I’m a brunette. I’m a very hairy brunette. Probably from the time that I was in the third grade, or perhaps even earlier, I was self conscious about just how hairy my arms and legs were.
I cut a sweet deal with my momma who said that, as soon as I became a woman (i.e. started menstruating), I could choose to remove whatever hair I wanted. Well, I fooled her good and started my period at age 9. She was at work when the blessed event occurred. I called her to let her know then went straight to the tub to shave my legs.
I loved and still love shaving my legs. I know that there are many of you do not enjoy this little ritual. There are some who are downright resentful of the process feeling it is time-consuming, tedious, even anti-feminist. But, for me, it was a right of passage and a privilege. I loved how smooth and orderly and clean it felt. It was self care and self respect. I did it then, and I do it now for no one’s pleasure but my own, and I do it damned-near everyday.
I’m nearly as particular about the eyebrow grooming. I’ll tweeze a few stray hairs nearly everyday before applying make-up. I’ve never had the super thin style that some of my lady friends have finally had to admit was pretty silly. I just tidy them up around the edges and get a professional shape up from time to time.
When I got old enough to consider other hair removal options besides the razor and tweezers I’d started out on, I tried depilatories. The commercials, the packaging, the magazine ads made them sound like a miracle. Just slather it on, and you’ll be smooth as silk. I found, much like a boastful man thick with charm at the party, when you get them home, depilatories typically stink of chemicals, are ineffective, and can leave you with a rash.
Over the years, I’d had friends who were advocates of waxing all the things. They made lots of claims about softer and thinner regrowth, etc. I’d been in on conversations in which people claimed the pain was not so bad, while others told tales of excruciation. But the reason I didn’t wax had nothing to do with an intolerance for pain.
In fact, I rather like pain. If it were free and didn’t mark you, I’d be under the tattoo needle or get a little microdermabrasion or some such everyday. The endorphin release is great. It clears my mind. Fire walking, bed of nails, I get it. My earliest pain fix was to enjoy walking through the gravel in my bare feet to get the mail at MaMa Cain’s. I feel very alive when I feel a little physical, externally- sourced pain.
When waxing friends weren’t complaining about the pain, they’d discuss the awkward positions one would have to take with a virtual stranger to get a professional waxing. Well, I am not a bit shy about my body. I never have been. Dentists can stick their hands in my mouth all day. Never felt embarrassed at the gynecologist. Modeled in the buff for drawing classes in my Centre College days. I am generally very comfortable in my own skin.
My rejection of waxing as a mode of hair removal was about neither pain nor prudence. My rejection was about the process of regrowth. I could not accept that, in order to pull it all out by the roots and experience the ultimate smoothness, you have to LET IT GROW. I am an all or nothing girl. If I want something smooth, I want it smooth. This idea of in between, the idea that you have to leave it alone for awhile is SOOOOOO hard.
Until very recent years I’d always been a trimmer only of the pubic hair. Think George Michael’s beard in the 80s, and you’ll get the idea. When I finally decided to give smooth a try, it was kind of a disaster. Shaving was NEVER as smooth as I wanted. It was irritating and regrowth after shaving was absolutely miserable. Because you know what? If you really want something gone, and you just cut it off at the surface, it comes back pricklier than ever before. Ever tried this method in other areas of your life? Perhaps a toxic relationship? You cut him off at the surface, but he just grows back, and this time, he has a sharper, more irritating edge than ever before.
If you want something good and gone, sometimes, you’ve got to rip it out by the roots. That way, when it grows back, it’ll come back softer. It’ll be more sparse. The roots will be a little more shallow every time you rip it out so the removal process won’t hurt quite as much if you’re faithful to the process. But you HAVE TO let it grow in between times. You have to let the very thing you suffered to banish the first time get long enough to catch hold of again. You’ve got to suffer through the indignity of imperfection to have even just a day or two of being really, really smooth.
It should be noted, however, that I’ve also heard some fairly intense stories from folks who have tried taking matters into their own hands with the waxing. They want perfection. They want it badly, and they think they can get there themselves. Wax is HOT, and while you may be flexible enough to reach everything you want gone, you can’t really see it or act with enough precision from your angle to get the best results. I’ve never even tried this one because I KNOW that without someone else handling the dangerous stuff, looking at my patterns of growth, and reaching the places I just can’t reach with any grace, I’d never get smooth, and I might even injure myself pretty seriously while trying.
So now, I approach the subject of hair removal just like I approach every issue great and small- with the serenity prayer. . I have come to accept the things I cannot change. I have the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I’ve admitted that I am powerless over pubic hair, and have come to believe that a power greater than me, namely Amy Lanter at Healing Hands, can help me. I have made a decision to surrender its removal to her. Please consider the above my personal inventory on the subject. For those I’ve wronged, I’ll be getting around to you to make amends eventually unless I fall off the wagon in a moment of weakness and take up the razor again. Lord help.