At 17, I decided it was time for me to embark upon womanhood’s ultimate rite of passage: the dreaded Brazilian wax.
I don’t remember much; my brain chose to repress it, much like it does the most traumatic experiences of your life. In the darkest recesses of my mind, all that remains are clouds of talcum powder, undignified contortions and a lot of bloodcurdling screams. Replace that powder with some holy water, and you have a horror blockbuster to rival The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
When it comes to lady-scaping, everyone has their reasons. You’re in a new relationship, or want to groom for that skimpy summer swimsuit. You’re doing it for hygiene, or to redefine your ‘personal aesthetic’. OR, you’re not doing it all because you’re a liberal who loves a ‘70s fro down under.
Unfortunately, horror stories abound on both sides of the spectrum – whether you wax or use a razor down there.
While my mother is aghast at the immodesty of our generation, spreading their legs for strangers, another friend was forced into waxing by hers. “She sat on my stomach through the ritual, while my aunty pinned my hands down,” she recalls, adding, “Eventually, I ended up with a ‘Hitler ‘stache’ because I couldn’t get through it.” My closest friend, a professional swimmer, has been waxing since she hit puberty, and says she eventually got used to the pain. I, a professional cry baby and tattoo enthusiast, beg to differ – IMO, it’s easier getting two tattoos at the same time than it is to debeard your badger. Then again, I suppose it’s a subjective thing.
On the flipside of the waxing strip are the blade-runners, who scream bloody gore with stories of razor burn or cuts in inconvenient places. Not to mention, the aftermath of that honeymoon period – a Kafka-esque nightmare where you wake up to find your supermodel-styled Va-Gigi Hadid has turned into a prickly porcupine that has you writhing with discomfort for days. “It’s the only time of month I feel like one of those guys on the street who are constantly grabbing at their packages!” says one of my sheepish colleagues.
For those who have tested both, the pros and cons are clear: for one thing, you don’t have to look your waxing lady in the eye for another five months, at least. (and thank God for that!) Not to mention, your special place feels smoother than Vin Diesel’s head. The sworn shavers benefit from a complete lack of indignity and pain, but they’re left with a less than professional finish and pesky, fast-growing stubble. But no matter which method, you’re bound to leave the battlefield with the occasional war-wound.
So, what’s the best way to trim your hedges? Amidst all the urban legends, we decided to consult the experts. Contrary to popular belief, shaving doesn’t make the hair grow back thicker. “When you shave, you only remove the hair above the skin’s surface, so it appears like the hair is growing faster,” clarifies dermatologist, Dr Jaishree Sharad. “When you wax, you remove the hair from the base, deeper in the skin, so it takes time to grow and seems finer. But the hair cycle remains the same,” she adds.
A couple years ago, I recall a particularly morbid story, involving a young girl who required a bit of a ‘fixer-upper’ surgery, so to speak. Her years of waxing had rendered her so saggy, she could practically wave hello with her labia.
Another friend developed a bad case of thrush after grooming her intimate area. So what about that whole ‘hairless is more hygienic’ shtick? Well, here’s the thing: those much-maligned pubes serve a purpose.They protect your privates from all manner of bacteria and infections, especially if you’re a person that’s prone to them. Moreover, hair removal tends to inflame the remaining follicles, leaving tiny wounds that – combined with moisture – create a pathogen-infested climate for your cooch.
Gynaecologist, Dr Pradnya Parulkar, agrees that waxing or shaving it all off isn’t so much a matter of hygiene but personal choice. Her advice to those slighted by both methods is to take the middle ground (and we’re not talking landing strips).“The basic idea is to maintain hygiene, and complete hairlessness doesn’t necessarily guarantee that. Comparatively, trimming is less risky than the other two methods, as it doesn’t cause ingrowths or damage the skin.”
That said, old hair removal habits die hard – and based on countless, uncomfortable conversations, the verdict seems to be that whether you’re a Hot Stripper, Blade Runner or Edward Scissorhands, make sure to be safe, rather than sorry.