Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ladies, ladies, ladies! Please don't wax that great iconic Canadian symbol of dedicated hard work and energy ..... "Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!"

Is genital waxing on the way out?

Sarah Barmak
Current Events Writer
Sunday, January 26, 2014
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
There has been much buzz about the display of mannequins with unshaved pubic hair in the window of an American Apparel in New York’s East Houston district, which the retailer says is intended to start a conversation about what society considers beautiful.

“We created it to invite passersby to explore the idea of what is ‘sexy’ and consider their comfort with the natural female form,” a store representative told Elle — not to mention get the spotlight-loving retailer a fresh round of publicity, naturally.

More than a decade since the bare-all Brazilian wax became a fixture of many women’s grooming routines, some feel a return to hairy crotches can’t come soon enough. Over the years, the fad for hairlessness has been criticized as damaging to female body image. Feminists have argued it fetishizes a prepubescent appearance. It has been responsible for physical pain, too: a 2012 report showed emergency-room pubic injuries from shaving had shot up.

“I think for women who want to be sexy, who want to conform to what the world tells them is sexy, it’s become a cultural norm.” Carlyle Jansen sex coach

But after so many boys have now come of age expecting girls to look like they do in porn, are we really ready to go full bush again?

“I think for women who want to be sexy, who want to conform to what the world tells them is sexy, it’s become a cultural norm,” says Carlyle Jansen, sex coach and founder of Toronto’s woman- and LGBTQ-focused sex shop Good For Her.

Too bad, considering the beachy Brazilian has never really made sense in Canada, where we’re stuffed into chafing pants most of the year anyway and arguably need a layer of protective hair to keep our lady bits from chapping. How appropriate that the return to 1970s-style ungrooming was prefigured long ago by Canadian indie electro-punk singer Peaches, whose cheeky video for her 2001 song “Set it Off” featured a time-lapse of growing, Rapunzel-ish pubic and armpit locks.

American Apparel has also used images of the female body to push boundaries before, though rarely in a way anyone would mistake as progressive. The t-shirt and basics brand has always been notorious less for its apparel than for sexualized ads featuring vulnerable-looking, semi-nude girls, many of whom appeared underage (though one ad banned by the British Advertising Standards Authority was later revealed to feature a 23-year-old).

(Its models do differ from the mainstream in more interesting ways, however. With softer thighs and bellies, they typically look more like average women than the skeletal models on mainstream runways. And in 2012, the brand did make waves with an older model with long, grey hair in a clothing line aimed at middle-aged women.)

But is slapping a merkin on a mannequin really going to help make the natural look appealing to the average woman?

Or does the fact that a lady’s untrimmed mons pubis has such power to shock us an indication of the opposite — that shaving is here to stay?

Call it the law of diminishing body hair. It seems to be a general truism that once a body part is shorn of its hair and its hairless version becomes the accepted default in mainstream culture, it is unlikely that the fuzzy version will return to the norm.

In other words, once we go bare, we rarely go back, for better or worse.

Men’s chins, women’s shins and women’s armpits are all exemplars of the rule. Sure, beards have made a bit of a style comeback, but shaved cheeks remain the norm. Unshorn pits were a statement during the 1970s, but on a minority of ladies.

The problem is that pubic hair isn’t just unfashionable. A fuzzy pudendum, even neatly trimmed, has become viewed as dirty, says Jansen.

Consider this: hairy labia are so outside the mainstream in pornography that porn that featured pubic hair would be considered niche and classified in the fetish section of most sex shops.

We’re at the point where shaving has been around for so long that kids are probably seeing it around the house, too, if they happen to see their mothers or sisters in the bathroom, says Jansen.

To make au natural the default once again, it would take either a spike in the price of razors or a major sex symbol — Madonna or Beyoncé or Kate Middleton (hey, stranger things have happened) — to champion it.

“Or some male icon says, ‘I find women with pubic hair much more sexy — she smells great and you can sense her pheromones and she looks more natural,’ ” says Jansen.

What makes the hairless “norm” so specious is that untold women out there have never embraced it. Writer Zoe Cormier tried shaving when it first became popular and swore off it for life.

“I shaved it all off once, when I was 18,” she remembers. “I have sensitive skin, and all the hair follicles bled as the new hairs grew in. For several days, every step hurt. I had no desire to do that to myself again.

“I told my boyfriend I would never shave or wax again, and he didn’t mind at all. No boyfriend or lover ever has.”

The experience illustrates why the decision to go bare should be left to the individual woman, rather than being a standard of general female hygiene.

“For me the bottom issue is choice,” says Jansen. “I think if a woman wants to shave her pubic hair, you know, ‘I could leave it but I like the way it looks shaved,’ fabulous. That’s clear choice. But not to feel like we have a choice, that this is the only way to be sexy, this is the only way to be desirable, this is the only way to be a legitimate sexual being, I think it’s damaging.”

That may be, but it will take more than mannequins to make hair hot again.

And then there was this .....
Trimming the bushes? How 2001.

By Anne Kingston
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Anne Kingston covers the cultural waterfront - from Pharma to food

Photo illustation by Sarah MacKinnon

Last week American Apparel set Twitter afire with news that mannequins at its Lower East Side store in New York now boast a healthy thatch of pubic hair. The merkins, evident through sheer lingerie, are intended to convey the “rawness and realness of sexuality,” a company rep said. But in making pubes public, the eager-to-shock retailer is decidedly lagging pubic-hair fashion, a topic given a thorough airing earlier this month when Cameron Diaz endorsed going au naturel in The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body. One section of the book, titled “In praise of pubes,” extols the hair surrounding “that glorious, delicate flower of yours,” calling it “a pretty draping that makes it a little mysterious to the one who might be courting your sexiness.”

Removing it all is a recent fad, Diaz posits incorrectly (in fact, Egyptian women applied a toxic poultice of arsenic, starch and quicklime for statuary smoothness). Permanent laser removal, the 41-year-old writes, is “a crazy idea . . . your labia majora is not immune to gravity,” before asking: “Do you really want a hairless vagina for the rest of your life?”

One assumes Diaz (or her ghostwriter) meant “vulva,” not “vagina,” because otherwise the answer is a resounding “Yes!” But it’s a common error in a culture that uses the term “va-jay-jays.” Likewise, Diaz’s pubic-hair advocacy reflects a larger pendulum swing from the waxed Barbie-doll aesthetic. Last year, self-appointed taste-arbiter Gwyneth Paltrow admitted “I rock a ’70s vibe” on The Ellen Degeneres Show, a 180-degree swing from her cheerleading in the ’90s for the all-bare Brazilian introduced to New York City by the J Sisters salon. The mainstreaming of porn, where shorn shrubbery helps display the machinery, is routinely credited (or blamed) for hairlessness. But it was celebrities, including Paltrow and model Naomi Campbell, raving about their $75 monthly J Sisters visit that made it a fashion statement. Women who didn’t comply were mocked, seen in the 2001 movie Lovely and Amazing, in which Emily Mortimer played an actress who asked for a full-body critique from her lover: “The bush needs a trim,” he tells her. Mortimer reported men would shout to her in the street: “Do something about that bush, girl.” Such directives underlined the hair-removal industry: “Mow the lawn!” a 2009 Schick ad barked.

By 2010, strip malls boasted waxing salons and fashion was getting bored with the denuded look. Vogue fawned over Betty, “colour for the hair down there,” a dye in 10 hues that suggested there was hair down there. The cutting-edge British fashion magazine Love featured nude models on its cover, including Campbell, all with pubic hair. Suddenly, pubic hair’s presence, not absence, was risqué. The shocked response echoed that to Goya’s Maja Desnuda, viewed as pornographic in 1800 for showing female pubic hair.

So it wasn’t surprising that a 2013 poll of nearly 2,000 women by a U.K. online pharmacy found 51 per cent don’t “style or groom their pubic hair”; 45 per cent can “no longer be bothered to keep up the grooming”; 62 per cent said their partner “prefers the natural look.” In part, the Brazilian blowback is practical. It’s expensive; it can lead to infections; it summons pain that Christopher Hitchens likened to “being tortured for information that you do not possess” when he underwent a “Boyzillian” for Vanity Fair.

Women’s refusal to return to their prepubescent state also reflects a defiance seen in Caitlin Moran’s seven-page appreciation of pubic hair in How to be a Woman: “Lying on a hammock, gently finger-combing your Wookie whilst staring up at the sky is one of the great pleasures of adulthood.” Pubic hair’s return also eliminates creepier by-products of hairlessness: “vajazzling” and comparing nether regions, which gave rise to labia envy, “labia loathing,” and the market for cosmetic labiaplasty. Now we get to watch ad agencies court women by celebrating pubic diversity; last fall, the U.K.’s Mother London staged a “Project Bush” photo exhibit of 93 “London lady gardens in all their variety.” After that, American Apparel’s bid to play the trump card is strictly bush league.


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