Getting A Bikini Wax Does Not Make You A Bad Feminist


“Is it a bit like ripping open an envelope?” enquires my boyfriend, after one particularly harrowing bikini wax.

Ripping: a key word when it comes to pubic waxing and yet a terrifying word association given how sensitive the [insert your favourite word for fanny, and do NOT share with me if it’s ‘noonoo’] is. Should anything be ripped from your vagina, but a small infant to ‘sup upon your breast?

Before we get too deep (pun intended) into this, or rather ‘it’, let me address why I still get a bikini wax. They’re almost naff now, aren’t they; so noughties, like smoking and French pedicures. “STOP BENDING TO THE PATRIACHAL GAZE” roar the hairies. So let me clarify this now: I do not get my vagina waxed because a man – or in particular, the man cited above – tells me to. He has never told me to. I’m more likely to implore him to try his bush. And if he did, I would probably buy a merkin instead, because I am contrary like that. I get my vagina waxed because still, despite the reams of bush-friendly opinion pieces telling me that it’s OK to have a 70s bush like Gwynnie (which it is) and the gung ho pubes love-in implicit in fifth-tier feminism (which I am in support of) I like the way it looks. I get a bikini wax for the same reason that I pluck my chin hairs, shave my armpits, exfoliate the dry bits on my bottom and push down my cuticles: because I like to be neat.*

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t loathe and fear it, with every fibre of my being. The fear pre-dates my appointment. I begin to sweat, on mere arrival. My fear makes me flush and I get very, very hot. The beautician may ask you to take off your trousers; I take off everything but my bra. Bear in mind that I am a waxing whore, shopping around for sweet-ass deals and the such like and before my appointment, have often not met before the person attending to my fandango — and that gives you some sense of how odd it may appear for me to strip down to my bra, in order to have a bikini wax.

Above the fear, comes the mortification. Not labia-related, note – I don’t feel mortified about the front-end. It’s the back-end I feel ever so shy about it. Is there anything more mortifying than parting your bum cheeks to reveal your anus, like an oyster being forced to reveal its own gently quivering pearl? For me, not. The only thing more agonising than airing your anus in public is the sheer terror that you may fart in a stranger’s face. We’ve all had the nightmare where you’re back at school, in assembly, and you let out a massive fart. My personal terror is that I may do this to the beautician. Nestled in this deep, damp fear is a nub of curiosity about what the protocol is when this does happen. Would we both laugh? Or would the beautician jump back, assaulted by my bottom? It must have happened somewhere. I hope the internet will tell me where.

I’ll try everything once. I’ve gone cheap – we’re talking really cheap – and left with actual scabs on my vulva. I’ve gone seriously expensive and been tended to with a beautician who wears both gloves and a mask which made me feel like I’m a petri dish of STDs. I’ve been waxed with strip wax, hot wax, lavender wax, chocolate wax (still don’t understand that. And the smell is downright nauseating.) I hate talking. Most beauticians like to talk to you, to ‘distract’ you from what they are doing. I can’t talk, I won’t talk.

When it’s done, I am left faintly sticky, so that the gusset of my underwear may adhere to my under-carriage, leaving a faint skid mark of caramel wax. So much for looking sexually desirous when it’s done: I am a mass of itchy, red bumps. It makes me wonder why I do it. As Leandra Medine surmised earlier this year on Man Repeller, “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.” I also wish I didn’t prefer to be waxed. It would save me a lot of money, that’s for sure. But I don’t enjoy hairs sprouting out of my knickers when I am changing between shoots, or out of my swimsuit when I am on a beach with a load of strangers. My pubes feel private to me; they aren’t something I want to share (except verbally, with all you guys! Hey hey lucky you!)

The only joy of all this is getting to pluck my ingrown hairs (I always bat the tweezers away, when the beautician begins her finale. “But it’s my favourite bit!” wailed one. “Mine too” I growled back. I’ve spent £45, sister, let me dig into my own pudendum.) Don’t ANY one tell me this is gross. Plucking ingrown hairs is such a rewarding, facile joy – and, sometimes, even worth the pain beforehand. And that’s the thing. It always feels worth the pain. Until I go again and the rigmarole starts all over again. I’ve got an appointment on Friday. Wish me luck!

Illustration by Daisy Wallis.

*I am not saying that YOU should have to have one in order to feel neat. You may already feel neat, or you may not even WANT to feel neat. It’s entirely your prerogative. Bodies are messy; which is why I like to keep the bits that I can orderly. It is a personal choice and this is is just my preference.

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