I’m no prude. I realised this when I meandered on down to Chiswick for my third and fourth laser hair removal sessions with Sonya at the The You Clinic. Having gotten to know Sonya fairly intimately (or rather, she knows me rather well in that context), and given that each laser attack is noticeably less painful than the last, I practically strip off with abandon. I’ve almost become casual about the whole thing, as if popping along for my customary fringe trim. It’s not exactly an aromatherapy massage, but I’m getting used to the sharp shock of the laser zapper, plus I’m exploring the Chiswick area pretty thoroughly. On the subjects of depilation and West London coffee culture, I’m winning.
I’ve revised my pre and post laser game plan too. I’m talking early nights, sensible pants and strategic gym/ sweaty situation avoidance to minimise discomfort. It does help that leaping into a sauna or steaming bath is a lot less tempting come June. I’ve also grown quite fond of enormous cotton briefs. This worldly-wise approach is as Sonya advised, but I really should have paid heed earlier, as these days post treatment my skin is quick to recover - I’m far less reliant on the old Aloe Vera and ice pack dream team. Not only that, but Rachel and Sonya are both always available on email to answer my likely inane questions, and I’ve had a thorough medical rundown every time I’ve been to see them. I’ve put myself in expert hands, and despite the laser twinge, I’m enjoying the process.
I was especially looking forward to going on a hair-free holiday - razor burn, sea and sand have never been harmonious bedfellows. There was the odd rogue hair that didn’t play along, but I barely noticed those little guys. I was however, en garde against the strong Moroccan sun, having heard horror stories about post-laser pigmentation and even blistering (?!). I was not planning to frequent a nude beach (given that Morocco is a Muslim country, coming across one was unlikely), but I took precautions and opted for “extra coverage” bikini bottoms just in case, but safe in the knowledge that very soon I’ll be able to go as skimpy as I desire. Given my new penchant for hammock-like cotton briefs, scanty panties are not really on the horizon anyway, but the benefits of not having to faff with hot wax or stinky creams “downstream” are more vital to me than tiny lingerie. Somehow riding camels, frolicking in waterparks and lolling on sun loungers felt more liberating when unimpeded by ingrowns. I could never be caught unawares, and that in itself was thrilling. I was in the depilatory driving seat.
That is until, however, I returned home, without a laser extermination appointment on the cards for a good month. It was time to welcome Venus back into my life, and by welcome, I mean reluctantly wrestle with during a brief bathroom encounter. Après-shave, my skin looked a bit sad. Slightly red, scratchy to touch, and definitely mad at me for sucumbing to a spot of “gardening”. I resolved not to “walk on the grass” until I next saw Sonya. It dawned on me that this would be a lot trickier if I were lasering my legs or even armpits - sun protection would be paramount and an issue of peak paranoia, while fake tan would be a no-go on my pasty pins. If you’re permanently removing hair on other bodily plains, you’d be wise to plan the timing of your course of treatment with military precision.
Having been a little hesitant in my first few sessions, the joys of living a life devoid of hair “down there” are dawning on me. Previously I was anxious about the prospect of explaining it (and myself) to my daughter, doctor... anyone that questioned my smooth state or decision. Now I’m a lot more open minded, as I hope others would be. The feminist conflict within has subsided, and I’m resolute in the fact that I’m not addressing my body hair from the perspective or politics or fashion. For me, ‘The Bushtucker Trials’ are not about what’s on trend, what the next door neighbour is doing or what Joe Bloggs thinks my choice “means”.
What it means, is that I stop ripping my skin to shreds on a regular basis and that I can abandon a particularly joyless grooming routine for life, not to mention become more free and easy where knickerlines are concerned. It’s my hair (or soon to be... not), I’m doing what I want with it and I’m getting on with my day. Sure, laser hair removal is a big expense, and if body hair doesn’t bother you, don’t go there. On the other hand, if you’re shelling out for waxes every month and still not getting the results you want, it’s worth considering. It literally pays to get the laser ball rolling early - start saving, ask for birthday money or forgo a few treats if that helps. You’ll have longer to enjoy your follicular freedom, equating to more value for money. Bottom line, whatever you do, don’t worry. It’s just hair.