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I'm a Smart, Liberated Woman -- So Why Do I Pay a Stranger to Pour Wax on My Genitals and Rip Out the Hair?

Behind the hedonistic and masochistic ritual of the bikini wax.

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And sure, it becomes problematic because Stoya is publicly putting herself out there, but “at the end of the day, it’s my body,” she says. “Rather than shit all over an entire gender and an entire industry, figure out what you like and find people who like what you like and are O.K. with that.”

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“Not one woman feels confident about her genitals,” Ross says. “There’s a sanctity to the male body and a respect and a privilege that I feel like with a woman, especially when you’re a young girl and you hit puberty - it’s like the whole world is monitoring and regulating your body.”

While writing this article, I obsessively analyzed the justifications behind my grooming routine. During my most recent Uni K visit, the gloved esthetician performed her art: cleaned my pubic area; sprinkled powder on the region getting waxed; turned on a fan that blew cool air onto my vulva to dry the wax while she worked; applied their unique wax in gentle strokes and quick precision, section by section, thickly across my bikini line; pulled each section of wax as it dried; and repeated each application and pull of wax, until everything was smooth and clear.

The entire procedure lasted from 11:34 to 11:39 a.m. In five minutes my unwanted hair was gone, with a trimmed rectangle still coating my labia, ass, and the bottom portion of my pubic region. But while I walked out an incredibly satisfied customer, as I am every time, I couldn’t help but feel like a “bad” feminist. Still.

I like examining my vulva: Watching the hair grow back, week by week; the days right after a wax when it’s fresh, smooth, and plowed; when the first stubble sprouts. Some become ingrown hairs, and I can pick at them – pull them out with tweezers or push them to the surface with my fingers. I like when it’s time for my next bikini wax and I can repeat the process all over again.

It’s my routine with my self, my vulva, and my body. It is a sacred time during which I inspect hair growth, witness its extension above my skin, note how it is thinner than it used to be: sparser, more tender, and more distant.

Sometimes I mourn the thicker hair of my adolescence, after puberty, just before I started bikini waxing. Maybe I’ve permanently altered my body. Maybe this very well impacts women’s rights.

“My vagina is not holding back women as a gender,” says Stoya. “One thing that is holding us back is that we spend so much time bickering over whether it’s anti-feminist or feminist to wear lipstick. What about workers’ rights? Isn’t that a more important thing to question? The fact that Texas and North Carolina are making political choices to take away women’s reproductive rights - that’s a problem. The fact that transgender people are being discriminated against: that’s a problem. Lipstick and pubic hair? Not a problem. [It’s an] aesthetic choice. It’s like getting mad at people for wearing a blue shirt.”

Stoya paused for several seconds. “Walmart’s a fucking problem. The fact that George Zimmerman’s free when he killed someone for being black: that’s a problem!”

This article is by no means complete or holistic. It is missing endless facts. It is missing historical context in hair removal, fashion, adult entertainment, feminism, gender equity, and more. While I spoke with nearly three dozen individuals from a plethora of backgrounds, sexual orientations, genders, races and professions, it is missing multitudes of voices: trans, genderqueer, and male; it is missing religious perspectives, ideas on class, ethnicity, nationality and disability.

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