I got my first Brazilian three Valentine’s Days ago. I opted for a landing strip, unwilling to get rid of every last hair. You might consider me a vaginal nevernude: I felt that my dark, messy pubic mane, which had so horrified me when it first appeared, was a symbol of my adulthood, and that to get rid of all my short and curlies would somehow de-sex me. The point of this grooming experiment was partly to see what it was like to be largely pube-free, and also to please my then-boyfriend who, a few months earlier, had bashfully mentioned that he had an interest in landing strips. I thought it would be romantic.
I grew hairy armpits young – when I was about nine – so I’d been going to my local beautician for years and years for a regular wax. But in the same way I never acknowledged to my parents, who’d known me since I was a baby, that I’d started having sex, I didn’t want my beautician, who’d been there for my first leg wax, to draw the obvious conclusion from the shift from bikini to Brazilian wax. I called another place and made an appointment: early, to decrease the risk of running into someone I knew.
Lying and waiting pre-wax, naked, I felt like a medical patient. I wanted my waxer to be good at her job, but more than that, I wanted bedside manner. It was important to me that she knew I was vulnerable and that I needed extra care. I didn’t know her name and she’d seemed grumpy when I arrived, but I needed to establish a relationship.
“I’ve never got this done before,” I explained with a hesitant chuckle when she had finished my underarms and legs. “So can you just tell me if there’s anything I should know or expect?” Her response was impatient and cold – I think she thought I was silly. She told me it wouldn’t take long, but didn’t say much more than that.
Just as she was applying the first coat of wax, the phone rang and she answered. It was a personal call – a friend, I think, wanting to talk about their plans for the weekend. She kept working on me as she talked, phone pressed to her ear, occasionally telling me how to arrange my body. Legs spread, a sticky mixture of hair and wax, I felt like I was intruding. Surely she’ll put it down, I thought. I need her to talk to me. I was wrong. The call lasted the whole wax. To her, I was just a vulva to make bald while she had a chat.
The situation reminded me of when I’d had sex for the first time. It was my boyfriend’s first time as well. We’d finally worked out where all our body parts were meant to go and achieved the necessary level of moistness. It didn’t last long, although I had nothing to compare it to, and I got a cramp in my left foot. Afterwards, we lay together for a few minutes, basking in this new realm of intimacy. But then he got up, shut his bedroom door behind him, and went to play FIFA on the X-Box with his housemates. They played a 15-minute game as I read my book, alone in the bed. When the game finished, I heard him ask if they wanted to play another game. I pulled on my clothes and walked out of his room and out of the house, crying.
People tend to fixate on the pain of a Brazilian wax, but that didn’t faze me much. I was more concerned about the violent ripping motion which removed the hot wax from areas close to pretty important parts of my anatomy, and the awkward, exposed positions I had to arrange my body in to get the wax there in the first place.
I wondered how many times my waxer had done this. I wondered how many times she had done this while on the phone. I wondered if it was possible for a waxer to perform a cliterodectomy by accident. I wondered if she would care if she knew she was only the second person to see my vagina since I’d grown up.
“Pull your knees to your chest,” she instructed. Lying in a position I hadn’t found myself in since I did gymnastics at school, I wondered what it was for. One application of warm wax later I realised it was so she could get at the hair in my ass-crack. I felt appalled that anybody was really looking at that part of me, and idiotic for not expecting her to tidy up that part as well.
It was all over quickly, like she’d told me. It’s a pretty small area, really.
That night, I told my boyfriend his Valentine’s Day present was coming after dinner. When we got home from the restaurant I took off my dress to reveal the gift: lacy bra, red G-string, garter, landing strip. He was pleased, but probably more curious. He touched the bare skin he’d never seen before, fascinated, but then, as with every other time I’ve ever worn nice underwear for a boy, he was quickly distracted by the promise of imminent sex and just got on with it.
So, in the end, I was the only one who really looked at my landing strip. I stared at it in the mirror as I was getting changed, and from above when I was in the shower or going to the bathroom. I thought my lips looked oddly droopy, and I didn’t like the exposed way my labia minora protruded down the bottom. I was glad that no hairs poked out the sides of my skimpier underpants, but I still felt fat and frustrated at my permanent stretch marks.
Other girls have told me that they get Brazilians not because they like the way it looks, but because it makes it likelier that your partner will go down on you. I’ve also heard it makes sex feel better. That wasn’t my experience, but then, I haven’t got one since.