A Sphinx, a G, or a Brazilian?

A good waxing can change your life, or so they say.

The only time having a leg wax got emotionally complicated was when one of the "therapists" tried to sell me Jesus.

"So," she said, "do you go to church?" "Oh yes," I said, "all the time." "Which churches do you go to?" she asked, narrowing her eyes. I reeled off the names of churches I frequented, also naming the priests in residence, with an air of challenge in my voice. Picked on the wrong person there, I thought - my DNA is Catholic and I have a blood relative at the Vatican. She was undeterred. "Try reading this," she said, slapping a religious propaganda leaflet released from her salon coat pocket on to my red-dotted leg. Not long afterwards, I bought an epilator.

Waxes have become a lot more emotionally complicated than that since then. "I got asked if I wanted a full bikini wax, a Hollywood, a Bra zilian, a Playboy, a G, or a Sphinx," said my exhausted friend as she sat down - late - to lunch. "I just said, 'Make sure it doesn't show out of my bikini bottoms.'" Actually, I think someone was showing off, because all those "menu options" are really just different names for the same thing: either full removal of the pubic hair or a procedure that leaves a thin line (aka, a "landing strip"). Definitions vary from salon to salon and from one beautician to another, so always make sure you know exactly what you're asking for.

Strictly speaking, a Brazilian leaves a line of hair and a Hollywood doesn't, but it's all bastardised now. A teenage female friend of mine confesses to feeling under huge peer pressure to have all her pubic hair removed like all her friends do. It does make me wonder if a whole generation of boys will grow up to be like John Ruskin reputedly was: so horrified by pubic hair that he was disgusted when he saw a real-life female who actually had some.

In some Middle Eastern and Muslim cultures it is common - for both men and women - to remove all their pubic hair, and the practice is by no means newly "fashionable". However, here in the west, full pubic hair removal did become trendy in the late 1990s when a beauty salon offering just such a service was opened in Manhattan by seven Brazilian sisters, all of whose names began, and presumably still do, with the letter J. Signed photos of recommendation and sheer bald, plucked joy apparently adorn the walls (I've not been). One well-known American actress reportedly declared that a Brazilian bikini wax had changed her life. And what a life she must have led up until that moment!

It seems that being liberated of your pubic hair makes your clothes hang better, is more aerodynamic, delivers more miles per gallon when you drive, makes you earn more, gets you the best tables at restaurants, prevents ageing, and means that you always find a parking space. Generally it makes for A Better Life. "It feels amazing as you walk down the street," gushed someone who has had it done. "Sex is so much better. You feel like you're walking on air, and it's like this secret only you know." What a trick I've missed.

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