Going Brazillian

Or, When I Got My Nether Region Waxed

by Shannon Kelley Gould

“Some people say getting a Brazilian is more painful than giving birth,” said my torturer, I mean aesthetician, pulling my skin taut before tearing the first of entirely too many hot-wax-affixed cloth strips off my bikini zone. She let it rip before telling me, “They’re wrong.”

Ah yes, the Brazilian bikini wax. One for the “Crazy Things We Do in the Name of Beauty” file, and, in my editor’s opinion, anyway, one for the “Crazy Things Shannon Should Do in the Name of an Interesting Story” file. When the suggestion first arose regarding me writing about going Brazilian, I spent a considerable amount of time in deliberation. While one thing I’ve always had going for me is my willingness to try anything once, getting a Brazilian — and writing about it — falls into a category of its own. Pain (no small matter) aside, there’s also the minor consideration of publishing the fact of what I’ve done. Public humiliation has never served as an insurmountable deterrent for me, but while, like many writers, I often take comfort in the assumption that no one actually reads what I write, this time I couldn’t shake the feeling that once this issue of The Indy hit the stands, everyone would be staring at my crotch. But enough about my personal issues. Let’s get back to … my crotch.

For those of you who don’t know, a Brazilian bikini wax can be described as an artificially rendered return of your pelvic region to its pre-pubescent state. Bald. Why is it called a Brazilian? Brazilian bikinis typically involve less fabric than a band-aid, so, hence the Brazilian bikini wax. And in this capacity, it serves its purpose. But, function aside, what is it good for? And why is it considered hot? Does it have to do with our culture’s pathetic obsession with youth, or perhaps the unattainable, unnatural physical ideal?

More importantly, how much does it hurt? If you’ve had your eyebrows, lip, or legs waxed, you likely have some idea of the pain involved. Just as, I’d assume, if you’ve had your ears pierced, you likely have some idea of the pain involved in getting your nipples done. Which is to say, you really have no idea at all. As it is in real estate, so it is in pain: Location, location, location makes all the difference. The sensitive areas on our bodies are always more sensitive, not just when it’s convenient. You connect the dots, or the hair follicles, as the case may be. Waxers recommend popping a couple Advil an hour or so before; having taken that (laughable) advice, I’d recommend tequila. Breathing deeply helped as much as would be expected (not much), although yelling “Yahoooooo!” at the top of my lungs after each removal was surprisingly effective in terms of pain management and sanity preservation.

Moving on: humiliation. Even if you’re not going to write about your experience, you’ve still gotta drop trou to get it done. And it’s not like a massage, when, although you may be naked, the masseuse artfully manipulates the thin, modesty-protecting sheet in such a way as to allow both of you to pretend that you’re not. In the case of the Brazilian, not only are you naked from the waist down, but your aesthetician will maneuver your limbs into positions for which the Kama Sutra has names, like the Blossoming Flower or the Octopus. Oh, she’ll pretend like nothing is amiss, but you’ll know better. And if your mind has somehow managed to find your happy place, once that first strip is yanked off, you’ll be pulled back to earth faster than you can scream, “For the love of god, stop hurting me!

Ultimately, once it’s over there’s a decent endorphin rush to look forward to. After the searing pain and the spots I was seeing subsided, looking down, I did a double-take. I didn’t recognize myself. That feeling lasts well beyond the throbbing; prepare to be surprised every time you go to the bathroom, take a shower, or are otherwise compelled to get naked. The bottom line is this: if you have a very high pain threshold, a very underdeveloped sense of modesty, and a very skimpy bikini, give the Brazilian a shot. Though you’ll have nothing — literally — to show for it, the pain is over pretty quickly, and the results last for several weeks. But getting there is decidedly not half the fun.

Tips for the Brave and the Foolish

o Come to the procedure freshly showered.

o Hair must be at least ¼-inch long.

o Take Advil an hour or so before the “service.”

o Go during your off-cycle: when you’re not ovulating or in the week prior to your period (when there is swelling in the tissues, which causes increased pain sensitivity).

o Don’t do it if you take Accutane or a generic form of the same drug.

o The first time is the worst: It’s claimed that future waxes are one-third as painful as the first.

o It’s not recommended to engage in sexual activity for 24 hours after the wax.

o Don’t go into the ocean, Jacuzzis, or swimming pools for the first 24 hours, because infection can occur.

o Switching between shaving and waxing can cause ingrown hairs and increased skin sensitivity.

o Use an ingrown hair prevention gel to avoid red bumps on freshly waxed skin.

o Gyno-Cort, available at the drugstore, contains cortisone to reduce pain or swelling immediately post-treatment.

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