OK, I didn’t get a vagina facial — or “vagacial” — or “Peach Smoothie,” as it’s called — but Alex Kuczynski’s personal story for Harper’s Bazaar of getting one was so freakin’ intimate that I feel like I got one by proxy. What the hell is a vagacial, you ask? It’s a facial. Except it’s on your vagina. Like, if someone was going to see your vagina, and you wanted it to look fresh and new, you could get a Peach Smoothie. Yes, there is one more beauty regime you must now worry about not having done yet. Don’t worry. Your vagina can wait. Basically, Kuczynski has made something of a career out of making a spectacle of herself. She wrote a book about cosmetic surgery, Beauty Junkies, and a story she wrote for The New York Times Magazine about having a surrogate carry her child caused a sensation, leading readers to accuse her of elitism. Now, she’s back with another shocker — the tale of her well-scrubbed vagina.
As Kuczynski makes clear, she didn’t actually get her vagina worked on — she got her vulva worked over. (If you don’t know the difference, you might want to look that up.) Basically, the idea is that the vagacial is the new Brazilian (the wax job), and since Kuczynski seems unable to write anything that isn’t culturally loaded, this vag-expose is no exception. When she speaks of past Brazilians, she describes the experience thusly: “a tiny nut-brown woman would push my ankles up past my ears and pause in her Portuguese recitation of the Lord’s Prayer just long enough to grit her teeth and whisper, ‘Now, breathe,’ before—with a loud huzzah!—she pulled a six-inch strip of wax off of body parts that had not seen daylight since my last diaper change in 1970.” How not politically correct. But we’re in vagina territory here, so one has to assume anything goes.
In the room, our fearless journalist lies down on her back and spreads her legs for a Polish woman named Marta. The aesthetician cleanses, scrubs, and works on ingrown hairs. Apparently, there’s a related process that involves your butt; this Kuczynski spares us. After her vajayjay gets the full do-over, Kuczynski dabbles briefly in some cultural analysis, positing the vagacial as some kind of “Sex and the City,” post-feminist conundrum in which women find themselves on an endless quest for self-improvement but are forever unsure if they’ve gotten there.
To me, the whole thing seems a bit strange. Is nothing sacred? Not even one’s vagina? I guess with all the pap smears, the waxing, and the vagina-talk, the vagacial was the logical conclusion. But what are we to deduce — that our vaginas are our new faces?