It started with Vajazzling.
I figured the trend of adorning women’s pelvic regions with Swarovski crystals was nothing more than a fad, popularized by the likes of Jennifer Love Hewitt and other fancy people.
Then came the May issue of Cosmopolitan.
In what was dubbed “The Sexy Issue,” amid the glossy pages of “The Sexiest Smoothies” was the “Add Some Down-There Flair” feature, complete with handy bikini-line stencils. The two standouts were the “Sweetheart” in the shape of a heart (“Say “I love you,” Cosmo-style, by showing off this shape”) and “This Way for Fun,” in the shape of an arrow pointing downward. (“Start a game of naughty GPS. Destination: downtown.”) Apparently these patterns are all the rage.
That’s when I realized there is an epidemic among us.
Basic grooming is completely acceptable and often encouraged. But what does it say for women when they are being told to use fun designs to distract from, or make their nether-regions seem “cuter”? While such practices are obviously inane, they point to the larger issue of the degradation of women’s bodies. Using the equivalent of temporary tattoos to mask what is natural implies that women’s reproductive organs are inferior to men’s and need to be prettified.
“The culture almost just makes us feel like our vaginas aren’t beautiful,” said Hannah Jaracz, Co-Director of College Feminists.”I guess women want a reason to feel like things are pretty down there.”
It’s true. Although Vajazzling and avant-garde bikini-line shapes are breaking into the mainstream, women are often taught that they need to cover up their reproductive organs with various scents and spa fixes. Subsequently, men are taught to be proud of their genitalia, as they should be. Men aren’t targets for such products not only because of gender expectations, but also because the penis is considered the height of masculinity. It is embraced and glorified in its natural form. But vaginas are associated with ick. Anything that takes the attention away from or makes them more friendly is a good thing, as artificial as it may be.
Jaracz sees the situation as a way for women to entice men, but one that’s out of touch.
“I think [women are] just trying to prove to men that they can be sexy and attractive,” she said. “It’s sort of an idea like I’m gonna make my man happy and surprise him, but it seems a little insane.” But given that the trends are so strange, it’s difficult to say how men are going to react.
“I can’t speak for men but I think if I were a man it would confuse me,” she said. “I don’t think men are familiar with it so I think if they were to see it they would be very alarmed and taken aback.”
Taking Jaracz’s opinion into account along with multiple informal polls, I’ve come to the conclusion that most normal men and women find the idea of pretty private parts to be absurd, or at the very least, kind of weird. These products and services just reinforce some of the lamest stereotypes about women and men. Women are vapid and like things that are glittery and darling. Men are stupid and easily amused. If we know such assumptions are bogus, why do we perpetuate them in the form of fashionable pelvises?
It’s easy to place the blame on men, but women, too, must stop listening to a society that says they should be ashamed of their natural bodies. This Sex Week, if having a sparkly pelvis or fun pubic hair truly makes you happy, go for it. But if you’re embarrassed about your reproductive organs, step away from the templates and rhinestones. If you feel silly doing it, then it probably is silly. Hopefully, this trend too, shall pass.