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I’m in two minds whilst writing this. I could go for the subtle, carefully-crafted, non-granny-upsetting version. Or I could go for the full-on sweary, call a spade a spade version. We’ll see what happens…

I was engaging in a bit of personal maintenance the other night. Bath, facial, general body up-keep – you know the sort of evening. Then I came to tidying up my leg hair, bikini line, etc. (That makes me sound like I have the hairiness of a yeti. I can assure you that I, even unkempt, do not look like a wookie). So there I am, neatening my topiary, when I got acidentally a bit trigger happy. It got me thinking.

Throughout history, women have spent inordinate amounts of time, and sometimes money, ridding their bodies of hair. We wax, we shave, we pluck, we epilate. We get told off for blunting our fella’s razor. We let a stranger wield what is esentially a lolly-stick covered in boiling wax around parts of our bodies that even the doctor has probably never seen. I’m as guilty as anyone of all this primping and preening and, despite my feminist ideals, I wouldn’t go out of the house with hairy legs. Or armpits. In fact, when the day comes and nature deems it necessary to give me old-lady whiskers, I will remove those too. Oh, the joys of womanhood.

Most of these rituals seem not to have changed much for decades. A shaved leg is a shaved leg. But not so with the topiary of the lady garden. (By the way, did you know there’s a British politician whose name is GENUINELY “Lady Garden of Frognal”? I might have gone for a different career – perhaps Dr Garden, or Professor Garden. Or maybe gender reassignment. And also – what MUST her google searches look like?!?! I dread to think…)

cropped-428801_10150938928686863_801165263_n1.jpgAnywhoo – back to the hairy bits. Lady gardens (the personal kind, not the political kind) seem to have a kind of fashion cycle to them. Some decades are keen on full-blown, let it hang down to your knees styling. Others have been more along the lines of “just tidy the edges enough so that you don’t frighten small children when you wear a bathing suit“. Now, we seem to be in an era of the hollywood, the brazillian and the vajazzle. Baffling. I mean, how is a girl to know whether she’s sporting the latest topiary? Should we take a picture torn from a magazine and say to the beautician “I want this style please”? Can we even call it topiary if, as seems rather popular now, we’re going for the pre-pubescent, whip it all off look?

That’s another thing I find odd. Maybe it’s the availability of images of naked ladies all over the interwebs, or perhaps it’s some sort of post-feminist statement. What you do with your lady garden is, quite frankly, none of my concern. But I can’t quite get my head around the hollywood wax. There are several issues here:

1. Tidy is one thing, but I can’t see why I would want to look, um, childish “down there”. To me that’s creepy (and I’m not even going near why men find it attractive – that’s another issue entirely).

2. It’s expensive and requires maintenance to prevent ingrown hairs, etc.

3. It’s bloody drafty (I speak from experience)!

4. It’s really rather painful (again – experience).

I understand that if you are a model, stripper or have another professional reason for this type of extreme topiary then essentially it’s part of your job description. But for the rest of us, surely it’s a painful and unecessary undertaking? I’m not proposing that we all let our lady gardens run wild, although if that’s what floats your boat, you go girl! But equally, I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea that society might expect me to bald myself in the name of fashion / style / sex appeal. If women with bald heads were the next big thing on the runways, would you get the clippers out? Thought not. Although doubtless there are some women who would be first in the queue for a buzz cut. Each to their own, I guess.

I shan’t be asking for a hollywood any time soon. I also won’t be letting it grow to my knees and putting bows and sparkles in it. What do you think? Am I just hitting middle age and no longer down with the kids? Or have I got a valid point? And didn’t I do well with the granny-friendly, non-sweary thing!