Maybe, as with so many other things lately, we can all let out a sigh of relief and assuage any hard feelings by blaming Gwyneth Paltrow.
First, in the early aughts, she was one of the first to champion the Brazilian bikini wax, letting women everywhere know that to best love their vaginas (or vulvas, as it were), you must see it in its hairless, pre-pubescent form. (She allegedly left a note for the salon that administered her Brazilian, telling them that they “changed [her] life.”)
Then there was the inevitable backtrack a decade later, as she told Ellen DeGeneres that she had a “big 70’s bush,” and shared how the self-shave she administered for her infamous see-through panel Iron Man 3 premiere dress made her “look like an 8-year-old girl, basically.”
(Photo: Getty Images)
She’s celebrated pubic region grooming as a fun activity for friends — telling reporters that, “Every time I have a bikini wax, Cameron Diaz holds me down” — and then earlier this year insisted to her GOOP readers that the vaginal steam treatment at Los Angeles’ Tikkun Spa is “is an energetic release — not just a steam douche — that balances female hormone levels” and an absolute must for those in close enough proximity to the spa and their mystical chamber-pots/vagina-thrones.
(Also please note that experts told Yahoo Health at the time that you really, really shouldn’t be steaming your vagina. Really.)
And then there are the Gwyneth-less vagina trends: Remember vajazzling? (Which somehow involved encrusting your shorn vagina in Swarovski crystals, or something.) And vaginal rejuvenation? (Made mainstream, or something, by Real Housewives of Orange County star Brandi Glanville.)
Yes, our collective vaginas have certainly been through a lot.
Which is why today’s essay about the vajacial — yup, you guessed right: that’s a facial for your vagina — in Lenny Letter by comedian/actor/writer/Marcel the Shell Jenny Slate is such a breath of fresh air. On assignment to go see what the vajacial is all about, Slate concludes that, really, the procedure is no big deal — and not even worth doing, really.
“It’s A-OK to try new things for your body and to be curious about the world of grooming,” Slate writes, “But would I suggest a $70 ‘facial’ for your vagina? No. Do you know why? It’s more trouble than it’s worth. I could have done all of that stuff to myself.”
(That “stuff” was being coated in baby powder, having the outside of her vagina scrubbed with a cleanser, then treated to an exfoliant peel, tweezed for any ingrown hairs, and then topped off with a mask and lightening cream.)
The great part of Slate’s essay is the anti-climatic nature of it. As she notes, “When I volunteered to do this, I imagined writing a piece that was bouncing with crazy, or maybe inane-sounding, facts. I can’t really offer that right now?”
Because the truth of the matter when it comes to “beautifying” your vagina is — well, it’s just a body part. Like an elbow (that fewer people see). As Slate illuminates, there’s not a whole lot any kind of beauty treatment can do to magically, mystically, metaphysically change any body part. (Sure there’s cosmetic surgery — and if you want to do that, great — but even still, at the end you are still left, empirically, with a body part, not a unicorn. Not even a unicorn elbow. Or unicorn vagina.)
Maybe Slate’s essay can give us all permission to stop fetishizing conversations about “treating” our vaginas, both in the medicinal and indulgent manners. Do what you want — but know there will be no scintillating, titillating tale waiting at the other end of the vagina rainbow. Want to dye you pubic hair? Great. Pierce your clitoris? Fine. Use organic tampons? Go for it. Because a vagina is a vagina is a vagina (is an elbow). It’s there. It (sometimes) has hair. Get used to it.