I’m seventeen. My girlfriends told me that if I want to get with a guy I need to get a Brazilian Wax; and that all the boys they know will only be with me if I do it. I assume you know what that is. It sounds terrible to me and it will hurt and I don’t want to do it, but they’re pressuring me. What is your advice?
Dr. Wes: After 19 years of practice it takes a lot to shock me, but you got it done today. Yes, I do know what a Brazilian Wax is, but if readers don’t, I’ll save them a Google search and say it has to do with removing pubic hair. Completely. ‘Nuf said. Until your letter, and some follow up research, I thought this was only something young women did to wear very brief bikinis. But sure enough, after consulting my network, I’ve learned that it’s becoming popular for exactly the reasons you cite.
Apparently in our increasingly sexualized culture, there really is pressure for girls to do this to land a guy. And that’s where I sense a rat in this story, in the form of pornography. That’s how a whole lot of young men learn about sex, and your story is a great example of why it’s a bad education. Apparently, that same look is pretty popular among today’s Internet porn stars (and wannabees), so boys want their girls to (feel free to cringe now) look the same way.
This is disturbing for about nine reasons, but the most important one is this: Modern pornography is demeaning enough to women without girls trying to take on the same look. This goes beyond body image, and self-respect, to a very troubling place in our society where the line between sex and childhood is being crossed, and none of us should be comfortable with where that is headed.
On the other hand—and several of young women I spoke with insisted I mention this—if two people are in a healthy relationship and they agree they want to try out their local waxing salon, it is not our place to pass judgment (especially if the guy is offering himself up for the same procedure). But if Brazilian Waxing is the new ticket into the dating pool—as your letter portends—parents need to add it to the long list of topics to discuss with teenagers, even if that is particularly awkward. We’ve made it through other topics. We can make it through this one.
Everyone deserves free will to choose something this personal, and no boys, late teen or young adult, should dictate these kind of terms for a relationship. If a guy is checking off boxes on the physical modifications he requires in a girlfriend, that should offer a hint or two as to his primary interests, don’t you think?
Miranda: While I know what a Brazilian Wax is, I would have never guessed it was an expectation with boys these days. The most important lesson of your experience is this: Don’t EVER let a partner, or in this case your friends, talk you into doing something you don’t want to do.
I agree that porn is at the root of this problem. I think most guys our age like to have sex. That’s not exactly a shock, is it? The problem develops when they expect their partner to live up to the “standards” pornography sets. The idea that this is somehow the “norm” for teenage relationships, as implied by what your friends have told you, is not true. And I agree with Wes. Any guy who bases his relationship choices off a girl’s Brazilian Wax job is not the quality of guy you should be going after. An emotional bond should be established before moving into a sexual relationship, and if this type of procedure is necessary to him, then it shows you where his priorities stand.
Worse, no specific boy even told you that this was necessary. It was just your friends. This “group mentality” may be the way they justify their choices in meeting the demands their partners make of them. But that’s no reason to jump on your friend’s no-hair bandwagon. Learn something important from this this—stand up for yourself, and if a guy ever demands a sexual expectation upon you that makes you feel uncomfortable, walk away. No one should pressure you into doing something like this just to have sex with them, especially when it will be harmful or painful to you.
Ask your friends to drop this, and inform them that, while you appreciate their input, you are fully capable of making your own decisions.
Wes Crenshaw, PhD is board certified in family and couples psychology (ABPP), and author of the books Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Teens and Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Parents of Teens. Learn about his writing and practice at www.dr-wes.com. Miranda Davis is a Free State High School senior who has co-authored the column since August 2011, and is the eighth in a series of teen co-authors. Send your confidential 200-word question on adolescence and parenting to firstname.lastname@example.org. The column is reprinted from Double Take, published weekly since 2004 in The Lawrence Journal World. Opinions and advice are not a substitute for psychological services.
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