April 28, 2010

Advertising trimmed, shaped or shorn lady parts

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , , , — Melanie @ 4:14 pm

We know it’s not just arm and leg hair that is considered unattractive. 90s porn culture targeted a new area of hair growth on women and deemed it unattractive and unacceptable. In fact, trimmed, shaped or completely removed pubic hair has become normative. It is difficult many to remember the previous aesthetic, an aesthetic that did not require a woman’s vulva to be shaved, waxed or shorn to be considered “attractive” or desirable. As quoted in the Times Online UK piece from 2007:

But then around the mid-90s some mysterious memo went out to twentysomething women that it was no longer sufficient to tidy the “bikini line” so it didn’t cascade down the inner thigh like a spider plant. The gyms of Britain were suddenly full of women waxed into weeny welcome mats, with all the stubble, bruises, pimpled hair follicles and burst blood vessels that accompany this excruciating sexifying of the sex.

Like a trend for comedy-size breast implants, inflatable lips, hair extensions, extreme nails and high street daywear revealing more tittage than a ten-quid hooker, waxing filtered down from the porn industry. Here defuzzing makes the action, as it were, easier to follow. And for male performers depilation adds the illusion of an extra inch. Maybe Hitchens had that in mind.

The aesthetics of porn reigns in an age when sex is so commodified that lapdancing is deemed “empowering”, prostitution glorified in TV drama, sex less concerned with pleasure than display. Young women have swallowed the idea that they must look so “hot” that men would pay to sleep with them: pity the poor cow so badly maintained that she’d have to give it away for free.

And bikini-area maintenance is, after all, big business. I mentioned the latest trend in pubic hair removal in the form of “virgin waxing” in my post from September 2008.  Virgin waxing is being offered in salons across the country as a type of preventative maintenance. This salon’s website states:

I call it the “Virgin”- waxing for children 8 years old and up who have never shaved before [my question, why would an 8-year-old be shaving?]

What’s the motivation to subjecting your pre-pubescent daughter to bikini waxing before the hair has even arrived? Apparently, virgin waxing is a pro-active measure designed to eradicate pubic hair in 2 to 6 sessions, eliminating the need for lifetime waxing. The salon claims that the savings can be applied directly to a college fund. Well, I am guessing that these virgin waxing treatments aren’t cheap in the first place and the notion that a girl’s pubic hair will be removed before she gets it, maintaining her pre-pubescent appearance is inherently disturbing.

Aside from all the glaring problems revolving around women’s sexuality and women’s bodies, hair-free or neatly groomed bikini-areas are expensive. According to UK author, Janice Turner:

You don’t need to page Dr Freud to wonder how the craze for bare pudenda might be tied to some unsavory fetishisation of youth. And now the waxed look is supported by a massive industry — hair removal in Britain is worth £280 million a year.

We plan on writing about the the relationship between patriarchy, porn culture and pre-pubescent privates in an upcoming post but this post is devoted to the products sold to women to maintain trimmed or hairless vulva.

Remember this ad that I posted for the Schick Quattro Trim Style (the gadget every gal needs to “stay groomed”) for women last year?

Well, Schick’s European counterpart, Wilkinson Sword takes the campaign for a step further in a series of less subtle advertisements.

On their interactive website, women can trim the pooch at the Poodle Parlour (I guess shaving a pussy cat would be too obvious for these folks). There’s also a series of extended ads called The Neighborhood (“the neighborhood is open, come and see”) with titles like The Landing Strip and Tidying Up Downstairs.


May 23, 2010

Is empowerment found in a "pink disco ball" vagina?

Guest post by Marley P with Melanie K.

Jennifer Love Hewitt  recently appeared on “Lopez Tonight” promoting her new dating book and simultaneously bragging about how her vagina looks like a “pink disco ball”.  Vajazzling has become not only one of the most searched terms on google but the newest below the belt “beautification” procedure in which the vagina is waxed bare and then embellished with Swarovski crystals. According to Love, she vajazzled her “precious lady” for the first time after a painful breakup and is now a proud advocate of a shiny, blinged-out crotch.

I initially heard about vajazzling from a girlfriend of mine who works at a medical spa who recently tried out the product as a way to see what all the buzz is about.  The jewels supposedly stay in tact for two weeks and are a simple way to bling out and embellish your otherwise boring lower region– just like a celebrity.  She is going strong on day five and reports feeling “accessorized”.

Personally, I don’t understand the interest in bedazzling your “lady parts”.  In fact, the cons seem to outweigh the pros in my book. I guess I could understand the appeal if the jewels somehow improved the quality of the sexual experience but the possibility of condoms tearing, the possibility of irritation or a misplaced crystal seem like an uncomfortable (not to mention unnecessary) burden to have to think about when engaging in sex.  Vajazzling poses as a seemingly benign procedure, that works to promote sexual empowerment but I can’t help but think that it is really promoting quite the opposite.  It is just the icing on the cake of “pink think” consumerism, isn’t it?   The beauty industry runs on selling women an innate insecurity and notion that self worth is implicitly tied to what we look like and simultaneously co-opts feminist ideals of empowerment as a way to sell a product.  We are not being sold empowerment; in fact, we are being dooped into believing that empowerment and liberated sexuality can be bought at a medical spa (that is, if you can afford it).

(more…)