Yvonne Bachelor from the East End Park area of Leeds, West Yorkshire is making her regular trip to tanning and beauty salon Smooth n Easy on the Harehills Lane for her bi-monthly Brazilian. Bubbly blonde Yvonne is forty three and has been bikini waxing for the past fifteen years. Yvonne is one of millions of women who put themselves through the same painful process every few weeks in the name of beauty. Well, its expected, isnt it? Yvonne says, flinching as Tina, the owner of Smooth n easy, ruthlessly pulls away another strip of waxed paper. Its like having a turn on the sunbed or getting your nails done. I wouldnt dream of letting my hubby see me with a hairy beaver!
A deeply tanned Tina concurs. She caters for clients as old as sixty and as young as sixteen. Everyone wants that perfect, airbrushed Hollywood look, Tina says, basting Yvonnes pubic area with more hot wax. Online pornography has seen women take more interest in what I like to call vaginal beauty. Its nothing to be ashamed of. Its all about Girl Power and women saying my flange is beautiful.
The popularity of genital hair removal started after World War II when new fashions in bathing suits revealed more flesh and women didnt want unsightly pubic hair ruining their summer look. The practice was an extension, and some might argue a social evolution in sexually acceptable mores, that followed the Western trend in feminine grooming which had for centuries expected under arm hair removal. A sexual evolution that exploded with the expansion and tolerance of pornography which has promoted breast enlargement, seen womens increased acceptance of more adventurous sexual practices and encouraged the removal or sculpting of intimate body hair.
But according to medical experts when it comes to Bikini waxing theres a problem.
The Bikini wax, especially what is called the Brazilian or Sphinx style where all or almost all of the hair is removed, is a ticking time bomb for the NHS, says Dr Sheridan Burke of the Pudenda Clinic on Londons Harley Street. Its part of a big problem that were seeing where people are expecting the NHS to foot the bill for their lifestyle choices. But throwing away public cash on free gastric bands for lazy fatties who cant find the will power to say no to another cream cake or a cheese burger with large fries could be nothing when it comes to what we call vanity treatments compared with what Bikini waxing might eventually end up costing us. In fact women persisting with the ideal Brazilian month in month out could ultimately cost the state more than obesity, smoking and alcoholism combined.
But whats the problem?
Its like maintaining a privet hedge, Dr Burke explains, the more you cut it back the thicker it grows. Human body hair is just the same. After only maybe two years of regular waxing and left untrimmed some of these women will have a genital pelt. Ive seen them in my clinic. Some days I turn up to the surgery and its like the Day of the Triffids. There was one woman came in to be examined after allowing her pubic hair to grow following years of waxing and I genuinely thought she had a small dog sat on her lap. Something like the size of a Boarder Collie bitch. Her bush was huge.
At the moment for Yvonne, a part-time working mother with two young children, who enjoys looking good and is a regular at her local Bannatyne gym, this isnt a problem. Her a full leg and bikini wax costs forty pounds and she builds it into her busy lifestyle. Its a bit of me time, she says, biting down as Tina works her elbow on shifting some stubborn pubes from a tricky crevice.
But what about when Yvonne isnt so sprightly and cant get out and about anymore or doesnt have the disposable income to spend on luxuries? When age and a shrinking state pension makes the visits to Tina and her team at Smooth n Easy physically and financially impossible.
Then were going to have some trouble, warns Dr Burke. Then were going to have a generation of women who are seriously, seriously hairy down below. I dont consider that the word epidemic would be inappropriate. Think Virginia Vine Creeper and Grey Squirrels. Were going to be over run. Itll be like Myxomatosis and DDT all over again. In thirty to forty years time our Care Homes are going to be full of old women whose rampant Lady Gardens pose a serious health hazard. Infestation and bad hygiene will very real issues and these women will be like all the fatties, chain smokers and alkies that suppose that the NHS will solve a problem that theyve created for themselves and assume the state will pick up the tab. Well need teams of shearers working round the clock just to maintain some kind of status quo. Its going to be a nightmare. I genuinely think that in little more than a couple of decades time, unkempt beavers could bring down the NHS.
Back in the Smooth n Easy studio in Leeds Yvonne surveys her now marble-smooth groin and is unrepentant. She has no anxieties about any future hair growth and says shes going to enjoy life while she can. Ill worry about that later. Something will turn up, wont it? And isnt it lovely, she says, displaying and running a hand over her hairless tuppence. I feel just like a sexy Barbie.