I laid on the waxing table with my knees spread, trying to keep my tears hidden under the fluorescent lights.
“Why are you doing this to me?” I heard…
I first got body hair around 11 or 12 years old.
I didn’t really notice it until one day in gym class, my friends and I sat in a row with our legs out in front of us. We were observing the stubble on our shins. Some of my friends had dark stubble, some had softer stubble, some barely had any, and others, like me – hadn’t shaved at all.
“If you ever feel like shaving your legs, don’t,” my mom told me a year or so prior to my friends leg hair competition in gym class, “let me know and we will get you waxed instead so you don’t get stubble like me.” Her legs were kind of prickly like some of my friends.
So later that afternoon, when I got home from school, we made an appointment. The idea is that waxing over time destroys the hair follicle and actually makes the hair stop growing or grow lighter. The next time my friends and I compared legs, I won the smoothest.
“They’re so soft!!” They exclaimed. “Did it hurt?”
“Not really” I lied.
The first time I got my bikini line waxed was summer after high school. My friend invited me on a cruise with her family and neither of us wanted to worry about shaving in a tiny cabin bathroom and I didn’t want to irritate my skin shaving every day. Bumps and stubble along a bikini line are not cute… I remembered from that day in middle school that stubble = ugly.
I’ve been waxing since – even though I hate going to the appoints because as you can imagine, having hair ripped from your genitals in chunks fucking hurts.
BUT I was conditioned to HATE my body hair. And I’ve learned how to breathe through the pain of the strip. (Literally, you do breathwork to minimize the pain you feel – it doesn’t work for everyone but it works for me!)
So last week, my 1034th time (or something like that) at European Wax Center, I walked in confidently, made friends with the front desk girl & chatted a bit with my specialist as she did my eyebrows and waxed my lips.
It was my first night back in like 2 or 3 months. Which is a LOOONGGG time since I normally go every 3 weeks. In that time I’ve been doing a lot of work emotionally and spiritually and also A LOT of traveling & moving around.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been here” I warned her.
“Hey there’s nothing wrong will all natural” She pulled the first strip and my chin started to quiver.
I managed to hold myself together long enough to pay and walk out to the parking lot before I totally lost it. The cries that came out of me sounded like they belonged to a scared 10 year old girl. My whole face was wet & each inhale was sharp and I thought I might work myself into a panic attack in the parking lot.
Then I heard it again, “Why would you do this to me?”
Recently I had been learning a lot about “the inner child”. It’s this idea that everyone at their core is this little boy or little girl that wants to play, be creative, explore and be loved. However, as we grow up we tell ourselves “no I don’t have time I have to work” or “no I can’t do that I have other responsibilities to take care of.” Denying our selves of the freedom and exploration we crave makes us miserable
Over the last 2 or 3 months, I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to accept more love for myself and embracing this childlike side of me.
For the first time, I heard little Annabelle speak to me, “Why would you do this to me?”
I didn’t know what it meant.
I just knew that for the first time, getting waxed felt like I was being punished.
I felt like I had been tricked or lied to.
The truth is, every time I look in the mirror I have to practice gratitude for the body I have and what my body allows me to do – otherwise, I get stuck in a self-loathing pit of doom and the insecurity leaks into everything. And if you want to know the things that adult Annabelle does not have time for, it’s self-loathing and insecurity.
My only explanation for this meltdown is that by after almost 3 months of practicing gratitude for my body JUST the way it is, I rid myself of the insecurity I had about my body hair, and then suddenly, I was back in the waxing room, submitting myself to a world of pain to get rid of a part of me I had grown to accept.
I started waxing because I wanted to be pretty.
I wanted to be confident.
I wanted to be desirable.
It was something I did because I felt ugly and part of me, I think, accepted it as punishment or penance for existing the way I was made.
Over the past few months, I’ve learned that body hair isn’t really that big of a deal. That a zillion years of evolution left body hair for protection, for warmth, and for comfort.
Over the past few months, I realized that personally, I don’t really care if I have body hair or not.
For the record, I don’t blame my mom for making my first wax appointment, she was preparing her daughter to live a culture that would be cruel to her for keeping her body hair. She was trying to make it easier for me to live in this world.
The sad part about this story is that I still feel like it’s something I have to hide. I know my culture doesn’t like to see women with body hair. And I don’t know if I’m brave enough to shock people with my hair yet.
I hope one day we will raise our daughters to embrace and celebrate themselves and each other. The way they are, the way they were made. And That they take ownership over their own bodies and only remove or alter hair because they want to, not because they feel like they HAVE TO.