I laid on my back on the Airbnb bed as hot wax ran down my pelvis. Kneeling over me was my buddy Ash, meticulously dripping the green goo onto my pubic hair like Michaelangelo sculpting the dick on David. “X marks the spot,” she grinned, about to make the first rip.
Right before this, I had listened to the agonizing screams coming from this very bedroom as Ash removed all of the baby hairs on my highschool ex-boyfriend’s butthole. He just so happened to be six-foot-six-inches and an army ranger, so I listened to his boyish shrieks with absolute schadenfreude. When he came out of the makeshift wax studio, he looked more traumatized than when he finished his boot camp hazing. I thought this man ain’t shit, and I decided to prove a point. I told Ash to wax my pussy.
This was my first time ever attempting complete baldness in my netherregions. I had friends who always seemed to be completely smooth down there whenever we saw each other changing in the locker room, and it always was a mystery to me how they maintained such a mowed lawn. When I’d ask them for their coveted shaving method, they’d shrug and tell me they just waxed it off like it wasn’t a problem. I almost believed them until I realized that clearcutting the entire Amazon rainforest is actually a pretty big deal. It destroys an entire thriving ecosystem and contributes to microcosm climate change.
As I laid back on the bed, the wax hardened into a chastity belt. The receding warmth was strangely soothing right before the first violent rip. The wax peeled off like a superglued bandaid and I was biting a pillow to stifle the screams. I realized only in hindsight that I should have trimmed my tree before this bushwacking, because it was too long for elegant, momentary rips. Instead it took Ash multiple times to finally get chunks off, and I felt my skin crawl with each failed attempt.
All of the removed hairs stuck out of the discarded wax sad and dejected like the wall of a dorm shower. I looked down at my crotch to find there was now a pink and sore X pattern in the center. As Ash removed more and more goo deep in my crevices, the wax sealing me shut refused to budge. She said I could just wash it off in the shower, but I was braver than the army ranger. I wanted to rip it all off and feel the pain.
My high school ex-boyfriend’s sister Ally just so happened to be sitting at the foot of the bed casually reading a book. She had long, pink acrylic nails which were perfect for digging under the pesky wax, not to mention she was also a rugby player who often won barfights by headbutting her opponents. Ally put her book down, rolled up her sleeves and said, “Let me try.”
Ally and her stiletto nails were the extra leverage we needed to yank up the remaining wax. It felt like I was giving birth: my legs splayed apart, Ash holding my hand as I’d throw my head back screaming and covered in sweat. Ally was the midwife cooing words of encouragement between brutal tears of flesh. I half expected her to say, “It’s a boy!” when she finished, and I marvelled at the smooth but battered little bump we’d created. I unlocked the door, a bonafide hero, locking eyes with the army ranger who’d just returned from Afghanistan. The bedroom still smelled like wax and burnt coochie.
Bikini waxes have been around for a long time, even in the statues of Ancient Greece. They have permeated porn, adorned headlines about the latest trends and incited laughter in Sex and the City. However, what my waxing experience taught me was just how intense routine manscaping can truly be. I now know part of what my best friend is doing when he disappears into the bathroom for two hours to prepare himself for a Tinder hookup. I yell over the sound of the electric razer that this guy should love him no matter how hairy he is, but he always responds that this isn’t for love, this is for sex.
It makes sense to demand a certain kind of hygiene from our partners and ourselves. A friend asked me how to politely request that her girlfriend shave so she didn’t have to be eating her out through bristles of pubes. Hair removal can show our love for each other, especially when such a process is as fierce as having your high school ex-boyfriend’s sister ripping your pubic hairs out with her fingernails. It’s a type of love that makes hands peruse your smooth testicles in awe at your sacrifice. It’s a type of love that once kept Ithaca’s Proper Puss afloat. Hair removal also allows for more pleasure as there are less barriers and more exposed nerve endings. You feel the nuances of tongue strokes when there isn’t a growing garden in the way, and others want to feel the smoothness with you.
Yet, there is a darker side to pube shaving. Hairlessness gives the illusion of mature bodies with childlike features. It is a fantasy of physical juvenilization that masks a fully developed and sexualized person with all of their hair. It plays into cultural roles of innocence as we make our vaginas smaller through the removal of their majestic manes. When Ash waxed my no-no square for the first time, it wasn’t for anyone in particular. But I ended up staring at my bottom half remembering what it was like to be prepubescent. It was a body I had forgotten and cherished, but something would be very wrong if I had a partner who fetishisized that.
I do not think the excruciating pain of waxing outweighs the temporary benefits of smoother sex. Even if you shave instead of wax, the razor burns leave your fanny looking like the skin of a newly plucked chicken in the coming weeks. As the hair grows back, you’re left trying to find any excuse to itch it, even in public. Each follicle of hair becomes raised like a goosebump as your smooth baby’s butt turns into a sandpaper mound. The only remedy for this is to incorporate pubic hair removal into your routine and use lots of shaving cream and moisturizer.
There comes a point that shaving in all the right places goes too far and we lose sight of what truly matters: being okay with every piece of scraggly crotch hair. There is nothing wrong with waxing to feel something, to experiment or to see something new in the mirror. But we also must embrace the furry animal that lives in our pants. It is a symbol of our adulthood.
Anya Neeze is a student at Cornell University. Comments can be sent to [email protected] Boink! runs alternate Thursdays this semester.