Body hair and the removal thereof can be a very divisive topic. There has been a clear trend in the past 10-15 years for both women and men to remove some or all of their body hair. Some believe that the lack of body and pubic hair in pornography affects and dictates trends in, for lack of a better phrase, “real life.” But whether or not a preference for little to no body hair on women is influenced by an underlying misogyny in the culture, the fact of the matter is that hair removal is a huge international industry and for many customers, hair removal is a great confidence booster.
I recently sat down with my friend Lindsay Leggett, the person I call on when I want my bikini area done, to talk about her job as the only Sugarist in Ireland and her thoughts on the culture of hair removal.
Could you tell us a little about sugaring? What are the differences between sugaring and waxing and the history behind it?
Sugaring removes hair from the root, using a paste of cooked sugar, water and lemon juice. The paste goes on against the direction of hair growth, and is removed in the direction of, so all the hair is coming out, and can’t stick to your live skin cells, so it hurts less than waxing. Because it’s not adhering to live skin, most people have much few ingrown hairs or irritation, if any. The paste can also grab hairs as short as 1/8in, 7-10 days from a shave!
The exact origins are unclear, but it originated in the Middle East a long time ago, maybe Ottoman Empire? It’s not as well known as wax, but it’s gaining popularity, it’s really common in some countries in Europe, Finland, Germany, and now here!
When I come in for my appointments, you give me a lolly-pop. Apart from being a tasty treat, why do you do that?
Ahh yes, Gate Theory. A sound physiological principle, the idea that your brain’s sensory processing centre can only process so many stimuli at a time, like if a herd of cows are going through a gate, only one or two can go at a time. Likewise, when your brain is being asked to do breathing exercises, talk to me, and eat a lolly, it has less energy to focus on me flicking hair off your body.
You and I are both from Seattle. We’ve chatted before about the huge differences between Seattle and Dublin in terms of the sex toy industry. Is there much difference between the two when it comes to the beauty industry and hair removal?
Well, Seattle is so laid back in terms of beauty. I was the “fashion-y one in my group of friends back home, and my going out wear there is day to day wear here! The biggest difference is few male clients here. A solid 30% of my practice in Seattle was male clients, including men getting Brazilians.
You used to be a scuba instructor. What inspired you to take your career in such a different direction?
Well, initially I wanted to get into hair removal to be able to live full time on a tropical island. HA! I got the island at least. But really, the lady who did the waxing/hair cutting on that island had a great life. Also, I’m a picker by nature, so the immediate gratification of hair removal is amazing, I love love to tweeze, it’s so easy to do a good job because it’s so fun for me. I really do love my job – not just for the picking, but also because I meet so many interesting people! Just the other Saturday I had not one but two biochemists in.
There’s a growing concern that more and more women are having their pubic hair removed to adapt to a certain expectation that we should mirror what we see in porn. What’s your opinion of the situation? Do you think it’s an issue that warrants concern or have we better things to be worrying about?
Well, that’s hairy question! I am personally ok with porn, I have much bigger issues with a society where porn is ubiquitous, but nobody respects the performers? We’re all ok wanking to people we don’t respect? That’s something to be concerned about. I am opposed to The Beauty Standard as it exists, as a patriarchal structure that makes money off of us feeling shame about normal life / body things, and tells people that they are only valuable if they look and behave a certain way, but in that same vein it seems silly and controlling for me to have a much of an opinion on anyone’s pubic hair-do. I think it can be used as a divisive tactic among women, when we are arguing over lipstick and Brazilians, we are not talking about pay equity or parental leave policies.
One thing I’ve noticed about people who do hair removal for a living, is that they seem to be the least bothered by body hair. Do you find that to be true?
Well, it seems to go either one of two ways, one either starts to care A Lot, or one stops caring completely.
And finally, what do you love most about living in Ireland?