Shaving, Waxing, and Squeezing: The Horrors of Sex Prep
Posted by Kenyetta Whitfield
October 6, 2016
When I was in 10th grade I found myself in a particularly peculiar conversation with my grandmother. I was on my way upstairs to take a shower and I had my essentials in hand. Of those essentials one in particular stood out to her – a razor. She stared at me and said, “I’ve never shaved down there in my life and I don’t see why you need to.”
Was my grandmother starting a conversation with me about her pubic hair when all I wanted to do was take a shower? Yes, yes she was.
Being the angst-ridden teenager I was and still regret to this day, I scowled at her and retorted with some angry response about having hairy armpits and not caring at all about her pubic hair or her shaving. Afterwards, I ran upstairs and took my shower in peace where I did in fact shave my armpits. However, my grandmother wasn’t wrong in assuming I would shave, “down there.”
It was around age 15 that I became incessantly obsessed with shaving my entire body. I was blessed with naturally hairless legs and while most of the girls my age would consider that a blessing I felt inadequate. So, rather than continuously shaving my hairless legs I opted for regular pit cleaning as well as pubic hair control.
Tenth grade was also when started dating my first boyfriend. The relationship brought about a new interest in anything and everything that I thought would make my then-boyfriend find me more sexually desirable. I spend countless hours texting friends about whether or not 15-year-old boys liked pubic hair, lingerie, and if they noticed stretch marks. I googled tirelessly attempting to find the best way to make your love handles seem desirable and sexual positions that made you look skinnier.
I had become virtually obsessed with the idea of sexual preparation. Every insecurity I had manifested itself in Google search after Google search and it was due to much of the unrealistic images of sexual relationships I’d internalized. Not only were there a shortage of representations of healthy sexual relationships involving fat feminine bodies but there was a shortage of black, fat, dark-skin feminine bodies. So, I searched the internet for articles on how to make yourself desirable during sex and sexual activity and it was a harmful experience. Not to mention I was not ready for sex.
My obsession with sex prep, and perfecting the perfect “sex-able body” took away much of the agency I felt, and continue to feel to today. Rather than living in the moment and listening to my body and mind I allowed myself to create an unrealistic checklist of arbitrary actions that had to be done before I “deserved” sexual activity.
For those interested in it, sex is an exciting, intimate, relaxing activity where a person can let loose and for just a moment feel free of inhibitions. Yet, instead of allowing sexual activities to be fun or enjoyable I spend the entirety of my first relationship filled with anxiety each and every time my partner touched me. Television, magazines, and my own friends normalized my behavior until I couldn’t tell if I wanted to shave and buy Forever 21 lingerie or if I wanted to make up for some lack of desirability I felt.
Though mainstream feminism has made it, its mission to show femme’s that shaving is unnecessary and that presenting as hyper feminine doesn’t make you a worthier human being, there is still a lack of emphasis on fat, black, dark-skin femme’s like myself. Sex is not a performance act and making it seem as such strips femme’s of their sexual agency. I went through countless hours of pain after shaving, pinching, waxing and performing other acts on myself to make myself more desirable to my partner and future partners and my story is not unique. And that was not sexy, it was destructive.