I think I was a bit of a late-bloomer. I certainly must have noticed that my fifth-grade legs had long black hairs on them, while my friends Christy and Meredith had shiny, squeaky, hairless legs. How do you not notice that? But I didn't feel self-conscious about it until Tiffany's comment. And, afterwards, it was pretty much all I could think about. When we were at the grocery store and the checker would ask me what grade I was in, I would think he was making fun of the hair on my legs. I started wearing jeans in 90 degree Michigan weather. I begged my mom to let me shave my legs but she was adamant in her refusal. "You'll thank me later," she said. "Once you start you can't go back."
I was hooked and, twenty years out, I am here to tell you that my mom was right (hope you're reading mom)--waxing is MUCH better than shaving, a fact I have come to realize after I started to shave in an oh-so-radical bout of college rebellion...! I quickly saw the error of my ways ("you have to do this every day?") and reverted back. And, after meeting many Indian women during college, grad school, and married life, I have come to realize that hair--and its removal, goddamit--are truly part of the South Asian woman's experience. Sure, it sounds trivial. The Devi woman deals with issues of gender inequality, marginalization, and exotification, sometimes on a daily basis--but get a group of Indian women together and I guarantee you, the stories about how hairiness has played a role in their lives will make you laugh and cry as much as the stories of diasporatic frenzy and social isolation.
We all know about the usual suspects: Razors, Depilitories (who does this? anyone?), Waxing and Threading. And there is a host of options if you are going to go to a professional (laser hair removal and electrolysis being the most popular). Here is a selection of some of the newest at-home choices for us wonderful, albeit hirsute, Devis (with or without babies--and the stuff that babies do to a Devi's hair is too much to cover in this particular post...!).
Emjoi hair removal: Don't be scared by any Epi-lady flashbacks. We've come a long way. I've tried this and, while it utlizes technology that sounds eerily similar to the 80s Epilady, there are built-in functions centered around "pain reduction," such as plates that massage the skin as the hair is being yanked. And skin is noticeably smoother than it is post-shaving.
No!No!: No!No! wants you to be realistic. It promises that if you use it 2-3 times a week, for 8 weeks, it will reduce your unwanted hair by 65%. The upside is that, after this 8 weeks, you are supposed to see an obvious reducton in re-growth. No!No! uses "gentle heat wave" technology that destroys hair at the root, and claims to provide the same results as laser hair removal and electrolysis. I am in week one of this product (I am using it on my "moustache") so I will update you in 7 weeks. In the meantime, take heart that the claims thus far are true: No!No! postures itself as "pain free" and it really is. The pricetag is steep ($250), but if it really works, imagine all the waxing/threading/time you will save.
Gigi hair removal strips: Yes, these are just plain, old-school, garden-variety wax strips, but they are the best I have ever found.
Threading at home: I have not ever tried to thread at home but my cousins are absolute experts. Check out these instructions and this video if you want to give it a whirl.
Those well-versed in the at-home hair removal lingo may have heard about Tria--the Rolls Royce of at-home lasers, currently being sold at Barneys and the like. But word to the wise--Tria is not recommended for anybody with darker skin. Stay away.
Any tips to share ladies?