I wasn’t born hairy. At age 2 I was still completely bald and my mom was worried. Someone told her that rubbing chicken manure on my head would spur on my hair growth so she took me to my grandfather’s farm and dipped me in fresh fowl poop. From that moment on my blonde locks thrived.
But following the blessing of head hair came the curse of body hair around puberty. I had my first leg wax at age 12. By then the boys had stopped pulling up our skirts but were still chasing us around the sports field at break times. The first ‘Why are you so haaaaairy?’ was incentive enough for me to book in at the salon. The wax lady warned that it would sting but that it would get better with time, maybe I would even grow to like the tingle. Almost 20 years on I can say that while it is not worse, it is definitely not better either.
In these 20 years of hair removal I have waxed all over the world, in all imaginable positions – from Downward Dog in Paris, to Happy Baby in New York. I have lazered for more sessions than medically recommended – the administrators pretend to be baffled when the hair returns. I have shaved in emergencies (not an ongoing option unless you want to do it everyday like a man with a beard) and done everything in-between, from home waxing, stinky creams and going au natural. I’ve survived countless physical hair removal hazards: butchers getting wax stuck in delicate places, home kit wax strips burning my flesh when ripped off and the inevitable onslaught of ingrown hairs that rival the length of tapeworm. Aside from the physical risks, there is of course also the ongoing indignity of having to spread my legs for total strangers so that they can get to every last hair sprouting from my intimate crevices.
On the bright-side, I’ve developed close relationships with my wax ladies. The last one would spend the length of our appointment telling me how she’d missed me, sharing Buddhist analogies and then breaking down into tears telling me about her estranged son. As much as I liked seeing her I had to end our relationship when I realized she was totally blind.
I’m baffled by the injustice of my hairy plight. With my fair Caucasian genes I should barely be sprouting hair after all these years of grooming. I want to smack white girls when I hear them say things like ‘Oh I hardly ever have to shave’. The injustice! If I have to trace my hair genes, I’m convinced that somewhere along the way, my ancestors got mixed up with the people of the Hair Belt, that Southern Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, North African line of women whose follicles grow strong and proud, resistant to Egyptian sugaring techniques and Mandy’s wax strips.
Poor little Calliope describes the reality of the Hair Belt so perfectly in this passage from Jeffery Eugenides’ Middlesex, as signs of her girl mustache appear (spoiler alert: Calliope goes on to become a boy):
She is so right, the enemy, hair, is invincible. At 31 I accept that for Hair Belt descendants like myself, waxing is my only defense against this unstoppable life force. I am hopeful that in future Science and Technology will solve this issue for my offspring. If Google can make self driving cars they can surely make a little thing like hair disappear…right?