Ripped

Showing off some skin and side boob in Delaware in 2014.

Question #1076: Have you ever had anything waxed, if so, what?

Yes.

I had a rose dipped in wax at a Renaissance festival in Ohio my senior year in high school. I remember it started flaking on the bus ride home. I’ve also had paraffin wax poured over my hands and feet as part of various spa treatments over the years.

And I’ve been known to nonchalantly play with melted candle wax — usually while waiting for my food or drinking wine — sloshing it around the burning candle wick, dipping or shaping the wax with my fingers, scraping it off the sides of the container.

But that’s not what this question is really about, is it?

This is really a question about body hair. And society. And can easily turn into a conversation about sexuality, and feminism and hygiene, and all the other things associated with women and their bodies.

Yes, I’ve had parts of my body painted with wax … occasionally honey and sugar … and I’ve had the hair ripped out from places that I myself have never seen unassisted. I’ve even done the waxing myself, and ripped out hair from my arms, pits, upper lip, and chin. I’ve even helped others remove hair off their bodies, too.

The topic of body hair comes up quite a bit in our house, thanks to the change upon us and to the fact that these kids come from gene pools created by ancestors who never froze to death from lack of warmth, if you get what I’m saying.

At first glance, it can appear that I’m sending mixed messages to the kids about body hair, especially to my girls. I repeatedly tell them that their bodies are perfect just the way they are, that nothing and nobody should ever pressure them to look or feel a certain way.

And yet.

And yet, I have buckets full of razors in all the bathrooms. A wax warmer sits on the shelf of my bathroom, next to strips and hair removal cream. Tweezers are scattered in corners around the house, just in case one stumbles into good light and a mirror.

They’ve seen me plug up bloody gashes on my ankles with toilet paper after trying to shave my legs.

They’ve also watched me stand in front of the mirror with my arms proudly raised, bragging that it’s been months since I’ve done anything about my pits.

Inconsistent actions, yes. But my message … I really hope my message is always the same: you can do whatever you want to your body. All hair. No hair. Some hair, anywhere.

It doesn’t matter. It’s all about what you want for yourself.

But depending on where you live, and the culture around you, there can be pressure to adhere to societal norms.

American society still prefers women without any visible body hair, except on heads and arms, but only eyebrows and manes. I grew up around women who removed most visible body hair. I thought nothing of it when I started shaving in the sixth grade. Plucked and shaped my eyebrows for the first time in the tenth grade.

European society doesn’t give a shit about body hair. Everything goes. Or nothing. It doesn’t matter. Nobody is paying attention to your armpits. Or thighs. Or naval. Or forearms. Or that space around your lips. Or chest. Or anywhere else for that matter.

I exist somewhere between both cultures, somewhere between despising the chore, but loving the feel of my skin after hair removal. I hate the itchiness of it growing back, and take pride in my ability to grow out some impressive fuzzy shins. And yet, I’m also baffled by the single black hair that occasionally reveals itself on the bottom of my chin, and will pluck it immediately.

As I note to my children, it’s all about what a person wants for herself.

So, yeah. I’ve been waxed. Different bits for different seasons. Getting waxed is not for the faint of heart. It hurts. I pant and laugh uncontrollably, which is my usual response to intense physical pain.

And yet.

And yet, I still do it.

At my first appointment with my local waxer here in Germany, she actually mentioned I was the first client in awhile to request what I was requesting.

“Not a lot of women have this done here. Just the Americans,” she said.

We talk a lot during my appointments. We talk about culture and body hair. We also talk about music, and her time following hair bands (oh, the irony) in the ’80s and ’90s.

During this last campaign season, we talked a lot about her run for the local mayor position.

During an appointment then, as she flipped me on my side to get better access to my southern regions, I had a moment of inspiration.

“I hope your slogan was ‘Vote for me because I know this town from top … to bottom.'”

She actually threw her head back and laughed at that one.

“That is perfect,” she said, as she slathered hot goo on my bum. “You are absolutely right.”

And then she ripped it all off of me.

******

This is a part of my Writing Prompt series. Learn more HERE.