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I Got A Sugar Wax & The Results Had Me Shook

Spoiler Alert: There was nothing sweet about it.

I Tried It

Honest opinion about me: I'm pretty noncommittal when it comes to my body hair. I often switch back and forth between shaving, waxing and trimming -- not the best idea. Although shaving has always been the easiest and most convenient method for me, I grew tired of ending up with itchy ingrown hairs, the constant upkeep and not having the ability to get all my nooks and crannies.


Yearning to throw my razors away forever, I decided to give a Brazilian wax a try. I found the process to be painful, yet tolerable and I loved the immediate results of having smooth, sexy skin. However, after my third or fourth appointment, I started to realize that my vulva would always end up breaking out about 5-7 days post-wax, leaving me little time to luxuriate in my beautiful baldness.

Frustrated with my stubborn allergic reactions to traditional and hard wax, a friend of mine suggested I try sugar waxing as a natural alternative. Sugar waxing (also known as sugaring) is a hair removal treatment that has been practiced for centuries throughout the Middle East, Northern Africa and Greece. The wax is a gel-like blend that consists of sugar, lemon juice and water. When applied to the skin, the mixture penetrates the pores, where it adheres to the hair and pulls them out from the follicle. Unlike traditional waxes, sugar wax doesn't contain any of the chemical additives that can sometimes cause skin irritation.

Now, I'd always been interesting in sugar waxing and was really intrigued about trying this all-natural method. In true millennial fashion, I'd been on a lowkey quest to incorporate more natural and organic ingredients in my diet and skincare, so a sugar wax seemed like a sweet deal to me.

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After scoring a $26 Groupon to a nearby salon, I excitedly made my appointment. According to their website, their sugaring removal paste is safe for all skin conditions, improves the tone and texture of skin, causes minimal discomfort or irritation and helps to significantly decrease ingrown hairs. And according to my research, most people found sugaring to be less painful than waxing due to the temperature of the wax (traditional wax tends to be hot and sugar wax is body temperature) and the fact that sugaring is all natural and doesn't stick to the skin.

On the day of my appointment, I arrived at the salon right on time, eager to live out my days (at least for the next two weeks) bare and blissful. I was ready to walk in hairy and walk out heavenly. I found the salon very cute, hippy and their welcoming vibe helped to put me at ease. At least for a little while.

Soon after, I met my esthetician and she walked me back the room. After inquiring about my waxing history and asking if my hair was long enough (they recommend your hair to be at least the length of a grain of rice and let's just say I exceeded the qualifications), she left the room for me to get undressed. Laying on the bed with my dress folded at my waist, legs in butterfly style, I nervously waited for her to begin. Once she returned, she quickly cleaned my area, sprinkled me with talcum powder and prepared to start waxing. I braced myself as she molded the warm paste onto the top of my vagina, spreading it against the direction of hair growth. This part was surprisingly uncomfortable as the sticky wax pulled at my hair in a way I didn't expect.

Nothing could have prepared me for what came next.

The first rip made my entire body jump. It was a pain that I never knew existed! Imagine having a band aid superglued to your skin and instead of snatching it off all at once, you have to aggressively tug it off, bit by agonizing bit. My esthetician was basically playing a violent game of tug of war with my hair follicles. I felt like running out of there.

There is a huge difference between sugar wax and hard wax that I was completely unaware of.

With hard wax, the esthetician applies a layer of hot wax to your skin, allows it to cool for a bit and then rips it off in one single swipe. You're basically one and done before moving to the next application. With sugar wax, the esthetician rakes a thick layer of paste onto your skin, yanks it back with a very strong flick of the wrist, only to immediately rake it along the area one or two more times before moving on to the next spot. It's like the gift that keeps on giving.

As much as I wanted to tough it out, I just couldn't mentally wrap my mind around what was happening to my body. I was expecting some discomfort, not torture. The internet lied to me. I have three tattoos, and this was still the worst topical ache I'd ever experienced. It was pure hell.

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With every pull, I left a piece of my soul leave my body. The sting quickly became too much to bear and in a shaky voice I told her that I didn't think I could handle it. As she continued to wax me a few more times, I officially made up my mind – sugaring was not my ministry.

Soon as I vocalized my suffering, my eyes starting watering and I felt a lump in my throat. The esthetician remained calm and reassured me that I was going to make it through. "It always hurts the first time," she said gently. "You got this."

Unfortunately, her pep talk didn't work. Two rips later I was nearly full-on crying, with tears racing down the sides of my face. I cried like I got dumped by my 8th grade boyfriend. I was hurt and embarrassed. I looked down at my half-waxed, half-furry skin.

My vagina looked about as pitiful as I felt.

The esthetician finally paused to give me a quick moment to gather myself. Feeling foolish, I quickly wiped away my tears, anxiously laughing and apologizing about my behavior. I must look so crazy, I thought to myself.

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Within seconds, she was back at it like nothing ever happened. I continued to cringe and flinch all over the table and the esthetician tried to fill the empty room with conversation. As I tried to hold my end of the convo, I wondered to myself, how could people subject themselves to such torment on a repeated basis? I silently swore off sugaring forever.

She then instructed me to hug my knees to my chest, so she could wax my bum, which was very humbling. She told me that my hair was reacting well to the wax and I was just happy that something was reacting positively.

Within twenty minutes, I was done and I think that we were both glad that the experience was over. She sprayed an aloe vera mixture that soothed my achy undercarriage and I bent down to make sure I was still all in one piece. Everything looked smooth and hairless and I breathed a sigh of relief. I survived.

All in all, I have to say that I am very satisfied with the finished result and the service was quick and efficient. I am over one week in and I still feel like a new woman. I'm happy to report that I haven't had any irritation nor one ingrown hair, which is almost unheard of for me! Now the question is, would I get it done again? Maybe, maybe not. Part of me still shivers at the thought of any wax coming close to my nether regions and part of me wants to return if only to reclaim my dignity.

But for now, I will enjoy being bald and bougie.

Featured image by Getty Images

Jamie Harrison (@JayNHarrison) is a freelance writer whose work has been featured on Ebony, Huffington Post and Black Enterprise. She frequently writes about health and wellness, professional development and social issues.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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