Tonight Josh and I made steak, fried mushrooms, and threw together a salad. It was all delicious, so of course we put on an episode of Chef’s Table. The latest season of Chef’s Table is truly inspiring, and makes food seem very important and influential. Which it is! It also makes me talk a lot about whether or not I like the chef in each episode, a sentiment which largely revolves around whether or not they have an external locus of control. When someone has an external locus of control they believe that there are outside forces in control of their life. People who think that they are suffering at the hands of the world and don’t take personal responsibility for their problems/failures/setbacks have an external locus of control and I cannot abide it.
That wasn’t what I planned to talk about this week but I HIGHLY recommend Chef’s Table.
As you know, I was in Fernie last weekend. I was at the hotel, getting ready for the wedding, and I realized that I had forgotten my razor. Fortunately our hotel had one of those signs that was like “forget anything? We have it at the front desk!’ So I ran down to the desk, asked for a razor, and came back to the room with the most absolutely basic razor I have ever seen in my life. Think those disposable bic razors, but with fewer features. I held out hope that I wouldn’t get razor burn in my armpits and sallied carefully forth.
This tricky experience (I ended up with a couple nicks on my legs, of course), plus a memory of someone being grossed out by both my saying I have body hair and talking about removing body hair has inspired this post. I feel like people only get to be grossed out by one of those. Either having hair is gross or removing it is, choose one, you don’t get both, you know? Or neither is gross. But not both.
And so: a chronicle of how I remove hair from body.
Let’s start with the most simple. Shaving! Surprise surprise, shaving sucks. I have had enough ingrown hairs in my pits to last me a lifetime. I started out with the aforementioned bic razors when I was around 13 and discovered that women grew hair on their legs and worked to remove it; it wasn’t just magically absent. What a weird thing to realize. The first time I shaved my legs I was on holiday in BC and a friend helped me do it. I was astounded by how smooth my legs were and soon after noticed the hair in my armpits, so I started shaving them as well.
Shaving was not without mishap. I can remember getting distracted and taking a chunk of skin out of both of my heels. I had to tiptoe very quickly across the bathroom floor to keep from bleeding on and staining the bathmat. It was a truly impressive amount of blood. I also managed to take a one and a half inch gash out of my shin, and later found a weird, shriveled piece of dried skin in my razor which matched the shape of the cut in my leg. After I once again cut my legs, this time neatly in the back of my knee, I decided it was time to upgrade and got a better razor. My better razor served me well for awhile, but was never quite what I wanted. It left my skin itchy, bumpy, and irritated, especially in my armpits and at my bikini line.
So I started using a depilatory cream on my bikini line and tried to wax my armpits by myself. Depilatory creams, for those who don’t know, are a strong-smelling, thick cream that you spread on your skin where you want to remove the hair, wait for a few minutes, and scrape it off. It basically burns your hair off/out chemically and I very much dislike doing it. But I wanted to be clean shaven. I also attempted waxing, but I was skint, so I attempted waxing my hair by myself. Shaving my legs was going fine but my armpits were very hairy and I was embarrassed by them, so I had the bright idea of waxing my armpits.
Never wax your own armpits.
After that experience (there was blood) and on the recommendation of a friend, I bought an epilator. An epilator is a medieval torture device that is very scary to use. It is basically a set of rotating tweezers that you run up and down your leg/armpit which then pull the hair out by the root. Anyone who tells you that it doesn’t hurt is lying to themselves and to you. I hardly ever use mine because there is a giant mental hurdle to even turning it on. It hurts! So much! The thing is: my epilator was $70 and it pays off in the long run so I feel like I should use it, so I also feel guilty when I don’t. Similar to my menstrual cup: better for the earth/my wallet in the long run, scary and painful to use. Fun.
Anyways I still wanted less hair and I knew people who swore by threading or who swore by waxing so I tried both on my face. Once again, I was skint as, so I did it myself. Threading on yourself doesn’t really work so that one went out the window and I was back to tweezing my eyebrows. After awhile the follicles in my eyebrows where I was tweezing were so thoroughly damaged that either hair stopped growing there or it stopped hurting to remove it, which is a true bonus. I’m so glad this part of my body doesn’t function properly any more (????????????????????). As for waxing, alas I suddenly started getting weird, painful acne whenever I waxed my upper lip, so that method is out the window. I haven’t figured out a replacement removal method yet, so sometimes I am rocking a bit of a ‘stache. I think I’m going to get it professionally threaded, which is fairly inexpensive.
You know what isn’t fairly inexpensive? Professional waxing. But I still wanted to avoid that when I started getting my armpits waxed so instead of going to someone with a good deal of experience, I went to a beauty school in Calgary and got waxed by students for fewer dollas. This was good and bad. For one thing: it was cheaper than full-on salons. For another thing: they took a very long time because they were new at waxing, the results weren’t always great, and one time someone ripped some skin off along with the hair in my armpit so that was fun. Eventually I decided it wasn’t worth it to gamble my skin, hair, time, and general well-being on students any more, and I booked in a real salons. This is my most recent foray into hair removal.
Getting waxed is a very weird experience. For one thing, depending on what you get waxed, you are at varying levels of undress while lying on a bed as someone else stands over you with hot wax which they apply and then rip off of your body. For another thing, it makes a weird ripping noise. And for another thing, you are in a small room with a stranger for awhile and you’ve got to talk about SOMETHING. Things I have chatted about while someone is tearing hair out of my legs/pits/bikini line with wax include, but are not limited to: how many siblings I have and whether or not I liked growing up in a large family, librarianship and how you have to get a masters degree to be a librarian, postal carriers, the rabbits that lived in someone’s backyard until the magpies came and ate them, how the library offers a lot of different programs now, gardening, and weddings. It is a very strange thing to talk about magpies and baby rabbits to someone while she directs you on moving your leg so she can more easily pull hair out of it by the roots. And then after they wax you they sometimes tweeze out the strays so I’ve also had conversations with people while they are tweezing my armpits. I always want to ask what made them want to get into their field, but it seems rude to ask while they have their face all up in my pit.
I’ve thought about getting my hair lasered, especially my armpits, but once again: expensive. I’m a good candidate for it (dark hair, pale skin) but I’d still have to do a few sessions and I’d rather sink a few hundred into a sweet tattoo than into laser hair removal. And I recently learned that if you have any large hormonal changes, your body will probably reboot hair growth in whatever area you got lasered. Hooray for a female body and birth control and large hormonal changes. So as it is, I’m going to keep working with a combination of waxing and shaving with the occasional use of my epilator while gritting my teeth in pure terror.
Let’s face it, removing body hair is weird, but I do it all the time, and pay people to do it for me.