The dumbest thing I ever did was doing it myself. Since I was a young girl, I’ve had an intense Pull-Up-Your-Boots-and-Get-It-Done mentality. When my dad left us, my Umma (mother in Korean) left the impression that my inclination to power through came from her. By the time I was in my teens, I had mastered the art of suppressing emotions and compartmentalizing, but mostly, to hold back tears because tears are for the weak.
In the basement of my ex-husband’s duplexed condo, I tried to hold back the tears but could not. We had split up a number of months back. Having been the sole supporter of our family of four, I didn’t have any funds to move out on my own and was relegated to one of bedrooms in the basement. The memory of my mother saying, “Risa, you keep money secret from husband. Not all, but you hiding little. In case you run way,” kept running through my head as I pounded it against the wall screaming, “STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!”
If it wasn’t for our two daughters, I would have found the nearest bench to begin my new life. Frankly, I look good in dark colors, enjoy drinking out of brown paper bags, and I’m open to giving hand jobs in exchange for drugs. Instead, I was being swallowed by four orange walls and heavy heartbreak.
I turned my thoughts elsewhere by focusing on my new future life, which included a whole lotta shagging strangers until my vagina fell off and landed at my feet with a hard thump. I imagine it would be a thump because, honestly, I have a fat pussy. I decided this was the perfect moment for a little self care. I never could afford to get things taken care of beyond an occasional haircut, so I was experienced in trimming and dying hair, painting nails, making sugar scrubs, and so on, but I had never tried my own Brazilian wax.
For those of you who are not familiar with the stupid things that women do to appeal to the standards of beauty through the eyes of a patriarchal society that does not accept body hair as a fact of life, except when it’s growing out of a man’s ears wrapping down his neck to a forest of back hair that flows into his butt because men are men, a Brazilian wax is the removal of all the hair of a lady’s under region – all the hair off all the parts.
I pulled the green and white box of Nads waxing gel out of a bag from Walgreens, which should have been my first clue. If your first stop to hairless mons is going to Walgreens, you are making a bad decision. I unscrewed the cap of the white circular container and waited for it to heat up in the microwave. I double checked that my ex-husband wasn’t in the house and the girls were still at school, I felt safe as I quickly dashed into my cave.
After locking the door behind me, I applied the green goo to the top of my vaginal area. My confidence was building with every smother of wax across my body, waiting until it cooled. I took a deep breath and tore the first layer of hair off while screaming, “HOLY FUCKING MOTHER OF CHRIST!”
Yet, I carried on with less yelling and no tears. After completing that area, it was time for the cracks. I hate to be so graphic, but it’s important to let you know that a Brazilian wax includes not only removing the hair from the top of your body, but also the inside layers. I stood in mountain pose and slowly doubled over so that while standing I could apply the wax between my butt cheeks. Feeling that I had done a sufficient job, I tried to yank the strips of wax from my body, but could not get a proper grip.
Now on my back, I lifted my legs to either side of my head, leaving my rear slightly spread open and completely exposed to the good lord above. At this point, I tried pulling the strip and still could not get it to budge. I began to sweat. I tried to fold my body tighter in hopes that I could get a better hold, instead, I kept repeatedly pulling the hair near my butthole in agony, but the hair wouldn’t move. At one point, I managed to pull hard enough to lift the corner of one hardened strips grabbing enough hair to make me bleed but not enough for this nightmare to be over. Tears stung my eyes.
Laying on the carpet with my legs over my head and wax in my butt, I started to question my life’s choices. This moment of trying to clean my junk felt like a sad, but appropriate, metaphor about my whole life. I was a loner constantly struggling to remove the wiry strands of hair from the butt crack of life until I could find my way out.
Still sweating and now crying, I tugged at my ass wax little by little thinking that this, too, was the method of which I lived my life – no plans, jump right in, figure it out, tug at this, tug at that. Go to college, quit college, move, go back to college, quit college, party, consider a career, party, move, try college, quit college, get married to a man that I had known for two months, don’t want kids, had kids, go back to college, quit college, quit marriage, still stuck with kids…how was I going to raise these kids?
Not only was I terrible at my do-it-yourself-labia-wax, but I sucked at life. I asked myself, what if you had taken two minutes to consider your options, like the option to not wax your vagina? Would I be here, ass to God, crying, sweating, and wondering if I would have to live with my lovely lady lumps glued together by an early 90’s as-seen-on-tv product?
I cried. I cried and cried and cried. My disappointment in myself raged through me. I couldn’t see my way out of the situation, like I had blinders on, and quite literally, because those blinders were my knees. After I pulled myself together, I took a deep breath and slowly worked those strips of gel, peeling off layers of hair, skin, and blood until I was done. During that time, my mind wandered off to my children. I know that sounds weird, but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them.
Was this the type of mother they were going to have? A woman who was impulsive enough to give herself a vaginal wax in the basement of her ex-husband’s house. A woman who still lived in the basement of her ex-husband’s house. A woman that didn’t know when she was in over her head and unable to see the simple solutions, like taking a hot shower instead of leaving lacerations of fleshy exposed labia meat all across my special place! I never felt so alone or in so much goddamn pain.
Life is funny, though. These small moments are ones that change you forever without you even knowing it. I found us a place to live, I committed to being consistent for my daughters – saving money, keeping jobs, finding friends that made us stronger, and encouraging my girls to learn and stay curious. Most of all, I committed to never again trying to wax my own snatch.