On reflection, I don’t think my boyfriend was thrilled with my decision to pay for adhesive plastic crystals to be applied to the entrance of my vagina.
However, I was buzzing. I scampered up the stairs to our flat to the sound of a silent, private Rhubarb and Custard soundtrack. This was joke shop bling, but it was giving me the sort of giddy, fizzy joy that alternative healers might hope to harness from special energy stones. I had too much special energy to use the lift.
George, proprietress of Whitcross Street’s Hula Nails, applier of vulval decoration and easily the hottest, coolest lady in the East London area, advised me to be a bit deadpan. “I think you should just...wait until you’re about to ravish him, look really serious, and drop your knickers,” she advised. This was my plan, but like every plan I ever make involving a loved one and a surprise, my resolve dissolved before Oyster card touch out point. My own oyster was so ready for unveiling - and who wants boring old pearls when you’re rocking a pair of sparkly anchors?
The trouble with the vajazzle is that it’s not got a good previous. The first I heard of it was when Jennifer Love Hewitt explained it as something she had done to her “precious lady”. I am down with most of the vulval euphemisms, but not one that makes your reproductive parts sound like a limited edition Wedgwood shepherdess. Then came The Only Way Is Essex, and Sam Faiers’ taking a pair of tweezers and some glue to Amy Childs’ punani in order to painstakingly bespangle her in preparation for a date with Kirk Norcross.
Its feminist pedigree is not strong. Some might argue that paying for it is worse than actively filching sixty quid from the Fawcett Society’s tombola float. My friend Kate, a holy trinity of feminism, filth and fabulousness once said “But why the FUCK would anyone want VOLUNTARY GLITTER HERPES?”
Part of the problem is that in order for the crystals to stick, you need to be bare down there. (If you want to make your muff fluff more magical, I’d suggest some sort of hypoallergenic glitter gel, but obviously anything that goes under your knickers should probably be approved by a professional.) And among progressive twenty something women who sometimes go on equality marches, the Hollywood wax has a worse rep than Joe Francis. It’s a demand of The Man. It’s infantilising. It’s horribly expensive. And after a few days the ingrown hair situation makes the area look like the set of Beyond The Thunderdome.
Yet, girls seem to be much more interested in the follicular state of my fanny than boys are. For the sake of full disclosure, my approach to beauty is based on Joan Rivers’ joke about housework. If you keep it up, you’ll never appreciate the effect. Neglect everything for a full six months, and then go to town - you get much more satisfying before and after pictures. But among close pals, announcing you’re going for a full wax has the same effect as announcing you’re writing to the council and asking them to rescind your voting slip.
I’m really glad we’ve gone beyond the “wax as standard” approach for women. We’re not cars. More importantly, it’s not good when our body does something of its own accord and we feel the need to modify it, just to be normal. But it makes me sad that some of my favourite feminist friends don’t seem to fathom that there’s nothing funnier to do with your fanny than vajazzle it. Fuck the functional. Bugger you, Mother Earth. I feel like my pubic area is filled with the spirit of glam rock. Bowie and Jagger would approve of glittery genitals. I reckon Suzi Quattro would be into it.
But there’s still a feeling in the air that being a proper feminist means spending less time shopping for frocks. That wearing make up is a public demonstration of patriarchal collusion, and having mascara and lippy on your face is a sign that you’re off to The Gathering Of Subjugation, in the same way that wearing clown paint is a sign that you’re off to The Gathering Of The Juggaloes.
Writing off fashion and beauty as silly, girly, unworthy pursuits is one of the most antifeminist moves a person can make. Being interested in make up is every bit as worthy as loving furniture restoration, or angling. Spunking dollar on shoes might feel wasteful, but it’s no worse than having a fondness for fancy restaurants or collecting Star Wars merch.
Our bodies don’t belong to anyone else. There should be no one accepted way to present them to the world. If your vibe is hairy and cosmetic free, then listen to no-one who advises you to try a bit of ‘subtle’ dermal filler and an anal bleach session. But if you’re my feminist friend, please don’t recoil in horror when I announce that I got my bits bejewelled because it made me giggle. I didn’t do it for my boyfriend. I didn’t do it because I felt pressured by a magazine advertorial. I did it because it made me feel kind of hot, and incredibly silly. Incidentally I skipped bouncily from the salon to the nearest station, and not a single crystal was dislodged.