Wax Off

If I did one of those genetic tests to find out my heritage my results would like come back looking something like this:

43% French Canadian

27% Irish

30% Sasquatch

My feet aren’t big. It’s not that. I wish.

Instead, I am covered in hair. Since entering puberty around twelve years old, I have been covered head to toe in excess body hair. Or at least what society tells us is excess bodily hair for a woman. The upside to this is that I have a head full of thick, wavy, glossy black locks. I also have full eyebrows that I’ve never had to fill in with powders or pencils or sharpie markers, which is what it looks like all the ladies are using now instead.

I mean, come on, I think we need to take it down a notch with the eyebrows. We’ve crossed a line. I saw someone comment on Facebook recently that every young girl she knows has eyebrows like a male Muppet, and now that’s all I can see. Muppet eyebrows. I have them naturally, lucky me.

I also have fantastically lush eyelashes, or at least I thought I did. This used to be my thing. I may be a curvy girl over here but the one thing I had over everyone else was my Disney Princess eyelashes. No longer. They have upped the ante on me. My eyelashes are now considered sparse and puny, because all of a sudden everyone and her stepmom and her two year old daughter has eyelash extensions. Back in the 80s when I was growing up, Tammy Faye Bakker was the butt of many jokes for her ridiculous mascara, but in 2019 everyone looks like that. People now are like “Oh, Tammy Faye. Her look is so understated and elegant. She’s so natural.”

Who would’ve guessed that a tacky televangelist was so far ahead of her time when it came to beauty and fashion?  My God, we are truly living the Book of Revelations.

I looked into getting my eyelashes done, I confess, but it’s expensive and requires an absurd amount of upkeep and frankly, I am sick of having conversations with every woman I know while dodging shedding bits of eye enhancements. Those things fall out and fly everywhere and when I’m talking to a friend who has them it’s all I can think about. They’re so distracting. It’s like watching two enormous spiders engaged in a synchronized dance routine on someone’s face. I don’t need to do this to myself. I am petrified of spiders.

There was a time when I would have. I used to tend impeccably to my personal grooming, making sure no one knew the dirty secret that I was a hirsute mess, but sometime after I hit forty I forgot to care so much. Who do I have to be attractive for anyway? What is the point? I figure I have better things to do with my money — such as pay bills and feed my child. Most of the time, at this age I feel like I’m invisible anyway. It’s like I could walk around in a gorilla suit and no one would even notice.

In fact, I do walk around in a gorilla suit. I grew it myself. But apparently, I didn’t realize how bad it really was. It’s hard to explain. It’s like I know I’m hairy, but what once used to be a source of shame and despair is now like, whatever, almost like a form of denial I’ve acquired in middle age.

This week I had an important professional obligation which required me to be dress up and be seen by thousands, maybe millions of people. Don’t ask because I had to sign an NDA. Just know that it’s a job and I can’t show up looking like I just got done milking my free range herd of goats on a hemp commune in the Everglades.

I’m exaggerating. I don’t look quite that bad. Mostly I just look like an introverted, slightly overweight nerd in her forties who works in a giant library and prioritizes her motherly duties over being hot.

I gave up on hotness ages ago when I realized that in order to actually achieve hotness, unless you are a supernaturally blessed nineteen year old, you just need to be filthy rich. What we perceive as beauty is the result of having a lot of money and privilege, but that’s a subject for another day. Right now we’re talking about how I have to do this thing that needs me to look like personal hygiene is a part of my life and I suddenly looked in the mirror and realized that I had gone way far off the pretty grid. I was so far off track it was like I’d gotten lost in the beauty Bermuda Triangle.

Here is my full routine on most days – I take a shower.

Here is my routine on special occasions – I take a shower and put on the makeup from my Ipsy bag subscription.

Here is my routine the rest of the time – my tee shirt is mostly clean.

At least I can brag that I’m low maintenance.

But I was a little hairy, I thought. I needed an eyebrow and lip wax, lest I look like Frida Kahlo, so I went to the wax place.

I don’t know what these places are called. Depilatory salons? Hair Removal Stations? Torture Chambers where strangers pour hot wax on your tender skin and rip it off mercilessly? I don’t know. I call it the waxing place. Down here in South Florida they’re everywhere because people here are completely phobic of bodily hair, which makes sense because it’s hot and we wear less clothing than in other parts of the country. Waxing, threading, electrolysis, permanent laser eradication of every follicle on the human body – it’s common. Even the men here wax, which, by the way, I cannot stand. It creeps me out when men wax their chest hair and the ones who shave their legs are even worse.

And no one in Florida has pubic hair. I remember once I saw a woman get out of the shower at yoga with a full bush and I almost fainted. I hadn’t seen a woman with any hair at all down there in 20 years. It was jarring, and when you think about it, isn’t that kind of sad that seeing a woman in her natural state would look odd and shocking?

But I didn’t go to the wax place for a Brazilian, which I made very clear. I went because I intended to shape up my eyebrows and to make sure I didn’t have a few stray hairs on my upper lip. Simple, right?

No.

The first thing I learned was that I have not had an eyebrow or a lip wax since 2005, which is when I got married so that makes total sense. The wax place has been around for fifteen years and apparently keeps excellent records. I was almost as shocked that I was still in their system after fourteen years as I was seeing that woman with untamed pubic hair.

Apparently, fourteen years ago a savvy sales lady talked me into buying a package of lip and eyebrow waxes. This was when I had a great job at the country club and had no children, so I could still splurge on stuff like this. I can also guarantee you this was during one of my “I am going to start being more polished and finally take care of my appearance on a consistent basis” phases. I bet I had every intention of going monthly. I’m sure I went once, for my wedding, and then never went again, because the current receptionist informed me that I still had like four wax sessions left. After a fourteen year absence! Big ups to the wax place for STILL HONORING MY 14 YEAR OLD PACKAGE. That’s great business practice right there. For reals.

Things were a lot different in 2005. When we went out we wore jeans and nice shirt (I mean, I still do, but apparently this isn’t a thing anymore.) In 2005 gauchos and ponchos were very much in style. Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. We were all scared of getting Bird Flu. I still had a pink flip phone.

A lot has happened in the past fourteen years. Smartphones, social media, the opioid crisis. We finally got sick of reality TV. Paris Hilton has faded into obscurity. OJ is out of jail. We elected our first black president and then turned around and elected Donald Trump. So many of our heroes have gone – either passed away too soon or been exposed as rapists and predators. We worry about too much screen time and if we’re “woke” enough. Everyone is practically guzzling coconut oil. Print media barely exists. I could go on and on. My point is, a lot of big, crazy, unimaginable things have happened in the past fourteen years, and through it all, I have been growing hair like a god damned chia pet, and the wax place never forgot me.

I would be willing to bet you that 90% of my ex-lovers don’t even remember my name, yet the wax place held out hope, after all these years (14 of them!) that one day I would come back to claim those remaining lip and eyebrow waxes. That is some loyalty right there. I was a little misty-eyed just thinking about it. But this is where the romance ended.

My aesthetician was, umm, no-nonsense. That is the polite way of saying this woman was freaking metal. I could see her as the leader of some kind of resistance army on The Handmaid’s Tale. I think you have to be like that to rip wax off naked people all day long and look at literally hundreds of wooly crotches. You have to be a special person because if a man I’d never met before asked me to wax his balls there’s no way. No way could I do that with any semblance of professionalism and maturity. I’d be a combination of hysterically amused and utterly grossed out the whole time.

She had me lie down on a table and took one look at me and said “Oh.” And in that one tiny syllable, she really said so very much.

I think that “Oh” translated to “You have more hair on your face than a fucking cat.”

“I know you just said you wanted a lip and eyebrow wax, but I’d be glad to take care of the rest of this for you,” she said cheerfully. She really was lovely and kind.

I didn’t really know what she was talking about, to be honest, so I mumbled something like “Yeah, ok, do what you gotta do.” I mean, how bad could it be?

Narrator that sounds like Ron Howard: It was very bad.

She shined a light on me and made noises of grave concern.

“You have some nose hairs. Should I take care of them?”

“Yes! Absolutely. I don’t want hair on my nose,” I said.

I had hairs on my nose? Oh my god. Why had no one told me?

But I had it all wrong. All wrong. The hairs were IN my nose.

The aesthetician stuck a popsicle stick of hot wax UP MY NOSTRIL and proceeded to fill my entire nose hole with wax, and before it hardened she shoved a tissue wrapped cotton swab up there too.

“Wait, WHAT??” I protested, “I thought you meant I had hairs ON my nose. Not IN it!”

She laughed.

That’s how I learned that people are now waxing out their nose hairs. All of them.

“Oh, it doesn’t hurt,” she said and then proceeded to yank the stick of the cotton swab out of my nostril, thus ripping out all of the tissue and hardened wax and literally every one of my nose hairs in one fell swoop. I almost passed out. While it didn’t hurt as badly as one might imagine, it wasn’t without sensation.

“But I need my cilia,” I whispered, weakly.

Then she did the other side, but since I was more prepared for it, it actually hurt more.

After that she slathered wax all over, and I mean totally covering my chin. My chin, friends. I have hair growing on my chin. I have a full goatee and didn’t even know it.

In retrospect, I guess I should have known it because I’ve recently come to accept the fact that I’ve reached the age where I can no longer pick the hell out of my face in the bathroom mirror before bed without wearing glasses. Without glasses my complexion is flawless. I look like an Instagram filter. With glasses my face looks like an organic tangerine that’s been in a kid’s lunchbox for a week. See, this is what denial will do to you. You can grow a beard to rival the ones on every hipster dude at the craft beer garden, and never even see it.

I’d also like to call out all of my friends who were being too polite to tell me. Friends, stop being polite. Please tell me when I look like a Billy Goat Gruff.

Then the aesthetician began drawing on my eyebrows. I appreciated this because she proved to me that precision was important, but what I wasn’t expecting was when she pointed out to me that my eyebrows are asymmetrical. Well of course they are. Doesn’t it just figure? Did I want her to fix that? OF COURSE. Jeez, I can’t be walking around with naked nostrils and still have unmatching brows.

This is when I began to feel dreadfully about myself. Self-hatred is my default, but this was next-level.  My favorite leisure activity is finding flaws on myself, and somehow I had actually missed some?? I’d committed the ultimate crime of a woman in 2019 – I’d become overly confident and missed some of my physical faults.

Sheesh, just thinking you’re fat is so amateurish. You should also be noticing when your eyebrows are different.

Well, they’re the same now, because the wax lady fixed them. So there’s that.

At one point I thought she was going to make me get up off the table and jump into a huge vat of wax the size of an above ground pool, encasing my entire body in the stuff, because that seemed like it would be more efficient, and about what I needed.

How am I so hairy?

More important, the question I found myself really asking is, why does this matter so much? Why do we do this to ourselves? Who decided this was beautiful and that was ugly? At what point did we as a society decide that hairs inside our noses that no one can even see are no longer acceptable because God forbid the hairs might stick out, or as someone else explained to me, get boogers stuck in them. We are shoving wax up our noses, paying someone to do this mind you, because we are petrified that we might have a few bats stuck in the cave and someone might notice and judge us. Why this desperate, all-encompassing need to turn ourselves into plastic dolls?

My face is smooth as marble now. I am free of all unwanted (and heretofore unnoticed) hair, and you know what? As of today, zero miracles have occurred. I don’t feel suddenly beautiful, or fixed, or glamorous or anything. If I’m being 100% honest, the situation is worse because all of that waxing made my face break out, and that doesn’t happen to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to be rid of a mustache, and I’m thrilled my eyebrows now look the same, although I still don’t see a difference. I look good for the job I need to look good for, but I don’t see myself maintaining this level of…baldness forever. It’s a lot of work and I prefer to focus on other things besides how I look all the time.

The good news is I still have three or four more wax sessions left on my package, so maybe there’s hope, but at the rate I’ve been going, that should last me well into my 80s. I guess I didn’t realize back in 2005 that I was buying a lifetime supply.