Crafting press releases is difficult, thankless work that often relies on flimsy pop culture references or outrageous sensationalism to grab attention. In the case of a recent press release from the British Association of Dermatologists suggesting that Carrie Bradshaw’s adventures in pube grooming have all but made pubic lice extinct, both of these tactics worked well enough to grab some derisive media attention during a slow summer news week.
According to bemused Guardian contributor Marina Hyde, the B.A.D.’s specious headline “Was Sex and the City the beginning of the end for public lice?” is yet one more piece of evidence suggesting that our cultural obsession with celebrities and pop culture is finally wreaking havoc on something important, like medicine. The B.A.D. headline trumpets the organization’s conference next week in Liverpool, where dermatologists like Dr. Kun Sen Chen will hypothesize that the Brazilian waxing trend threatening the public ouse with extinction can be traced back to a single Sex and the City episode.
From the conference’s press release:
Pubic hair removal has been practised by humans for thousands of years, by cultures from all over the world, including the ancient Egyptians. However, until recently, with the rise of truly global mass media, pubic lice have been able to weather changing cultural attitudes to body hair.
What we have seen at work is the law of unintended consequences. In popularising hair removal, Carrie Bradshaw and co have contributed to ridding humanity of a pest that had plagued humans for millions of years. Sadly there isn't an Emmy for that.
Basically, Carrie Bradshaw is the inverse Johnny Appleseed of pubic lice — an itinerant legend for the 21st century traveling through televisions instead of on foot, and preaching deforestation in her effort to proselytize women to the Cult of Minimal Pubes.
Over at the Toronto Star (it has been a slooooow news week, you guys), Kate Allen points out that the B.A.D. website “doesn't offer any data showing how the dermatologists know more women are more hairless, or how they can conclusively pin this on a single episode of a single television show,” and Hyde mentions that Dr. Chen fails to identify which Sex and the City episode really defeated the public louse once and for all. The press release about the conference does, however, provide some facts, namely, that while “sexual freedom” supposedly increased the incidence of pubic lice from 0.8 in the early 50s to 3.2 percent in 1964, incidence dropped to 0.17 from 0.41 percent from 1997 to 2003.
Coincidence? Probably not — SATC, like any really popular TV show, had a huge cultural impact on a generation of TV watchers. If British dermatologists feel like they need to jazz up their summer conferences a little bit by discussing decade-old premium cable shows, that’s up to them.
Image via Getty