Some people have asked me why I am writing about pubic hair. I suppose it isn’t something that people want to spend a lot of time thinking about. It’s the stuff that pokes embarrasingly out of your swimming costume and generally gets up people’s noses (in the sense of being irritating, obvs).
If I’m honest I’m writing about it mainly because I found the things that people said when I started discussing this most intimate of coiffeurs made me laugh and despair about equally.
There is also a serious point.
Procrustes. You know, the guy who kept a B & B around the time Theseus was battling the minotaur. If you do know the legend then you’ll know about the bed he used to offer to travellers. If you didn’t fit on it, he would cuts bits off you, or stretch you, until you did. If you did, by some chance, fit the bed, he would pull out a second he kept in reserve which was a different size.
I can’t work out whether Procrustes would enjoy our culture or not. On the one hand, most of us women make it incredibly easy for him. We don’t wait to be offered the bed, we jump on it with glee and ask to be hacked and pulled about, even shelling out vast sums of money for our pains. On the other hand, where’s the fun for him if we’re conniving at our own discomfort? I don’t know exactly what plumped up his pillows.
I am the last one to tell anyone how they should look, what bit of their body they should shave, paint or cover. I hate being told what to do in any sphere and follow trends in style mainly because the message that you send when you don’t is more aggressive than any I particularly want to put out there. That’s another story.
But when you find, as I have, that almost every single woman you know, and I know quite a few, feels she has to modify her mookie, often with the help of excruciating wax, it points to cultural coercion. I was genuinely puzzled about what sinister forces could be behind this until I read Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman in which she draws a line from the shaved front bottoms of actors in sex films to the middle-aged women of my acquaintance flocking to salons for their Brazilians. Then I was just sad.
It feels all of a piece with the misogyny which says that women’s bodies are dirty, need to be scraped out and tidied up; that we are not good enough as we are. Then there’s the very practical fact that we could be using the time we spend flaying and spraying ourselves in salons across the world to solve global hunger, climate change, just making shed loads of cash to have fun with or even, pinch me, enjoying the moment. It’s a colossal waste of time and I resent it. I do the minimum. It still takes ages.
That this pressure should now have reached our nether reaches is a desperate phenomenon. It may not be the end of privacy but it’s certainly the end of privates. Where can we be ourselves if not in our pants? It feels like the forces of darkness have won a crucial battle in the longstanding war.
What price the glass ceiling when we’re submitting to the wax strip? Sisters, we’re doing it to ourselves. Why?