While the words “spontaneous beach day” may elicit squeals of excitement and delight for some, to me those three words strung together sound about as fun and frivolous as “the bar exam.” If you were to invite me to a “spontaneous beach day” this would be my response via text:
You see, thanks to my Mediterranean ancestors, I cannot spontaneously wear a tank top, let alone a bikini and frolic in the sand without being mistaken for Sasquatch.
And if you are a woman who does not find the words “spontaneous beach day” frightening in the same way you find the words “President Donald Trump” frightening then it will be difficult for us to be friends on any deep level because we have fundamentally different fears in life. I’m sure you have your own struggles you hairless, flawless, unicorn of a woman. And I respect those struggles, I do, but you will never understand the struggle of thick, dark, unwanted body hair.
You will not know the annoyance of attending a wedding on a Saturday where you will don a knee length, sleeveless dress so you must stop shaving your armpits and legs the previous Tuesday to ensure a smooth shave with minimal razor burn and irritation. This will cause you to wear long sleeves and pants for the remainder of the week no matter the temperature or time of year (please note: people primarily get married in summer months).
You will never get caught staring at another woman’s tan, rubberized, Barbie-like skin as if you want to pet it, or better yet, wear it.
You will never understand the true horror of ingrown hairs.
Oh? You get them too? How many? One a month? Like a hormonal pimple? That’s cute. Every time I shave, my skin erupts with enough ingrown hairs to rival the Terracotta Army.
The one trick I have found that prevents ingrown hairs I learned from a stripper (yes, I inquired about a stripper’s flawless bikini line because it was much more mesmerizing to me than anything else she was doing with that pole). Promptly after shaving apply a swipe of aluminum-based deodorant over the shaved area. The aluminum does something magical to the skin and prevents all ingrown hairs. Aluminum is also poisonous and has been attributed to causing birth defects and cancer, but may I suggest simply chanting “the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward” while applying?
You will never understand the frustration of getting into yet another quarrel with your boyfriend who insists it does not “grow back thicker.” What the hell does that bearded cartoon know! He doesn’t even shave his face!
You will not spend the entirety of your six-year courtship with said boyfriend going to the greatest of lengths to hide your knuckle wide happy trail. The happy trail that you gave yourself at twenty-five by dumbly taking one swipe (one measly swipe!) up the center of your stomach because your once cute peach fuzz turned a few shades darker thanks to hormones. That one fateful swipe was akin to a controlled burn of a farmland. Clearing the meager peach-fuzz saplings and providing an unobstructed path for the spawns of said saplings to grow back with ferocity, screaming, “How dare you murder my ancestors! I will seek vengeance for eternity!” “Eternity” ended up being the next eight years of your earthly existence till lasers finally vanquished them all.
Okay, fine, for medical and perhaps ethical reasons I will clarify that shaving technically does not prompt hair to grow back thicker. But it does cause hair to grow back blunter compared to its original, tapered form. And for some of us, blunter means darker, coarser, and more prone to ingrown hairs as the blunt hairs have difficulty protruding from that little bugger of a pore without a fight (i.e. inflammation, irritation, pain, and ultimately a little dark spot of a tombstone on your skin to mark his struggle and ultimate death when you attacked him with tweezers at two in the morning after a bottle of Chardonnay).
If you don’t believe me, I’ll happily show you my two hands. The one hand attached to a normal wrist, and the other attached to a wrist with a metal plate and eight pins in it. The hand that just HAD to be shaved prior to my surgery early this year despite me begging my surgeon to just let this one hand slide, sans razor. She claimed one shave wouldn’t make a difference.
Now I bleach the top of my right hand once a month to hide the hair that decided to sprout like weeds across its back.
Oh? Shaved hair doesn’t grow back darker for you? Then I can say with one hundred percent certainty you are not Greek. I can also say with one hundred percent certainty I have only disappointed my Greek grandmother once in my life, at the age of thirteen when she saw I started shaving above my knee. Devastation reigned across her face as she mumbled with love, “Oh, Veronica, you cannot do that. We are Greek. It does not work the same for us.” The pain of unwanted body hair spans generations.
Why don’t I wax? Is that what you’re thinking? Well, I’m so glad you asked:
1. It’s expensive. A bikini wax will run about sixty bucks with tip for us coastal elites. Sixty bucks for someone to pour hot wax on me and rip it off my body along with my hair? I am not a masochist so, yah, hard no.
2. It’s painful (see above). Use numbing cream, they say. Take Advil, they say. Do not shave between appointments, they say. Bullshit, I say.
3. It’s time-consuming. Unless you live above a wax shop you are budgeting at least an hour out of your day for a result that will last MAYBE three days. MAYBE.
4. Per above, it has a short shelf life. Like shorter than fish left out in the sun. So start swiping ladies, because you just paid sixty bucks to have a baby smooth vulva for the five percent chance his face gets anywhere near your vulva during daylight.
5. It is fragile. Have you ever had sex right after a Brazilian? Well, if you do your vulva and bikini line will not be available for public consumption for the next week or so. Mainly because you will be sitting with a bag of frozen peas between your legs.
I believe the torture inflicted upon women by the Brazilian bikini wax is the patriarchy’s version of a practical joke because I refuse to believe the Brazilians invented it. They seem like a joyous, fun loving population from what I know, having never set foot in their country. Also I have yet to see it become de rigueur for men to wax their balls despite those things regularly ending up in my mouth.
And yet, despite knowing that hairless females are a societal construction born from capitalistic razor companies realizing they were missing out on revenue from 51% the population, I still rigorously prune all hair on my body as if I were a topiary. Why? It pains me to say this but I simply feel less inhibited when I’ve gardened my garden. I am more confident, flirty and just all around better in bed when I’m bringing my societally manufactured A-Game to the table (and at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to be better in bed?).
But the kicker to all this pruning and shellacking of ourselves is that we must maintain the Maserati of a woman’s body effortlessly. Like a duck gliding across a lake without a ripple of fluster in the water, while mere millimeters away the duck’s little orange feet are whirling like pinwheels to keep up the facade. What a grand illusion and ultimate glass house we have built ourselves because anyone who has ever handled a high performance vehicle, such as a woman in her entirety, knows they can be finicky as hell, require constant maintenance, and break down regularly.
It was one of those weeks at work where grooming takes a back seat to basic survival. I merely ate, slept, and filled my car with gas to get to said job that was working me late into the night but was also paying for said food, gas and overall survival so it was a real catch-22.
By the time I finally saw my boyfriend that weekend I apologized for my “unkempt” appearance in the same breath as, “but this isn’t going to bother you, right?” Read: Because it shouldn’t bother you and if it does bother you we have a lot more to discuss or not discuss because I will probably moon walk out of your life while singing “So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu, adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu.”
His response will forever be tenderly held in my brain’s sulci; “I think it’s cute when you let it go. It means you’ve had a busy and productive week, which I find far sexier than anything else.” Hallelujah.
So why am I still investing so much time, money and pain into removing the proof of my life well lived? A life he finds sexy? (Also please note the way he phrased his response implies he had already seen dust on my Maserati unbeknownst to my impeccable recollection.)
Who are we doing all this gardening for? Is it for the men? Or is it for us? Or was it originally for the men but now we’ve become so accustomed to it that putting down the tweezers, hair dye, razors, pimple poppers, eye cream, serums, and surprisingly painful dry brushes seems like an insurmountable feat? I conservatively spend thirty minutes a day scrutinizing my appearance, either in a mirror while applying and removing my makeup or merely in the back of my head while navigating through my day, and re-doing my ponytail, but always making sure it’s re-done the way I like it. I’m starting to think I want some of that time back.
What do men think about with all the time not devoted to their physical appearance? Sports? World domination? Girls named “Madison”?
And maybe all of this effort I put forth is in vain. Maybe my boyfriend had been aware of my stomach forest the entire time. Maybe he just gives me the courtesy of ignoring it. Or better yet, maybe he doesn’t really care.