Body Hair: I Love You, I Love You Not

Body Hair: I Love You, I Love You Not

Photo by Ashley Armitage, @ladyist

My appointment was at 10:20pm at my local sugaring spot. If you don’t know what sugaring is, Elle gives a low-down of the hair removal process here.

I hadn't removed any of my bikini hair in over 10 months. I know from experience that the longer you wait between removals, the more it hurts. I figured it would hurt, but I didn’t know just how badly I was in for it.

I checked in for my appointment, walked into the small fluorescent-lit room with open ceilings and took my pants off as instructed. I laid down on the tissue-covered bed and waited for the esthetician to arrive to begin the process of removing my bikini hair.

I go through phases of removing my body hair or keeping it more natural. I like the look of both on my body and my preference is constantly changing. Sometimes I like my bush and sometimes I want it prim and proper. When growing it out, I like the idea that I am challenging the beliefs/”rules” put upon me by others and experiencing what my natural body wants to do. It feels like I am respecting my body instead of managing it or trying to change it. I’ve always been one to question the rules and expectations put upon me, even at 13 years old I was wondering why I felt the need to shave my armpits.

It can be exhausting, unfulfilling and expensive to shape and control my body to fit what society expects it to look like.

In Unladylike, one of my favorite podcasts about inclusive feminism, they do a 3-part series of body hair. In one of the episodes, they question the idea that we associate a clean, groomed bikini area as more “ladylike” when in reality, those who identify as women naturally have bushes. So where did we even get the idea that to be a lady we must remove hair in the first place? I found the episodes especially educational, hilarious and thought-provoking, so give them a listen if you feel so inclined!




So back to my story: I had plans to hang out at a friends’ pool the next day, and I didn’t want to feel insecure about my bikini line. I had proudly rocked my bikini hair at a pool party the week before, but as soon as I arrived my feelings about my body changed. I felt insecure because I wasn’t used to seeing my body this way, and all the other people had groomed bikinis. This is where the duality and constant shifting about my bikini line becomes the most apparent to me. One moment I can be proud and fond of it, and the next moment I feel disgusted, isolated, and shamed.

We’re given messages from the media that “women who take care of themselves take care of their hair down there.” Whether this idea is true or not, I can’t deny that being bombarded with summer advertisements, ideologies, media and high-rise bottoms in fashion make me feel like I need to “do” something about my hair. I decided to invest the $35 plus tip it would take to get sugared for a smooth, “sexy”, “groomed” version of myself.

As the (all too nice and professional, I cannot stress this enough!) esthetician ripped my bikini line hair out, in larger patches than I could stand to see, I experienced what I would consider the most excruciating (but quick to be over) pain in all my days.

I got to thinking: Why the #$%^&*() am I doing this to myself? I felt sad. I felt angry. I felt like a fool for buying into the idea that I needed to alter my body to meet the expectations of others, like I was some sort of failure.

With every rip of the esthetician’s hands, my regret and anger grew more and more intense. It hurt so badly, I couldn’t tell what was better: asking my esthetician to work in larger patches so it would be over sooner, but hurt more, or ask her to remove it in smaller patches so it would hurt less, but take longer. If this is what my body looks like, then so be it!

I told myself I was never doing it again.

But, the next day, as I sat by the pool, I looked down at my bikini line with a big question mark. After having hair there for 10 months, it looked so odd to be groomed. But, like clockwork, within a few days I got used to it. And slowly, I began to like the look of my groomed bikini line.

So the answer remains open: Sometimes I love it, sometimes I don’t, and there is room here for both. I know by now to not speak in absolutes when it comes to my body hair, since my preferences are always changing. But it still always catches me by surprise.

How do you approach your self talk when it comes to bikini line hair?

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