Since I was about eleven I was under the impression that if I shaved my leg sideburns (you know, those hairs that grow unbidden on the upper inside of the thigh), the hair would grow back in masses. I was under the strongest of impressions that if I didn’t use Nair or some other product that smelled and needed to be applied in a thick layer and left on the area for at least 10 minutes without moving so as not to disturb the chemical process that was occurring, I would never be able to wear a bathing suit again because the hair that would grow back would be so dense I would not be able to hack through it to create a pristine legscape. It was a scary image. You can see, I’m not talking about gentle warnings, I’m talking about dire predictions.
And so, I used Nair for years. I always felt like a slice of toast, spreading the stuff on with the pink butter knife (or would that be a leg spreader?). I always hated that I had to plan when I would pare down; it always seemed to be dependent on mood. Was I in the mood to sit naked on a towel draped over the closed toilet seat while my legs got prettified? It’s not that my life is that busy, but somehow I was forever forgetting to keep things under control.
For a few years, when we still lived in Israel and would go to the beach in Tel Aviv all of the time, I even waxed. But after a while the whole idea of having two wonderfully-smooth-leg weeks lost its allure when I then had to wait two getting-hairier weeks in order for the hair to be long enough to be ripped out. And besides, at a certain point it became too absurd to have a woman spread hot wax on me, then a rag (what is a cloth that is used over and over again if not a rag?) pressed to the wax and then, in a motion reminiscent of a particularly masochistic friend pulling off a band-aid, rip the cloth off the leg, with wax and hair follicles adhering to it. Honestly, who thinks of these things and why do we pay to have them done to ourselves?
Now that I have no love interest, I’ve gone au naturel. But last week I was taking my daughter and a friend to the beach, and I had decided that thunder thighs or not, I was going to wear a bathing suit. I’m 47, I have essentially come to terms with the facts of my ripe pear shape, and while I need to exercise and lose weight, it wasn’t going to happen by Thursday last, but I did need to look presentable. There are some norms that even I don’t want to upset. So, with trepidation, I wielded a razor to virgin terrain.
Eight days have elapsed since the event, and I feel no different, and I look no different than if I had applied a cream hair remover. It feels good to refute a myth, and to know that I am no longer a slave to my leg sideburns.
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