Last weekend, my husband stood as godfather in the baptism of his best friend’s unbelievably adorable daughter. (They belong to a liberal enough church that my husband’s lack of professed belief in Jesus Christ is considered far less important to his godchild’s well-being than his commitment to the welfare of her and her family. It’s nice.)
It was a very moving ritual, which my husband was very proud and excited to be a part of, but naturally, the conversation before and after turned toward other religious initiation traditions, most prominently the one that often takes place on the kitchen table as a bunch of calm women and increasingly ashen-faced men look on. The baby’s parents, raised in Ghana and Colombia respectively, were having a little trouble grasping the whole ritual of the bris. Yes, we explained, it often happens at home. Sometimes the person that does it is a doctor, sometimes not—it depends. No, it’s not performed with a naked blade so much as a thing that looks like, um, a cigar cutter? I guess? Yes, somehow everyone manages to recover enough to eat afterwards—these are Jews, after all. It’d take a lot more than a bloodless little snip of a foreskin to keep us from the Zabar’s platter.
There was one question, however, that gave us both pause: “What do they do with it?” Apart from the proverbial “they make a wallet that turns into the suitcase joke,” neither of us had any idea how to answer. Until now! Because now there’s the HydraFacial, a technology that uses the stem cells from an infants’ foreskin to regenerate aging and stressed skin. The logic is that our skin is the healthiest when we’re a baby, so why not use the enzymes (or whatever, I’m not a dermatologist) in a piece of skin an infant isn’t using to make us baby-smooth again?
Amazingly, it works … or seems to, at least for Ashley Weatherford, the intrepid reporter for New York Magazine who offered her own face up to the pee-pee treatment. Following the procedure, she said her skin “glows in way that I thought only Jennifer Lopez could glow.” But what’s fascinating is the potential of these types of treatments, if they evolve beyond Park Avenue dermatologists’ offices, to crack the anti-circumcision movement wide open. In my experience, the kind of people—Americans, at least—who argue against circumcision (apart from the complete anti-Semites) are the kind of upscale crunchies who might also balk at vaccination and are extremely concerned about the availability of sustainable seafood and the presence of parabens in things. That is to say, exactly the kind of people who might embrace an effective and all-natural miracle skin product, especially one that prevents waste.
So, which will win out? Will they table their scruples in exchange for everlasting youth? I sure as hell would, but then I don’t have a problem with circumcision to begin with. Recycling: it’s good for the planet and good for the skin.