Monday, January 5, 2009

Leah: Wax much?

The female life is a constant war against body hair.

Let's estimate the average American woman spends 10 minutes every other day shaving her legs.

Minimally, 10 minutes, three times a week, or 30 minutes a week.

Math scorches my soul, but as a community service, I shall continue. Let's say you start shaving at age 13, and you continue until you are 70 because you're one sexy grandma. That is 57 days, almost two months, of your life spent removing leg hair with a sharp piece of steel.

This doesn't account for conquering the bikini line and armpits, or waxing the brows, or plucking all of those stray hairs that -- let's face it -- we all have but all deny.

Guess what, men? Many women get whiskers. Our big toes sometimes get bushy. Yes, bushy, not just scruffy.

But in order to meet the hairless, pre-pubescent body ideal that the American society sets up for us, women must engage in a constant war against their hair.

My friend, Brittany, has a new complex: the "she-stache." Brittany went to a spa to get her eyebrows waxed, and the waxer asked her if she also wanted to take care of her mustache.

"Um, I don't have a mustache," Brittany said.

"Yes, you do."

Brittany, who is blonde and relatively hairless, was shocked. "No, I have no hair on my upper lip."

The woman quickly responded, "Yes, you have lots."

Brittany was indignant. "Well, I don't want a mustache wax."

"OK," the woman sighed. She applied the wax to Brittany's brows. As she leaned in to remove it, her nose not one inch from Brittany's nose, Brittany heard the woman mutter something, low and accusingly, under her breath.


Waxing should be the subject of memos in the Justice Department, not something that you find in a spa. I've heard women say a Brazilian is worse than childbirth. One yank at my recent half-hour wax punishment proved significantly worse than all 20 hours of my tattoo -- at once.

Don't tell me you have this new magic wax that doesn't hurt as much. It does. Most likely, the only thing keeping my (plucked and shaved) tootsies out of your jaw is the bottle of wine I downed at lunch in fearful anticipation of our appointment.

Oh, and never, ever, ever, under any delusion or desperation try to wax yourself, or enlist an untrained friend. Wax gone wrong takes on a distinct bubble gum quality. Or so I've heard from, er, this one friend of a friend of a friend's friend.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if I was stuck on an island for months (preferably with Josh Holloway going by the name Sawyer) with no hair-fighting artillery. Would I look like a different person? Would I start smoking weed and liking the Grateful Dead? Or would I kill a boar with my bare hands so I could use its sharp canine teeth to groom? I have a hunch Lost Island would have one less boar.

Not every non-hippie woman is terrified of hair. In fact, I recently read a article claiming that, due to the economy, increasingly more women are skipping the Brazilian and opting for a "more trimmed, version of the '70s style."

Let's make a quick diversion to talk about gardening. Your front lawn. If you are easily offended, think of this as an extension of our Wednesday garden coverage and in no way a metaphor. The current gardening trend is not to cultivate large, unruly shrubbery in your front lawn, and certainly not pine trees that block the view or patchy and wild Aspens that want to take over the universe. Increasingly more women are planting organized flower gardens.

In the words of my friend Leah, "It's not my fault you people have paved driveways and I have a lush garden walkway."

Now, let's return to the topic of hair, and my green-thumb friend Leah, who rocks what she calls a "Russian Spy Brow." As she puts it, "If left untamed, my eyebrow (singular) rivals Bert (of Bert and Ernie fame) and could totally take down Brooke Shields in an eyebrow cage match."

In high school, Leah tried to shave her bikini line -- using Neosporin because she heard that's what porn stars do.

She avoided swimsuits (and Neosporin) for years. Yet having hair anywhere other than on her head made her insecure and mannish.

Until the sweet recession.

"Hair is back, people," Leah recently wrote in an e-mail. "I never understood why, once I'd hit puberty and stopped looking like a 5-year-old girl, I'd want to torture myself to look like a 5-year-old girl."

Now Leah has a new boyfriend. In self-defense, and in preparation of their burgeoning romance, she casually posted the article on her blog.

Back to Leah's completely non-metaphoric front yard. She hopes Boyfriend can appreciate a well kept garden.

Besides, Leah adds, "I won't ask him to shave his back hair if he doesn't tell me how to trim my hedges."

Of course, she can always toss out her leg-hair razor and have herself 24 extra hours this year to search for a good esthetician, er, landscape architect.

Photo by Flickr user Vincent Maher.

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