To Wax or Not to Wax: Our Fool-Proof Plan

Waxing will never be a totally feminist act – but here’s how you can make it a little more consciously female-friendly. Questions to consider before you wax:

1. Why are you doing it? Is it because your partner asked you to, because all of your friends are doing it, or because Gwyneth Paltrow is doing it? Or just because you prefer it? (Hint: We’d only declare you cleared for the landing strip if it’s the latter, whether it’s because it improves your sex life or simplifies your everyday shaving routine.)

2. Is it in your budget to spend $60 to $100 per month on this extra service? Can you maintain it?

3. Can you have a no-nonsense conversation with your waxer about how much of your hair you’d like to keep? Because if you can’t bring yourself to talk about labia—even in coded terms like undercarriage (our personal favorite) and front-to-back—you aren’t ready to go Brazilian.

4. Do you have an impeccable, upscale salon or spa—as recommended by many, many friends and reputable publications—to which you can go for your wax? If not, forget it. Please. We beg you.

5. Does waxing make you want to vajazzle? If so, sorry, you’ve lost us.

6. Does waxing make you want to get labial plastic surgery or rehymenization? If so, sorry, we cannot support you on that, either. Lines must be drawn.

7. Does your own waxing regimen inspire you to take your 8-year-old in for a similar procedure? In the name of sisterhood, we must stop you there. Let her grow up and decide for herself.

Six steps to making your waxing a little more feminist:

1. Visit a website like or to explore all sorts of sex-positive, empowering ways to feel good about your ladyparts, waxed or not.

2. Watch some porn online. Realize you don’t want to do most/all of what those women are doing.

3. Learn the lingo and research good salons if you do decide to go.

4. Talk to your lover about what he or she prefers and why. This doesn’t mean you have to do everything he asks for; it just means you’re getting his expectations out in the open so you don’t find out at the wrong time (like when you’re watching porn together and he says he wishes you looked more like the chick onscreen) or find out the hard way (like when you undergo the pain of your first Brazilian as a surprise for him only to find out he hates waxing as much as you do). Also, feel free to tell him what goes into making your ladyparts so smooth—go ahead, be dramatic about the $80 cost and every bit of the pain. He should know what you go through, and he should be just fine with seeing you between appointments. Then talk about what you prefer and why. This is your chance to tell him you’d love to go certain places on him if he could, perhaps, take a trimmer to them. Or to tell him you love his hairy, Tom Selleck chest and hope he’s never inspired to visit a salon after a late-night viewing of The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

5. While you’re at it, ask your lover what he or she likes about your vagina. Straight men and gay women tend to like them more than some of us do, and can help us love ourselves a little more.

6. Talk to your girlfriends about waxing. You’ll find out what other women are doing and not doing, and you’ll have much more fun than you would having your 732nd conversation about your annoying boss and your friend’s non-committal boyfriend.



Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @jenmarmstrong


Author: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong grew up deep in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, then escaped to New York to live in a succession of very small apartments and write about pop culture. In the process, she became a feminist, a Buddhist, and the singer/guitarist in an amateur rock band. She also spent a decade on staff at Entertainment Weekly, cofounded, and now writes for several publications, including Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Writer’s Digest, Fast Company, and New York‘s Vulture. Her history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2013; her collaboration with Heather Wood Rudulph, Sexy Feminism, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2013. She is the author of the Why? Because We Still Like You, a history of the original Mickey Mouse Club published by Grand Central in 2010. She has provided pop culture commentary for CNN, VH1, A&E, and ABC, and teaches article writing and creative writing. Follow her on Twitter: @jmkarmstrong


  1. July says:

    I’m irritated by the suggestion that there’s anything feminist or anti-feminist in what I do with my own bush, thankyouverymuch. One of the many ways we have far to go as feminists and as women? Laying off the judgment of other women.

    I wax because I find sexual simulation is superior with a brazilian than even the neatest trim, and because I don’t find the process painful (certainly no worse than getting my eyebrows waxed, which is – or should be – a unisex activity!). My partner’s preferences don’t come into it, I’m certainly not competing with porn stars, and of course it fits into my budget — isn’t it insulting to women to think they should be TOLD not to spend beyond their means on personal grooming? This is NOT a feminist issue, and I wish people would stop making it into one — it’s disgusting that anyone thinks my pubic hair has a damn thing to do with my politics.

    • The Sexy Feminist says:

      We totally agree that not judging other women is key. But you can’t divorce our personal decisions and our politics—that’s a basic tenet of the women’s movement. Honestly, we like waxing, too—we’re just exploring the negative effects here as well as the positive. If you’re waxing for your own reasons, that’s awesome; the point is to make sure everyone is thinking through the implications before doing it.


  1. [...] care of your vagina is important, and I’ll even get behind waxing — despite its feminist complications — as a means to a  neat-and-tidy end. But treating your vagina like a pageant queen or [...]

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