On August 23rd, The Today Show ran a segment about “fabulous” new hair removal products. Oh wait, they weren’t so much referred to as hair removal as “skin smoothing.” Here’s the intro to the online version of their story:

While most women already have a pre-pool-party hair-removal ritual, new technologies and products are making it easier than ever to achieve glossy gams and a beach-ready bikini line. From new Nair-like lotions to barber-type brushes to the latest laser solutions, these hair-removal methods will wipe away (literally, in some cases) your stubble trouble.

Glossy gams? Although I’ve shaved for almost two decades, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my legs get all glossy from the process. Bleed-y, perhaps, or scar-y. Ingrown hair-y. But glossy? And what is this pre-pool-party hair-removal ritual? (I must not have the membership card to that secret society…)

My main issue is with the “style editor” (!) and her approach to the story. She runs through all the new solutions to the woes of getting rid of body hair, solutions which include sprays, waxes, and (for the moneyed class) laser hair removal. She also mentions a “revolutionary” product that uses a *heating* element to “disrupt the hair follicle.” I haven’t tried this (and most likely never will), but I think it’s safe to assume there’s a bit of pain associated with applying a heating element to one’s skin — after all, it’s supposed to be hot enough to “reduce hair density over time.” Leaving aside the validity of this claim, the “style editor” notes that she tried the product, and feels bad about being “such a baby” for her fears that something like this would cause pain.

Let me get this straight. She’s a “baby” because she’s kinda nervous about using a torture device tool that applies a heating element to her bare skin? I think this clip highlights the lengths to which marketers will go to service the idea that it’s unacceptable for women to let their leg hair grow naturally. The “style editor” also tries laser hair removal, again admitting to us that it kinda hurts, and what a “baby” she is for objecting to the pain.

The video clip for the story is worth watching if only from the perspective of cultural critique; sure, we’ve been shaving for “years” (and now millions of us pay upwards of a thousand dollars to have hair lasered off) but what’s the impetus for continuing to do so? Could it *possibly* be to help cosmetic surgeons and corporations make money on hair removal products?