“Mom, I have a unibrow,” my eleven-year-old son complained.
“Want me to pluck it?” I asked.
“Will it hurt?”
I watched my son vanish after this exchange, without giving the caterpillar across his forehead a second thought. And then I realized with dismay, if he had been a girl, by now she would have been plucking, shaving, waxing and dying various hairs on her body, as well as complaining about every other aspect of her femininity in pursuit of the elusive brass ring of bodily perfection. And I would have probably been helping her—after all, we all want to be beautiful, right? But isn’t it time we start asking ourselves at what cost? Sure, we like to think ourselves as having made progress given that corsets and foot-binding are no longer de rigueur. But have we really made that much progress when we’re still wearing Spanx and five-inch heels? Not to mention giving in to some of these less standard, more crazy beauty treatments:
Vaginal Steam Cleaning
There are very few things in life I feel the need to steam clean. Occasionally my floors. Sometimes my carpet (and I mean “carpet” literally, not figuratively). But never once has it occurred to me to steam clean my lady bits. However, Gwyneth Paltrow feels differently. On her website, GOOP, Ms. Paltrow wrote about the benefits of the Mugwort Steam Clean, “. . . a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al. It is an energetic release—not just a steam douche—that balances female hormone levels.”
First thing’s first. Who decided, “Hey, I’m going to shoot vapor from boiling water mixed with herbs that are used in rice cakes and soup into my vagina! That sounds like a fantastic idea!” Well, newsflash, it’s not, according to doctors (or anyone with half a brain). Feminine parts are like an Apple computer: if it’s working, simply leave it alone because if you decide to open things to “improve it” you run the risk of damaging the equipment (and you will definitely void the warranty).
The Sperm Facial
As recently as March 2014, Cosmopolitan was writing about the pros and cons of the “sperm facial” according to “science.” Well, thank God! Because when I want to know about scientific information, Cosmo is always the first place I look. However, what the sixteen-year-old male writer (I’m assuming) of the article overlooked was the actual science behind the benefits of a sperm facial, or more like, the fact that none exists. Nice try, kid. Next time go with ‘but blue balls might kill me.’
I could go on: waist training, Thai face slapping, crazy plastic surgery. There’s no end to what women will do in pursuit of beauty. So If I had a daughter, I would tell her the same thing I tell my sons: You are beautiful the way you are. I think my sons believe me. I’m not sure my daughter would.
It’s too bad the saying, “beauty is pain,” is more accurate than ever . . . and in more ways than one.
This blog was originally published on Moxy and Main.