The Brazilian wax may be on the way out as more women choose to go natural.
For the past decade, the Brazilian bikini wax has seemed to dominate salons and popular culture alike, leaving its adherents completely bare (or with just a suggestion of hair) in their nether regions.
But lately, and perhaps to the relief of those who have undertaken the painful procedure, it seems that a fuller look is creeping back.
Gwyneth Paltrow referred to the more natural look of the 1970s when describing her bikini area on last spring’s press tour for the movie “Iron Man 3.” Lady Gaga posed on the cover of the Winter 2013-14 issue of Candy magazine in full pubic bloom.
And then actress Gaby Hoffmann appeared naked, with an untrimmed thicket, in the film “Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus” and on the television show “Girls” (playing a similarly troubled but free-spirited character in both).
“It’s one of those topics that unfortunately is a conversation that won’t be over until we get over our weird puritanical obsessions with sex and the female figure,” Hoffmann said.
Indeed, the conversation has sometimes flared into controversy. Last October, photographer Petra Collins became something of a cause célèbre online when Instagram deleted her account after she posted a self-portrait wearing a swimsuit bottom with an unshaven bikini line. (She has since opened a new account, thus far adhering to the guidelines.)
Dr. Lauren Streicher, a gynecologist in Chicago and author of a health book, “Love Sex Again,” to be published this spring, said that “historically, full pubic hair was an indication of good health,” adding, “If you don’t have hair there, there is a great likelihood in irritation and razor burn.”
In certain style centers of the country — take Manhattan — the Brazilian look seems to be on the outs, more suggestive of a naked Barbie doll or a reality television starlet than an organic lifestyle of cold-pressed juice and barre classes.
“We have noticed a massive decrease in requests for Brazilians and high bikinis,” said Angela Jia Kim, the owner of Savor Spa in New York. “Our clients in particular are eco- and health-minded, and the grown look certainly suits a girl who is more au naturel.”
Guys weigh in
In a promotional video for her book “How to Be a Woman,” British feminist writer Caitlin Moran jokingly shows off a large television she bought from “the proceeds of not having Brazilians every four weeks for the last 10 years.”
She added: “My down-below doesn’t look like a child’s. It looks like a grown-up woman’s.”
As for the opinion of men, reactions to the renaissance seem mixed.
“I was horrified by its absence,” writer Rob Delaney said of pubic hair.
But comedian Jim Norton said he would be “happier to hear that bell bottoms were making a comeback than pubic hair. It blocks the view of something I love very much.”
Actress Cameron Diaz tackles the issue in her new work, “The Body Book.” In one section, she discusses “the lovely curtain of pubic hair that surrounds that glorious, delicate flower of yours” and warns readers against making a permanent change, like laser hair removal.
“Grooming one’s lady bits is a matter of personal choice,” Diaz wrote in an e-mail. “I simply urge women to consider not doing anything PERMANENT down there. Wax it bald, leave it wild and bushy, shave it into a heart or a landing strip or a birthday cake. Trim it, tease it, dye it like an Easter egg … just bear in mind that trends and preferences change and you should think about keeping your future options open for yourself (and your future lovers).”