Matching the rug to the drapes

Pubic-hair dye hits the U.S.

Published September 21, 2006 4:20PM (EDT)

Hey, did you know that in addition to trimming, shaving, waxing, sugaring, laser hair removal, electrolysis and going au naturel, personal grooming options now include a specialized dye for pubic hair? Well, they do! As several alert Broadsheet readers informed us on Wednesday, fledgling cosmetics company Betty Beauty recently came out with a special, extra-sensitive dye "for the hair down there," available in shades ranging from "auburn" to "fun."

In our porn-influenced, improvement-obsessed culture, it was probably only a matter of time until someone thought to cash in with specialty muff dye. Probably some people are dyeing their nether regions already; the Beauty Betty site claims it's common in Italy. And the product itself isn't really any more or less problematic than other beauty aids. Like navel piercing or the Brazilian wax, pubic dye can be seen as a reminder of our culture's unrealistic, objectifying standards for female appearance, as well as an opportunity to be creative with one's personal canvas. Still, being presented with yet another way to enhance oneself can feel like the last straw; one of our tipsters lamented, "Now we have to DYE our pubic hair?" What will they think of next, special decals for inside the vaginal canal?

Of course, the dye doesn't discriminate -- men can certainly customize their pubic regions, too, and the Beauty Betty site reports it has gotten plenty of inquiries from guys looking to cover gray or otherwise enhance their packages. But women are clearly the primary market. The product's packaging shows a slender female silhouette with a big triangle on the pubic region; said triangle varies in color depending on the shade of dye.

And the marketing relies on more squirm-inducing euphemisms for the vulva than any modern woman should be expected to stomach. A Wednesday promotion on the advertising site Daily Candy suggested that whether you're looking to make "the drapes match the rug" or just mix things up a little, it's "time to refurbish your special no-no place with a jazzy fall color: Put your triangle's tresses in the capable hands of Betty, the first dye created especially for your down-there hair." Note to advertisers: Even if you're kidding, using the childish, sex-negative term "no-no place" to refer to an adult woman's vulva is pretty creepy, especially when you're also suggesting she put her pubic hair in the hands of someone named Betty. Daily Candy did acknowledge its own use of "unsettling euphemisms," but couldn't resist slipping in references to a woman's "sensitive lady place," "fuzzy éclair" and "wilting orchid." (Would customers really run from anatomically correct terms like "pubic" and "vulva"?) For a finisher, the site goes all sexist and heteronormative, promising, "Your new plumage is more than certain to attract plenty of male attention. So go on and wash that man right into your hair." Yech. Honestly, I think I'd prefer the vaginal decals -- maybe I can find some using the Feministing logo.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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