There is nothing casual about a Brazilian wax. Although I do walk very casually to the same spa semi-regularly during my lunch break and casually breeze back into my office as though I just very normally ate a Subway sandwich and returned, waxes are perhaps one of the more invasive cosmetic things women endure.
Now I know they are not mandatory, and the bush is making a very trendy return. However, I have always hated hair down there -- it's like a pet hamster you never really wanted or a plant you bought and hate to water.
Most of puberty didn't bother me -- I could handle sprouting breasts, monthly bleeding, smells. However, pubic hair terrified me and when it began to grow, I very resolutely yelled “NOPE” in my head in a campground shower and promptly shaved it all off.
The spa I go to is generally amazing; clean, efficient, and I am in and out in 10 minutes. My usual aesthetician is a maternal Russian lady who chatters throughout the process, making jokes and telling me about her life. I deeply appreciate her professionalism, while she is inspecting my bits like Bob Ross putting finishing touches on a happy tree.
When I leave, she always grins and says “Make sure to keep your job and come back!” I leave feeling lighter and prettier, and as though I am keeping my prepubescent self in that camping shower happy. However, last week, my usual vaginal den mother wasn’t available so I decided to take my chances on another lady. At first she was fine, albeit a little slow and she giggled every time I mildly convulsed from the pain.
She actually didn’t speak much, which was making this session endless. I guess I sighed or something, because she felt the need to lighten the mood? “You know, in Russia, we have this joke,” she said. OK, I thought. I LOVE jokes, obviously. “When you are getting raped…just relax, and get pleasure.”
ERRRRRRRRRR hold up, what?! It honestly took me a moment for my brain to understand that she said the word rape. When the full extent of her sentence registered, my skin goosebumped and I froze. All the while my legs were spread open, in the air, under fluorescent lighting, and I couldn’t breathe. Imagine if your gynecologist told you a rape joke mid Pap smear? I have never been raped, but had she told this joke to others who have been?
Now I know this conversation has been done to death, the “Are rape jokes ever funny” convo. I am a firm believer in the power of comedy, and turning terrible circumstances into something you can laugh about is to some people healing and important. Twisted senses of humor rarely come from actual evil darkness, just a reflection of the darkness we are forced to live in every day. It’s a way to cope, to live, to move on.
But sometimes jokes just are not funny. When they are victim blaming or shaming, or just NOT FUNNY. Did this somehow translate as hilarious in Russian? Maybe this lady moonlit as a stand-up and was trying out her new material on her clients? Like if they could laugh while having their pubic hair ripped out at lightning speed then maybe she would one day be the next Margaret Cho?
For a moment, given the circumstances, I thought about ignoring it and letting it go. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t get up either, which maybe if I were a little bit stronger or ballsier, I would have stood up and stalked away, half-waxed. However, I couldn’t not say something.
“That doesn’t sound like a joke at all,” I said, holding my legs by my ears. “It actually sounds like something a rapist might say to someone. Frankly, it’s pretty disturbing. I really hope you never tell that joke to a client again.” My hands always sweat during confrontation, and they were slipping down my legs.
“Well,” she shrugged, a bored look on her face. “I never said it was a good joke.” One final rip and we were done.
I left feeling even more bare and vulnerable than usual after having hair ripped from my nether regions. I would keep my job, I thought, but I would probably not be back.