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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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And that’s for a practice that can, if done by the wrong esthetician, lead to chafing and bruising and worse. After two women were hospitalized with waxing-related infections in New Jersey, the state considered banning the service altogether. In even more mild cases of complications, burns and cuts can result, not to mention that skin can come off with the wax. Whenever you have to sign a waiver before a salon procedure, it’s not “routine.” It’s not far from here to the skin-bleaching and foot-binding in other countries that Americans often judge so harshly.

Still we all line up to do it, terrified to lose out to other women who have outgroomed us. It’s funny how fast a single girl can go from reading about others getting Brazilians to picturing herself dying alone if she doesn’t do it, too. There’s also the little matter of competing with porn stars, a battle that doesn’t end with intimate hair-care. Many women start getting Brazilians at the request of their Internet-porn-raised Generation X and Y boyfriends. As one waxer told us, “They’re requesting the Brazilian as if it were a haircut style. I tell them they should send their guys in here for a chest wax for a little context to their demands -- Brazilians are no joke.” Amen.

And there’s the message we’re sending to ourselves -- and to men -- that what God gave us isn’t good enough as it is, another idea whose implications are not about to stop at the bikini line. This is all not to mention the argument that we’re making ourselves look like 10-year-old girls, which is downright pervy, to say the least. Isn’t one of the most distinctive features of pubic hair the fact that it shows up at puberty, making it one of the most reliable signs of sexual maturity?

Another problem with the world going Brazilian: It has opened the floodgates to far more egregious vag-altering trends. With bare vaginas as the norm, how do you add that extra something to mark a special occasion? Why, you vajazzle! Yes, women get their crotches bedazzled by trained professionals, who stick tiny adhesive sparkles on their hair-free parts. “After a breakup, a friend of mine Swarovski crystalled my, um, precious lady,” actress Jennifer Love Hewitt told George Lopez on his talk show in January 2010. “It shined like a disco ball.” What had been a (weird) niche market exploded into a buzzy trend. Even those of us who wax rolled our eyes. What would be next?

Why, glad you asked! Labial plastic surgery started showing up on cosmetic practitioners’ price lists in 2006, as Brazilian waxing became the norm and women could see their purported “imperfections.” After that came vaginal rejuvenation, which uses laser treatments that are meant to tighten the vagina. “Our mission is to empower women with knowledge, choice and alternatives,” the website for the Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of Los Angeles says. “In one of our patient surveys, women were asked; do women want to be loose or relaxed or do women want to be tight? Women answered 100 percent [that] women want to be tight.” Tight and virginal: Plastic surgeons also now push re-hymenization, an extra-special-occasion procedure that allows you to give your loved one your virginity all over again. It’s hard to avoid making the connection between the tightening procedures and the infantilization argument against Brazilian waxing.

It turns out, however, that even actual young girls could use some improvement, according to some shady spas now giving preteen girls bikini waxes. “For waxing, 12 years old is the ‘new normal,’” Philadelphia esthetician Melanie Engle told the Today show’s website. Sure, girls develop ever younger these days, but how necessary could this be? One New York salon even goes so far as to advertise special rates for “virgin” waxing. “Virgin hair can be waxed so successfully that growth can be permanently stopped in just two to six sessions,” explains the web site for Wanda’s European Skin Care Center. “Save your child a lifetime of waxing … and put the money in the bank for her college education instead!” The owner told the New York Post that she’d seen 200 child clients in 2008 and advised that girls begin waxing at 6. You know, in the name of their future Ph.D.s. Not only is this -- needless to say -- not even close to feminist, it’s barbaric. A wax is, if nothing else, a choice that a woman should make on her own, when she’s at a sexually mature age. And she should spend her formative years believing her vagina is perfect, just the way God gave it to her.

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