Monday, April 17, 2006

A Vagina Monologue

I owe visitors to Kiko's House an apology. As the journalist who in 1995 broke the story that the late Nicole Brown Simpson's breasts had been surgically enhanced (it was a slow day at the O.J. trial) , I have failed to note the latest craze in cosmetic surgery -- vaginal enhancement.

Call me slow. Call me long distance. Call me anything you want. But you coulda knocked me over with a feather after I learned that not only was V.E. hotter than triple mocca lattes, but actress Jennifer Ansiton -- my poster girl for ruining good looks by using way too much plastic -- gets her V. waxed in a new movie and may have had V.E. herself!

Because this is a family blog, I'll spare you the details of V.E. and send folks who have a note from their parents to a New York Times Magazine story on the subject.

As for Anniston, I take you to a phrase-turning dynamo by the name of Ross Douthat, who expresses my sentinments better than I could over at The American Scene:
The trailer for "The Break-Up," the new Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston vehicle, includes a remarkable scene. The couple has split up but still lives in the same apartment, and the Aniston character is looking for ways to make the Vaughn character pay more attention to her. "Go see Mischka, my personal waxer at the spa," a friend tells her, and "ask her for the Telly Savalas." And the next thing you know Aniston is parading naked through the apartment, showing off her waxed . . . well, you know, to Vaughn's goggling eyes.

Now obviously there's no rigorous moral case to be made against "the Telly Savalas," any more than there's a moral case against women shaving their legs or armpits, or men shaving their beards. Cultural standards change all the time. Still, I think we're crossing a pretty significant threshold with the waxing phenomenon, which is now so mainstream that it shows up in approved-for-all-audiences movie trailers. As with breast implants, it's another instance of modern women taking their sexual cues from pornography, and from the male fantasy of what Tom Wolfe calls "a boy with breasts," but which might be more accurately described as a prepubescent girl with breasts. Jennifer Aniston isn't a bad icon for this shift: When she started out on "Friends" she was fetchingly adorable, with curves and baby fat to spare. Fifteen years later, she's exercised, smoked and plastic surgerized herself into a weird, porn-like parody of a beautiful women - skinny, over-tanned, and all angles except for her still-pneumatic breasts. The waxing is just a small part of the pantomime, a final insult to the "natural" body she gave up on long ago.

So this is where we are today - so jaded about nudity and sexuality, and so caught up in sexual competition, that we aren't just vain and/or insecure about our bodies generally, but about how alluring our reproductive organs look. Men "manscape" to make their endowments more impressive; women line up for vaginal plastic surgery. A beautiful woman wandering naked through an apartment isn't anything special; she needs to be waxed to turn her boyfriend's head. Call it self-improvement, call it decadence . . . it's enough to make me nostalgic for the Hippies.

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