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It was when my waxing technician was leaning in to the business end of my bottom, spatula wielded like a modern-day follicle-focussed Monet, that I realised how bizarre the situation was.
There I was on her table, knees clutched to my chest, chuckling at Sarah’s story about her new boyfriend meeting her parents. Soft music played in the background as she peered into my posterior, spreading pink wax over my most sensitive of places.
Mid-giggling at the anecdote I suddenly realised with a jolt what I was doing. Was it right that a woman like me who rants daily on women’s reproductive rights and the gender pay gap was paying someone forty-five quid to remove the hair from her hoohah?
Bikini waxing – or the full-on Hollywood – is one of those things that liberated women used to do. But now, like Cosmopolitan cocktails, shimmery Lancome Juicy Tubes and Jessica Simpson and Nich Lachey’s version of true love, it’s all a bit over. A bit passé.
In my opinion, sensible outspoken feminism is one of the best and most needed things about the internet. And so many of my favourite feminists wax lyrical (excuse the pun) about the fist-pumping advantages of leaving their hair ‘down there’ growing wild.
Which is what I did until about four years ago, for no other reason that it really didn’t bother me that much and I wasn’t keen on the thought of having anything close to my vagina ripped out by a stranger. But then I entered the world of single motherhood: I joined the gym and suddenly spent a lot more time in a swimming pool, somewhere I didn’t feel too comfortable having tufts of hair snaking out of the crotch of my swimming costume, waving in the water like some kind of pant-seaweed.
Leandra Medine, the Man Repeller, summed it up perfectly when she said: “I know that I feel more comfortable in a bathing suit if I don’t have hair “down there,” but I’m not comfortable with the fact that I’m more comfortable waxed, if that makes sense.”
Yep yep yep – exactly that.
I’m no longer that fussed about swimming (too much time spent getting cold for my liking) but the propensity to have a Hollywood every eight weeks has stuck, and it’s now as much of a part of my self-care regime as my nightly facial. And I’ve started to wonder if this means my feminist ideals are slipping south.
You see it’s not as if I’m doing it for a man, I wouldn’t dream of dictating to my boyfriend how he should cultivate his facial or body hair and vice versa. I’m sure my technician used to get quite despondent at my historic lack of a love life; I almost felt I should apologise to her that she took such care in crafting my beav yet nobody other than the speculum-wielding practice nurse at my GP ever saw the fruits of her labour. And with sex texts never being my thing (vom) it’s definitely not like I’m doing it under some kind of weird pressure from porn/Tinder/Snapchat.
This led me to do something of an unoffical survey among my friends. All but one do some kind of ‘down there care’ with methods ranging from shaving (too itchy for me) to hair removal cream (I use this on my upper lip) and, surprisingly, IPL.
I don’t believe I’m relinquishing my feminist beliefs by adhering to some kind of weird bush beauty promoted by PornHub and its ilk. You’ve only got to survey my wardrobe of pro-femme tshirts and the way I firmly educate my kids on equality to see that.
Plus, I’m not sure that Sasha Grey has ever stuck her jeans to her inner thighs by using a car seat’s heat function when there’s a little bit of residual wax left from her bi-monthly treatment.
For me, a bikini wax makes me feel like I’m doing something that makes me happy. It’s a 30 minute appointment that happens every 8 weeks come rain or shine: I go to the salon, I smell the essential oils, I lie on a warm couch and have a lovely chat with my technician about absolutely nothing at all. Barring the one experience I had at a salon I will never visit again – it seemed like the therapist was having a bad day and she was going to take it out on my crotch – it’s a relaxing treat. Sure, there’s a small bit of ouchiness to the whole thing, but with two kids it’s nowhere near the most pain I’ve felt in that area.
I return to my post-appointment life feeling happy I’ve done something for me and only me. No kids, no clients, no Power Rangers. Just me and a whole heap of hugely enjoyable small talk.
I leave the salon with a spring in my step feeling confident and attractive, not like I’ve caved to some patriarchal ideal of beauty.
And if sporting a natural bush makes you feel the same then more power to you: which is exactly what the fourth wave of feminism should be about. Choice, outspokenness and acceptance… however much hair is in your pants.
Image credit – me for Speedo.