I got my legs waxed last week. I did it to surprise a lover because I knew they would like it. What I didn’t know was how amazing it would feel.
I’d never removed my leg hair before and it’s been decades since it started growing. I remember being in my teens and seeing it show up my lower legs. I remember being in my early twenties, as it grew further up my thighs. By the time that I was in my early thirties, it had grown all the way up to my waist. It doesn’t show as much as on a lot of other people since my hair is rather light in color, but it’s definitely there.
The “waxing boutique” I went to offers quite a few options for men. I decided to go with them because I’d read the Yelp reviews. Leg waxing for men wasn’t listed on their website, but a quick email exchange let me know that it was an option, so I booked my appointment.
The actual process wasn’t too bad for me. I know that people perceive and process experiences differently, and I definitely know other folks for whom waxing is excruciating, but I didn’t have any problems. A few spots were a little extra ouchy, but all that breathwork I do in yoga, tantra, and kink made it easy to deal with. So did the pre and post skin care the waxer did.
If I’d thought of it, I’d have worn something different to my appointment. My skin felt much more aware of sensations afterward, and my jeans were a bit too rough. I probably could have thought of that since I used to shave my head with a razor and I know how much more sensitive skin becomes when the hair gets removed. My scalp used to be able to feel every little breeze and shift in the air. That just doesn’t happen when I use clippers, even on the shortest setting. I spent the rest of the day in loose cotton pants, letting my skin recover.
For the next couple of days, I savored the way that things felt on my skin. The difference between how track pants, flannel pajamas, and jeans felt was remarkable. Taking a shower was a completely different experience. Getting into bed and having my legs slide down the sheet felt like nothing else. For the last week, I’ve chosen what to wear based on how it feels as much as how it looks.
All of this has had me thinking about how clothes are gendered. Of course, lots has been said about how women’s clothes have useless pockets and are often made from flimsy materials that are guaranteed to fall apart in a few months, while men’s clothes are more often designed for utility and longevity. But what seems to get left out of those conversations is that men’s clothes aren’t generally made to feel good on the skin. The sensation of soft fabric, satin or silk, or velvet against your body isn’t something that many men get to savor without steeping outside of the Act Like a Man Box.
I’d always thought that the only reason why men’s clothes aren’t as sensual to wear was because of the performance of masculinity and the requirement to be tough, to not be sensitive. But perhaps another factor is that body hair (especially when it grows thickly) cuts down on how much sensory input your skin receives. I’d never really thought about the armoring effect that body hair creates until I took it away. Speaking of which, having someone run their hand up my leg without yanking or pulling on hair was another totally different experience. Just saying.
There are a lot of ways in which men are taught to numb ourselves. We’re not supposed to have or express feelings. We’re not supposed to care about pain. We’re told to “walk it off” or to distract ourselves from our discomfort with work, sex, food, alcohol, or video games. We’re supposed to be in charge of the world around us, but we’re not allowed to actually feel it. That makes me wonder- what’s the point? I want to live in the world, to feel it fully, to dive into the physical and enjoy the different flavors, sights, smells, sensations, and feelings that it offers. I refuse to hide from the sensual. I’d rather experience it and learn what it has to tell me. As Mae West said, “I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.”
Getting my legs waxed gave me an opportunity to feel things with a different awareness and presence than I’d had before. The skin is the largest sensory organ we have and turning the volume up on half of my body was a really fun experience. I’m not going to make getting waxed a regular thing. It gets expensive and anyway, I like variety. But I think I’ll do it again sometime, just for fun.
And by the way, I was right. My lover did enjoy it.