Let’s Get Waxed

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. I had just started to learn the ways that I shut myself down when this happened.

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.

If you have a Vagina…

I’ve wanted to write this piece for a while.

Like a really long time.

When I realized today that other people really are struggling with this thing too, I decided to .

So this is for the little sisters…

I’m talking about Vaginal health today because no one else is.

Mainly, Yeast Infections and abnormal discharge. (Omg Yay I know.) I’ve struggled with both and felt a lot of shame through the whole process. I didn’t really tell anyone, and when I did, I kept my voice really low.

And kept my legs crossed…. at all times.

I  had gone to the OBGYN a few times and asked for help, but neither of them had anything useful to say to say to me. “Everything looks fine, just wear cotton underwear and don’t douche”

Helpful…. thanks.

After a few weeks of particularly uncomfortable discharge, I called my aunt. My Tia. She’s the one that always asks me about how my sex life is (LOL)
I asked her if she had ever struggled with abnormal discharge.
“oh yes, almost my whole young adult life!”

When I asked her how she dealt with it, her voice got softer as she told me
“I just changed my underwear a lot”

I could hear shame strangle her words, and I got angry for her, for me, and for every other woman that struggles with this kind of thing.

The pain is bad enough but the shame is worse. The shame silences us.

I think for me, the shame came from the jokes that people made about women “smelling like fish” in high school. Those comments somehow aways linked back to being dirty, or promiscuous. (Our culture shames women for having a sexuality, but that’s another blog post… or 3)

I remember hearing people say those things in high school and still feeling shame even though I knew that those jokes weren’t true, because I struggled with weird discharge and  I was a virgin.

On top of that, vaginal health is something that I was never taught, so I thought there must have been something really, REALLY wrong with me.

75 % of women have experienced a yeast infection or have struggled with abnormal discharge at some point in their life. 

Why the actual EF do we not talk about this more? Why did it take 23 years for me to actually learn something about this, only after doing extensive research online??

So to fight the shame, to fight the stigma around the conversation about vaginal health, I decided to write this blog post.

Below, you’ll find a list of random things I learned (mostly about condoms) that helped me bring my vaginal health back to balance.

Here are the things no one taught me:

1. Sugar
We have good bacteria in our body that “eats”, for lack of a better word, bad bacteria. Bad bacteria is fueled by sugar (Glycerin), and sugar is literally in everything. Candy, bread, processed foods, salads at McDonald’s…

I was eating a LOT of spaghetti, so I cut back on that and actually noticed a difference. (Yes, I was eating that much spaghetti). When the bad bacteria get out of control, it can cause yeast infections.
(There is absolutely more to this, so feel free to do more research here)

2. PH
Healthy Vaginal PH is between 3.8 and a 4.5. Which is acidic. anything higher than 4.5 creates a great environment for bacteria to grow.  So it’s important to know what changes this PH.

For my journey, it was important to know that this was the thing I was trying to balance. There are also lists online about different foods that affect your PH level that might help!
More Here.

3. CONDOMS
I saved the best for last. If you get heated easily about Feminist topics, clear your immediate physical space of any flammable objects before you keep reading.

If your vaginal area gets irritated during or after sex, I’m 90% sure that it has NOTHING to do with you and everything to do with the condoms you’re using.

I used to feel burning and then develop a YEAST INFECTION after having sex. For a second I thought I had either developed a terribly strong allergy to latex, or contracted some kind of horrible STD, but after some research, I realized it was the FUCKING CONDOMS.

The condoms you buy at the gas station or Walgreens or CVS or the grocery store are your generic “drugstore” brand, mainly (70%) Trojan, and have a bunch of chemicals that are absolutely DETRIMENTAL to your vaginal health.

These are the top Toxic Chemicals that can be found in your average condom:

1. Spermicides – the chemical used to kill sperm can also cause micro-tears in the vaginal walls, which causes inflammation and can sometimes can lead to infection. After my partner and I used a Trojan condom with spermicide, I was so raw that I could barely walk.  Everything was inflamed and it was excruciating if anything touched it.

2. Benzocaine – This is a local anesthetic. Yes. It numbs you. It’s supposed to make men last longer, but it’s been tested and doesn’t really work. Instead, it actually can cause discomfort for men.

3. Glycerine – Glycerine is used in condoms as a lubricant. It can transform into a sugar if left in the vagina for too long (WTF?) and eventually throw off your body’s pH balance, which can increase your chances of contracting a yeast infection. 

4. N-9 – Supposed to reduce chances of contracting STDs, but it doesn’t really do much for that. Instead, it is reported to tear down cell walls making both partners susceptible to UTI’s

5. Parabens – Supposed to prevent bacterial growth, but causes Estrogen imbalance in the body and throws off your PH levels, which can cause yeast infections.

Read about the shit they put in condoms.
And more
even more

When I learned about all of this I was so angry that these manufacturers give absolutely no shits about I ran around and told EVERYONE I could. It was the best way for me to blow off steam… education!

But the lesson here is balance. Health is found in balance, so it’s so important to listen to what your body is telling you to find and keep that balance.

There’s Hope!

Safe Condoms:
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use condoms. Definitely still use them, just make sure you are super CLEAR about what you are putting into your body.

The Good Ones

I’ve used Glyde and L. Condoms and let me tell you the difference is incredible. Sex is NOT supposed to be painful. Who knew!? You can get them online or at Whole Foods!

Yeast Infection Remedy:
If you are just looking for relief from Yeast Infections I found some really awesome stuff that worked so quickly and helped me get rid of my issues FOR GOOD. (PS. Stop buying Monistat.)

Boric Acid Suppository  – This helps level out your vaginal pH levels. I used before bed and put a liner on because there is a little bit a leakage during the night and in the morning. but after 2 nights I was clear. (Monistat takes 7+ days). I also used a few times during/right after my period to keep everything level because hormonal changes during this time in your cycle can cause an imbalance of estrogen which can also trigger abnormal discharge.

Vulva Cream – Immediate relief. Really.

In the End…

Don’t just take my word for it. Do your research, pay attention to how your body reacts to things. You are no over-exaggerating, it is NOT your fault and you are NOT dirty for having these issues.

Take OWNERSHIP over your body and what you put in it. You have so much power in your hands, don’t let culture, big pharma, or even your mom, tell you what is best for your body.
Only YOU know that.

This is not a ‘feel good’ piece.

Photo By: @Levisule

Do you know what heartbreak sounds like?

Silence.

The deepest pain is usually silent.

Internal.

That’s the stuff that hurts the most.

Pain will absolutely undoubtedly change your frame of mind, and from that point forward, permanently alter the perspective from which you think critically about the world.

My mind shifted this week.
Because I hurt.

In this pain, I tried to find the silver lining/life lesson like I always do to prevent the hurt from feeling pointless. But this one was hard to find. Every lesson I came up with seemed insufficient in comparison to the pain I felt.  In other words, I definitely would have been able to learn these lessons without crying so much.

This kind of pain was overwhelming, there was no hope in this. This kind of pain is meant to be endured.
And that’s when the resentment came over me and my perspective shifted.
I felt used.
And not the way a Christian want’s to be used by God.

“Used” is a very loaded word in my mind.
Becuase I have been used by people.
My physical body was used when I was raped.
My heart was used and my emotions were manipulated and abused in two separate relationships.

Used = Trauma.

Christians use the word “used” when they speak of God using them for his bigger plan. It’s supposed to be a freeing kind of thing, but frankly, I believe it is a glorified thought.
When I think of God “using” me I feel abandoned and broken.

When I thought of God using me in his plan, and God helping me fulfill my purpose as a teacher, I thought that it was “love people well and you will change the world”. I did NOT think of enduring all of this pain or the toll it has taken on my heart.

Feel the pain, and share the lesson.
Feel the pain, and share the lesson.
Feel the pain, and share the lesson.

I didn’t mind it until last Thursday when my heart broke and my perspective shifted.
This.
This is not fair.
This is too much pain.

And for what? Another lesson?
Will I never get the chance to feel loved the way I want to be loved?
Does God even care about what he’s doing to me?

I feel like God doesn’t care about the condition of my heart – as long as I am an effective vehicle in sharing lessons learned about pain.

So here we are back to age-old question:  “What is the purpose of suffering?”

This morning I picked up some breakfast tacos with my friend Emma. We discussed a lot of things in between bites. We discussed God, and suffering and purpose.
I related it back to the martyrs – you know, the people who DIED for the glory of God. The people who were stoned, beaten, and burned to death?
I sat there and thought HOW could God let a human being, a soul full of love and light suffer that way? Why would he let them be KILLED…??

I didn’t understand because I relate to those Martyrs. I love God and I want him to make me part of his plan but DAMN WHY DO I HAVE TO HURT LIKE THIS.

Then I realized that today is Easter.
Today we celebrate the one perfect soul, the most beautiful human being, filled with goodness and love, who was NAILED TO A CROSS for God’s plan.
Jesus didn’t deserve that.
But he did it anyway.
He suffered. Oh boy, he suffered.
and Died.
but then he rose up to heaven.
Literally floated like a feather because God loved him.
God loved him more than he loves any of us – I’m pretty sure.

I don’t know what the lesson is here, maybe it’s realizing that living for God means enduring a lot of pain. Maybe it means suffering is part of life and it sucks. I don’t know what the hell it means. And this time I am really not going to pretend like I do.

I do know this…
The silence of my heartbreak was broken by the sound of the sacrifice of another human being.
Another human being who lived, and breathed and loved and suffered, just like me.
Another human being who allowed himself to die, for the good of others.
Suddenly I wasn’t alone.

If this is all I am meant for – to feel and then share, then I know I can keep pushing forward.

I will feel, and I will push through.
I will survive because I know I can
and I will live because he died.

I didn’t Choose

Warning: The following is really personal. It’s more for me than for you this time. And if you are a younger reader, it might be a little bit uncomfortable for you, and that’s okay. Don’t feel like you have to read it. I talk about sex.
If you are a survivor, know that this post is a lot darker than my usual ones and doesn’t have a happy ending, but that doesn’t mean your stroy can’t be different.
Background Info Part 1:
A few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast sent to me by my mentor/friend, Katie, and it made me think about successful women. I cleaned my room, listened to the podcast, and thought about the women I wanted to be like, and what it was about them that made them different. It’s something I like to think about every now and then. It’s something that sort of helps me to see if I’m on the right track.
I realized that what made them different was also something they all had in common. I noticed that each of them had an unwavering, deep-rooted faith & relationship with God.  They had a deep understanding of what it means to really love people (including themselves) and moved through the world with freedom and strength because they know their identity is in Christ.
I decided what I needed to do. I needed to strengthen my relationship with God and commit to getting to know him better. I knew that if I had God on my side, nothing could take me down. I’d have resilience and love and the ability to really make a difference. I knew that if I want to live my life in chasing big dreams, I needed God on my side…..or rather I needed to follow him
I remember the questions someone asked me once…”If the path isn’t blessed by God, then do you really want to go there?”
No.
I really don’t.
Because I know whatever he has planned for me is more than I could ever dream of planning for myself. 
Background Info Part 2:
I’ve always wanted to get married. In fact, it caused a little bit of anxiety for an embarrassingly long chunk of time in my life… worrying I’d never have a husband or find love or whatever (clearly I needed a hobby).  
One of the talking points for Christians is sex. Or more like not having it before marriage. So a lot of the same women I look up to in business, are also virgins or made a choice to abstain until marriage.

The Point:
Right now, I’m a few thousand feet in the air, on a plane headed to my friend’s wedding in Atlanta, GA.

This morning while I brushed my teeth, my mind wandered around & I thought about the women I’d be reunited with at the wedding. It’s been about a year since I’ve seen any of them. Out of nowhere, something hit me and tears started streaming. I spit out my toothpaste and tried to cover my face in a hand towel to make it stop but it didn’t.

All of the women I’m going to see are Christian. 
And All of the women I’m going to see are waiting.
It’s not until Today that I realized that I didn’t get to choose. 
I didn’t get to choose to save myself for my husband.
I didn’t get to choose to share that connection with someone I truly loved.
If I had not been raped I don’t know if I would have waited, but I do know it’s something that I wanted.  
Before the rape, I was waiting.
But I didn’t get a choice.
And I never realized how dirty I felt until today.
People told me after it happened that I was still a virgin in Christ. THAT made ZERO sense to me but I clung to it. I needed something to make me feel clean.
But I never believed it. 
And it shows. I ended up choosing to have sex with a different person almost immediately after because I couldn’t keep living in the state of uncertainty. The “am I a virgin or am I not” thing was not something I liked or could fix. So I solidified it. I wanted to choose something even though I never really had a choice to begin with. And then I chose again with another person. And again. Because well, why not? 
Today, 4 years, 1 month and 1 week later, I faced myself. I realized that each time I have chosen to have sex with someone it was because I already felt ruined. 
You can’t take that back. No matter how much you want, you can’t make time pass faster or slower, and you can’t take your actions (or anyone else’s) back.
I have never felt anger like the anger I felt this morning.

My relationship with God develops with knowing that I am whole in him.  I know I need to take this to him but I’m having a seriously hard time doing that. 

It’s like my brain is split into two parts. 

The surface part of my brain knows that the sex I’m choosing to have is just hurting me. The part knows the reality and consequence of my actions. This is the part of my brain that has tried to come up with a plan of action to help me make better choices and goes to my friends for advice.

Then there’s the deeper part. The part that isn’t communicating with the planning part of my brain. The part of me that doesn’t care, and doesn’t see anything better. And that part of my brain prays that my future husband won’t wait for me. Because I don’t deserve it.

P.S. I am setting up a counseling appointment on Monday.