno, I think it's more a matter of what we mean by certain words. When we say "average," we're saying what prefpara said: "fine and even good." When it comes down to it, most people aren't ugly or slobby or anything, or at least I don't think so. Perhaps they actually are, but either way, that's the frame of mind we're speaking from, and we don't mean for kids to "not care" on any level.

Being a slob gives people as much a negative impression as being a tarted up, superficial person, but that is not what we mean by "average." It's important to care about your appearance, just not overly so. Be clean, wear clothes that flatter you rather than those that don't, when you get your hair cut you may as well get something that looks good instead of something that looks terrible. Buying clothes and getting haircuts is something you've gotta do anyway. No problem with all that. If people don't make those basic efforts, others get a negative impression of what is important to them, too. It's a different set of negative impressions than I got by wearing a ton a make-up, but negative nonetheless. No one wants that, I don't think.

But you're not going to go to the spa "anyway." At that point, you've started putting in extra effort when you look perfectly good without it. A single thing here and there, like a manicure or a perm, isn't a huge deal, but putting them through every tiny procedure the spa offers sends a clear message: what is attractive is a very narrow and precise thing, and the child isn't sure when they're "done" when it comes to beauty. Where do all the little modifications end, exactly? Well, no one can be sure when it comes to nitpicking like that. They're left with the impression that no matter how good they look, they could always be a little bit prettier with some small changes.

On some level, this is true of course; no sense in denying it, someone could always look better. People who don't obsess over these things are fine with it because it doesn't matter once you look presentable. But when you've just gotten a full-body wax (every hair matters!) and microdermabrasion (you can never look too young!) and your manicure retouched (can't be chipped, now!) it seems to matter very much. Your mom takes you here every week and spends a lot of money on it, argues with the spa employees just to let them perform the procedures on you, and she does these things to herself, too.

That's much different than, "Let's go buy your school clothes. This shape of blouse looks better on you." It becomes an all-consuming concern that requires inordinate amounts of time, effort, and money to address. They don't stop to question whether it's worth it, they just assume it is. They look better than what prefpara and I mean by "average," but the problem is there was nothing wrong with average to begin with, and certainly nothing that would warrant that amount of fiddling with their appearance. From your posts it seems you agree that amount of obsession is uncool, so I think it doesn't matter what we call it.
posted by Nattie at 3:10 PM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


Munch-hair-sen's Syndrome by Proxy?
posted by ilana at 3:14 PM on April 4, 2008


In addition, I think they would find it particularly devastating when their looks start to fade.

And they go overboard with the plastic surgery!
posted by ericb at 3:15 PM on April 4, 2008


When my daughter was 16, with a kool aid green hair dye job, she babysat for a 11 year old girl, and they talked about grooming. The girl told her she'd been getting highlights since she was seven and had manicure/pedicures done every 3 weeks.
i was more weirded out at the time with the sense that the child was used to having others servicing her. This whole idea that we all need a lot of upkeep requires a huge class of people to do this work. Besides all of us being above average in looks/grooming we require an above average income to keep ourselves that way.
posted by readery at 3:18 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dear Brandon,

You wrote:

While I get your point, I just. don't. care. about your sexual history or even the vaguest of details of the acts you done.

I have read your perfectly worded objection, and I do care -- really! -- but not enough to apologize or change. I do hope that you feel better for venting.

Love,
Uncommon Sense
posted by Chasuk at 3:26 PM on April 4, 2008


Like several others have noted, I was thinking (hoping?) that this was a more isolated trend. Googling into it, I found a few more interesting links:

Kid's Health Article about hair removal methods

Articles on brazilian waxing on a website for girls (can't find their targeted demographic though) (1, 2) (via)

Earlier reports on similar spa trends from MSN and NYT

... I did also think about how it's been often reported that girls are entering puberty earlier, so, maybe the natural curiousity about hair removal at age 8 is *somewhat* fitting this new time line? I mean, I can remember sneaking my dad's razor to shave my legs, much MUCH against my mom's wishes. So, maybe this phenomenon isn't so far-flung a notion? But, my gut reaction was, like, many "What. The. Hell."
posted by NikitaNikita at 4:00 PM on April 4, 2008


i was more weirded out at the time with the sense that the child was used to having others servicing her.

That is weird. Regardless of the degree of lawn maintenance I practice at any given time, I will never have a wax because I'm not opening my legs and letting some random technician down there. I don't care how nice or well-trained that person is, that's extremely personal space. How would I have felt about that at eight?

I was thinking about this earlier, as I read the thread on my iPhone on the train but couldn't reply. "The end of childhood" is hyperbole, as bad as this is. There have always been, I think, two classes of people who don't have "real" childhoods -- the wealthy and the very poor. The poor need their children's help struggling to patch together a life for the family. The wealthy have enough power -- that is to say, money -- that no one can tell them "no," no societal disapproval restrains them, and they are free to use their children as tools for their ambitions from day one. Here, we can see the latter trend, but those in the wide, wide middle will continue to try to do their level best to let their kids grow. Hair and all.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:10 PM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


this is transitory
posted by maus at 4:19 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


i was more weirded out at the time with the sense that the child was used to having others servicing her.

I was actually more weirded out by this being yet another thing that people expect to have to pay for others to do for them. Similar but not exactly the same thing. I mean I get that waxing your own anus might be something easier done by someone with a better view (or not?) but one of the arguments against the practice generally is that it requires someone else to do it for you, someone you have to pay. I realize I may be an edge case in this regard (and I'm trying to think where in Central Vermont I could even procure this service if I decided that I needed it) and I do pay to get a haircut once in a while but man, not being able to tend your own curly hairs without someone's assistance? Not desireable in my book.

Lastly two things I was surprised not to see mentioned already 1. the title of the article. I can remember when Pretty Baby came out and it was a Big Deal 2. I can no longer find the link to Playboy's pictorial of basically the history of crotch grooming as manifested in centerfolds over the ages [from full bush to totally hairless] and Googling for this has been suboptimally fun. Maybe someone else remembers?
posted by jessamyn at 4:30 PM on April 4, 2008


This was the link that had all of the Playboy centerfolds since the beginning. It doesn't anymore. Bummer.
posted by pieoverdone at 4:53 PM on April 4, 2008


I remember being thrilled when I sprouted pubes, because it meant I was becoming a man. I guess these days kids are thrilled when they sprout pubes so they can go get them removed. Ironic isn't it?

(I also restate my theory that one's preferences in pubic topiary are shaped by when they first saw porn. I saw my first porn as a tyke in the late '70's when cAngela davis crotch-fro's were all the rage, so I prefer them bushy. The younger set's first centerfolds were all about the bald kitty, so they swing the other way. or something)
posted by jonmc at 5:21 PM on April 4, 2008


Yeah, Jon - I remember when crotch-fro's were as 'merkin as apple pie.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:27 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


What frustrates me is that we're casually throwing away our pubic hair, while the people of Kazakhstan harvest theirs for a living.
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:45 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Jon - I remember when crotch-fro's were as 'merkin as apple pie.

I blame those Communist brazilians and their damn wax.
posted by jonmc at 5:46 PM on April 4, 2008


It's important to care about your appearance

Only if you're out looking for a mate or sex. Otherwise, it's a sign of excessive self-regard. I'd rather be ugly and comfortable than pretty and batshit insane.
posted by jonmc at 5:49 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Aah the 60s, when hair was "Hair:"

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

Oh say can you see
My eyes if you can
Then my hair's too short

Down to here
Down to there
Down to where
It stops by itself
posted by binturong at 5:50 PM on April 4, 2008


Brazilian wax can't hold a candle to a merkin without a fibrous and absorbent wick.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:51 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Occasionally, I'm startled when she has depth, but not often enough that I stop myself from reacting to the stereotype."

This reminds me of a conversation I was having with my girlfriend recently about a girl that I had a Physical Science class with named Mandy Cummings (her real name, poor thing).

In groups, or even just in class, she acted like a total ditz—twirling hair and eye-rolling and, like, totally not into it.

But whenever we had group work together, she'd transform into a no-nonsense scientist, able to articulate stuff that confused the hell out of me. At the time, I found it kind of infuriating, like, that she was so smart and yet would act dumb really annoyed me. But when I was thinking about the social group that she hung with, a lot of those girls were like that: privately very (or at least reasonably) smart. There were only a couple of morons, who my girlfriend said were likely the nucleation point for teh stupids, as it's easy to be made fun of for being smarter than your girlfriends.

Which still kinda bugs me, but more in a broad sense than the sort of peevish way it did then. I kinda wish that I hadn't been such a dick when I dealt with most of them, though as they were generally attractive, athletic, rich and popular (as well as being smarter than they looked), I doubt that the ire of a pimply theater geek was registering on their social radar.

As for the pubes thing, since I have more opportunity than most to interview girls about their private topiaries, the general justification has been that shaving feels "cleaner," (which when you think about "shaved clean" kind of makes sense). I think that cleanliness is probably a pretty big motivator in pornography, especially for girls who do more than solo sets. But it's something that, kind of oddly, our readers don't like—we get letter after letter demanding more pubes (and chubbier girls and girls of color), so much so that we offer more money for pictorials that have girls with nether hair.
posted by klangklangston at 5:58 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Interesting insight, klangklangston. It must be a rough time to be a pube fetishist. Cleanliness/smell and ingestion/oral sex are two strong arguments in favor of shaving/waxing. I prefer shaving.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:06 PM on April 4, 2008


Cleanliness/smell and ingestion/oral sex are two strong arguments in favor of shaving/waxing.

I'd have to say I completely disagree on the smell part, but that's just me. Plus the aesthetics are just better, pubic hair, like head hair, is pretty.
posted by jonmc at 6:09 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Plus, and this may sound half-baked, but hear me out, hwen someone pays so much attention to the grooming of their nether regions, it makes the naked body seem more like just another prepared outfit, which negates the quality of revelation which makes nudity, especially the first time it's revealed, so exciting.
posted by jonmc at 6:12 PM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


and one more comment re: eybrow wax. Once an incredibly drunk woman told me that I had 'pretty eyes' but that I needed to get my eyebrows waxed. This happened in a bar that used to be owned by Al Qaeda and at one point in the evening I wore a plastic Viking hat.
posted by jonmc at 6:14 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


klang observes "the general justification has been that shaving feels "cleaner"
Next to godliness I suppose. Smooth skin does seem to be a current youth fetish. I was talking to a dude in his early 20s who doesn't wear shorts in summer any more because he has hairy legs and the girls told him they looked "dirty." Strange.
posted by binturong at 6:30 PM on April 4, 2008


klangklangston:

I used to date a girl who was over-manicured, and it was great at first. It was a very intense relationship, and I was flattered by the elevation of my own social status due to my association with this make-up mannequin, but I preferred her natural beauty, which I only saw when we woke up in the morning.

> As for the pubes thing, since I have more opportunity than most to interview girls about their private topiaries, the general justification has been that shaving feels "cleaner,"

I've been told the same thing. I understand that this is especially true during menses. Rather than shaving for one week a month -- which would cause its own problems -- they shave all of the time.

jonmc:

> I'd have to say I completely disagree on the smell part, but that's just me. Plus the aesthetics are just better, pubic hair, like head hair, is pretty.

I agree with you 100%.

> Plus, and this may sound half-baked, but hear me out, hwen someone pays so much attention to the grooming of their nether regions, it makes the naked body seem more like just another prepared outfit, which negates the quality of revelation which makes nudity, especially the first time it's revealed, so exciting.

Oh, definitely. You expressed that wonderfully. Thank you.
posted by Chasuk at 6:35 PM on April 4, 2008


This story reminds me of a funny trick Eric Cartman played on his friend Scott Tenorman.
posted by Tube at 6:45 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Shaving? But what about stubble?
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:09 PM on April 4, 2008


I could flag every comment from this one down as being a derail. Believe it or not, this thread is not about what all male Mefites think about pubic hair.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:11 PM on April 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


I must have missed the memo. Please repost the allowed responses and responders to this subject.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:03 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Believe it or not, this thread is not about what all male Mefites think about pubic hair.

But it is, as I tried to show when I crawled out from under my rock for my first post in this thread. Women didn't spontaneously decide to shave their nether regions. Men decided for them, via the power of pornography. Women acquiesced, found that it actually did have tangible benefits, so between the brainwashing and these benefits they kept shaving. Now it is "normal" instead of the fetish it once was.

It is still what men think about pubic hair. If, tomorrow, the majority of men began ridiculing their shaved girlfriends and wives about their naked vulvas, the majority of these women would grow their pubes back as fast as it would grow. If the fashion changed to a preference for luxuriant pubic hair, women would start buyng pubic shampoos and conditioner.

This isn't a phenomenon unique to women, so don't mount that particular high horse. No sexism is involved here. Nowadays, teenage boys are just as liable to primp for the girls as vice versa. If boys/men were suddenly convinced that lime green scrotums would significantly increase their sex appeal with the ladies, Just For Men[TM] lime-green scrotum dyes would sell in vast quantities.

We pass this on to our children, because they want to be like us.
posted by Chasuk at 8:04 PM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


If boys/men were suddenly convinced that lime green scrotums would significantly increase their sex appeal with the ladies, Just For Men[TM] lime-green scrotum dyes would sell in vast quantities.

This is 100% true. You want a young straight man to do something, just tell him that 'girls like it.'
posted by jonmc at 8:06 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I could flag every comment from this one down as being a derail. Believe it or not, this thread is not about what all male Mefites think about pubic hair."

Well, we've pretty much run "This is fucked up and weird" into the ground, along with "That's shallow," or "You guys shouldn't care so much."
posted by klangklangston at 8:10 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


...and I might add that the comment of mine that you linked began with a humorous expression of bafflement before going off on an admitted tangent.
posted by jonmc at 8:19 PM on April 4, 2008


So, how 'bout those new Askme features?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:21 PM on April 4, 2008


Believe it or not, this thread is not about what all male Mefites think about pubic hair.

No, it's about what some male and female Mefites think of pubic hair and those who value its removal: the little girls going through the motions trying to be just like mommy or big sis or maybe just above-average like good parents condition them to be. It's about sexism, parenting, child abuse, salon practices, personal preferences, fashion, pain, and pubic hair.

It's even about people's opinions regarding pubic hair. The heart of the matter, even. A full understanding of the subject, starting with the effect and working back to the cause.

Like with all threads, if you reach a point where nobody's saying what you want them to say anymore, you have a choice.

...

I remember seeing 1984 -- the one with the killer Eurythmics soundtrack -- in the cinema with my parents. Julia stepped out of her clothes and bared her great hairy mystery to Winston and the world. My heart beat, she turned, I saw it again: a thick dark triangle, rich and deep. My darling, will we still be there?

If I had known that was the last film I'd see featuring a naked grown woman with an adult pussy, I'd have spooned my eyes out into my popcorn.
posted by breezeway at 8:46 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


EPIC THREAD, lots of quality commenting

but, then again, its about 8 yr olds waxing their nether regions, and were on the internet, so... im just saying... the interest was there already
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 9:20 PM on April 4, 2008


Dear Childhood,

You were fantastic. You were full of dirt and ticks and tangled hair and scraped knees. You were as high as I could climb in the tallest tree, as far as I could walk, as fast as I could ride my bike, and as deep as Pleasant Lake. You got made fun of for being ugly, and you kinda were, but dogs and cats and frogs and snakes and turtles don't care how you look and Mom loved you no matter what so who cares. You may not have been the belle of the ball, but you were happy.

And nobody gave a damn about your pubic hair until somebody actually had any business being down there.

Love always,
L. Mustachio
posted by louche mustachio at 9:42 PM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


You know what they say... eight to eighty, blind crippled or crazy.

Hypothetically speaking. If I worked at a spa and someone asked me to wax there 8 year old daughters pre-pubescent vagina, I think my reaction would be to call the police.
Now, maybe there isn't anything illegal about it, but maybe the police would take a sudden interest in the child's plight and take a good look at the mother and her apparent distorted mothering skills.
That is some seriously messed up stuff. What's next? Making porno at 10? With mom as fluffer/director?
posted by a3matrix at 9:45 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


This isn't a phenomenon unique to women, so don't mount that particular high horse. No sexism is involved here. Nowadays, teenage boys are just as liable to primp for the girls as vice versa.

I call shenanigans on that one. Yes, there's a "beauty standard" for men as well as for women, but the one for men isn't 1/10th as demanding, expensive, time consuming or painful. Sorry. It's just not. And it doesn't come from the same deep-rooted self-hatred that many female beauty performances do.

That being said, do with your pubes as you will. And yes, your child's, too. Because, frankly, I don't see any more harm in letting a 10 year old do it then suddenly expecting it of her when she's 16 (or 18, or 25). Is there some crazy line we cross where all the uncomfortable, unrealistic beauty routines we're supposed to enslave ourselves with become pleasant, easy and carefree? No. So yeah, the girls might as well get used to it. Look at Madonna's daughter Lourdes and all the hue and cry about her unibrow and how Madonna was a bad mother for letting her be photographed looking like Frida Kahlo.

As long as women are valued for their appearance above all else, it is going to be inevitable that these girls start purchasing bras, thongs, makeup, body slimming garments, hair pieces, waxes, nail jobs, skin lighteners, hair dyes, hair bleaches and any other number of products to make them feel like "real" women. Little girls like to practice being grown women, and these are the tools at their disposal. Forcing them to wax bare skin is probably not painful and certainly isn't any worse than forcing a tomboy into a frilly dress, or getting her braces, or a perm (children of the eighties had enough of that torture). If this is the womanhood you want them to enact, this is the practice they need. And if that isn't the true aim for womanhood, then women needn't lead by example by following such regimes - and straight men need to stop jerking off to Playboy.
posted by SassHat at 10:10 PM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Here's that Playboy timeline of pubic hair alluded to earlier:

Waxing Nostalgic
posted by Scoo at 10:18 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes, there's a "beauty standard" for men as well as for women, but the one for men isn't 1/10th as demanding, expensive, time consuming or painful.

That's absolutely true, though it's no less true of behaviour overall. Or have you never had another woman punch you in the face to impress that guy over there? Oh, right. You don't have that. Must not be 1/10th as painful behaviourally on your side of the fence.

Honestly, between the ages of about 13 and 30, there isn't much in a waking boy's/man's day that doesn't have some connection with what he thinks is impressive to a girl/woman. Yes, this is just plain sad. Yes, there are some boys/men for whom this is not so. They are the lucky/smart ones.

But anyway, as they say: /derail.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:35 PM on April 4, 2008


Sasshat wrote:

As long as women are valued for their appearance above all else, it is going to be inevitable that these girls start purchasing bras, thongs, makeup, body slimming garments, hair pieces, waxes, nail jobs, skin lighteners, hair dyes, hair bleaches and any other number of products to make them feel like "real" women.

I am the father of two beautiful daughters. I'm being impartial; even if I weren't their father, I would find them beautiful. They are largely grown now, ages 21 and 24. One will be entering grad school soon. The other has finished her university education and is working abroad. They wear minimal make-up, and not every day. They didn't wear bras until they need to, they would never wear thongs, never get waxed, get nail jobs (okay, maybe French nails), etc., because I was careful to instill in them enough self-confidence that they don't need adulation from a penis. They haven't enslaved themselves to uncomfortable, unrealistic beauty routines. That's the job of parents, to prepare our kids for a happy, successful adulthood. For girls, in todays world, that means helping them understand that they are sufficient unto themselves.

Incidentally, straight men don't jerk off to Playboy. They jerk off to Internet porn. They read Playboy.
posted by Chasuk at 10:36 PM on April 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sorry, SH. That 1/10th snark was completely unnecessary, since I do in fact agree with you regarding male/female beauty rituals. What I mean to convey is that I don't think you should think that male behaviour isn't completely wrapped up in the opposite sex, too, and isn't also terribly restrictive. It's just that a lot of the male stupidity is focused among males, but is just as girl-centric and ruled by whatever whims, as Chasuk aluded to earlier, is reputed to do the trick. That at times means over-the-top aggression, general assholishness, cliques, ritual gender roles pushed to extremes, risk-taking behaviour, and a general hollowing out of any kind of genuine interior life. Minus the aggression, sound familiar?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:49 PM on April 4, 2008


There is definitely a way to discuss societal attitudes about women's body hair without telling us all how you prefer a woman to groom her vulva and how much you love cunnilingus. Somewhere in the last 20 posts I became really, really uncomfortable and I don't plan to return.
posted by loiseau at 11:04 PM on April 4, 2008


Incidentally, straight men don't jerk off to Playboy. They jerk off to Internet porn. They read Playboy.

Find me a text-only copy of Playboy and your argument holds a little water. But whether they jerk off or merely ogle, "I read it for the articles" is like saying you go to the strip club for the buffet. These girls represent the American ideal...right? Or would you say that the Victoria's Secret runway girls do? Or maybe the girls in Vogue? I think it's awesome that you've managed to keep your girls level headed, but for most of us, even the love and lessons of self-respect is not enough to overcome the constant barrage of cultural messages that girls don't look right without airbrushing/makeup/surgery/etc.

Or have you never had another woman punch you in the face to impress that guy over there? Oh, right. You don't have that.

We're talking about beauty standards, not physical violence due to arguments over posturing and marking a mate as your property. It's not a pain contest. And as a matter of fact, yes, I have gotten in a fight with another girl, and on at least her side of things it was to impress a guy - so don't make assumptions about which you do not know. Have you ever made out with your best guy friend because a crowd of drunken females urged you on? No? Probably because not everything has a corollary, and it's not a pissing contest. Gender roles are constricting for straight men, but that role does not include the hours of grieving and culturally-reinforced loathing that comes with owning a female body. We're talking about little girls learning to pour hot wax on their bodies to be more aesthetically pleasing. That's insane enough without getting into all the silly things people of all genders and sexualities do to try to attract/impress a mate.
posted by SassHat at 11:09 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I read it for the articles" is like saying you go to the strip club for the buffet.

I used to go the strip club by the Greyhound Station and read because it was less crowded and skeezy than waiting to depart at the depot.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:16 PM on April 4, 2008


You can rest easy--here is where all of the pubic hair went.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:29 PM on April 4, 2008


SassHat wrote:

Find me a text-only copy of Playboy and your argument holds a little water. But whether they jerk off or merely ogle, "I read it for the articles" is like saying you go to the strip club for the buffet. These girls represent the American ideal...right? Or would you say that the Victoria's Secret runway girls do? Or maybe the girls in Vogue? I think it's awesome that you've managed to keep your girls level headed, but for most of us, even the love and lessons of self-respect is not enough to overcome the constant barrage of cultural messages that girls don't look right without airbrushing/makeup/surgery/etc.

I was actually joking about Playboy, but not very much. Playboy is still maybe the most popular men's magazine in the US, in terms of circulation, but not in the minds of young men. It really isn't jerk-off material. Men flip though Playboy because it is an institution, because their grandfathers perused it before them. Celebrities pose there who wouldn't pose in lesser magazines. Looking at the naked women is a nice bonus, but almost in an arthouse kind of way. You don't retire guiltily to the bathroom with it, unless you don't happen to have any "real" smut handy (more realistically, you sit in your bedroom looking at the free sample pics on one of the bazillion porno webpages). And you do read the articles and the Chris Rock interviews.

Anyway, the Playboy thing is a digression, and I apologize to those who are irritated by such digressions.

We're talking about little girls learning to pour hot wax on their bodies to be more aesthetically pleasing.

Agreed. That makes me ill. However, I so see some hope. I am a full-time university student, and daily I see many, many girls who haven't bought into Vogue or Victoria's Secret. A lot wear jeans cut low enough to display their butt-crack and thong, but I don't see the total capitulation to the "man" (pun intended) that I had feared.

By the way, have you seen the excellent Dove commercials about self esteem?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=JaH4y6ZjSfE
posted by Chasuk at 11:39 PM on April 4, 2008


Yes, considering that Unilever is responsible for the pervasive images that video skewers, it's kind of like if Leni Riefenstahl directed a promotional video for your local JCC. Nice work, if you can get it.
posted by SassHat at 11:49 PM on April 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't get this trend -- aren't people getting ingrown hairs and fucked up and infected follicles from all of this waxing and shaving in sensitive areas? (Yes, one can laser, but I hate to mention that in a thread about wacky parents de-hairing their 8-year-old children.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:56 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I do just want to mention that all the pain people are referring to only happens if there is hair to remove in the first place. Warm wax placed on hairless skin and removed doesn't hurt a bit. That said, I do think this whole 8-year-old bikini wax thing is pretty terrible. It has nothing to do with the little (if any) pain they are experiencing and everything to do with the sexualization of children. Aside from looking a little cleaner in a skirt, shaved legs are prized because they feel nice which implies that someone will be feeling them. Bare vulvas are only bare because of the perceived sexual value, it has nothing to do with cleanliness. Why do 8 year olds (who are already bare) need to mimic removing their hair (which no one will see) for sexual purposes? That is pretty freaking screwed up.


Re: the average issue. Just a couple of weeks ago I realized that I am kind of goofy looking. That is to say that my features and face all by themselves are really very pleasing and if I am expressionless I think they conform quite well to conventional beauty standards. It's when I smile, or get animated and start talking that my nose wrinkles up, I have a lopsided grin which is what's usually on my face when I'm enjoying myself, and my eyebrows go all wonky. Now, I only just realized this. And I'm pretty happy with it. I always thought that I needed to be beautiful all the time and it occurred to me that I would be happier if I just accepted that I think I look goofy when I'm being myself and that having a goofy face is absolutely good enough.
posted by bomboleco at 1:12 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sure you are beautiful, bomboleco. Ninety percent of being attractive is accepting yourself as you are, and you have achieved that.
posted by Chasuk at 1:37 AM on April 5, 2008


Warm wax placed on hairless skin and removed doesn't hurt a bit.

Doesn't it pull off the top layer of skin and make it red, itchy, or both? I've only done the eyebrow wax before, and the bad wax jobs where it's liberally applied even on areas where eyebrows aren't growing still hurt and itch and burn.
posted by Locative at 2:04 AM on April 5, 2008


Doesn't it pull off the top layer of skin and make it red, itchy, or both? I've only done the eyebrow wax before, and the bad wax jobs where it's liberally applied even on areas where eyebrows aren't growing still hurt and itch and burn.

No! No! Well, I have to say that the face is more sensitive and there is more lanugo hair so it can hurt a bit but elsewhere It definitely shouldn't. I just got myself waxed the other day and places with hair hurt but when they go back over spots that are already finished just to remove a little remaining wax it doesn't hurt at all. The wax shouldn't be so hot that it leaves you red and itchy and burning. Bad wax, bad waxer, or bad time of the month.

Chasuk - thanks. I told my husband about my revelation. He disagreed with my about my goofiness estimation but also admitted to thinking he looks goofy too. I love him for it, his face is squashy and wrinkly and so handsome. Character, I think, is what it's called.
posted by bomboleco at 2:32 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


If there is one thing American culture is better at than sexualizing young girls, it's vigorously asserting that children below some arbitrary age have no interest in, or awarness of, anything sexual. This thread is a testament to the stress this cultural doublethink engenders.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:34 AM on April 5, 2008


Find me a text-only copy of Playboy and your argument holds a little water.

Actually there is Braille Playboy that I've seen in a few libraries.
posted by jessamyn at 6:24 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Playboy centerfolds. 1953-2004.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:33 AM on April 5, 2008


Why are people socialized to think depilation is sexually preferable?
posted by kldickson at 6:45 AM on April 5, 2008


I still can't believe that anyone would shave all their hair down there. I once got a girl naked only to discover a completely bald vulva, and I was so turned off by it that I couldn't go through with it. It would just seem like having sex with a kid to me.
posted by donkeymon at 7:01 AM on April 5, 2008


that role does not include the hours of grieving and culturally-reinforced loathing that comes with owning a female body

I wasn't the one making assumptions about what the opposite sex does and does not experience, actually, Sasshat. It never fails to amaze me that women think there is this hidden world that men don't understand (which I grant) yet somehow women know all about a man's life. Because mainstream tv is based on it or something, I don't know. Agreed, not a pissing contest. Which is why you went into "men don't have to do X, Y and Z" mode I'm not sure.

As for the derail itself, I'd made a discrete response and then added an additional comment to apologize and explain, but obviously it was wasted breath. By all means, carry on with the original topic.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:29 AM on April 5, 2008


My host family dad (a homeopathic pharmacist by profession), told me that piercing babies' ears prevented them from having a lazy eye (as it kept both their eyes fixed forward). I thought he was fucking nuts.

He was a homeopathic pharmacist, ferchrissakes. Obviously he's fucking nuts.

posted by five fresh fish at 9:45 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Playboy is still maybe the most popular men's magazine in the US, in terms of circulation, but not in the minds of young men."

Maxim is the most popular men's magazine. Playboy is technically the most popular adult men's magazine (i.e. with the nudie pix), but only because of a fairly large subscription base. Hustler is the most popular adult men's magazine on the newsstands, though all of the nudie mags have had massive fall-offs in their circulation in the last decade.

In the mid-'80s, Hustler averaged about 3 million per copy. Now it averages, if I recall correctly, about 183,000.

"This is 100% true. You want a young straight man to do something, just tell him that 'girls like it.'"

The girls here don't like it when you casually discuss your pube preferences.

And yeah, I would like to toss in the addendum that the male equivalence response, where boys have it just as bad, is pretty myopic. Watch America's Next Top Model sometime and see all the weird shit that women are expected to internalize.
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 AM on April 5, 2008


I was so turned off by it that I couldn't go through with it. It would just seem like having sex with a kid to me.

This might seem like a derail and not to seem like I'm picking on you donkeymon, but Jesus not this argument again. Look, I know guys have their preferences just like girls do and if someone thinks a girl with no hair down there looks like a kid or they assume an overly groomed girl is superficial or probably a slut, whatever, that's your own hang up. But I'm tired of people saying this because what about the rest of the woman? Her breasts? The way her body looks? A woman's body looks a hell lot different from a little kids. It's not like Betty and Veronica where you swap a blonde wig for a brunette one and it's like she goes from looking 25 to 10.

This is part of a greater annoyance for me whenever the issue of pubic hair grooming comes up and reading this thread with all the guys who just looooooooove sharing their pubic hair preferences, because you know what? It comes down to what the (non)waxee thinks. You can discuss how having to impose a costly and sometimes uncomfortable practice on women for the benefit of the male gaze is harmful to women's self-esteem or something, but why do hell do I or should any woman care whether or not you ingest hair (and like it) while giving cunnilingus or if a woman's bald vulva grosses you out and you can't perform sexually because it reminds you of a kid?

In fact, have you thought it might be a bit harmful and or counterintuitive to your "we love women just the way they are" argument that you seem to be trying to impress us with? As someone above said, pubic hair grooming doesn't ALWAYS have to be about sex. Some people just like it. They don't like having hair around their bikini area or they don't like any hair down there for whatever reason. In fact, it's almost funny you all are assuming some of us girls do things just for you guys. So maybe they shave, and if you've ever shaved yourself down there you know it will probably require frequent shaving to keep it smooth and not get to that "itchy" stage because when you shave it it cuts the hair down to its thick width instead of the thin width it naturally tapers to? So why not wax it to keep it smoother for about 4-6 weeks depending on your hair growth and also to make the hair finer and grow in less itchy? And if you had a had experience with shaving or waxing and never wanted to do it again or was never even tempted to try it out for yourself in the first place, you know what? That's perfectly fine too.

Look if your so open to women in all the shapes, sizes and pubic hair they come in, I don't see how labeling women who shave or wax their vulva as being overgroomed or probably shallow to care so much about what goes on down there or even find it disgusting because it reminds you of a kid is any less harmful than saying "ew hairy pussies are gross." If you care so much about women's issues and how women can overcome having to feel like they need to conform to some public view of what they should be, the message you should be sending is "What you want to do with your body that makes you feel comfortable is what matters in the end." None of this "Ooooooooooohh Lawdy~ the last time I saw real bush was when I was five! Wha' happening to our women??? They're all turning into Paris Hilton sluts!" You're just perpetuating the insecurity. You're just sending a mixed message of it's damned if you do, damned if you don't. It's pubic hair, Jesus Christ, it's like a haircut, it fucking grows back if it grosses you out so much.
posted by kkokkodalk at 10:37 AM on April 5, 2008 [8 favorites]


In fact, it's almost funny you all are assuming some of us girls do things just for you guys.

Almost. If I might suggest a possible explanation, perhaps constant lectures about how women's body image problems are all men's fault has led a few men to believe that some girls do things just for guys. Perhaps comments in this very thread suggesting that men's choice of whacking material is somehow behind this scourge on womankind was misunderstood to suggest that guys are therefore somehow relevant in this discussion. Not me - I'm old, and have no poodle in this exhibition at all, and am therefore entirely irrelevant. Just some guys.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:09 PM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hate to split more hairs when I'm in fact addressing the splitting of hairs, but with all due respect IRFH, but I thought it was pretty obvious my "all" in that statement was hardly blaming all men, I was talking specifically about the guys I was addressing in this thread who felt such a need to defend their follicle loving to unnecessary degree, so while your "some" clarification is appreciated, in the flow of reading my post that really wasn't what I meant.

I see what you're trying to say, but also I'm someone who agrees with the point sasshat was trying to make earlier that it's not JUST whacking material choice, but in fact there's a pervasive idea of image that's being pushed on women by outside cultural influences in general. To say it's just an issue of women wanting to look like porn stars is grossly minimalizing and underestimating the issue. Women dress for themselves, they dress for each other. There's a lot of complicated things going on. It's not so cut and dry. To be able to rise above outside influences and get to the point where what other people say should no longer matter, the point is that in a perfect world what other people say should not matter in the first place. So what I was trying to give was more of a cautionary thing to some of the guys in here who were going a bit overboard whatever their stance on women's look may be. It definitely might *be* an unconscious thing, and you know maybe they really were just stating their personal preferences, but as Chasuk seems to have a hard time understanding, saying you like this or that isn't the solution to the problem as well and just makes people more uncomfortable when it should be about what the woman wants for herself. While we can say a lot about what trying to cater to men has done to women's self-esteems, it doesn't help the issue at hand to have men come in approving or disapproving in either way if we're saying that's what got us here in the first place when it comes to body image whether its make up, grooming or weight, or anything. Women or men, everyone's got their preferences whether it's about themselves or about what they look for in other people.
posted by kkokkodalk at 3:50 PM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a tradition in latin cultures for newborn girls to get their ears pierced...I always heard it was done then because it wouldn't hurt so much later...now, I don't think a baby's pain threshold is any higher than a teenager's, but I suppose the reasoning is that the baby can't can't complain about the pain as much?

As to the topic/article: I find it hard to believe it's a fullblown trend.
posted by bonefish at 4:06 PM on April 5, 2008


I hate to split more hairs when I'm in fact addressing the splitting of hairs

Heh.

I was talking specifically about the guys I was addressing in this thread who felt such a need to defend their follicle loving to unnecessary degree, so while your "some" clarification is appreciated, in the flow of reading my post that really wasn't what I meant.

I got that. I was just distancing myself from the pro/anti hair discussion for the record because that wasn't what I was addressing and I didn't want anyone to misinterpret what I was saying as being an apology for any given position.

To say it's just an issue of women wanting to look like porn stars is grossly minimalizing and underestimating the issue. Women dress for themselves, they dress for each other. There's a lot of complicated things going on. It's not so cut and dry.

Agree 100%.

It definitely might *be* an unconscious thing, and you know maybe they really were just stating their personal preferences, but as Chasuk seems to have a hard time understanding, saying you like this or that isn't the solution to the problem as well and just makes people more uncomfortable when it should be about what the woman wants for herself. While we can say a lot about what trying to cater to men has done to women's self-esteems, it doesn't help the issue at hand to have men come in approving or disapproving in either way if we're saying that's what got us here in the first place when it comes to body image whether its make up, grooming or weight, or anything. Women or men, everyone's got their preferences whether it's about themselves or about what they look for in other people.

I get where you're coming from here, and I don't actually disagree with you at all. But I can also see where the impulse comes from to step into a conversation where men's preferences are specifically called out as precursors to women's self-esteem issues and say, "Yeah, but I'm not like that. I actually like the opposite." Granted, it's a pretty clumsy and immature impulse, and frankly way too much information, but it's understandable in context, is all I'm saying. And distasteful or not, it is on topic and it is relevant. Whether I like those type of comments or not - and I do understand why they make you uncomfortable (they made me uncomfortable) - I'm also made uncomfortable whenever I hear [x] make claims about [y's] culpability in some matter and then try to dismiss any anecdotal evidence from [y] to the contrary. Not that anecdotal evidence ever proved a general case. (And in full awareness of the irony of my assignments of the x and y variables.)

Anyway, my point, if I remember what it was after all this pontificating, was that perhaps it would be better to suggest that the Chasuk's of the world need to learn some tact rather than to assert that their preferences don't actually matter, after so much effort has been expended to assure them that their preferences are, in fact, at the heart of the matter.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:31 PM on April 5, 2008


after all this pontificating, was that perhaps it would be better to suggest that the Chasuk's of the world need to learn some tact rather than to assert that their preferences don't actually matter

Chasuk likes eating pussy and that does matter. I really want to know what it is with guys who are all 'oh, I guess I'll do that but I don't like it' as opposed to dudes who are all 'Muff? Lemme dive!'. I'm so sick of people who treat cunnilingus as some sort of chore or something they'll do as some really outputting favor.
posted by pieoverdone at 6:05 PM on April 5, 2008


Mind you, if I posed it as a question 'Guys who don't like eating pussy, tell me why not' it would be baleeted as chatfilter.
posted by pieoverdone at 6:07 PM on April 5, 2008


Between IRFH's merkins and pieoverdone posting in a thread about excessive groinscaping, I'm about to have a puneurysm.
posted by CKmtl at 6:59 PM on April 5, 2008


Maybe I need to do some apologizing here. I have a lot of bad habits, one of them apparently being that I am too candid. I honestly don't know when a topic of conversation is appropriate or inappropriate. Both of my younger brothers suffer from selective mutism, and I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome when I was 31 (I'm 47 now). I usually keep a handle on it, but sadly not always.

To the subject under discussion: I don't care whether a woman shaves or doesn't shave. My preference is unshaven, but that is probably a generational thing. The only reason that I shared my preference was to let the young'un's know (assuming that there are young'un's on Metafilter) that nether-region hairlessness has not always been the de facto standard. Depilation used to be considered a fetish, but now it is the norm.

I expressed my opinion as to how this came to be, based on my own observations. I acknowledge that I simplified, but I don't think that I simplified as much as I have been accused.

I'm now going to be overly candid, so you have been warned. However, I think that it helps explain my perspective, so I would appreciate it if you would continue reading if you have been following the dialogue and still care.

I am a bisexual male who has always wished that he had been born a woman. I don't like men, generally speaking. I never have, not even when I was a little boy. The reasons are complicated and probably involve a little self-loathing, but I won't go into the details here. All of my friends have always been women. I hate what men do to women. I worked at a St. Vincent de Paul Social Services center for a year, and the stream of wives and girlfriends who had unwisely saddled themselves with living excrement made me want to weep, every day. Men who beat their wives, who sexually and emotionally and physically abused their children, who drank the rent money away, who gambled the grocery money away, who snorted or sniffed or injected the children's clothes money away, who were chronically unemployable, they sent their wives and girlfriends to prostrate themselves before St. Vincent de Pauls because they were too weak to even take responsibility for their own failure. We saw the desititute from early in the morning until 5:00pm, five days a week, and nearly 100% of the time the man was responsible for the family deterioration.

I hate the cosmetics industry and the fashion industry and the diet industry for how they have destroyed the self-image of millions of women. Women are wonderful -- fat, thin, tall, short, depliated or non -- I love virtually all of them. When I engage in a conversation with a woman, it can be about anything: football, cooking, cars, relationships, what they saw on a soap opera, their health, and hundreds of other things both stereotypical and not. When I talk to men, the conversation generally revolves around sport, sex, and cars. I hate sports, cars are only a means of transportation to me, which leaves sex. Sex is wonderful, but I am usually not interested in the pneumatically-inflated, collagen injected, liposuctioned, over-manicured Barbi that seems to be the focus of my male "friends."

If a man genuinely loves a woman, he loves her regardless of whether she is fat, thin, shaven or not, and maybe he loves her more for having some self-respect and not struggling to meet an unattainable ideal. I know, I've probably simplified again, but I don't know how to express this any other way.

Taking your nine year old daughter to be waxed in the opposite of good parenting. All little girls should be told that they are beautiful every day, even when they are not (thank you, Marylin Monroe). Waxing sabotages that. Teach your daughters hygiene (and your sons, of course), and perhaps how to choose a good pair of shoes and a comfortable bra, and how to dress economically and well, but teach them first to love themselves and the utmost importance of self-sufficiency. Prepare them to be able to kick their husband or boyfriend to the curb, if need be. Let them know that being single is a valid option. They should be raised to believe that they are smart and wonderful and that their success and happiness depends on THEM, and not a male appendage.

If all a parent hopes for their daughter involves being an adjunct to a man, then taking her for a bikini wax before she has sprouted pubic hair is an excellent start. But I want (here I go with my preferences again) more than that for my female friends and lovers, for my wife and daughters, and even for my female acquaintances. I want them to be happy in life whatever happens, single, partnered, thin, fat.

Agan, I'm sorry if I offended, that wasn't actually my intention. But the point I was trying to make was a horrified "No!" to bikini waxes for pre-teens, for all of the reasons (over)-elaborated above.
posted by Chasuk at 7:31 PM on April 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


'Guys who don't like eating pussy, tell me why not'

'Cause I'm gay!!! 100% G-a-y!!!
posted by ericb at 10:24 PM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


...was that perhaps it would be better to suggest that the Chasuk's of the world need to learn some tact rather than to assert that their preferences don't actually matter...

Which is what I was trying to say. That people's preferences are that. It's not that their preferences don't matter but they need to realize that their preferences are just that. Theirs. I feel like you're reading a bit more into my explanations as being dismissive of all opinions when in fact what I'm saying is that ultimately the opinion of the individual to themself in such personal issues is what matters. Again I don't see where we're disagreeing so much only in that you're interpreting me to say that people should just shut their yaps in general when what I'm trying to explain is that yes tact is important, ESPECIALLY when we're saying people stating their preferences too strongly as something for all to follow might be part of the problem.
posted by kkokkodalk at 11:30 PM on April 5, 2008


And sorry to bring your name into this again, Chasuk, but I was just quoting to try and clarify. I'm not trying to pick on people here.
posted by kkokkodalk at 11:36 PM on April 5, 2008


Is it possible that plates of pubes are being over thought here?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:37 PM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


kkokkodalk - Thanks for following up. It sounds like we're on the same page, after all. Sorry if there were any misunderstandings.

Chasuk - I always appreciate a good faith effort to clarify an unpopular comment, so thanks to you, too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:45 AM on April 6, 2008


« Older Postcards from Yo Momma....  |  303, 909, FX, MIXER... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments