Great quote from solo artist and Dresden Dolls co-founder Amanda Palmer in Spin magazine
"I've been really shocked and distressed to find out that 8- and 9-year-old girls are getting all their pubic hairs waxed off by their mothers," she says. "I think if I have any purpose at all, it's to stand up there and say, 'Oh, no, no, no, no, girls. You totally have a choice. You can wax it, you can shave it, you can grow it out, and this really is up to you.' That's the way that I feel about everything, that you just need to know there's a choice out there."
Adds Pope, the director: "On the surface, it's a song about girls growing out their pubes. Underneath that, however, is a call to everyone, woman and man alike, to discover the courage to be themselves. Whoever that may be."
That sounds exactly right. I couldn't find the right post this morning but I remember Holly of The Pervocracy saying that for her the decision to remove her pubic hair signaled adulthood rather than pre-pubescence. There are obviously plenty of good cases for never fiddling with your body hair at all in adulthood but this isn't about that. Beyond basic sanitation whatever one's choice might be, as a child or an adult, it ought to be your choice and not your parents. And yeah, having your mom decide to wax you isn't as permanent as other decisions parents make: piercing ears, circumcision, or sex reassignment surgery come to mind, so if it's just getting waxed you can stop once you're out of the house. (Right, as if only permanent physical alterations leave mental scars.) So let's just add this to the list of things you should leave it to the child to decide. When he or she grows up.
(Note: based on conversation with teachers and other parents this is one of those areas where a) daughters are more subject to parental pressure and b) moms tend to bring more of that pressure to bear.)
Another note on the pubic hair, just to tease my friend Chingona, who's promised never to go easy on me about pubic hair pontificating: the real question to ask these days isn't so much why women are or aren't grooming their pubic hair. Instead it should be why men aren't doing it more -- after all the same esthetic, hygenic, and sensory arguments ought to apply both ways. Actually, technically, to the extent they apply at all they do apply both ways.
(Link to Palmer quote via SexIsNotTheEnemy)
Update: Palmer's assertion that mothers are waxing their 8-year-olds may be related to this article in The Frisky which reports spa owners in the Bay Area and NYC are trying to build a market for it. So with any luck it could be another one of those all sizzle, no steak stories like rainbow bracelets, vagazzling, or labiaplasty. (I gotta say, though, the telling line would be a spa owner in NYC who said "in 10 years, waxing children will be like taking them to the dentist or putting braces on their teeth." Um, yeah. Waxing? Braces tightening? What child could possibly object?