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12 Year Olds Getting Bikini Waxes: Why Do Women Do Such Terrible Things to Their Vaginas?

Pouring burning wax onto their genitals has become the norm for many women. Why?

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But laying out $60 to $100 a month still may have seemed a little steep to the non-celebrities among us, even for a life-changing experience. It was the porn that got to us, which is what made Brazilian waxes such a post-Millennial phenomenon -- women weren’t so prone to hitting the back room of the local Video King just to check out other ladies’ equipment, but it’s possible we might sometimes wander over to the porn department at Google. Meanwhile, “lad mags” like Maxim and Gear became all the rage, mainstreaming a porn aesthetic even on grocery-store magazine racks. Adult-film stars like Jenna Jameson became household names: Her 2004 memoir became a mega-bestseller with the self-helpy title How to Make Love Like a Porn Star -- clearly the public wanted to know exactly that. And what we found, the more we looked at porn, was that there was not a female pubic hair in sight. And then many of us thought: If guys like porn and I want to have sex with men, it just seems logical that I should not have pubic hair. Not the most feminist thought, of course, but that’s what happens when we’re bombarded with certain images. Plus, sex clouds our thinking sometimes.

This now-emerging trend gained in popularity, even though the level of embarrassment it can cause might be even more painful than the physical ripping of the wax. It became a routine occurrence to pick your legs up over your head, approaching yoga’s plow position, and/or turn over on your side and spread your cheeks for the nice lady making you pretty. It became normal to have conversations with salon professionals about whether you wanted a postage stamp (sometimes also dubbed a “French wax”) or even less (sometimes called a “Mediterranean”) or nothing (the classic “Brazilian”). A note: Since most major spas now just call a beyond-basic wax a “Brazilian” and ask you when you get there how much hair to leave, we’ll use that term here for any sort of wax that gets your crotch camera-ready. (And for those who are too afraid to ask: We’re talking bare, from front to labia to back.) It’s best we just all know what we’re talking about here before we proceed.

Many of us, for obvious reasons, still had some reservations about the process as waxing first started showing up on salon price lists throughout the country. That is, until pop culture intervened. Sex and the City took the first step, as was often the case with trends that cropped up during its years on the air, in a September 2000 episode in which hapless sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw gets a Brazilian while vacationing in Los Angeles. Carrie didn’t look like she was having a great time during the ordeal, but let’s face it -- at that time, many women wanted to do even things that looked torturous when Carrie did them, like wearing dangerous high heels and dating Mr. Big. Sex and the City validated waxing as a standard practice even as it hinted at its painful underpinning -- its not-so-feminist side. Now waxing wasn’t just a way to emulate porn stars and conform to patriarchal beauty standards. It was a way to emulate a female pop culture icon around whom the word “empowered” was often thrown.

It was around this time that women started trying Brazilians en masse. The wax dipper was cast: By the time the first decade of the Millennium wound down, Brazilians were a standard offering on the price list of any spa worth visiting. (And many that weren’t worth visiting: For the love of Carrie Bradshaw, who gets their $22 acrylics and $30 Brazilians in the same establishment? When it comes to this procedure, please, ladies, do not bargain-hunt.) We knew it had reached the masses when, in 2009, suburban-mom staple The View featured a segment in which co-host Sherri Shepherd got a wax. (It bore a stunning resemblance to the Carrie sequence nine years earlier, with the bonus line: “This is worse than having a baby!”) We knew it had reached beyond the masses when mainstream primetime hit Grey’s Anatomy addressed waxes as de rigeur for a third date during a 2010 episode. “Prepping the surgical field,” the sexy TV doctors called it with a wink. The sensible, inexperienced-with-dating Dr. Miranda Bailey balked at the ridiculousness of it all -- “She held up two postage stamps and asked if I was looking for the 44-cent or the 3,” she complained, rattled from her virgin visit to the waxer -- but the implication was clear. Silly Miranda. Everyone knows you need to pare it all down to a landing strip if you’re up to the third date. Duh.

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