A delicate question

I was watching Amy Schumer’s latest comedy special a couple of nights ago, and she brought something up that I want to learn the truth about. Basically, she says that about 10-15 years ago all the younger women started having their “private area” shaved/waxed as a matter of course. Is that true these days for most women say, under 35? Are the only ones that don’t do this the “alternative” women (the ones we used to call “granolas” back in the early 80’s at my school, basically wannabe neo-hippie girls who didn’t shave their armpits or leg hair)?

As a 51 year old man (in whose day this was definitely NOT the case), I’m curious about this and whether as one feminist puts it, there’s now effectively a “vagina tax.”

Young guys claim they do and that if they ran across the “natural” look us old guys grew up with they would freak out. Somehow I wonder about both claims but I really don’t know.

Fashions today would probably dictate more grooming than in the old days.

I would say there is also a “balls tax” as that form of grooming is also more prevalent. I would presume it is due to the high visibility of porn and its associated “fashion sense”.

I shave so my penis can appear up to 7 inches larger.

I can vouch for this despite my somewhat limited experience. Sophisticated older women (ie women in their 30s also do this - at least if they are single they seem to). A good rule of thumb is that if a girl tans then she probably waxes these days too.

As they type of physician who sees many people in that anatomic area (both male and female, not a GYN) I can attest that in the younger generation, this is increasingly common for both genders. It is the exception to see a female under the age of 40 who is not waxed/shaved/trimmed in the pubic area. Probably about 50/50 for younger men. It is almost unheard of in men over 35-40, though I would say that the number of women over the age of 40 who participate in this sort of grooming is surprisingly (at least to me) common as well.

It is definitely a trend.

More disturbing (again, at least to me) though is the increasingly common practice of vaginoplasty or labioplasty. Women are actually paying out of pocket to have their labia minora trimmed to make them less visible, in effect making the labia appear more juvenile or pre-pubertal. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Apologies if that last paragraph crossed some line. Tried to keep in as clinical as possible.

I remember reading an article in the Atlantic on that subject. Let me see if I can dig that up…

Here we go.

Yep, grooming down there has become rather important, although it isn’t neccesarily the bald chicken look.

Agreed that fashion plays a part in general grooming: shorter dresses (especially flouncy ones) and skirts, short shorts, high-cut bikinis, the prevalence of leggings-as-pants, etc. all dictate that hair needs to stop way higher than it naturally would, if it can be allowed to remain at all.

Sexual mores are there, too, of course. I recall overhearing a conversation between two of my friends (at the urinal of all places) where one was lamenting that he’d probably have to break up with this nice girl he’d been sleeping with/seeing since he didn’t think she was ever going to shave*.

  • It’s worth noting that particular friend is sort of an asshole

Great article. Thanks for linking!

Thanks for the replies.

To Peter Jones’ second point: I share your reaction.

I am sure this is probably due in part to the conservative christian social circle my wife and I are part of, but asking my wife, she doesn’t know any women our age, her included, who shaves/waxes their private area. We are 34, so right at the upper end of that bracket.

Turns out this is a really popular subject for the Atlantic. Who knows why?

Here’s the article I was originally thinking of, regarding cosmetic gynecology.

And here’s one on the disappearance of pubic hair in America.

There are risks, at least according to one doctor

Pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds. Rather than suffering a comparison to a bristle brush, frequent hair removal is necessary to stay smooth, causing regular irritation of the shaved or waxed area. When that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture media for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens, namely group A streptococcus, staphylococcus aureus and its recently mutated cousin methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA). There is an increase in staph boils and abscesses, necessitating incisions to drain the infection, resulting in scarring that can be significant. It is not at all unusual to find pustules and other hair follicle inflammation papules on shaved genitals.

Hence Amy Schumer’s observation that the woman who takes care of that grooming for her is probably thinking “You just paid me to assault you.” ;-)

Or, you know, you could shave or wax the area gently and carefully with proper tools and care and be healthy as a horse.

A horse with shaved genitals.

The Atlantic is deeply concerned with cosmetic issues and what life is like for super-powerful women. Every other woman, not so much.

You folks are taking the whole ‘Fur is Death’ thing way overboard.

As a 41 year old woman, I’d like to thank you all for giving me one more thing to feel insecure and self-conscious about.

In my experience, most women 18-40 seem to shave most or all hair from the region.