Sex & Relationships

Seeking the Hairless Porn Star Ideal

The temptations and hype surrounding the Brazilian wax turn into a case of buyer's remorse for this author.
How's this for afterglow? Me: Crying. Him: Laughing.

Pretty much the nightmare post-coital situation. And all because I got a Brazilian wax.

I'd been dating the same guy for years and I thought I'd surprise him with something sexy and new. After all, every woman's magazine and every other Sex and the City reference had been hinting at the power of the Brazilian -- the must look of every season. So I went out and got myself some designer pubic hair.

And he laughed.

Why was I so certain that he would love this new look? Convinced that I had to do it, even? I fell victim to pop-culture peer pressure, and I'm not the only one.

Ever since Pam Anderson bared all in Playboy, some sick force has slowly been pushing this over-bronzed, impossibly proportioned, tweezed, hairless ideal on women. And, ladies, we've been suckered in to it!

A friend of mine talks about Brazilians like they're no big deal: "Guys my age just expect it. They grew up with Playboy and the Spice Channel and Maxim. They think women just come hairless."

This is a big deal. When did things get so out of hand? Just a few generations ago women weren't shaving above their knees. Now we're all-but-expected to wash, condition and exfoliate our pubic region, then obliterate all signs of hair life?

The problem here isn't what men are demanding of women; it's that women and men don't talk, period. It's easier for us to assume that what's good for super-groomed starlets is good for us, a requirement even. But, gals, we're not taking the time to ask our partners what they really want, not to mention actually considering what we, ourselves, feel most comfortable with.

If I had simply asked my guy if he prefers triangles to landing strips, I would have saved myself a lot of pain and embarrassment. His exact words once he stopped laughing: "I'm a man of the '70s, baby. I like to know I'm with a woman."

I'm not saying the Brazilian is evil (though if pain is any indication, the devil is definitely behind this) or that you should stop your waxing rituals if you're in to it. But we need to stop letting porn dictate our grooming habits and decide for ourselves, like adults. We need to know why some men are obsessed with a Barbie-like pubic region while others worship natural bush. And what about men's pubic hair? Can a girl simply look her boyfriend in the eye and ask him if he'd consider taking an electric razor to his scrotum?

Most of us can't. I, for one, was mortified to revisit the topic with my boyfriend after our hairy (or, I should say, hairless) little incident. But as it turns out, it's a lot easier to talk to guys I'm not sleeping with about it -- all in the service of you, dear reader. (Even this wasn't as easy as I make it sound here with my breezy little tone -- this stuff took multiple phone calls and emails to cajole out of them.) But I finally managed to rally an adequate sampling of guys to talk this through. I can never quite look at these men the same way again, so please appreciate their wisdom. (Even so, also remember: You're gonna have to ask your own guy what his preferences are -- this is just a starting point here.)

One male friend seemed stunned at the idea that women go through all this trouble just to please men: "No one's ever asked me what I prefer. Honestly, you guys are spending way too much time on things. It's just hair."

In fact, most of the men I talked to admitted to liking a "nice and neat" area to work with, but specific qualifications (such as the size and shape of the groomed area) is pretty insignificant. "Things should be clean-swept, but not demolished," another guy said. "A periodic check-in is a good thing. Spending every afternoon on your hands and knees pulling up 'weeds' from your garden goes a bit too far."

And as for their own nether regions, it seems guys are just as willing to try something new if their partner poses the question, though sometimes a little incentive helps: "I'd sculpt the hair down there into a replica of the leaning tower of Pisa if it meant getting more frequent visitations, and any man who claims otherwise is a liar."

The fact is, they'd rather be getting some than replaying last night's "Daily Show" on TiVo in the living room while you're waxing away in the bathroom again: "Ladies, you're spending hours down there, but how often do you actually show it off? We'd rather see it more often in all its unkempt glory than once a month in the shape of a lightning bolt."

Bottom line? "At the end of the day," says our favorite guy of all, "most of us are just happy to be there."

And that's probably something your regular waxer can't say. Unless you tip really well.
Heather Wood is cofounder and editorial director of
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