Not long ago I was out with several women I had just met through one mutual friend, when suddenly the tranquil girl talk of schools, kids, work and exercise went from zero to 90 in five seconds.
"So, does anybody have a Brazilian?" our mutual friend asked. Amid laughter and a few chokes on Chardonnay, we asked why she wanted to know.
"Well, my sister called me the other day and asked if I had one, because she had just been to her gynecologist and the doctor had commented that she was the first woman in months who didn't have one," she told us.
There was immediate outrage at the doctor for making such a remark. We assumed it was a sexist male doctor, but it turned out to be a female. (Is that worse?)
Then, one by one, we offered our views on the trend of going completely hairless "down there." Nobody in the group, it seemed, had braved the total wax or laser as of yet.
"Where does youR sister live?" I asked.
"Columbus, Ga.!" my friend exclaimed.
"Do you mean Tampa Bay women aren't keeping up with Columbus, Ga.?" I said.
A single friend in her late 30s told me she barely knows anyone, married or single, who doesn't have a Brazilian, or at least a landing strip. A friend in Raleigh said many of her friends in their 40s have them, as well. She added a ticket shape to the list of designs.
So as I talked to other moms about their "personal landscaping," I began to think it's not that Tampa Bay isn't keeping up with Columbus. Instead, it's that a lot of women aren't keeping up with yet another female regimen.
I felt a little less out of touch when I talked to another friend who used to be an OB/GYN nurse. I told her that I was writing a column on Brazilians, and asked her how many she had seen on the job.
"Brazilian women don't get enough prenatal care?" she asked me in all seriousness.
Then I talked to Amber Prida, owner of two spas in South Tampa, Spa Jardin and Melt-Out. The majority of her customers are between 25 and 45. Melt-Out caters to moms, providing kid-friendly activities and services that take 15 minutes or less, with no appointments required.
"It definitely seems to have become the norm. Most of our clients, instead of getting a bikini wax, now opt for a Brazilian," she said. "I'd say 75 to 80 percent of our customers get them."
Okay. Switch all visuals from tickets and landing strips to the scene in Gone With the Wind when Rhett Butler has just brought Scarlett a new hat from Paris. She jumps on a stool to see her reflection in the mirror and he catches a glimpse of her legs under the blockade of petticoats and hoop skirts.
"Those pantalets. I don't know a woman in Paris who wears pantalets anymore," he admonished Scarlett, who was mortified to be caught in a Glamour "Don't."
Is the Brazilian, or femme fatale as it's also known, just another trend women can choose to follow if they want? If that's the case, I guess it's more palatable. If it's something women do because they feel they have to keep up with the women of Playboy, it seems more archaic.
"I would be opposed to it if my husband asked for it. I'd say, 'No way,' " said Prida. "But if it's my idea and it makes me feel sexy, then it's a great idea.''
According to her, there are more ways to feel sexy than simple hair management. Some women have Swarovski crystals adhered below their underwear line in the shape of a heart. Others opt to tint their pubic hair according to a holiday, red for Valentine's Day or green for St. Patrick's. There are even stencil wax kits that let you create shapes of Jack-o-lanterns or hearts.
"Gee. Wonder if they have a menorah for Hanukkah," one friend of mine quipped.
But hold on. There are other reasons to go bare besides feeling sexy. Jeans are cut lower. Bikinis are smaller. There's less maintenance to worry about, because waxing it all off lasts longer than shaving. For $50 and up a treatment, it should.
As I researched the topic further, I heard of high school girls who were talking about getting Brazilian laser treatments for graduation presents.
Are you kidding me? When I was 18 I could barely get my mom to pay the extra $2 to buy me a round Flicker razor instead of the Daisy 3-pack.
Very few high school girls have asked for a femme fatale at Spa Jardin or Melt Out, Prida told me. And if they do, she calls the mom to see if she's aware of it. She even checks with moms of girls who want pencil-thin eyebrows.
So, try it, or don't try it. Just be aware of the trend.
And, by the way, many salons now offer the bare option for men as well. Let's see who's behind the times now, Rhett.
This story appeared in the May/June issue of Go Momma magazine. Magazine editor Katherine can be reached at [email protected]