Monday, March 28, 2011


The Best Time I Got a Bikini Wax

A girl's first bikini wax is much like her first kiss, in that (a) she always wants to tell the story of how it went down, and (b) no one else cares. But I'm going to tell you my bikini wax story anyway. It should be noted, as long as we're going to get intimate, that I am not really a terribly hairy lady to begin with. So the fact that I waited until I was 23 to even notice the existence of bikini waxes as a concept — let alone get one — speaks less to any prudishness on my part than it does to a simple lack of necessity. Plus I hadn't really dated anyone who did that gross thing where they say, "It would be cool if you wanted to go bare, you know; it could be fun for both of us." (Yay for dating guys who, on balance, managed to keep their considerable dickishness from spilling over into the pubic-grooming department!) But when I broke up with someone after several years together, one of my friends was like, "You should get a bikini wax. But make sure it's a Brazilian because otherwise why even bother." So I said, "Okay!" (because I was in one of those post-break-up phases where you say "okay!" to literally everything that is presented to you, no matter what), and I did.

At that point, the only person I knew who had ever talked to me about her Brazilian bikini wax was a friend from college who I ran into one day on the street when she was immediately post-wax. She described the experience as "not that bad," mostly because, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I had a glass of white wine first, and I hardly felt a thing." (This is a sentence that turns out to be astonishingly applicable to many things in life.) As a result of that, somehow I'd gotten it into my head that the pre-wax glass of white wine was a necessity, like you legally could not get a wax without it, which was going to be kind of a problem given that I had made a 3pm waxing appointment at a nail salon a few blocks from my office. The good news was that the walk from where I worked to the nail salon involved passing a liquor store, so when I ducked out for what my boss probably thought was an awkwardly late lunch, I went inside and bought a white wine juice box, which is a product I had not previously known existed. but in that moment felt like an actual gift from the hand of God.

But I was 23, and for me two years had not been nearly enough time for my underage terror at purchasing and consuming alcohol to subside, and I had absolutely no idea where I could go to drink my wine juice box, and I was freaking out a little while standing on the street. Here's what I did, and I highly recommend it if you find yourself in need of a place to discreetly consume alcoholic beverages during your workday: I went into a Benetton store, grabbed a random sweater off the rack, and requested a dressing room. I hung that sweater on the hook and did not even begin to try it on, but instead straight-up shotgunned the white wine juicebox (because there was no straw) and then walked out of the Benetton and down the block to my nail salon where I announced, with an extraordinary amount of false confidence (engendered by a white wine placebo effect, probably), that I AM HERE FOR A BIKINI WAX.

I don't remember much about the wax itself except that it hurt, and I spent the times in which I was not in active pain being extremely surprised by the nonchalance with which a middle-aged Korean woman could get extremely intimate with my lady area. I politely declined the roll-over-and-spread-your-cheeks part. I got a little baby powder on my black tank top.

About that black tank top: It was racerback, which is important, because my bra was both not racerback, and also had those sort of really ugly white granny style lace-trimmed straps. To hide the straps (for both hideous-hiding and professionalism reasons) I had worn, on top of the tank, this really lovely black cashmere cardigan that I had spent far too much of my editorial assistant salary buying from J. Crew, which was not as cool in 2005 as it is now, but was still pretty cool. For the wax, I'd taken off the cardigan; it was hanging next to my jeans (with my panties wadded up in the pocket — seriously, where do you put your panties?) on a peg on the wall adjacent to the table on which I was lying. And when I got up from the table to get dressed afterward, my leg or the tabletop or a minor earthquake or something caused the beautiful, baby-soft, insanely expensive cardigan to slip from its peg. And it landed, not on the floor, but in an open trash can. Which contained something like six cubic feet of strips of used waxing cotton, frosted with — and I almost barfed at this point — dried-up wax studded with other people's body hair.

But I had to put the sweater back on, because of those stupid horrible hideous bra straps, so I closed my eyes and I reached in to this trash can full of ripped-out pubes and back hair and god knows what else (what if other people hadn't said no to the spread-your-cheeks option?! This idea literally only right now occurred to me, and I want to die a little), and I grabbed the sweater and pulled it out, and then (I had to open my eyes for this part) picked off all the waxing strips that were stuck to it, and shook it vigorously, and I PUT IT ON. And then I paid, and I left, and I went back to work, and I got home that night and I threw the sweater away, and I cried a little bit.

Helen Rosner generally writes about food. She is on Twitter here.

[Image via]

86 Comments / Post A Comment


That is the saddest waxing story I have ever heard! Poor sweater.
Also, my friend swears by 2 drinks and a painkiller an hour before waxing. Barely even hurts. Says my friend.

Fancy Mustard

Oh heavens. I remain exceedingly grateful that I've a guy who prefers my lady area to look, as we put it, "Victorian." But I've full confidence that your dressing room trick will come in handy...very, very handy someday. Soon. Sooner than later. Where's my juice box?


I choose to believe that the Victorian look involves coded jewelry arrangements and Aubrey Beardsley imprints.

Kate Musgrove

Saddest story ever! With the sweater. So sad.


Juice box wine! I have often bought those little Bandit Pinot Grigios with the express purpose of drinking it from the container with a straw.


They're the best! I take them to the movies all the time.

anna to the infinite power

I loved this! "I politely declined the roll-over-and-spread-your-cheeks part." this! this is as sad as the sweater! I hope they gave you a discount, you poor darling. It makes me so, so sad to think of you getting half of a wax, paying full price and needlessly destroying a cashmere sweater. The shotgunning of the winebox was a transplendent moment, & I find that after reading your vignette I am left feeling a bit exposed, like a trashcan full of used wax strips without a lid to cover its shame.

Helen Rosner

Wait, does declining the back part really only qualify it as half a wax? Now I feel like I've been doing it wrong :(

anna to the infinite power

Not half a wax, but half a Brazilian. I hope they charged you less... The term "Brazilian" in my experience has always been reserved for the most expensive one that covers up to all the surface area. I technically get a Brazilian, but to my waxer's befuddlement I ask for a rather large triangular patch left on the front. It's all about options honey, and I don't get a discount on account of still opting to spread my cheeks and have her do the hard parts.


The back part, in my experience, was always so much less painful than the front part that it was the best part. I'd be like "yay!" and bend over and spread my buttcheeks apart and she'd be like *riiiiip* and I'd barely feel it and my buttcrack would feel all glossy and shiny when it was over.

anna to the infinite power

TRUTH! The waxed crack is like crack. And it hurts less. SUPER TMI EXPLOSION: a while ago I watched a thing on waxes (was it real sex? the daily show?) and this woman was so amused by the involuntary "winking" that went on back there that I still have a flash of self-consciousness about it every time (Is she looking? Or is she trying very hard not to look right AT IT? Does she find it amusing or is this not even on her radar? Am I sick? I am the sick one, I am paying for it.)


Agreed RE: the back part being the back party. But the lady who does mine somehow does it while I'm ON my back. I can't bring myself to describe the position she puts me in, though. Okay yes, I can, it's sort of...missionary. Eep.

PS. I ask for the triangle patch too! And I always get the same "...uhhhhhh OKAY THEN" response! WTF?


@insouciantlover this just made me snort out loud with mirth - mainly because it's totally true.


My new waxer is getting into the habit of not leaving to let me get dressed before the event. Does this happen to anyone else? I think it's weird.

anna to the infinite power

Yes! My waxer moved into her "own place" which is cozy albeit less room and she literally just twirls around and fiddles with her wax set while I hurriedly drop trou and fold everything and hop on the paper covered table. On one hand I am like WTF? but on the other it's like ok get over myself she spreads wax on my butthole so how much prudishness can one keep up after that wall has come down?


I used to get my arms waxed, which meant I had to obviously take off my shirt. It was kind of weird when my waxer would also take off her shirt too. There were smocks hanging right there.


ummm *dead* @ this....not okay shenannies..NOT. OKAY!!!


Gross TMI-laden question: I have very sensitive skin and relatively thick hair. Whenever I get a brazilian (which has only been like 3 times but now I'm hellbent on doing them all summer) it hurts like the deep depths of hell and I bleed a little where the thicker hair is ripped out. Would this make the pre-wax wine or painkiller a terrible idea due to the blood thinning qualities?


UGH, this used to happen to me and now I get laser hair removal. Do you ever have them repeatedly try to wax the extremely thick hairs right in that lower central area under which lurks the clitoris, only to fail over and over? To the point where it feels like someone is punching you there?


@insouciantlover - YES that is the worst part of all. The lower areas barely hurt, it's just the thicker denser top patch that is horrrrrid. I wish I could afford laser!

@anna My last waxer claims it gets better too. But how? Do you really have to go religiously every month for it to start being finer and less excruciating?

anna to the infinite power

Re: pants & religious = less pain, the answer is a resounding yes, sadly. I have sensitive, pale, prone to ingrowns, Swedish/Irish fair skin and by 6 months it was more than bearable, it was not even a thing. Then I took 6 months off (at my husband's request!) and was yowling at square one again. Now it's been almost a year on and I can stretch it 5 weeks in the wintertime instead of 4. Although, now that I have my strength built up, I am inclined to stop for the husband's delight/savings reasons again. It's like bangs, you get sick of the look after a while.

anna to the infinite power

Don't use a blood thinning one if you already bleed. Your follicles are deep and the fleshier parts will be the worst. After a few more you will be able to manage. Some salons will allow you to pick up a numbing lotion and apply it yourself right before you come to the appointment. It will get better, it's like flossing.


Ah I totally get the bleeding thing, damn thick hair! Although it doesn't hurt. I saw an episode of Will & Grace once where Grace is going for a 'Belgian wax', and she explains its just a regular wax but it hurts so frickin' much she goes for a waffle after? Well although I secretly, and a bit perversely I guess, quite enjoy the feeling of being waxed, I still smoke about three cigarettes beforehand and buy a pastry afterwards. That's what I call the French look. Ha!


I bleed only if I wax close to period time. A thing to consider.

The Secret Sharer

are all your life adventures this funny? this was awesome!


Sophmore year of college, this guy I'd been obsessed with for awhile FINALLY made out with me, and we started hooking up. Being totally unprepared for this, I hadn't shaved in, oh, AGES. When gazing upon my furry nether regions for the first time, he said "Ah, the french look" which, I wasn't sure what that meant, but I took it as a very bad thing. We "broke up," for the first of many, many times, barely a week later.

I don't get bikini waxes, but damn if I don't shave religiously now.

My point, aside from taking the opportunity to embarrass myself even further on the internet, is to say - well done getting to 23 without anyone giving you shit about your pubes.


College in the 90s was so different, God.




You had me at 'white wine juice box'...

elysian fields

1) I feel a little bad for being so amused, but the image of the poor terrified author desperately shotgunning a wine juicebox in a dressing room is too hilarious for words.

2) I’ve never waxed or shaved (only trimmed) and I haven’t had a single complaint from the dudes I’ve been with (well, there’s been just a handful; all were long-term bfs). In fact, most of them actually liked my bush, and told me so. Maybe because (tmi tmi) I’m a redhead and they always seemed delighted to discover that the carpet matched the drapes? Idk.


Yeah on #2 and there's been, um, more than a handful let's just say. I have actually had several request I STOP shaving or waxing the times I've done so. I call shenanigans on this "all men expect/need/want pubes to be non-existent" thing that we're all being led to believe!


@ allyzay: you're so right.


I'm a redhead too and I think you're right! Thank heavens for that. Just a little shaving and trimming for bikini season, thankyouverymuch.



traumatic story....true story..i am 30 and have never had a coochie wax!!! no bikini, no full brazillian...NEVER!! and no one has ever given me shit about the pubes...not to sound racist, but i think its a white thing!! i have fucked ALOT of black dudes and never ONCE have i heard a pube comment. i shave the lip area and leave the FUPA trimmed nicely. the thought of someone around my cinnamon ring with hot wax scares the bejesus out of me!!!

*BOOM* used cinnamon ring in general terms!!


Can you imagine someone giving you sh*t about the pubes though? Would that not be grounds for immediate ejection from the sex?!


ABSOLUTELY!! i cant even imagine the scenario where someone would feel the need to say something about pubes! like WTF!? i have seen some GNARLY ball hairs and never thought twice about it...at the time.


I have never had a wax and have never heard a peep from any dude about it (whatever the kind of dude, including plenty of white dudes). Sometimes I wonder, who are all these awful men I hear about on the internet, and what do they have against razor jobs? I hate these mystery men, and I hope they remain strangers to me.


agreed!! i am wondering who has the audacity to say your lady bits aint perfect just the way they are!! you wanna hunch, they damn sure better look like a magical oasis in a dry, barren dessert!!


All sorts of personal choices can be dramatically off-putting: they're indicators of personal taste, beliefs, aesthetics, politics, mindset and so on. Some choices are going to be dealbreakers for some people. Others will enthusiastically endorse a choice; still others won't care. Everyone should be free to make their choices, and expect others to respect them--but not to demand that others endorse them or find them appealing.


once I hooked up with a guy for the first time without shaving in forever and he was like "this will not do, can i shave you right now?" He took out a bright lamp, got a 4 blade razor, a bowl of soapy water and proceeded to shave me bare. And then gave me the best head of my life. Honestly- it was one of the most erotic Jack-Dawson-esque things Ive experience.

And it's the ONLY time I've shaved and gotten ZERO ingrowns- i guess he had a better angle (like getting your hair blow dryed by someone else?)


WOW!!! wtf on that creep factor! there is NO WAY i could of kept a str8 face and not turned 18 shades of red!! WHAT. THE. FUCK!!!

*mind blown*


Yeah, no way in hell I'd let another person come at me/my privates with a razor.


Come on, am I the only that finds it strange that she can wear the sweater for the rest of the day, then opts to throw it away instead of getting it cleaned? I feel no sympathy for the loss of the sweater. Especially because I don't believe that's how it went down.


While I believe her, I definitely would have just shelled out for drycleaning and kept the thing. But that is possibly because I am gross, and also a bit of a hoarder.

Helen Rosner

Hand to god, it never even occurred to me to get it dry cleaned, because I am the person who takes a giant pile of stuff to the dry cleaner once every three years and then forgets it's there for the rest of my life.


I am horrible about dry cleaning also (a friend just moved to the neighborhood I've been in for 3 years, asked me where a good dry cleaning place is, and I had no idea) but, you know, desperate times, desperate measures.


Isn't dry cleaning where they spray poison on your clothes and then steam and press them?


God, this story was just all kinds of horrifying, except for the wine juicebox part.

I have never:
*waxed a body part
*gotten a mani/pedi
*been inside a gym

...and through a combination of trimming/shaving, painting/filing, and a hilarious adult recreational soccer league with a lot of dorky dads, I seem to do okay. I've had a fair amount of dates/sex and never gotten complaints (in any of these departments, at least). No judgment here, I say do whatever makes you feel good, just wanted to offer a bit of hope to those who might be terrified/lazy/broke like me.

elysian fields

I've never had a mani/pedi either because 1) I can do it myself, thanksverymuch 2) it's cheaper that way and 3) I cannot stand the thought of a stranger touching my hands and/or feet. Ughhh.


You ladypeople are fascinating!


Like dudes talking about cars.


I don't know, I think maybe the hairpin dudes should all go for a sympathy wax.


I think it might be like the scene in 40 Year Old Virgin and you'd end up with only half a ball waxed and leave...


Gah, I am a dude -- happily married and thirtysomething and not with lots of lady encounters in my pre-marital days but still -- and I honestly think that if I were getting with a lady and went towards her nether parts and found literally no hair there I would be kind of skeeved out? Like, thanks for making me feel like a CHILD MOLESTER, lady. I do remember one time when I went and saw a new-ish girlfriend whom I hadn't seen for like four months (long story) and she had fairly normal pubic hair but kind of visible razor burn around the edges and I actually felt bad and guilty just at seeing this fairly mild evidence of discomfort. Like, you didn't have to do this for me, lady, I just want to do it with you!

Also, one of my wife's oversharey young-ish co-workers described the waxing she had just gotten as going "from clit to asshole," a phrase that will haunt my nightmares forever.

anna to the infinite power

How fortunate we are that waxed lady parts bear little resemblance to little girl parts. Things have, ahem, matured in the intervening years... one might say from clit to asshole it's a transformation.

Does your junk look the same as it did when you were 9, just with more hair? Gosh I hope not, as you sound like a lovely and thoughtful man.

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

Have I been around "French" women too long? The only time hair ever makes things awkward is "p in v," the hair-in-the-mouth trope is just whining.


Agree about the trope, but how does the awkward come about?


The first time I had a Brazilian, I went to my usual brow waxer. This was a little awkward, as we had become friends, and there is very little about waxing the nether regions that lends itself well to friendly banter. I was nervous and awkward and started babbling some such shit about men wanting their women to look like little girls and how I was probably contributing to this problem and a whole host of nonsense. '

My friend actually stopped what she was doing (the prep work) and sat down and had a face to face conversation with me about the social politics of bikini waxing. The crux of her argument was that Brazilians were a sign of female empowerment and gender equality, as it was strong evidence that women were more willing to request and accept oral sex.

We very so very far past awkward that all I could do was lift my legs as directed and will every part of my body not to flinch when she ripped that wax off. And although I have never revisited the topic at length, I think she might be on to something.


I see what she's saying, but why can't we just request and accept oral sex with our natural hair? If that's what we want, that is. Hell, I don't know, maybe we are, but I see so much insecurity.


@ whateverlolawants: You can, and (I hope) do!

julie lauren

I think she is, too. This is what I tell myself at least, as I am just now completing esthetics training and will most likely make the majority of my income waxing,


@jfruh I know, God, those pesky ladies - always doing what they want with their lady bits without running around polling every guy in the universe first as to what their preference is! How dare they do that without consideration for my boner first!


Im pretty sure Ive never asked a girl I was seeing to shave or wax. However, now that I think about it, when I first start dating a girl and we get that point of comfort or drunkenness where I can ask her all the questions Ive been wondering since I first spotted her I usually ask if she shaves or not which Im betting gets interpreted as a request.


@sp8ce I would interpret that as super creepy, time for me to leave now.


Every time I read about waxing I get nervous and ashamed, like I've failed at being a lady. I've NEVER waxed, barely shaved (the razor burn is too much of a bother). My guy (my only guy, ever) doesn't seem to have a problem with it. But I'd still like to wax, at some point, maybe soon. Just to see what happens. Can any Hairpinners give me advice re: My First Wax? I DON'T want a Brazilian (really really really) but then what would I ask for? Is a French Bikini Wax a thing? I've heard of that but maybe I made it up. I'd just like the...edges...to be...neatened up. I guess. Or like, a nice landing strip or something.


You can just call it a bikini wax and tell them what you want left. In my limited waxing experience, they always asked before what I wanted.


My salon just calls it a 'regular bikini' and that's all I've ever gotten, with underwear on and everything. While I get along well with my waxer, I've never seen the need to share intimate ladyparts with her.


I use this tactic if I'm getting a wax in a new place, I move around a lot and different places have different words for styles (like some places think a brazilian is everything off, some leave a landing strip, some don't take enough off, ergh) and I get fear when I go to the salon/hairdressers/bakery and have to ask for something in French in case I get misunderstood and end up with a bald vagina/mhawk/prune flavored flan. So just literally go in and describe exactly what you want, like 'Hi, excuse me, I would like a wax, but can you just take off the hair at the sides, like the bits that stick out the sides of my knickers? And please don't hurt me. Thanks'.


1. Thank you so much for bringing the conversation of pubic hair out into the open! I really feel like this is such a taboo topic. I can talk about periods and sex in graphic detail but god forbid anyone bring up pubes. I'm always scared I'm going to get judged…

2. I never even shaved until last year. My ex-bf was the first person I was ever with that said he had a problem with my hair. I used to keep it trim but he wanted it all shaved off. We straight up had arguements about it and refused to go down on me. I finally did shave everything off and it felt weird but not as bad as I thought. He still didn't go down on me. I broke up with him, don't worry. Ass.

3. Now I just shave the edges and leave a "landing strip," which makes me really happy. I may have been inspired by Maria Bello's awesome pubes in A History of Violence. This makes me (and my new, super amazing, happy to go down on me anytime boyfriend) very happy.

4. I am 26 years old, if that matters.


@whimsey: Oh, it matters. *Call me. Kidding, I'm 100 (as IF that matters) and happily married for just shy of forever. But won't discuss wife's pubes until a waiver is signed.


I don't know if I can stay away from a 100 year old married man! I feel so tempted to call! :D


I've never shaved or waxed either, only trimmed. One guy asked if I'd try waxing, and I said sure-- if he tried it first. Unsurprisingly, he declined.

Also, "ejected from the sex"= the funniest thing I've ever read ever.


I love wine juice boxes! Perhaps 3 would have made it hurt less, though!

julie lauren

i use dressing rooms for all kinds of shit. makeup application/ frantic dry shampooing of hair before drinks with friends (to avoid the whole "julie looks like she's not showering...again" gossip), somewhere quiet to eat a snack, somewhere warm to waste a bit of time between winter engagements...

julie lauren

oh, oh! my newest okcupid photo is of me in a flipping dressing room. because i also like to do that in dressing rooms.



i've never had a wax in a salon but i use the strips myself at home....did it yesterday even :P

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