A Gendered Analysis of Brazilian Waxing

Brazilian waxing is a method of removing unwanted hair from the pubic area, usually in the form of an exfoliation and application of warm or cold wax. A common concern is pain, but estheticians offer a variety of tools and methods to minimize discomfort. They also suggest applying pressure, if needed, to reduce sensitivity. The procedure is a great way to get rid of the annoying regrowth of hair that happens after shaving and is often ingrown. This is especially true for people with sensitive skin.

The hygienic rationale for pubic hair removal is steeped in a neoliberal sensibility that locates femininity in the body, imploring women to continuously labor on, monitor and discipline their bodies (Hoffman, 2016). It is also a logic that helps uphold aesthetic labor like brazilian waxing ferndale as an autonomous “choice.” This logic, however, ignores how the social conditions under which women undertake such labor are constructed, and that these labors can be exploitative and oppressive in ways that are often invisible to those outside of the beauty industry.

While much of the academic literature on aesthetic labor has focused on white and middle class women, a gendered analysis of Brazilian waxing needs to address how racialized and poorer women in the global south also participate in this sexwork. It is important to note that many of these women also invoke a neoliberal sensibility and a postfeminist discourse in relation to their participation in Brazilian waxing.

Despite the differences in their socioeconomic status, beauticians such as Rekha and Bharti have managed to develop a sense of sisterhood with their customers by claiming a similarity with them on the basis of their shared experiences, including, but not limited to, their practice of Brazilian waxing. These beauticians have also positioned themselves as experts in their field and professionals, and they make the case that their specialized knowledge and expertise allows them to transcend feelings of disgust and aversion towards intimate pubic hair removal.

In fact, a number of the women in my study who undertook this sexwork describe feeling “cleaner” and sexually attractive after their session. While it is not the purpose of this article to question these claims, I am intrigued by the nuances and intricacies that exist in the relationships between beauticians and their customers. This is particularly true because of the complex relationship between class, race and power that are embedded in the aesthetic labor performed on women’s bodies. This is a topic that warrants further research in the future. I hope to continue my work on this subject by exploring the complexities of beauty labor from various vantage points, including those of beauty workers themselves. In the meantime, I encourage readers to contact me with any questions about this article. I am happy to discuss my research in person or via phone. Thank you for your interest. Your privacy is important to us.

A Gendered Analysis of Brazilian Waxing