To Wax or Not to Wax

In my morning reads I came across Joe Wack’s account of having his back waxed (sweet baby Jesus, try saying that three times: Joe Wack’s back waxed), and it brought up a discussion that Nettl and I have engaged in on numerous occasions, that is, our country’s obsession with youthfulness.

Our Nathan, who is 14, told us that the girls at his school make fun of him because of the hair that has sprouted on his legs. It’s good-looking hair. It’s blond and soft, and looks great against his tanned skin. The fact is, he’s turning into a man, something that should be a point of attraction rather than a point of ridicule. He should be celebrating his passage from boyhood to manhood, not hating it...

And then there’s this thing with bald genitalia. What’s up with that? Not to mention a desired overall hairlessness of the arms, back, and chest. Women have been shaving their legs and underarms for generations here in the States, and I guess I’ve grown accustomed to that, but all of this other stuff, personally, kind of grosses me out. I finally took the time to ask myself why.

At its most benign, I think it represents a rebelling against the Boomers, who, as the largest percentage of the population, are beginning to enter senior status. Okay. I rebelled against my elders too, but this has moved beyond youthful rebellion, because Boomers have adopted it as well. It has moved into full-fledged worship of childhood and unfettered hatred of adulthood. “If I can look younger,” some tell themselves on a subconscious level, “I won’t have to admit to getting old.” And so we pour billions of dollars into cosmetic surgery and spa treatments.

We want to fool ourselves. We want to look into the mirror and see youth. If we see anything older than 30, we freak out, especially where hair is involved. That’s probably because it’s the cheapest thing we can do. Not everyone can afford recurring trips to the plastic surgeon, but anyone can afford to buy a razor, and most people can afford a wax job.

At its most insidious, I think the worship of youthfulness masks a kind of nationwide sanctioned pedophilia. Sexual crimes against children have never been more rampant. One needs only to watch the news to see that. Children are kidnapped every day, and the Internet is literally crawling with predators seeking sexual encounters with children.

I’ll speak candidly. When I was younger and moving in the heterosexual world, I liked chest hair, leg hair, and those stray hairs that grow around a man’s wrist and under his watch. A slick chest seemed too boyish to me, and the “happy trail” always signified promise.

In California, in the late 1970s and early '80s, I used to go to summer concerts at the Santa Barbara Bowl. I used to see women there who didn’t shave their legs. They were usually blond and tan, and because they’d never shaved, the hair that lay against their skin shone like the fuzz of a peach. It was pretty. It was at this time that I quit shaving.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a hair fetish. Not by a long shot. I just prefer adults to be adults, and this hairless-consciousness that has pervaded our society is just plain weird to me. It’s sad that men have to feel embarrassed enough to resort to spa treatments twice a month. And what’s wrong with a woman having pubic hair? I always thought that was a sexy thing. When did looking like a 5 year-old girl become the norm? What’s wrong with a little body hair? What do you want, a girl or a woman, a boy or a man?

And of course, this is categorized under “Waxing Philosophical”.


  1. There is also the fact that the only segment of our population to which we, as a society, extend total mercy/love/openness are children.
    Out of fear of rejection we have stripped the joy, the willingness to open ourselves and risk from our adult relationships.

    “I don’t need ANYone. I’m totally independent. Let’s have sex, but don’t think you MATTER to me. Lovers are 5 cents a dozen.” YUCH!

    We admire children. Children get to be open, to love and be hurt. They aren’t forced by fear of consequences (be they insults to their intelligence, or callous, “well get over it. you weren’t with them long enough for it to matter…” comments) to deny the simple fact that humans will always search for something transcendent…and for the vast majority of us that won’t be found in an occupation taken up largely to maintain a roof over our head and the ability to continue to eat.

    To us children are golden. They can love, they can feel. They represent a time before the fall. To look into pure unclouded, unguarded eyes…even if they are a sham and the product of Max Factor…is something weary, jaded adults dream about and wish to experience.

    Maybe we should just be kinder to adults and make living less a cause for punishment and constantly reiterated, offhand slights (”Look ten years YOUNGER!” “Oh adults can’t learn a language as easily as someone YOUNG.”—Yeah RIGHT.) more an opportunity for glorious new experience.

  2. I’d personally prefer it if people didn’t shave anything, ever. A woman with hair on her legs, under her arms, and anywhere else, signifies radiant health and FERTILITY. As a heterosexual man, I’m always turned on by fertility. This is why mommies are so much yummier than non-mommies, to me. Especially the yummy mommy of my own children. Hee.

  3. One motivation for “smoothness” is the difference in physical sensation.


  4. I don’t shave my arms. I want to quit shaving. I wish I never shaved.


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