She bends down over the sink, trying to position the mirror between her legs as she spreads the stick of green goo carefully at her bikini line. She cuts the muslin strip in half and smooths it over the goo.
One, two, three!
She gasps as she rips the cloth strip. Not all of the hair comes off and she has to try again. Tiny drops of blood are on the cloth along with the bikini line hair she is desperate to remove.
It's not working, she thinks to herself. Why am I so damn hairy?
She has learned to hate her body through the magazine covers, TV ads and billboards she sees on the streets.
"It's Summer Time! Lose weight for Bikini Season!" They scream at her. They never mention all the trouble it takes just to wear one of those damn bikinis or how much it hurts to wax all the hair off so that you don't look like a damn gorilla in a teensy-weensy bikini.
Eleanor has never worn a bikini and it's a struggle to get into a regular bathing suit. She tried to find a new swimsuit (her old one is ten years old) but all they had were tiny bikinis and oversized jumpsuits for the larger sized women. Eleanor isn't a plus size but she is tall, flat-chested and doesn't want to wear a bikini.
She swears again as she rips another strip. The whole inside of her groin area is red and her leg is going numb from the unnatural position she's had to hold in order to see what she is doing. The mirror slips and falls to the ground.
Seven years bad luck. It's broken and she throws the pieces into the trashcan along with the folded pieces of bloody cloth she used for waxing. It's taken over three hours to trim her bikini line, wax it and pluck the remaining hairs she has missed. She still hasn't begun waxing her legs yet.
All of the waxing salons were booked and Eleanor didn't have the sense to make an appointment earlier.
Why must women go to such trouble? She thinks. Men don't even bother with waxing, grooming or bathing. Women must display themselves as future trophies and lure prospective males for breeding (and hopefully marriage and money). Eleanor doesn't want this. So why does she do it?
It's been ingrained into her psyche. All the magazines, the other women who are always impeccably groomed (and waxed at salons), who make it seem so easy to be a woman-Eleanor was never comfortable being a woman. Even as a young girl it was a struggle to learn how to shave her legs as the hair grew back in worse condition than before, making her have to learn how to wax just to make it go away. It always came back and she had to go through the whole process all over again.
Shave your legs, shave your armpits, wax your legs, wax your armpits-oh, and don't forget that hairy area on your groin-you must get rid of all the hair no matter what.
It must be an homage to youth, to the bare legs and arms that had no hair-and the groin that hadn't matured yet. Perhaps it was a pedophiliac thing that men preferred, having women be bare-skinned like a child. Or maybe it went deeper than that, back to the time when men were animals-they simply don't want to be reminded of what they really are.
Men never go to such trouble. Men expect women to flock to them like flies to shit but women are not supposed to attract the attention of men-otherwise they are considered to be a slut, a whore, a bad woman. There is no similar derogative for men-no man is called a whore, a slut, nor is he disgraced when he sleeps with many women at a time. Only women are disgraced.
The harsh judgement imposed by society and other women force themselves into an inescapable trap.
Girls must wear dresses, wear pink, play with household toys like vacuums and kitchen sets. If they deviate from this norm they are punished as abnormal and threatened with consequences.
"No one will like you...boys won't like you...you won't have friends if you continue to do this." They always say. "Don't make us unhappy...don't make us ashamed by your behavior..." Then it's your fault.
The pressure gets worse as girls mature. When they get their first period, that horrible phase where the blood oozes between the legs-the mother gives a talk about how bad boys are and never to get pregnant.
NEVER GET PREGNANT.
NEVER GET PREGNANT.
NEVER GET PREGNANT!
Boys don't get a talk. Boys don't get punished like girls do. Boys don't get pregnant.
All the shame Eleanor feels that is connected to her body has been taught by her mother, her grandmother, her cousin, her friends (those that worry about their looks), her society and her life.
Eleanor's mother would stand over the toilet to trim between her legs. As a child Eleanor didn't understand why she did this. Now it was all so clear-hair on a woman's body is an abomination.
What was that story about the Queen of Sheeba? The woman who tried to tempt a man from the bible. She was instructed to lift her skits and reveal her legs which were covered in hair-thus disgusting the man she was trying to seduce.
She isn't trying to seduce anyone. She just wants to wear a bathing suit without being humiliated by having hair show through. Maybe if she was on a nude beach it wouldn't be so bad. She could lie in the sun without having to worry about hair on her body. But there would be other people...
It was the other people that made her feel bad about herself. They were the ones that told her she was ugly, she was hairy, she needed to lose weight, she needed Botox injections into her face-it never ended.
If only there weren't other people around her...
But there was no escape.
Eleanor looks at her legs, seeing all the tiny black hairs covering them and immediately wishes she had the sense to book a waxing at a salon earlier. It is now four o'clock-she had started waxing at twelve o'clock. She'll have to eat dinner later, after she is done waxing her legs and her thighs, and her stomach. She also has to pluck the hairs that have grown back under her arms since she last waxed just over a day ago.
She spreads the green goo over her legs and begins tearing the strips off, one by one, repeating the process while wincing at the pain. Women must suffer the sin of being a woman.
Eleanor thinks of Joan of Arc at the stake, being burned alive for being a witch then wonders if Joan of Arc had hairy legs.