After Galloway’s off-colour remarks on Kylie, maybe it’s unwise for me to turn this blog’s attention to ladies’ front bottoms, but I couldn’t resist Madam Miaow on the HBO series Rome, wherein the female cast (all size zero, natch) have Brazilian waxes of dubious historical accuracy. This is, I suppose, where the ancient Romans’ aversion to pubic hair seems to fit in with modern fashions.
(Incidentally, I refer any readers who haven’t yet seen it to Marc Mulholland’s account of his life in Militant, with its immortal – and quite true – story of Militant’s Ballymena branch putting up posters advertising a “pubic meeting”.)
Louise is correct that the current shaving/waxing mania owes a great deal to the porn industry. In fact, Ariel Levy goes on about this at some length in Female Chauvinist Pigs – I’m sceptical about the whole “raunch culture” thesis, but she is onto something in terms of the pornographication of popular culture, and this obsession on the part of women (and increasingly men) with removing every last follicle of body hair can be taken as a direct consequence of that.
But it was not ever thus, as in the heyday of 1970s porn where women looked like real women, with tummies, cellulite and, yes, big hairy bushes. In fact, a woman like Kay Parker, who had obviously never been near a waxing strip in her life, could be seen in the porn industry as the epitome of sexiness. I’m not sure it would be correct to say that porn was less misogynistic in the old days, but I do think it’s relatively healthier to portray women who look like actual women as opposed to holding up surgically enhanced women who look like blow-up dolls as the standard.
This, of course, has a lot to do with the difference in fashions between the 1970s and today. Don’t even bother with 1970s porn – if you look at legitimate exploitation movies of the same period, you find the same thing. Over in the blaxploitation genre, the wonderfully glamorous Pam Grier’s frequent nude scenes drew attention not just to her spectacular figure, but also to her, ahem, other afro. The late Russ Meyer used to say that one of his biggest battles with the censors, among many, was over Kitten Natividad’s bush, which was just too bushy for the stuffed shirts at the MPAA to cope with.
Today, this all seems like a far-off age. That’s why I found it cheering while watching The Door in the Floor – not a very cheerful film in general – when Mimi Rogers’ brave full-frontal scene came around, to note that Mimi was sporting a neatly trimmed triangular bush. Given that the point of the scene was to show the body of a middle-aged woman who hadn’t been nipped and tucked into oblivion, a trendy wax job would probably have spoiled the effect.
Things change, and not always for the better. The waxing mania seems to be very much a North American fashion, spilling over into Britlandia, while the continental Europeans are less prone to this kind of silliness. Obviously women will do what they want in terms of their appearance, but I can’t help thinking there is something not quite right with a culture that prefers the plastic to the natural.