Like other women, I still like to get waxed even though I’m body hair positive. From time to time, I like the feeling of silky legs against a soft pair of pants. Call it what you want — folding in the face of the patriarchy or womanhood — there are times when I want my hair gone. Keeping my hair long is usually noticed by the public — stares, side glances, or double takes. But hair removal is a private, secretive practice. I don’t normally have an audience.
Until once time, I did. Twice.
I happened to be on a trip in Thailand when I felt like getting waxed. I think I’d like to wear my cheeky bikini bottoms without pubic hair poking through, I thought, And while I’m at it, also wax my legs.
I spotted a salon and ducked in and was soon ushered past the manicure and pedicure stations to a table behind a nearly sheer curtain. Slipping off my underwear, I glanced down at my curly bush, excited at the thought of feeling like a baby’s bottom again.
I’ve had enough waxings to feel like a seasoned expert. My pain tolerance is high, and because I gained ‘fuck-off status,’ I’ve never really minded being naked in front of others. Or so I thought.
The esthetician glided through the sheet with a pot of hot wax and rectangle pieces of fabric in her hands. She barely said hello and promptly started to apply wax onto my inner thighs. It was roughly the same temperature as Death Valley. Ouch.
Next came the cloth, pressed firmly to my legs. Normally at this stage, I mentally prep myself, take a deep breath, knowing that it might hurt for a count of one…two… but then I know it’ll be alright.
This time, when she lifted the cloth, she didn’t do so in one rapid motion. Rather, it was so slow it felt like each hair was being lifted one by one. This produced a tingling sensation not unlike the feeling of bare skin sliding at rapid pace down a hill covered in a furry rug made of needles. (It’s like a slip ‘n slide, but for vacationers in hell.)
I gulped, feeling the perspiration welling up under my pores. I didn’t have time to process the pain before she began the slow march to agony, moving closer and closer to my vulva.
It was just about time for the labia when the woman leaned against the bed, her elbow resting a few inches from my knee cap. She looked worn out. I knew my hair was thick — but was it that impossible? I heard her shout something behind her in Thai, prompting another woman to appear from behind the curtain.
I was on my stomach as they got those hard-to-reach places when one of the women gave me three quick slaps on my bum. “It’s so big!” she said, laughing. “Yes,” I said in agreement. I do a lot of squats, I wanted to add.
The new woman took over as the first esthetician stood a few feet away, presumably catching her breath. “Oooooh,” I heard the new woman say. Then she looked at me. “So much hair!” she said with a chuckle.
So much hair that it still wasn’t a job for one. She got the original esthetician to hold back my skin as she applied the wax. Still, this wasn’t enough. She shouted and soon a third woman came in. Together, they giggled a lot. Something told me it was at my expense.
As they hovered around me, making motions as if strategizing as to how the three of them could tackle this jungle, the wax started to really burn. It was Death Valley, but now the wax felt like the surface of the sun.
I grabbed my phone. Stunned, I typed “I feel like my clitoris is melting away,” and texted it to a friend, peering suspiciously at the three woman examining my labia. “Why are they putting wax on my clitoris?”
With three women, the rips were faster this time — no more hellish slip-n-slides. But each of them soon became tired and new women started to replace the original three. It felt like there were women appearing and disappearing behind the curtain at random. They might have even kept it open.
I was on my stomach as they got those hard-to-reach places when one of the woman gave me three quick slaps on my bum. “It’s so big!” she said, laughing. “Yes,” I said in agreement. I do a lot of squats, I wanted to add. She managed to slap it once more before I turned around.
In this salon, there were no boundaries as I had previously experienced. Bums were for touching and curtains were for opening.
They weren’t able to wax my legs. “Too much hair,” they said. One bush was enough for the day.
I waddled home, feeling my red and bumpy skin pulsing under my pants. Tomorrow, I’d get my legs waxed. This shouldn’t be so hard — leg hair is shorter, sparser, and not my vagina.
The next day I ignored the feeling of wax stuck to my urethra and found a salon, only feeling slightly hesitant to relive the potential for another ass slapping.
This time, I was guided to a room with a towel on the floor. I sat down and noticed the wall in front of me wasn’t really a wall, but three large windows. Outside, there was a pedestrian-only street where I watched tourists in brightly colored T-shirts and bathing suits strolling by. I didn’t mind. No one was peering in and it gave me something to look at.
The wax went as any other would (besides the day prior). It only took one woman, and I still had my clitoris intact (but still healing from the day before). She had already finished the front and I’d flipped onto my stomach when I heard a muffled chuckle.
The esthetician was deep into the crevices of the back of my upper thighs, I lifted my chest to turn around. I saw three young European-looking tourists watching the woman spread the sticky wax along the line of hair. They stood, expectantly in the window, their bodies contorting and shriveling with each movement the woman made, anticipating the climax: the big rip. It was as if they were watching a horror movie they’d already seen.
She ripped. “OUCH!” they scream, “Ooooh!!!” People might think women’s body hair is disgusting, but they certainly love to watch it being removed.
I started laughing and waved. The tourists outside gave me a thumbs up and encouraging nods.
Private waxings don’t show how tough we are, how much uncomfortableness we can endure. Public ones, however, seem to earn some respect. Now, if we could just show that same attitude to all women, hairy or not.