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Is Waxing Waning?

Times are lean. Money’s tight. Something’s gotta give. Surveys show women are cutting back on their beauty regimens to save dollars: painting their own nails, giving up facials, and stocking up, alas, on Clairol Root Touch-Up in Medium Golden Blonde.

“The economy,” one of my girlfriends confessed, “is wreaking havoc on my nails and hair.”

But not all hair.

I’m always amused at how women’s and men’s pubic hair styles change with the times. In the ’70s, the pages of Playboy were overgrown with va-jungles. Today the Best Razor for Manscaping Below the Belt is being pushed as hard as BBQ’s used to be. With the preference of centerfolds looking like nursing mothers up top and nine-year-old girls below. Skin, as they say, is in.

Gals of all ages seem to favor the Brazilian wax, which cannot be explained adequately without violating obscenity laws. But I’ll try: The waxer removes every flipping follicle on the waxee’s, um, undercarriage, up her backside, and anything (or everything) she wants taken off in front. Landing strip. Triangle. Cougar paw. Or need-a-muff naked.

Since fashion spins in cycles, one has to wonder: How soon before the pube pendulum swings back from bare to bushy? What will it take to end the trend toward hairless hoo-has?

I wondered if the economic downturn might do the trick. Brazilian waxes cost from \$45-\$90, and with disposable razors at under a buck, it feels profligate to pay a stranger to tear out your short ones at the root. In fact, it gives a whole new meaning to “rip off.”

So I asked women all around the country if they were shaving costs off their budget by forgoing their monthly waxing. Indeed, women are cutting back on beauty rituals in Pennsylvania and Washington. They’re doing it in Los Angeles and New York. But they’re not necessarily doing it south of the equator.

It turns out that unlike a dye job, French manicure, or beloved massage, the bikini wax is one of those grooming splurges that some women cannot — will not — live without.

“I’d probably grow out my fro and skip the pedi before giving up the bikini wax,” said a friend of mine who’s been getting them for 20-plus years. “I just can’t deal with hair there.”

Another friend gave up her every-three-weeks waxing appointment but found she, er, couldn’t hack it. “I tried, but I can’t live without it,” she said. “I’ll just have to give up my housekeeper.”

Really? It seems there’s more than fashion — or finance — fueling the fuss to be fuzz-free.

Alisa Bowman, who pens the marriage blog ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com, first got waxed two years ago as a surprise for her husband. “But I got completely hooked,” she said. “It’s just incredibly sexy to look at — and no amount of feminism can bring me to say that about my former woolliness. It’s also a lot more sensitive. It has completely changed my sex life.”

There’s a lot of loyalty between women and their waxers. It’s a fact: Where there’s pain, and privates, there’s bonding.

“I have relationships with these women,” said S.B. waxer Nina Lafuente, who’s been offering discounts to longtime clients faced with financial cutbacks. “Women, we’re cool with each other. We like to take care of one another.”

S.B. esthetician Jamie Sprovieri said the recession hasn’t affected her business at all. “In the Great Depression, the beauty industry went fairly unscathed,” she said. “In times of crisis, people will do any little thing that makes them feel better: buying a tube of lipstick or taking a yoga class or getting your bikini waxed. It won’t break the bank, and it makes you feel more confident.”

She herself still gets regular waxes. And don’t expect her to stop any time soon: “My husband is Brazilian.”

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My columns are collected in three lovely books, which make a SPLENDID gift for wives, friends, book clubs, hostesses, and anyone who likes to laugh!
Keep Your Skirt On
Wife on the Edge
Broad Assumptions
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