Wax on, wax off

When removing body hair first means accepting it

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Last month, I paid a stranger to rip hair off my body. At least, that’s what I told my partner when he asked what I did that day.

After a decade and a half of shaving as much of my body as those little pink drugstore razors could reach, I took the plunge and decided to try sugaring.

Hiring a professional to rub a mixture of sugar, lemon juice and water across my skin and remove all my hair brought me one step closer to achieving something I’ve longed for since before I hit puberty: a baby-smooth body.

As a French-Canadian with brunette hair so dark that it’s almost black, I had my share of hair-related body-image issues throughout elementary school. I still remember my little third-grade self locking my bedroom door so I could use safety scissors to try and trim my arm hair without anyone barging in.

And no, this isn’t one of those stories where I stood up to the sixth-grade bullies who made fun of my (albeit dark) peach-fuzz moustache. Instead, I took up shaving, slathered on depilatory creams and tried just about anything else I could get my hands on. In my second year of university, I tried a home waxing kit on my cheeks and accidentally removed a few layers of skin in the process. Trust me – beauty isn’t worth that much pain.

So when a friend recommended sugaring, I jumped at the chance and booked an appointment. After all, it could be an out: hair removal I only had to commit to once a month instead of every few days. What I didn’t realize was that sugaring would force me to face my shaggy legs and scraggly underarms all over again.

To remove hair by sugaring, you first need to grow it out to about the length of a grain of rice. That meant letting it all hang out and reliving those insecurities of my youth. As an adult woman with ample access to razors, tweezers and wax strips, I felt compelled to explain myself whenever someone got a glimpse of my body in all its unkempt glory.

I couldn’t leave my Pap test appointment before explaining to the nurse practitioner that I was growing everything out for the purpose of sugaring it all away, and I’m already rehearsing what to say to my makeup artist when she comes across my ’stache and unruly eyebrows this weekend.

But now that spring is (at least officially) here, my days of hiding behind long sleeves and pants might soon be over – and with my next sugaring appointment still two weeks away, that honestly scares me a little.

Last year, body-care company Billie made headlines when they launched Project Body Hair and aired razor commercials that showed women shaving their hairy legs – a first in the gendered beauty community that rarely acknowledges the fact that women do, in fact, grow body hair.

Likewise, my upper-lip hair or lack thereof isn’t quite a political statement. It’s just something my body naturally does and my attempts to (temporarily) change the course of nature. So please, let me bask in my insecurities and feel the breeze blow through my moustache. After living together for a few weeks, I’m slowly starting to hate those little hairs less and less.

Danielle is a Winnipeg writer, editor and marketer who’s relishing in all the extra time she has to get ready in the morning, now that shaving isn’t a priority. Those extra few moments of sleep are almost worth the discomfort. Almost.

Published in Volume 73, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 21, 2019)