The things women do for beauty–or, beware the bikini wax

Women do some rather insane things to achieve modern standards of beauty. We wear shoes that do terrible things to our feet. We don bras that dig into our chest and push our breasts into strange conformations. We slide on pantyhose to firm our stomachs, makeup to hide our imperfections, and hair dye to diminish our grays. And we have this strange habit* of yanking other body hair out from the root, be it our eyebrows, underarms, legs, or pubic hair.

Yes, I do have a point here (besides making men squirm). The August issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases has a forthcoming article that details (very carefully details, so squeamish, beware) what can happen with a bikini wax gone bad–and it’s every bit as bad as you think. More after the jump.

The article is a case report of a 20-year-old Australian woman who reported to the emergency department with fever and swelling of the genitalia. She noted that she’d received a Brazilian wax two weeks prior. For those unfamiliar with the procedure, a Brazilian is about as severe as bikini waxes get. You cover the hair on almost the entire region–“pubis, vulva, and anus” as they note–with hot wax, and then rip the wax off, pulling the hair follicles along with it. One description of the procedure:

After underwear is removed a beautician asks the client to lie down and raise the legs. Talc may be sprinkled all over the bottom, anus and vagina areas. Hot wax is then spread over all these areas and then ripped off with cotton strips.

The end result is a smooth and hairless area with little regrowth for weeks, without having to worry about razor burn, shaving bumps, chemical depilatories, or (heaven forbid!) unsightly stray hairs.

The particular individual described in the case report, however, already had untreated type 1 diabetes–a risk factor for a number of infections, including those caused by group A streptococci (Streptococcus pyogenes). This is the bacterium responsible for “strep throat” as well as serious invasive disease, including streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS) and necrotizing fasciitis (the “flesh-eating disease.”) In the days following her bikini wax, she came down with a fever, and had swelling and pain in the waxed region (along with a “copious vaginal discharge.”) Still, she didn’t seek medical attention for another week, when she was in really bad shape. She presented to the ER with not only “grossly swollen” external genitalia, and pain so extreme that she had to be put under general anesthetic just so her physician could perform a gynecologic exam. She was so swollen that, according to the legend to Figure 1 (which you can find online, as the article is freely available), “she was unable to pass urine, and the vaginal space was obliterated by edema.”


The patient also had a rash over her chest and neck. From these clinical signs and the subsequent isolation of S. pyogenes from a urine culture and sample of the vaginal discharge, she was diagnosed with streptococcal cellulitis and toxic shock syndrome, and was also found to have an active herpes simplex virus type 1 infection.

The doctors treated her with a panel of antibiotics (and antivirals, when they found the HSV-1 infection), and she left the hospital after 10 days of treatment.

You might think the story ends there. You would, of course, be wrong:

Six months later, the patient again attempted to remove her pubic hair by shaving herself; however, she had difficulty visualizing the area. She subsequently developed a recurrence of herpes and cellulitis of her vulva. She was readmitted to the hospital and was treated with valaciclovir and penicillin, and her condition improved…Despite her traumatic experiences, the patient was keen to undertake further removal of pubic hair.

The paper is as much about the psychology of beauty and the lengths one will put themself through as it is a report of the infection. STSS can be a deadly infection, especially when it is complicated by necrotizing fasciitis. Yet despite her recurring streptococcal infection, she was “keen to” submit to future hair removal procedures.

The fact is that there’s no perfectly safe way to do this, especially for someone with her strikes against her–diabetes (which already compromises her immune system), and history of streptococcal infections. It’s noted that when she originally was waxed, even though it was carried out at a beauty salon, that there was still significant pain involved, along with vulval bleeding. Each of these abrasions creates an entry portal for colonizing microbes, which can then lead to an invasive infection. Additionally, salon employees may have no knowledge of these risks, or training in ways to minimize them:

Beauty salons can offer a range of innovative therapies, the complications or infectious risks of which are little documented. Facials that involve manual comedone extraction, dermabrasion, or harsh chemical peels pose the risk of infection and are often performed without the use of gloves. There are no uniform standards for infection-control practices in beauty salons in some countries and, although certain health departments publish guidelines regarding infection-control practices, these are variably enforced. Random sampling of nail salons in England demonstrated low rates of hepatitis B immunization among technicians, poor use of gloves, reuse of single-use instruments, and inadequate knowledge of universal infection-control precautions.

Finally, this paper provides the best line I’ve ever seen in a science journal: “In addition, pubic hair can be styled into various designs and can be dyed.” However, no figures for that one–bummer.

Literature Cited

Dendle, C. et al. Severe Complications of a “Brazilian” Bikini Wax. 2007: Clinical Infectious Diseases. Vol. 45: page numbers forthcoming. Link.

Image from

*Yes, I am aware that some guys wax as well, that they’re a growing market and all that jazz. I still think it’s mostly a female thing, though.

Join the Conversation


  1. As a guy, I’ve never understood how bald-below became fashionable. I’ve always preferred girls with curls.

  2. Women do some rather insane things to achieve modern standards of beauty.

    Modern women actually have it rather well in this regard — we know enough about chemistry to ensure that simple make-up won’t poison your skin, make you go blind, and so on.

  3. Roy, I think “bald below” is popular for two reasons: porn and thongs (or similar low-front, no-back bathing suit bottoms). Both of which are pretty sad excuses, and truly, even as a guy, I’d not be upset if they both disappeared from the planet in the next 30 seconds…

    My wife is all-natural, and that is the way I love her. No makeup, no waxing, no high-heels, no hair dye (although she does shave some parts, but not all πŸ™‚ )… And yes, she does shampoo and use soap, so don’t get the wrong idea. She’s clean, but natural…

    This should be a national news story, to alert ladies that there is real danger in doing some of these things. Alas, though, it will be buried, and more will suffer the same fate as this poor individual…

  4. RichB, I very much doubt this will make the news like it should. Big media serves its customers — the advertisers, not the public — and the advertisers make money selling ‘beauty’ products, not healthy practices.

    There’ve been a number of news reports on infections from beauty parlors, but they rarely make network news, only local news.

    Notice in how many ‘glamour’ pictures the model has raccoon eyes. For some reason (well, several billion reasons a year) women buy into the cosmetics model of ‘beauty’, ending up thinking the wearing of facepaint is normal.

  5. Roy, 100% agreed … Sad, but true … Makes me glad I have two boys … Although, I have been and will continue to impress upon them that reality differs substantially from what advertisers would make us believe.

    I also think that any man who “loves” a woman, but only thinks she is beautiful in a push-up bra, full geisha makeup, and 4″ stilettos is only fooling himself and his partner. Anyone (man or woman) who is such a slave to “beauty” that they endanger their health or their partner’s health is not someone I or my kids should be around…

  6. I had always thought that bikini waxing sounded horrible, but this is a whole new level of horrible.

    On a similar (but less gross) note, the Washington Post did a good article about what wearing “cruel shoes” does to women’s (and some men’s) feet.

  7. I agree with RoyB, it’s very likely to be a porn thing. Almost all current (non specialized/fetish) porn shows women with vestigial or no pubic hair (I agree with MartinR, it looks so pre-adolescent) and even for men it’s not at all unusual to see shaved scrota or even no pubic hair. The thing is, many guys like it that way on women. A friend of mine once told me that his now wife once shaved her pubic hair and, more or less literally, she couldn’t get him off of her.

    I wonder if definitive laser depilation can be applied to the area in question (for those who have their mind set on it), and what would be the risks involved. Would applying a germicidal ointment on the wax depilated area, as is done with tattoos, help?

  8. It’s inconsistent to argue that lack of pubic hair is repulsive due to pre-adolescent appearance. Females don’t get facial hair until adolescence; ergo, shaving / waxing / bleaching their facial hair must suggest pre-adolescence, and be repulsive for the same reason as with pubic hair. But no one bats an eyelash about facial hair. Actually, ditto for armpit and leg hair.

    So, you can prefer the natural look down there, but the reasons must be uncoupled from “pre-adolescent” arguments.

  9. I don’t buy into the shaved looks adolescent line. It seems to be characterizing men that like no hair as closet pedos. Is it a pron influencing society effect? Maybe, but talking with my female friends, lots of girls like the trimmed or shaved look for comfort, feeling clean, having a secret, etc.

  10. Robster, do you know at what age not long ago and for most of the 1 million year human existence were girls considered to be ready for sex? Usually after their first menstruation. It has been said that there has been an evolved preference in males for the younger women, which would be the more likely to have greater fertility.

  11. Ugh. Ouch. As a man, I’m glad I’ve never waxed anything!

    I’d also like to mention that I’ve tagged you for the Thinking Blogger Award! Your site always makes me think! Please check out my site for rules if you’re interested in continuing the meme.

    Great blog, and thanks for making me think!

  12. Ribozyme, pubic hair development typically begins a year or so before menarche, so a lack of hair would suggest that that said woman was not sexually mature, and would undergo negative selection from males. No hair = too young would be a more appropriate system if we were wholly ruled by evolutionary cues.

  13. Robster: I can’t speak from experience, being a guy, but I remember having my first ejaculation before there was any visible growth on my pubes and armpits. I would expect that to be similar in girls. This is just an opinion, I need to check a textbook, unless you are an expert in human sexual development.

  14. NP, Ribozyme. I had to look it up myself. Been a few too many years since anat&phys. Capacity for ejaculation is an early event in males when compared to menarche.

  15. I’m afraid everyone has entirely missed the point.

    These various additions and subtractions to and from the body are not about reaching a faux pre-adolescent state or a culturally fixed standard of beauty. They are about demonstrating:

    1) sufficient resources to spare time
    2) sufficient resources to spend money
    3) knowledge and technique (as an indirect indicator of neural function)
    4) ability to go to the edge of a dangerous place and return.

    Remember, H. sapiens is one of the only mammals in which females display numerous secondary sexual characteristics. It is the fact the case that much female behavior can be understood by thinking of it as male like.

    Scraping razors on one’s delicate parts is actually a very male-like thing to do. (Not that I do it or anything…)

  16. Greg, I’m afraid you’ve missed the point along with everybody else.

    Many women shave or wax for reasons of personal comfort. Or, they find it sensual. Or, whatever. The thing is, since women are different, you aren’t going to find any single reason for why they do it.

  17. I’ve shaved my labia for years for one reason only: naked labia = extra sensitivity and pleasure during sex. My husband asked me to try a full Brazilian just once because he would wanted to see me absolutely exposed, and because he found that my hair got in the way during oral sex.

    So I got my legs sugared once in a salon before I tried the Brazilian, and that definitely hurt. (I sugar my legs now at home and find that with the patchy, cyclic regrowth, it barely smarts at all.)

    Two weeks after that first exposure to sugaring, I got my first Brazilian. (Note: I don’t have diabetes, and the spa seemed to follow reasonably hygienic procedures.)

    Believe it or not, getting the hair stripped from my labia and environs was not painful at all. On a scale of 1 to 10, it barely registered as a 2-3. However, the front thatch of hair on the mons, especially the area just above the labial cleft, hurt like a mofo, probably because the growth was denser or because the hair was more deeply or firmly rooted But I felt better pretty soon and yes, it was definitely sensual.

    It was odd to look in the mirror afterwards, though, as I was embarrassed to see my own cleft. I didn’t think I looked pre-pubescent, but just obviously, overtly sexual. Men are used to seeing their genitalia out in the open, but most women have them shrouded with hair once they’re adults.

    I might go back for what some people call the Mommy Brazilian (stripped labia, untouched mons) just because it is much more effective and easier than shaving, and not painful at all. But I’ll have to be really, really motivated to get my mons stripped again. I’m glad I tried it once, but I don’t feel compelled to do it again.

  18. Oy! If you haven’t checked out the link and taken a look at the picture then you’ve missed the REAL yipes-producer! This woman’s lucky to be alive and with her pelvis intact. She apparently has ‘labial syncytia and adhesions’, meaning bad scarring, as a result of all this. That’ll put a crimp in her sex life!

  19. I like hairy people. So does my boyfriend. He has armpit, pubic, and leg hair, and so do I. Why shouldn’t women be hairy? I am a primate, and primates have hair. Thank you, Tara, for bringing this conversation to the public.

  20. I don’t think anyone should feel obliged to remove their body hair, but I don’t think they should feel dumb if they like to remove it, either. It’s a matter of taste. I like to shave my pubic area sometimes. It’s cleaner – as with armpits, the hairs are a place for odors to hang out. On the other hand, it’s nice to have a little fur in the wintertime. As for hairlessness being a turnoff because it looks prepubescent, do you see many people making that argument with respect to men shaving their facial hair?

  21. Sugaring uses a room-temperature paste made of sugar, lemon juice and water instead of hot wax. It’s supposed to be less painful than waxing because it sticks only to the hair and dead skin cells, plus you don’t risk accidental burns from overheated wax. It cleans up really easily, too, as you just need to wipe any sticky remnants with a warm, wet cloth.

  22. I don’t think they should feel dumb if they like to remove it

    The question is is there something to like about going through a quite painful procedure that needs to be repeated periodically because you feel you aren’t attractive enough to someone else the way you are? Did this woman like what she went through? It seems that she has some serious self acceptance issues if after the first experience she decided to do it again.

    At least with tattooing, piercing and even cosmetic surgery (other activities that fill Greg Laden‘s criteria) you only have to do it once. That’s why I mentioned definitive hair removal methods, such as electrolysis, laser or intense pulsed light. Anyone who uses them more definitely complies with two of Greg’s suggested criteria: money to pay for the more expensive procedure and intelligence to go through the pain only once.

  23. Tara Smith wrote:

    The fact is that there’s no perfectly safe way to do this, especially for someone with her strikes against her–diabetes (which already compromises her immune system), and history of streptococcal infections. It’s noted that when she originally was waxed, even though it was carried out at a beauty salon, that there was still significant pain involved, along with vulval bleeding.

    Given this woman’s medical history, should she have been referred to laser depilation by a specialist instead?

  24. Laser hair removal is very expensive and, sadly, something you need to do several times before achieving anything close to complete results. The procedure may be too uncomfortable to complete in one session, but even if you do manage to do that, the cycle of hair growth requires several visits. Plus, many reputable laser hair removal places will do bikini lines but won’t touch the labia at all.

    Right now I shave and will probably get a partial Brazilian again. As I said already, neither choice actually hurts. If I decide for whatever reason to go au naturel again, I can do so, while laser depilation, once completed, is permanent. I don’t feel especially stupid for making these choices. πŸ™‚

    (However, the hapless and self-destructive woman in the article needs to quickly acquire some common sense, but given that she wasn’t even managing her diabetes properly, I’m not too optimistic about that.)

  25. Mary, you go girl!

    Haydin, to each their own. Variety is spice, after all.

    So I finally got around to clicking the link, and the bikini wax paper is filed under, get this…


    What? Oh come on. Laugh, damn you!

  26. I’m just disappointed that the word “taint” (used as an anatomical term) did not appear in either Tara’s post, the ensuing comments, or the case report Tara linked.

  27. There’s many people that do loads of potentially harmful stuff because they DO feel they aren’t attractive enough, but not all of them. Reasons to do a brazillian wax? yes, possibly because she isn’t “pretty enough”, but mostly because it feels and looks nicer, softer, fresher (a plus in hot climates) and as mentioned, because it increases sensibility. And men love it (the porn influence is most likely a factor here). And laser is quite expensive compared to waxing, yet the results last a lot longer than shaving, so there’s a reason people keep at it, not necessarily because of acceptance issues.

    Now, boobjobs? that’s another story πŸ™‚

  28. The lengths to which this woman is willing to sacrifice her health make me sad – it wasn’t just the hair removal, but also the article’s mention that her diabetes was poorly controlled as a result of noncompliance with her insulin therapy.

    One note to add to the shave/no-shave debate. It is possible and easy to compromise with what one of my college friends called the “crew cut,” which involves getting an inexpensive electric hair clipper (the kind men use for their beards or some people use for their haircuts) and utilizing it with the smallest clipping attachment. It’s much safer – hardly ever a cut, and since it doesn’t pull the hair out by the roots, the risk of inflammation/ingrown hairs/infection is much lower. Obviously, it’s not a method for those who think that no hair=most beautiful, but for people who want the extra sensation or for whatever reason (I have an older friend who “clips” to mitigate the stickiness she feels after a particularly bad hot flash), it can be a much safer alternative.

    In addendum, the increase in waxing is not limited to women – I saw a male patient not that long ago who had impetigo of the chest from waxing-related infections. Brazilian-style waxes are growing in popularity among men as well. So the next article you find might include a picture of male genitalia as horribly misshapen as the woman’s was in this article.

  29. First off, it is a generational thing, and it does have something to do with porn, and also with the fashion industry (most fashion models are “all bare down there” as a matter of practicality). The Paris Hilton sex tape of a few years ago helped quite a bit as well, I am sure. Younger women in their 20’s are way more likely to do it than older women. I have known (and slept with) several women who have had it done, none of them regularly, and all of them agreed on a couple points: receiving oral sex was way more intense and sensual, and that it was a lot of trouble– for them, too much trouble– to maintain. And itchy as it grew out again.

    I am going to to vote for it, with apologies to the poor woman in Australia. It is a huge turn-on for me. Frankly it makes oral sex more fun for both partners, according my limited polling sample, and it’s also, I think, sexy in that it is an act of sexual assertiveness. It is a way for a woman to assert that she is actively preparing that part of her body for the aesthetic pleasure of herself and her partner. Unlike other beauty procedures, it’s not at all public; the only ones who know are oneself, one’s partner, and maybe the folks in the changing room at the gym, so I do think it’s a little different case. I don’t buy the pre-adolescent thing at all; quite the opposite, I think it’s a way of taking control of and acknowledging one’s sexuality by preparing one’s body for it in a visible way.

    And by the way, waxing for men is in vogue now too, not only down there, but lots of twenty-something men have their chests waxed on a regular basis. The porn aesthetic cuts both ways (in this case it’s gay porn driving the look). Would I get my chest waxed? If I thought it would lead to incredible porn star sex, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would help– at my age I’d just end up looking silly.

  30. I will happily admit that I really dig fur free. It has nothing to do with an interest in young girls, or anything like that. Hell, young twenties are rather a turn off to me. I just like the way it looks. I really like the way it feels. And I really hate picking pubes out of my teeth. While I can see how other people might find it odd, believe me, there are far stranger and far more disturbing fetishes out there.

    My partner and I, both keep our pubes, very well shorn. Actually, Alexis’ suggestion is about the best. It keeps the hair from being short enough to cause the infernal itching from hell, that occurs just a day or two after shaving. That, and the razor treatment is exceptionally uncomfortable for men, as I can attest. The only time my partner fully shaves, is if I do it for her, she always manages to cut herself when she does it, I on the other hand, have never cut her. Sex between people that are shaved, or tightly trimmed, is just awesome.

    That said, you will never, ever – seriously, never catch me, or my partner, doing anything with wax.

  31. I should add, that in most other places, I am all about the natural. Hairy legs and pits – I’m all for it. That would be the hippy in me, or at least the ones I’ve, err, dated. . .

  32. (Note: Partially cross-commented at Pharyngula)

    First and foremost: this woman is an idiot.

    However, as long as we’re on the subject of hair removal, my own take is this: I’m also somewhat skeptical of the sanity of anyone who undertakes a hair-removal treatment that involves pulling it out by the roots. But as far as shaving goes, both my wife and I prefer her genitals hairless. There are several reasons for this. Since she has difficulty with precise hand movements when she can’t really see what she’s doing, I wind up being the one operating the razor, which makes for a nice intimate moment, fulfills her stronger-than-usual fondness for feeling “taken care of,” and generally does not result in cutting unless the blade is dull (disposable razor blades are good for this, since a fresh blade is much more effective and less likely to nick the genitals in question). She finds the increased sensation and decreased menstrual messiness appealing, particularly since it’s comfortable for my tongue to go more or less everywhere, and I certainly have no problem with dilligence in ensuring that no stubble occurs to trouble her. For my part, I rather like the tactile sensation of smoothness and warmness, but the reason I actively prefer her hairless is twofold: first, I’ve never had a problem with hair catching in teeth, but loose hairs tend to get caught partly under my tongue which is extremely irritating and unpleasant (non-gay males and non-straight women, don’t tell me you’ve never noticed this), and second, the position we usually wind up using for oral sex tends to press my nose lightly against her mound, which, if there’s hair there, tends to result in a few of them slipping into my nostril, where the movement of her hips rubs her mound against my nose and in turn the sides of my nostril against the hair, rapidly irritating said nostril and leading to a result which defies tasteful description.

    In other words, no one should endanger their health pursuing any standards of beauty, but appreciating the condition of oral sex not leaving the woman’s pubic hair full of snot hardly requires or implies a specific preference for a “pre-adolescent” look. :/

  33. The reason humans have hair in the places they do, is to provide a proper niche for commensal skin bacteria. These are the autotrophic ammonia oxidizing bacteria (the subject of my research and my blog).

    This is the reason the scalp is thin and well vascularized, to allow for rapid diffusion of NO and nitrite produced by these bacteria from the ammonia and urea in sweat. Similarly underarm hair is to provide a source of NO and nitrite close to the lymph glands. Pubic hair is to provide a source of NO and nitrite to protect the various orifices from infection.

    Of course bathing does remove these bacteria, and because they are slow growing (doubling time ~10 hours), they take a long time to grow back (a month or so without sufficient innoculation).

    These are obligate autotrophs. They don’t grow on any media used to isolate pathogens. They can’t cause disease because they don’t have the enzymes systems to metabolize organic compounds. They derive ATP only by oxidizing ammonia into nitrite. They suppress heterotrophic bacteria probably by oxidizing quorum sensing compounds.

    If you have a sufficient biofilm of these bacteria, you don’t need to bathe to remove the heterotrophic bacteria that cause odor.

  34. I can think of another function of pubic hair. It’s a lubricant. The hairs function like roller bearings between partners.

    I have a much simpler explanation for the prevalence of all the extreme pubic trimming in modern societies: herd mentality. Who would be doing this of their own volition? Not I. I choose to accept the human body in its natural state. The body is not a document to be edited, with the cuts dictated by what, exactly?

    Furthermore, the hairless look on a woman creeps me out. Pubic hair is a sign of maturity. Rejecting it signifies a desire to regress to childhood. It also may be a desire to evolve to a hairless state, sorta like the eloi in “The Time Machine.”

  35. Ribozyme: You are perhaps unaware that, if one takes modern hunter-gatherers for reasonable physical approximations of how our ancient ancestors probably lived, then due to low body fat menstruation often (generally, even) didn’t begin until age 15-16.

    Female sexual maturity is “artificially” speeded up due to a number of factors in “modern” life; and the fact that historically girls have, in some cultures, been considered ready for marriage at 13 did not put them at any less physical risk from pregnancy and childbirth. In fact the risk of morbidity and mortality from pregnancy and childbirth is astronomical at the current usual age of menarche. An “evolved preference for younger women for sex” has practical limits higher than you seem to think.


    Aside from that…this woman really, really needs to work on her priorities. Possibly to the point of needing psychiatric help.

  36. JohnP: Who would be doing this of their own volition? Not I. I choose to accept the human body in its natural state. The body is not a document to be edited, with the cuts dictated by what, exactly?

    Aesthetic preferences? Comfort? Convenience? Conformity? Any or all of these may be at work.

    Furthermore, the hairless look on a woman creeps me out. Pubic hair is a sign of maturity. Rejecting it signifies a desire to regress to childhood. It also may be a desire to evolve to a hairless state, sorta like the eloi in “The Time Machine.”

    Such certainty. Such nonsense.

    Women like the one in the article are behaving like herd animals, but not everyone who choose to wax, shave or otherwise groom wants to regress to childhood or become a freakin’ Eloi, nor are the men who like the look closet pedophiles.

    For example, my husband, who was so enthusiastic about me trying out the full Brazilian, never, EVER cared about me shaving my armpits or legs. They could be clean-shaven, grown out completely, or at some stubbly in between state, and he just did not care one way or another. He did care about getting hairs up his nose when he went down on me, and he really, really liked looking at my exposed vulva. The fact that stripped labia intensified my sexual pleasure was a super additional bonus for him.

    You’re free to groom yourself as you please, and to have whatever aesthetic preferences you like. I’m not insisting that you agree with my aesthetic and sexual preferences. But it is ridiculously arrogant to sit back and declare that a bunch of people you don’t know must want to revert to childhood or become some sort of bloodless futuristic alien.

    I’ll put this in really simple terms: shaving doesn’t hurt me. Only a portion of the full Brazilian hurt, and I can easily have a partial one done that I am perfectly comfortable with. The increase in sexual pleasure makes this elective bit of grooming worth it, and it has nothing to do with being a young woman with herd mentality. I’m almost 50 years old, damn it, and I certainly know my own mind. You don’t, so please stop posturing as if you do.

  37. I’m with Mary- I love getting waxed down there. I don’t do it just for my husband or because I don’t think I’m pretty enough. I do it because it feels awesome- both during sex and just to play with- and I like how it looks. The waxing doesn’t really hurt and when the hair does grow back (if I let it) it is really super soft and nice (as opposed to shaving which leaves a blunt end on the hair).

    that said… thank jebus I don’t have diabetes!

  38. Seems like a lot of women have poor images of themselves, and think if they don’t cut their hair down there, they will feel ugly, or bad, or something negative. In most cases it’s pretty difficult to convince them otherwise. It’s a shame.

  39. Will Von Wizzlepig –

    While certainly some women shave there pubes for exactly that reason, many more women (and men) do so because they like it that way. Just like people who work out. There are some who do it because they feel compelled to look a certain way, even though they’d really rather not. Does that mean that everyone who works out and tries to stay fit, does so because society tells them too? Or could it be that some people just really enjoy it?

    I would definitely agree that the woman in the article has some serious issues. That doesn’t mean that all women who shave or wax, do so for the same reasons.

  40. Luna_the_cat: You might be right (how does it work in the very few hunter-gatherer societies left?). But evolution isn’t rational (as PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins would be happy to tell you) and if the tendency (the younger, the better) worked most of the time, the exceptions in which it actually reduces fitness would be superseeded. And in my case, it’s just a theory. IMHO a shaved pubis/vulva looks pre-adolescent to me. One more thing, I live in Mexico, and due to living in a machist society (fortunately, that is gradually disappearing) it was not unheard of more or less regular men who had married a widow or divorced woman, that they would sexually abuse and sometimes even get pregnant the young daughters of the wife, whom they would find more sexually attractive. I think the tendency is there, just suppressed a little by civilization.

    Since people are being very open about sexual experiences, etc, I might as well be so about how I see things. I’m a gay man, and HATE the shaven look in guys. I find it so narcissist. I like body hair although don’t have a fetish for it (a large proportion of Mexican men is naturally smooth-chested and even smooth-legged, and that’s fine with me). I specially dislike the shaved perineal area and scrotum so common in gay porn. No matter how much people talk about the comfort/cleanliness/sensation advantages of Brazilian waxing or whatever, if it has always have been so great, I bet most of those people didn’t do it before it became fashionable. Herd mentality, no less, with a large helping of rationalization. And fashionable it has become, or else we wouldn’t see businesses everywhere that offer the service. I also think the comfort argument comes from the American couch-potato-comfort mentality (I don’t expect waxing to be all that popular in Europe, which is famous for hairy armpits and legs in women). What if genital hair gets caught in your teeth and under the tongue? Big deal! Just take a moment to take them out if they really make you uncomfortable (they don’t do that to me). The silliest thing is that pubic hair tickles your nose. Whenever I deep throat, one of the thrills is going so far down that pubic hair rubs against my nose.

    I have a question for Deadalus2u: can you somehow culture the autotrophic bacteria and apply them in concentrated form to the hairy parts of the body to replenish the lost ones from washing? I bet that would make a great deodorant.

    Finally, an opinion on the tastefulness/aesthetics of such extreme fashion measures as Brazilian waxing. Who hasn’t had regrets about the fashion excesses comited, specially when young? The enormous afros, extreme bell bottoms, giant platform shoes and polyester of the 70s, or the big hair, spandex, leg warmers, etc of the 80s. I feel that the anti-aesthetic results one sees in retrospective come from going to extremes in any fashion of the moment. Perhaps eliminating a little hair, such as shoulder and back hair in men, or excessive facial, arm and leg hair (that might look masculine) or pubic hair that comes out of your underwear/bikini in women, isn’t so bad. The problem is when people think that more is better in fashion matters (like what I mentioned previously; just check the John Waters movies Hairspray and Female Trouble) and want to remove all or almost all body hair.

  41. This is a fascinating thread.

    There are several women on this thread who are very clearly saying that they have their own reasons for depilating that have nothing to do with poor body image or porn culture. People ought to listen to them. It’s really frustrating to read people sharing thoughtful and personal explanations of their choices and then see others decide that those of us who wax can’t be right about our own motivations; we must be herd animals or feel ugly or bad about our bodies.

    I’d certainly buy that the woman in the story has incredibly severe body-image issues. But this case study is just that, a case study. It doesn’t mean that waxing is suddenly terribly dangerous; just that like all other activities it carries some risks, especially for immunocompromised people. It’s about one person with one constellation of disorders, both medical and psychological, that was interesting enough to her attending doctors that they wrote it up for publication.

    A type 1 diabetic who has a history of ketoacidosis due to noncompliance with her insulin regimen and is hospitalized twice for beauty-treatment complications? Diabulimia, anyone?
    On the face of it, this woman has serious psychological issues relating to her body. She’s hardly representative of all of the millions/billions of pople who remove some portion of their body hair for reasons of culture, comfort, or sensuality.

    JohnP says: “The body is not a document to be edited, with the cuts dictated by what, exactly?” Says who? Who are you to decide whether and how women “edit” our bodies? Body adornment and modification are ancient human impulses. Of course, like any impulse, they can have pathological expressions, like the woman in the case study; or can be a happy and pleasurable choice for personal gratification.

    Some things: Really, truly, honestly. Some of us like the way it feels. The first time I got it done (a Mommy Brazillian, going by the description above), I couldn’t stop touching myself. It was so smooth. I’d never really felt that skin before. It was, and continutes to be, intensely sensual FOR ME. That my partners like it too is only a bonus. If I was suddenly celibate for some reason (what a dreadful thought!) I’d probably still get it done. It feels good and it does make menstruation and sweaty summer gardening days more comfortable. I’ll probably grow all my hair out again in the winter, like I usually do, for warmth. Body hair is useful for that, funnily enough:) But for summer, bare is definitely much cooler.

    Speaking of partners, and cultural expectations: No one asked me to do it. None of my partners even knew I was going to get it done–I surprised ’em with my newly revealed parts. The boys liked it, and that was cool, but that was not the point. And I’m hardly the poster girl for beauty culture–I don’t wear makeup, except toenail polish, and if it takes me ten minutes to get out of the house in the morning post-shower (including dressing and ‘doing’ my hair-hah!), I’m running way slow. So sorry, I don’t buy that I’ve been pornified.

    I’m not unaware of the dangerous pressures our society puts on women to conform to beauty norms. There are areas of society where waxing is the expectation rather than a free choice and I have a huge problem with that. It’s expensive, for some it’s painful, and for a small number it’s dangerous. Nothing like that should be a requirement. However, I think that’s got nothing to do with this particular procedure and everything to do with a society that teaches women that they are sexual objects rather than sexual subjects.

    Pain: My experience is neither unique nor universal, but it didn’t hurt for me. I’m a bit kinky, have a relatively high pain threshold, and have chosen other potentially painful body modifications along the way (tattoos, piercing). It was less painful than tattooing, for me, and I plan to get more tattoos. (The nipple piercing, on the other hand-yowza! But fun anyway.) I think of waxing as a (reversible) body modification along those lines. Body adornment and modification is an ancient human impulse. Of course, like any impulse, it can have a pathological expression, like the woman in the case study, or it can be a happy and pleasurable choice for personal gratification.

  42. No matter how much people talk about the comfort/cleanliness/sensation advantages of Brazilian waxing or whatever, if it has always have been so great, I bet most of those people didn’t do it before it became fashionable. Herd mentality, no less, with a large helping of rationalization.

    I first became aware of pubic shaving from the Re-Search publication Modern Primitives, published in 1989. I thought it was a cool, slightly dangerous look, and I became an early adopter of partial shaving, sticking with it once I found out how pleasurable the results were.

    But while I agree that more people are removing pubic hair now because it has become fashionable, it doesn’t mean that everyone who shaves continues to do so just because they want to stay fashionable. Some people here have tried it, but found it painful, expensive, boring, time-consuming or just not worth the effort. And yet others continue to do it not because they’re desperate to be part of the herd, but because they’ve discovered that they like it and that it has become fashionable enough that a much smaller proportion of people freak out when they encounter it. The herd mentality cuts both ways.

  43. Ribozyme –

    I shaved for the first time, when I was sixteen, fifteen years ago. Ironically, it was at the request of my first male lover. I quickly discovered that sex was just that much more fun shaved. At risk of horrifying those who think it’s wrong, I have encouraged every partner I have had, mostly women, to shave their pubes if they didn’t already. Most of them continued the practice, a couple of them make their partners shave too.

    I honestly think that most people who do it, do it because they like it, not just because it’s trendy. They probably did it the first time, because it’s trendy, but then discovered that they like it.

    What if genital hair gets caught in your teeth and under the tongue? Big deal! Just take a moment to take them out if they really make you uncomfortable (they don’t do that to me).

    It’s not a big deal to you, for some (like me) it’s a major turn off. I have been known to go quite flacid, after picking the pubes out of my mouth. To each there own.

    The problem is when people think that more is better in fashion matters (like what I mentioned previously; just check the John Waters movies Hairspray and Female Trouble) and want to remove all or almost all body hair.

    LOL, I actually had a really bad breakup once, that, coupled with having been on acid for a few weeks, caused me to decide to shave all of the hair on my body. It was a very bad idea. I mean really bad. I had cuts all over my scalp and managed to get a fairly ugly cut where my left eyebrow had been. When it was over, the only hair I had, was my right eyebrow and my butt hair.

  44. The discussion is coming down to matters of taste (with the few exceptions of pathologies, like the case of the woman that started this thread). At least I’m not saying genital depilation is a bad thing in absolute value terms, only that I don’t like it, in me or anybody else. The pro-wax faction have the freedom to like it, do it, and describe its perceived advantages. Leave us, te anti-wax faction, the freedom to dislike it and say why we dislike it.

  45. yow!!!! … shaving my legs hurts, which is why at age 16 i did it once and never did it again

    i shave my underarms or occasionally use a depilatory

    i shaved my pubes once- surprisingly that hurt less than the legs but that itched horribly btw
    now i just clip it short … that started because i liked not hassling all that hair during my menstral flow

    i only shave at all to keep from hassling with trying to keep that body hair as clean as i want it

  46. JohnP says: “The body is not a document to be edited, with the cuts dictated by what, exactly?” Says who? Who are you to decide whether and how women “edit” our bodies? Body adornment and modification are ancient human impulses. Of course, like any impulse, they can have pathological expressions, like the woman in the case study; or can be a happy and pleasurable choice for personal gratification.

    It’s your body – do what you will with it. I’m not dictating anything, merely voicing my opinion. We’re just blowing smoke through the intertubes here.

    I was thinking, in particular, of the “extreme makeover” and the attitude behind this practice when I made the edit comment. I disagree that a woman’s body is a document in need of improvement. I think of them more as moving works of art and beauty. A poor analogy, but it’s all I can think of right now. I like them wholly natural, without a surgeon’s knife or a tatooist’s needle to fix things up. I just don’t get body modification. It seems barbaric to me.

    Ancient human impulses? The fact that people have been doing something for a long time holds no sway with me. People have been going to church and praying for millenia. I do neither.

  47. The case is a fairly young woman- mortality at the age of 20, for me, was inconceivable; the adolescent/post-adolescent need to challenge mortality is pretty widespread. A serious medical condition could either bring a young woman’s future into focus or be a source of bitterness or rebellion. Also, the causes of this scorned “herd mentality” surround women from an extremely young age nowadays. Even the Disney channel features perky girls covered in makeup and trendy clothes. By 20, the ones who have sensed something wrong with this may sport furry pits in protest. The majority do not, being relatively weak or knowing no alternative way to be beautiful.

    I’d venture to guess myself one of the youngest women to join this discussion, at 26. I feel a need to defend rather than accuse this young woman because not only is it not easy growing up πŸ™ but as a friend to nieces 10 years my junior I think that the expectations from society/media on young women to be pretty and popular, and how to be, are stronger, harder to avoid, and more commercial, than when I was a teenager. I first heard about the brazilian early in college; there were certainly circles in which not to have one meant guys wouldn’t sleep with you. Being a budding (and fairly frumpy) nerdy science-gal, I was not interested in any of these people. But there are really- quite a lot of them, even in the ‘newly educated’ portion of the population.

    Finally, my opinion is that the strong anti-beautification comments here are almost as negative as unrealisitic societal visions of beauty. Ideally, girls would know there’s not a *certain way* to be beautiful and be free to make choices to feel most beautiful. Understanding one’s sexuality is an essential part of that.

    (btw never had a salon wax but shave my pubes regularly b/c it’s sexy and only shave my pits/legs when the hair gets in the way. of course lots of people see the pits/legs but only 2 get to see the bare down-there)

  48. Having recently suffered from cellulitis on my foot, I have no difficulty imagining how this looked and felt.

    There are two things that blow my mind about this story. First, she waited a week after symptoms appeared before seeking medical attention? It took me less than 48 hours with my foot, and in retrospect that was too long. Okay, seeking medical attention about your genitals is more embarrassing that about your foot, but between the massive swelling, the bright colors, and the pain, oh, the pain, the need for treatment is obvious.

    Second, I’m not sure what I did to get infected, but I really wish I knew, so I can never do it again. All of the doctors I spoke to in the hospital asked me if I had any cuts on my foot or any bug bites, and all I could say was that I didn’t that I knew of. I really wish the answer was something like “I was walking barefoot on broken glass,” so I would know to avoid that in the future. I can’t comprehend her decision to continue to get waxed after her first round of infection.

  49. Ribozyme, I have grown these in culture, and is does make a great deodorant. Absolutely fabulous. Completely odorless, works very fast, and there is no need to bathe or reapply.

  50. I agree that this woman really needs psychiatric help. Her behavior is beyond neglectful and downright self-destructive.

    Otherwise, to each their own. I like my pussy nicely trimmed. Shaving is too much work and I don’t have the money for waxing. That’s just me, though.

    Of course, I went through a phase in college where I shaved my head but not my armpits or legs. Most people thought I was a lesbian, and I didn’t mind.

    After college when I had to find a job, I reverted to more acceptable forms of self-expression.

  51. This should be a national news story, to alert ladies that there is real danger in doing some of these things.

    We silly ladies. We really need a man to come in and tell us what’s what. Here’s a idea – how about a national news story to alert the male-dominated media that the constant messages they send that the natural female body is disgusting is seriously damaging women? Oh wait, that would require that they see us as human.

    The woman in the story is not stupid and does not need psychiatric help. It’s just not that easy to resist decades of cultural conditioning, and nobody is stupid or sick for capitulating.

  52. Daedalus2u: I sure hope you are already working on the patent! Or if you want it to be free for everybody, how does one go about culturing the microorganisms (I have some experience in basic microbiology).Bye bye hardened and stained shirt armpits!

  53. I shaved for years, waxed and then finally got lasered last year. I have a landing strip and nothing on the underside.
    And it’s fantastic. no shaving, no waxing, no bumps, no ingrowns ever.

    I started waxing and kept waxing because the sex was so much better as a result. I mean, you can tell a huge difference in sensitivity. Plus, I just like the look of being groomed. I expect my men to groom themselves a bit too. Keep your shit on the up and up.

    Maybe people are different if they have been married for years or maybe it’s a generational thing. It seems the younger crowd is much more into it than the older. That’s just a guess. Older women I have talked to seem much more taken abck at the thought of brazillian waxing. Younger women seem to be more open or in favor of it. Not all, but moreso than older from my conversation.

  54. Frumulis B…. nice post. I totally agree with you too. I don’t even know if I am a result of what is considered normal for the female body. I probably am. I know a couple of guys who were speaking about females grooming themselves. They basically discuss what girls do and what girls don’t groom. I remember one of them slept with a girl wih a full bush who I know is a beautiful girl from another country. They talked about it as though she were dirty and kind of gross for being au natural. I felt so bad for her. I also made a mental note to never sleep with any of them. I got the feeling that a lot of men discuss our grooming habits with their buddies after hooking up or whatever. This seriously bothered me. They just talked about her like she was a freak.

    I was already waxed and lasered when I heard this particular conversation so it didnt encourage me to do anything I wasnt already doing. I just found it extremely interesting that men are so against us being natural.

  55. Welcome to the era of coiffed pussies.

    As a young man, I became sexually active in college in the 70s. Women weren’t shaving anything then. Legs or pits, let alone vulvas. Once it was clear that the hair was part of the deal, I had no prob signing on. Either deal with the pubes or stay a virgin. I went with the pubes. Now, I like the pubes.

    Now, genitalia are primped and fussed over like the hair on your head. Fashion statements and superficial judgements continue even after the clothes come off for sex. Seems to me the very opposite of intimacy.

  56. There’s too much information in the comments. Seriously. I’m all for open discussion on sex, but not on sex lives.


  57. this story illustrates just why women shouldn’t be so keen to go BALD down there… this is such an extreme procedure to remove what is not unsightly to start with… pubic hair is natural, and when properly manicured can be quite appealing… especially when it’s reddish in color! but, I digress… (sorry, Da Scarlet Pimp was emerging)

    just use a little Neet(?) around the sides there, and keep the overall length in check… bellisimo!

  58. “I just found it extremely interesting that men are so against us being natural.”

    to the contrary! I will not take any blame for the war on pubes… see my comment above… you women need to reclaim your vaginas and relevant grooming habits…

  59. CONFESSIONS OF A SHAVED WOMAN ADMIRER – CAUTION: This post is for adults only.

    I’m getting offended here πŸ™‚

    Yeah let’s put away the speculation that men who enjoy the bald look on a woman have a pedo thing going or that is it linked to porn (porn?? oh my god!). What’s next from some of you armchair psychotherapists (and I do mean psycho) tell us that porn causes hair to grow in the palms of our hands?

    I am a 45 yo man who has preferred that look on women since I first saw it (in my mid-20s). I also prefer a woman who does not have a hairy arse, does not wear a beard, and does not have a hairy chest, does that make me a closet pedo also?

    And you guys who love the hairl/natural look on a woman therefore you’e not a pedo) do you also prefer a hairy arse on a woman? How many of you dated the bearded lady at the circus? Just curious what parts of the female anatomy are ok to be hairy and which aren’t. And to be clear, I am not saying there is anything wrong with appreciating a woman who is “natural” down there.

    The shaved look allows a unobstructed view of the vaginal region, something some of us men really enjoy admiring (visually and um, well you know) and the lack of hair enables that. A vagina to me is a beautiful sight. And a shaved or trimmed one enables us to have fun without getting a mouthful of hair (thank you very much) AND we can see what we’re um, well you know. πŸ™‚

    My wife shaves for special occassions (when the kids are at the grandparents) and is otherwise neatly trimmed as they say. I have a daughter, call me a pedo (or suggest I have such inclings) and someone is going to end up with a bloody nose and it won’t be mine (that’s humor, not a threat).

    A little more science from the science fans please and a little less Freud would be awesome. Thank you!


  60. I forgot I had one more question. Are women who prefer men with shaved faces closet pedophiles? Or is this a double standard?

    And while we’re talking about how awful it is that some women actually shave their pubic region (OMG!), why aren’t we talking about how awful it is for a man to shave his face?

    Men caught up in what women find sexy, shaving their faces. OMG! Those pooor men (me included since i basially shave my face because my wife prefers that look on me). Oh the shame! Men are oppressed (well when we’re not all being pedos that is)!



  61. I think the main reason men shave is because other men do (aren’t we Mexicans famous for the use of mustaches?… a cultural thing) and because of dress codes. I would say that in the era of clean shaves in the USA (from the 20s/30s to the 50s, perhaps; and the 80s and 90s), people with facial hair would be frowned upon in white collar jobs. Now you can see facial hair everywhere, specially in the under 25 guys: goatees, sideburns, all kinds of sculpted beards. So, shaving to please women? Not currently.

    I hate to shave. I have very delicate skin and it always becomes irritated, so what I do is let my beard grow until it becomes unruly and then I shave again (trimming the beard is high maintenance, and what I like is comfort). Electrical shavers are less harsh on the skin, but they still irritate me. Facial irritation is a real issue for me, that’s why I’ve been so anxiously wondering about the sanity of removing hair from more delicate skin, pulling it out including roots, and in an area that is so heavily exposed to fecal bacteria.

  62. Dude how many women prefer a beard on a man? Plenty but they represent the minority and *I* shave because my wife (who also happens to be a woman) prefers it. If women prefer it, men will do it. Well, men who want a mate or to get laid will do it.

    And in your book following the herd (i.e. “cultural norm”) is ok but doing anything outside the herd indicates psychopathology? And if it involves a man it must mean pedophillia. I get it.

    Um, fascinating that many of you people see through the intelligent design nonsense yet you blindly lap up the Freudian nonsense (and/or your own).


    Anyhow I get kinda worked up (as you can see) when folks start spewing nonsense that common sense and a little observation disproves. I mean I could just as easily say (and it would make as much sense as what Ribozyme and others are suggesting) that men who like a hairy woman have unresolved beast sex desires. Yeah that’s it, men who like women with a bush down there are that way because they saw some beast sex porn. And an intelligent designer designed them to be that way!

    I mean that is just as ridiculous as saying men who like it shaved are pedos (brought on by too much porn).

    Sheesh, I thought you guys were skeptics or at least rational thinkers. Think, peeps, THINK. It is not as painful as it may look.


  63. Oh, yeah! It’s nonsense when you don’t hear what you want to hear, otherwise, it might be described as likely reasons. Of course, if someone is called something that carries a strong stigma, and that is likely to be happening subconsciously, that someone is likely to furiously deny it. I like non-trimmed men (the body; the face is up to the guy), and I’d suppose Tara does too, as she seems to be against waxing and all that (and being really hot, from what one can see in the picture, she doesn’t need any modifications). PZ Myers is against bald vulvas. Are we all beast sexers? I’m happy that I’m in good company! Even if we seem to be a minority.

  64. liking the shaved look doesn’t make you a pedophile anymore than finding a woman with small breasts attractive… it’s just, if you’ll excuse the expression, a matter of taste…

    my own interest over the past 15 years has changed from completely shaved or blonde to full (not overgrown) and red… yes, we have hair color preferences for down there, too! it’s aesthetic, not sick, and it can change like one’s taste in clothes changes… I just hate trends and the current one seems to suggest that pubes must be gotten rid of… and sorry, ladies, you have to take some blame for your own choices and not blame your own “hairstyle” on chauvinist pig males or our patriarchal society…

    but this woman in the case study was obsessive about her looks to the point of hurting herself… a kind of gyno-anorexia if you will… sad

  65. As a 21-year-old girl who shaves everything off “down there”, I’d say that for my friends and me, it’s less about what a guy thinks and more about basic hygiene. I’ve been shaving it all off since I was 16 and I can say that it just feels so much better and cleaner. I can put on a thong without it looking gross, nothing smells (I’m sorry but hair does trap odors!), and it’s a huge turn-on during sex. Since I sleep with older guys, I find that they don’t care either way (although the older they get, the more they seem to find having pubic hair is really attractive), but for me, it makes a world of difference and makes me feel much hotter. The girl in the story obviously had some issues going on (she wasn’t taking her insulin for diabetes, it’s doubtful she was doing anything for the herpes)so I don’t think we should immediately read about her case and say, “Omg, how cruel, poor woman who is brainwashed by society!”
    Oh yeah, and girls in porn who shave are hotter too.

  66. As a 21-year-old girl who shaves everything off “down there”, I’d say that for my friends and me, it’s less about what a guy thinks and more about basic hygiene. I’ve been shaving it all off since I was 16 and I can say that it just feels so much better and cleaner. I can put on a thong without it looking gross, nothing smells (I’m sorry but hair does trap odors!), and it’s a huge turn-on during sex. Since I sleep with older guys, I find that they don’t care either way (although the older they get, the more they seem to find having pubic hair is really attractive), but for me, it makes a world of difference and makes me feel much hotter. The girl in the story obviously had some issues going on (she wasn’t taking her insulin for diabetes, it’s doubtful she was doing anything for the herpes)so I don’t think we should immediately read about her case and say, “Omg, how cruel, poor woman who is brainwashed by society!”
    Oh yeah, and girls in porn who shave are hotter too.

  67. Whether you like having sex with beasts is your business, but I think the thing I found the most astonishing was the sheer ignorance in many of the posts. I am here often (but have never posted) and ATBC and PT and I have never read the volume of complete ignorance from our side that I have in this thread. Had I been at Uncommon Descent I would have simply laughed.

    Now, the fact that I prefer the shaved look and I’m being told that is a sign of pedo was just the icing. Well and more ignorance. Apparently some of you are not aware that pedophiles like children, not grown women (shaved or trimmed or bushy). I’m serious, look it up. A pedophile is attracted to children, not adults. A woman in a diaper is still a woman and a pedo is not going to want anything to do with her.

    And at the same time so many of you are diagnosing women who shave when many posted in this thread and said “hey I shave and I like it and I am not mental” and the ignorant still don’t get it and continue to ignore them. Well hey, I mean they are only women, why listen to them when we’re too busy diagnosing their mental issues for doing insane things like shaving their kitty (an obvious sign of mental illness).

    And hear me out, I could not give a shaved groin what people here think of me, it’s the wholesale ignorance on a blog like this that I still find disturbing. I’ve never seen it before. I feel like I’m at Uncommon Descent or something.

    Have a heart, man. My bubble just burst. I just realized that other than seeing through the ID charade, we’re not any smarter than garden variety creationists and that realization is disturbing to me. Being characterized a pedo who looks at too much porn doesn’t really bother me, but the ignorance on our side is something I’ve never seen before.

    My final comment is that critical thinking (and a healthy sense of skepticism) is a lot less painful than a bikini wax (the results last longer too), I highly recommend it.


  68. I’d suppose Tara does too, as she seems to be against waxing and all that

    I’ve been out of town at a funeral for the past 2 days (and this post then had 0 comments!) so just to clarify, I’m not against waxing, though I’m not about to share my personal hygiene tidbits. πŸ™‚

    I think it was obviously a bad idea in this case with her underlying diabetes, an even worse idea for her to shave it following her hospitalization, but I think it’s a woman’s choice regarding how she takes care of herself. What I think is wrong is if she only waxes because she thinks that’s society’s one definition of “beauty,” though, or because her partner demands it even though she might not like it, etc.

  69. I’m sorry to hear that you were in a funeral. I certainly hope it wasn’t somebody you were very close to.

    There also has been a very long string of comments at Pharyngula, with most people rooting for shaved beavers. I’ll re-post what I commented there about the cleanliness excuse:

    The only good argument I have heard so far is that it increases sensitivity. Being a guy, I don’t have hair on the surfaces on which I feel the most, so no shaving/waxing is necessary there. One of the arguments for that at first might sound reasonable, which becomes even more ludicrous for that reason, once you think about the facts, is the one about cleanliness. Se what The Straight Dope had to say about the need of washing hands in man after they urinate:

    I’ve said this before: your boxer-shorts region–from belly button to mid-thigh–is crawling with germs known as coliform bacteria. These bacteria originated in your intestine, and some of them are deadly. Remember punji stakes? They were sharpened sticks that the Vietcong concealed point up along trails and daubed with excrement. If you stepped on one you had a good chance of contracting a fatal infection. Similarly, an otherwise not-so-serious gunshot or knife injury could kill you if it perforated the intestine and allowed coliform bacteria to spread around your abdomen.

    But you know this (or at least you ought to). What you may not know is that washing will not make the coliform bacteria go away. They’re holed up in the pores of your skin and nothing short of sandblasting–certainly not your morning shower–is going to get them out. Showering merely gets rid of the ones that have strayed onto the surface. The bacteria won’t do much harm if they stay put, but when you urinate your fingers come in contact with Mister P. long enough for the coliform bacteria in your pores to hop aboard. Your fingers subsequently touch lots of other infectible items. If you don’t wash your hands with soap and water (soap gets rid of the skin oil that the bacteria stick to) . . . hello, Typhoid Mary.

    So, do you think removing the hair will have a significant effect on the absence/presence of dangerous bacteria (which, in my opinion, would define the degree of real cleanliness)?

    I’ll also add this from Wikipedia:

    In psychology, rationalization is the process of constructing a logical justification for a flawed decision, action or lack thereof that was originally arrived at through a different mental process.

    This process can be in a range from fully conscious (e.g. to present an external defense against ridicule from others) to mostly subconscious (e.g. to create a block against internal feelings of guilt).

  70. I haven’t made the cleanliness argument here or at Pharyngula, and I agree that shaving won’t make much difference to trapped bacteria levels.

    But trimmed or shaven labia do make the average heavy period somewhat tidier to deal with, and as I mentioned at another blog discussing this, I found that shaving my labia helped reduce the itching and soreness from a gynecological problem because various secretions weren’t trapped against the delicate skin by my hair. (Yes, I shower daily. Yes, I wipe myself as clean as possible after urinating.) Given that I didn’t get effective medication for this condition until 2006, shaving kept me sane for many years.

  71. Blood of Jesus, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, did y’all see that picture, ouch, ew, ew, ew, oooh ouch! Oh wow my poor eyes, well I think whatever a lady decides to do with her little lady is her business but personally I just trim, my skin is too sensitive and after waxing just my legs and getting a rash, I was not going to risk waxing my vajayjay, ouch!

  72. Jana said:
    ” They talked about it as though she were dirty and kind of gross for being au natural. I felt so bad for her. I also made a mental note to never sleep with any of them.”

    Jana, just curious.
    You overheard these guys ridiculing the vagina of a very nice woman who had sex with one of them. Your mental note was not to ever sleep with any of these guys. Was that your first thought? Not have sex with any of these cretins? How about just not being friends with either of these guys? Or ever taliking to them again, or pissing on any of them if they caught on fire?

    Interesting first reaction you had there. At least to me. Maybe it’s a generational thing.

    But yeah, try not to have sex with men like that.

  73. I’m a plain, unpainted woman, I dress simply, but I have wonderful jewels, made by myself. I never shave anything, I don´t wear clothes that hurt me. Life is just wonderful.

    To be or not to be is not the question.

  74. No one questions the intelligence of men who shave their faces in spite of all the same risks present to them. What arrogance to think the only reason a woman could have to want to remove her pubic hair is for the pleasure of a man. As if the only concern we could possibly have is if we are attractive enough, clean enough, or beautiful enough so some bumbling jerk who is full of himself might want to look at us twice. I shave every day because I like the way it feels when I am touched. I was single for two years and shaved every day because I liked the way it felt when I touched myself. In other words I did it for no one but me.

  75. Ribozyme — in modern hunter-gatherers, onset of menses is still often 15+. The diet and the amount of body fat available really does play into it. Adipocytes act as hormone reservoirs.

    Historically, the only places where breeding young (early/mid-adolescence) was of any advantage to a population were in populations where there was significant mortality at very young ages (I mean, 20s and 30s) due to other factors such as disease, environmental toxins, or starvation (such as historically happened in Welsh coal mining families). It may well be something that allows a population to survive in a pinch, because if you have a good chance of being dead by the time you’re 25 anyway, might as well have a go a reproducing as soon as you can. But under anything vaguely resembling “normal circumstances” the only advantage lies in avoiding the number of deaths during childbirth which usually accompanies pregnancies in very early adolescence. Even with modern conditions and medical technologies, there is significant risk associated with those.

    Anyway, aside from that…could I just join the chorus saying that I think there is WAAAAYY TMI in this thread…?

  76. Many American baby boys get circumcised, many American women wax.

    At least the latter get a choice.

  77. There are a ton of comments here, as the topic seems to be something people are eager to discuss. Well and good.

    But the title is misleading. “The things women do for beauty” is a leading generalization, and I agree that in the first paragraph relevant points are made, i.e., women suffer for appearance. But the specific example given here is extreme and anecdotal to the point, to say the least, and some of the comments are ridiculously hyperbolic: this “makes me sad”. Oh, brother.

    Yeah, okay, the girl was a nut. I do not buy for an instant that the story given here is anything like a common occurrence, especially since I know women who get regular bikini waxes but who’ve never suffered flesh-eating disease or a bleeding vulva. I don’t really feel “sad” for this girl at all, though I do feel she’d benefit from some intensive psychiatric care.

    Stories like this reveal little, if anything, about human nature. We’ve been having this discussion in one form or another for, quite literally, centuries, but the behaviors continue, both for women mutilating themselves for the sake of sexual selection, and also for men placing their self-esteem in objects and busting (quite literally sometimes) themselves in the gym for precisely the same reason.

    Yeah, okay. Love yourself as you are. Do yoga. Embrace your inner beast, whatever. I agree with all of this, and hey, more power to it. But please spare me the generalization that some woman with a clear psychological disorder is somehow analogous enough to the rest of her gender to justify the title “what women do for beauty.” It’s just goofy, and it’s misinformed as well.

  78. Greg, This is just one example. In the grand scheme of things, how “important” is the presence or absence of hair in certain places? It is so far down on my list that it doesn’t even register. It is considered important enough that people spend time, effort, money, endure significant pain, and in this example endure significant medical complications. I find that tragic and sad.

    It is clear that there must be health reasons to have hair in those places. Humans have lost hair everywhere else, if there were not health reasons for keeping it in those places we would have lost it there too. We may not know what those health reasons are, but it would be extraordinary if there were none.

  79. daedalus2u –

    It is clear that there must be health reasons to have hair in those places. Humans have lost hair everywhere else, if there were not health reasons for keeping it in those places we would have lost it there too. We may not know what those health reasons are, but it would be extraordinary if there were none.

    My guess would be, insulation. I know that when I was working outdoors, in cold Michigan winters, a good, thick beard, was essential. I often would forgo trimming down my pubes too, when it was particularly cold to keep everything from shriveling up.

    I would add, that I find this particular story rather sad too. But that doesn’t mean that every, or even most people, who choose to spend time, effort, money and even some who endure signifigant pain, are sad or tragic. Many people are happy to spend money and time, on their fetishes and things that make them happy.

    Some people even enjoy a bit of pain, especially when it is followed by soothing release. I used to enjoy odd piercings, not because I wanted the jewlery (indeed, I don’t actually have anything in any of my piercings any more), but because I enjoyed the sharp, quick agony, followed by soothing ointments and an endorphin rush. I even experimented with pain as a hallucinegin.

    I guess I just don’t see this story as being much different than the mindset that fosters anorexia or bulemia. Indeed it’s tragic, but it’s not tragic because of what she did. It’s tragic because of what motivated her to do it, in spite of the dangers she faced doing it. Just as the desire to be fit isn’t tragic, the desire to take an opposing extreme is tragic. Hurting oneself, in the attempt to be “fit,” is tragic

  80. I have to admit, I did my first brazilian at the request of a rather finicky boyfriend (I made him pay), but once I did it, I was amazed at how nice and fresh, and easier to keep clean I was in that area. I never went back to the whole brazilian — now I just do the Mommy Brazilian (it’s true — it does hurt to remove that mons hair! but the rest is really not painful at all).

    It’s definitely more hygieinic (I do it myself, with sugar wax, no cotton strips — I do it the way the Arab woman in France taught me, much quicker and more efficient, and frankly less painful that way). The few times I had it done professionally hurt like hell and left me with damaged skin. Very few beauticians do it right — not even at Bliss did I have a good experience. A good, hygeinic waxer is hard to find!

  81. Could someone post a link to the photo? I read the article but couldn’t find the picture. Many thanks

  82. I have very sensitive skin, and very fast-growing hair.

    Shaving is ok, but the stubble is clearly visible (and itchy) the next day, and it’s too much effort to do it every day.
    Waxing brought me out in a bright red bumpy rash that was too sore to touch for a couple of days and looked horrid for a couple more.
    Depilatory creams irritate my skin too, and don’t remove all the hair anyway.
    Electrolysis and lasering take ages, are expensive, and have their own definition of ‘permanant removal’, which is not the same as our common usage of the term.

    I’m sharing this just as a counterexample to the women who find hair removal increases their comfort, sensitivity, enjoyment, etc. That’s very nice for them. It actively decreases mine. So I shave my legs and armpits for special occasions, and leave the rest. I think I look fine that way, I’ve never had a complaint from a man (or woman) about it, and if they did whinge about it, I’d find someone else to have sex with.

    My pubic hair does not make me smelly or at all unhygenic. It is perfectly possible to be both clean and hairy. I even menstruate tidily, although I can see it might be a bit messy for women who use pads. (Yuk! Mooncups are the way to go.)

    And peer pressure? Conformity is overrated.

  83. So, here’s the big question for the ingenious genetic researchers working on designs for our transhuman grandchildren. Should they eliminate pubic hair from the genome, or offer parents a choice? Would you be mad at mom and dad if they left you the only bushy boy or girl in the edu-pod?

  84. OMG…just reading this made me hurt! As a recent survivor of a tangle with MRSA cellulitis (thankfully nowhere near my genitalia), I have an idea of how horrendous it must have been…I can’t imagine having something so painful on one of the most sensitive areas of your body. “Ouch” doesn’t begin to cover it!

    I, for one, have never understood the attraction of looking like a prepubertal child. The people who claim it’s “cleaner” are a little off base, IMHO; the only thing you need to keep yourself hygienic is far simpler and doesn’t introduce risk of infection: plain old soap and water. I don’t know where we got this insane notion that we must be completely hairless except for our heads, but that’s another whole post by itself!

  85. Thanks for covering this, Tara. As magazines like Cosmo report that men like women better when they wax their pubic regions, it’s important to have a voice out there pointing out that there are potential consequences for doing so. And your opening paragraph was great when you point out all the small and large things that women are pressured to do to be desirable.

    Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants

  86. I’m really surprised at the amount of people who think the woman in the article is severely mentally disturbed. She got the Brazilian, ended up in the hospital and then went back to shaving. If she had gone back out and gotten a Brazilian AGAIN, I would say she maybe had some issues. But if she used to shave pre-Brazilian then she probably thought she was safe shaving again. Seems logical to me. Especially if no one warned her that shaving could cause the same problems.

  87. It truly is sad at how pressured women are to appear “beautiful”. Women are bombarded with images and messages starting when they are infants that their worth is measured by their appearance. It’s ludicrous to think that you have to submit to an infection-inducing procedure to be “clean”. Sounds just like cultures that think that womens’ menstrual cycles render them unclean during certain times, doesn’t it? Having pubic hair makes you “unclean”? Hm – think there’s a little subconcious cultural influence there?? This is why it’s important to study anthropology and history – kind of puts it all in perspective.

    The point of all this is that women absorb these messages about who they must be, what they should look like, etc. practically through osmosis all their lives. Women AND men need to think critically about why they do what they take for granted, and they should be fully aware of the true costs associated with each action. Many of these so-called beauty treatments could also be called a “woman tax” – I mean, isn’t having to spend thousands of dollars on hair removal, hair styling, makeup, etc. a tax that men don’t have to pay? I submit that not only would resisting some of this societal pressure result in a less physically painful existence, but it would mean women would have more money, helping to make women more economically equal to men. Really, this issue (like most others involving female appearance) is about power and control.

    The pressure to maintain a certain appearance has now extended even to genitalia. Charming. What part of womens’ bodies will ever be allowed to just *be*? When will women wake up and realize that all this garbage is just slowing them down from achieving the equality they desperately need?

    And for those who refer to women as “bitches”: You are a sad and pathetic example of a human being.

  88. Am I the only guy who misses pubic hair? I’m 41, so I became sexually active a while before bald vulvas became de rigeur. I can only think of one lover in the last couple years who had a nice proper fluffy triangle of hair, the rest were bald or had a silly looking tuft or a completely unnatural looking rectangle. I miss the dark, mysterious triangle πŸ˜‰ . My revenge will be that only women who have one will get virtuoso head from me.

  89. Bravo, Violinist, for sticking up for the way nature intended it! What a refreshing surprise in a crazy culture.

  90. I can never understand why women would shav their armpits, genitals, etc. I find hair sexually attractive and would be disappointed if a woman shaved these areas just to be fashionable.

  91. I have read all these comments and I wonder, really, what difference does shaving actually make? As a male, I am concerned about going to the doctor and getting a “funny look” from him. But I suppose they see it all anyway.
    I’m 54 and I actually prefer to be as closely shorn as possible. Shaving lead to too many discomforts. I feel that being extremely trimmend lends itself toward a much more sensual feeling when I have interaction with a female. But many time I wonder if she thinks I am some sort of “kinky” person lending itself toward some sort of perversion.
    I just know it feels better, is cleaner and make me look like I have a little more to offer. I am not a frequent masturbator but the trimmed aspect helps also in that regard.
    There is no NORMAL way to state what we feel and how we govern ourselves–at least when it comes to consenting adults and communication and cooperation.
    I am all for “experimentation for sensation’s sake.
    Lets put aside the stupid “norms: and investigate what really turns us on, either physically sensual or imaginationational. Just keep it in the adult section of life!

  92. Hey, how come nobody’s said anything about men removing their pubic hair? Anybody do that, and how to you do it? Brazillian wax the balls? I trim it shorter with scissors for certain reasons, but ain’t nothing sharp or hot getting closer than that, jack! And I don’t blame any woman who feels the same.

  93. .Despite her traumatic experiences, the patient was keen to undertake further removal of pubic hair.

    I seriously hope her travails have rendered her sterile, as she has proven herself too stupid to breed. πŸ˜›

  94. If at first you don’t succeed…learn from your mistakes. Obviously she didn’t learn that. Wonder if she’ll be in the ER again. On the other hand I do know about the dying bit. Betty Beauty is the best if you’re interested. Great colors and no worries of infections.

  95. I’ve been thinking a lot about maybe getting waxed… I’m 19 and stumbled upon this now fairly old thread by accident.
    It’s actually to those who debated this matter out and discussed it that I give my thanks too.
    You see, I wanted to get this done for aesthetic reasons, because I’m uncomfortable with myself and don’t like the way I look *down there*. I have people telling me to get it done, that its worth the pain, to ‘man up’. So much pressure!
    But the point is, I keep myself neat and tidy and clean in my nether regions, I shave my legs and underarms because it feels nicer that way. That is my comfort zone. So I think I’ll leave it at that, because I wouldn’t be doing it for the right reasons, and I have a very low threshold for pain.

    I think its best to learn to like myself the way I am first, before I decide to do anything drastic and change things.

    Surely my comfort and self-esteem is more important in the first place, and everyone’s comfort zones differ. Some women prefer the hair all gone for personal reasons, power to them. Its the women who feel they HAVE to do it that I feel sorry for.
    It’s bad enough I’m not comfortable going out to the shops without a full face of make up and my hair done nicely. And don’t get me started about being slightly overweight. Apparently big hips and breasts are not very feminine any more either.
    The best part is, most of the pressure I feel to look a particular way doesn’t even come from most men, its from other women.

    So thanks for settling that for me, I feel a little bit more in control about my body now ^^ x

  96. Is it me or does this mean there’s a good reason aftershave usually has a lot of alcohol in it?

    I’m guessing washing one’s face (or whatever…) immediately after shaving with a disinfectant actually reduces the risk of any cuts inflicted by the razor. Or not?

  97. Most farmers I know do not wear a bikini. Brazilian waxing is an art, but perhaps the method with duct tape, tied to
    the defense, is not healthy. I also see women get their faces grown.


  98. To tell you the truth… I only do it because when I wear a bikini – 99.9% of the time – I like to know that there are no hairs poking out.

    I just don’t like that idea. I don’t know that’s just me.

    Though… No one is probably looking down there when my boobs are as big as they are.


  99. I came across this because I was looking into waxing down south. For me it has nothing to do with low self esteem, a need to conform, or any of these other silly reasons. As a woman I just like the look and feel of it. Ever since I was young I have just thought less hair was attractive, even before major porn exposure, so I go with the personal preference theory. Also, on the lazer hair removal, I have had it done in my pits, and you do have to get it done several times. Though uncomfortable and expensive, it is really only like a rubber bad snap, and totally worth it. Iv been considering getting it done down there. I just like feeling smooth. I like to think about it like a regular haircut, taming your bush shouldn’t be outcast from social norms

  100. First of all over half that article is untrue… The reason this girls unable to have hair is because it held to many bugs and caused infections when she had less hair there was no problem… This girl also had had over 60 brazillians and this was a one off that went wrong.. So to who ever wrote this get ur facts straight before writing crap.. I can tell u everything that happened as it was me!!

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