I’m not really a fan of the Brazilian wax but I still get them occasionally, mainly because sometimes I think about how I must look, standing in the shower, one leg crooked on the lip of the tub, scraping a trio of Venus-branded blades against the most intimate parts of my body, and it just seems like one of those situations that must inevitably end up as a Daily Mail headline. WOMAN FOUND IN SHOWER IMPALED UPON RAZOR BLADE; REPORTS SAY SHE DOES NOT FEEL AT ALL LIKE A GODDESS.
I could go natural and I have done on many occasions -– for example, whilst I lived in Japan, where temperatures would plunge to the kind of lows that meant I kept my toothpaste in my fridge to keep it from freezing solid, because that was the warmest place in my apartment. In those kinds of primal situations, it seemed like you had to be an idiot to rid yourself of any evolutionary advantage against the cold, and I took warmth where I could get it.
But in my relatively young life I have had many a Brazilian wax, and it struck me recently that very few of them come unaccompanied by some horrific or funny anecdote. There’s just something about holding your own butt cheeks open for a stranger to spread them with hot pink wax that lends itself to stories.
My first ever Brazilian was at a very nice salon in my university town, which I was able to afford only because of a voucher. The walls were very white and the couches were leather and I perched on very edge of my seat clutching a satchel full of study materials and feeling wholly out of place.
My tactic in life has always been to befriend the people with the capacity to make me look ugly or render me clitoris-less, so I chatted to my waxer gregariously about the weather and our favourite bars. She was receptive to a conversation -– too receptive -– and it wasn’t until the last strip of wax had been ripped from my skin that we both realized that she’d removed every single bit of hair from down there. I was as bald as an egg, if eggs were pink, mottled and stippled with blood.
As we were best friends by then, I found myself unable to complain, even as I stared at myself in horror in the mirror that night. It being my first wax, I had not considered that the end result would be anything less than beautiful -– that my intimate areas might need some time to recover from the stripping. The following evening, after a long plane ride, I presented my long distance boyfriend with something that resembled a thin spreading of raspberry jam on unrisen pizza dough.
A later Brazilian occurred in the same city in a considerably less affluent salon, where an extremely friendly Hungarian woman talked about her home while she cheerfully ripped pieces off me. Before this, however, she had entered the room where I lay pantsless, removed the towel, frowned, and then presented me with scissors to “tidy myself up” before she got started.
“Too long, too long” she said like a mantra as she left the room. Crouched over the wastepaper bin, wielding the blades over my bits, I wondered if I’d ever been in a less elegant situation.
As we neared the end of the wax she frowned again and leaned in a little too close for my liking.
“Hmmm” she said, “hmmmm.”
I realized afterwards that I was having a mild reaction to the wax, but instead of telling me, she squirted a large portion of very cold cream onto me and began to rub it in briskly, all the while saying “Poor baby, poor baby, poor baby." I wish I was making this up.
My most recent Brazilian occurred in London, where I once again endeavoured to find the cheapest option possible, because I never learn my lesson. I found myself in a very small room on the third floor off The Strand, where three or four people were having their nails done. I checked in with the receptionist, who pointed me in the direction of a bed in the corner.
I walked toward it slowly, wondering if it was where I was waiting, when she followed me over, pulled a paper partition across, and told me to take off my clothes. As I removed my clothes I realized that I could see the manicurists through the slats in the partition, but then I thought about how cheap it was and lay down. The wax commenced uneventfully, the beautician bored and efficient, until she paused, walked around to my head and said, “You’re going to have to be quieter.”
Naturally, I’d been giving off the odd yelp, but I hadn’t given it a thought. Now all I could think about was the very quiet room I was in with about eight other people, all of whom had all their clothes on. I felt like a teenager having furtive sex with her parents in the next room. Without the sex, and with a whole lot of pain.
I know I’m not the only one who can’t have a wax without a good helping of humiliation. Although talking to my colleague whose friend was a beautician once helped. Because she once waxed a tampon right out of a customer. And once, while giving a pedicure, she had a piece of toenail hit her in the back of throat. So at least I know it could always be worse.