Do you remember the mid-2000s at all? We were supposed to hate pubic hair, and we did. Especially billionaire oil heir Brandon Davis — someone you have forgotten about until just now — who called Lindsay Lohan a “fire crotch” in an immediately infamous paparazzi video featuring himself, Paris Hilton, and Nikki Hilton. Davis, sweaty and swollen and horny for approval from Sisters Hilton, declares that Lohan’s recent movie Just My Luck bombed because she’s a “fire crotch” who both shits and comes freckles. Being a redhead, I took this insult personally.
I was 17 years old, and what can only be described as extremely a virgin. Still, this video solidified the image of the labia I knew I was supposed to desire, especially as a fire crotch: hairless, no razor burn. I knew no one would be seeing mine for recreational purposes anytime soon, but I also knew that at any moment a tragic accident could befall me without warning, and I would cringe not at the thought of car accidents or surprise seizures, but at the idea of an EMT cutting off my pants and seeing my fire crotch. “Look at this,” he’d say (it was always a he). “A fire crotch. I bet she both shits and comes freckles, too.” He would high-five a doctor, and they’d all look like oil heir Brandon Davis.
The first wax kit I bought shortly after seeing that paparazzi video was packaged in a box with soothing lavender tones, and a thin white woman looking like she finally found the inner peace we’re all searching for. The kind of serene look that says my pussy is bald and nothing bad will ever happen to me again. I waited until everyone in my house was asleep and nuked the tub of wax in the microwave per the included instructions. Brandon Davis’s words echoed in my head, the pied piper of my pubes, leading them off to the wax strip and into a trash can. Fire crotch, fire crotch, fire crotch…
I took one strip of wavy, short auburns off the top — right on the mons. My vulva, now with an uncle’s receding hairline. I microwaved the jar of wax again because it had taken me so long to apply the first strip, the wax had started to stiffen again. This time I spread a layer of wax where my leg meets my labia. I didn’t expect the kind of pain that followed. It was a searing, burning pain that somehow left not only my left lip intact, but a number of stray hairs behind as well. This was not worth it. Nothing was worth this. I had never even had my eyebrows waxed before this moment — why would I ever think to start with my genitals? Because of Brandon fucking Davis? Seemingly, hauntingly, yes.
In the 12 years since I tried to wax my pubes because a man bullied Lindsay Lohan, my body hair has only gotten more … powerful? Darker, thicker, denser. It’s popping up in places I did not know could ever need to be shaved and plucked. Is it still your pubic hair when it’s covering areas of your thigh several inches from your pubis? Why do I need to shave my big toe now? I never should have laughed at my mother for plucking her chin hair, because I could now grow a teenage boy’s beard.
It’s all a losing battle, if you view natural body hair as something that needs to be battled — which I do. My preference for hairlessness is so muddied by the patriarchal ideals I grew up surrounded with that I’m not sure if the two can be separated. I still feel more feminine and put-together when the entirety of my body hair from the eyebrows down has been shaved, plucked, Nair-ed, and occasionally (and poorly) waxed. That’s not to say I remove it often — the only thing I loathe more than my body hair is taking the time to get rid of it. I’ve often told men I was hooking up with “it’s been a few days since I shaved,” when I meant a full two weeks, because for some God-awful reason (Brandon Davis) I feel the need to warn a man about the presence of pubic hair and leg hair. All men say, “I don’t care,” and in the moment truly no man ever does, and that is the pre-hook-up dance I’ve been performing since the second time I had sex and will most likely perform until I am so wealthy that I can afford to murder every hair follicle on my body, finally releasing me from this totally natural, absolutely normal perceived Hell.