Loud cackles surrounded me; the empty bottle of wine on the table easily explaining our lubricated sense of humor and loud voices.
The air was thick with stories of drunken nights, embarrassing moments, the cute boy in COMS2040, and frat party horror stories. I hadn’t seen these girls since Christmas, and we only had a few hours to illuminate the mysteries of our whereabouts this past semester.
Smiling, giddy faces surrounding me, I found myself immersed in total and utter womanhood.
And then: the wine oiling our thoughts and tongues, I somehow ended up knee-deep in an unfortunately detailed conversation about bikini waxes somewhere around 2:00 in the morning.
Voicing a desire only the wine could coax out of her, a friend expressed her yearning to get a Brazilian wax before she went to the beach with her boyfriend and his family. Attempting to Google details of the procedure amidst the bombardment of questions and hushed giggles, we found ourselves promising to gift Brazilian waxes instead of industrial blenders for each of our wedding gifts.
When the excitement had died down and the details of the Brazilian had been researched, yet another loosened tongue expressed her desire to get a bikini wax as well.
This bold statement, however, was met with a much different reaction than the first: utter silence.
The first of the night.
A silence that was soon broken by a loud, blunt, voice reminding her that she didn’t have a boyfriend, so why would she want a bikini wax?
This statement caught me off guard, and immediately set off a wave of buzzers vibrating my already fuzzy brain—that just didn’t sound right…since when do you need a boyfriend to get a bikini wax?
Is male companionship some sort of weird requirement for getting your pubic hair ripped from its follicle?
The night continued on as if the hiccup never happened, but my mind kept going. This small, alcohol-induced statement set off a chain reaction of thoughts that made me hyperaware of similar situations, which, to my dismay, I found almost daily.
Soon after the waxing incident, I found myself exasperated by my intense need to pluck my eyebrows and get a tan.
In the midst of my overly-dramatic complaints to a friend about my unwavering determination to get my hands on some tweezers and a bottle of Jergen’s, she, without hesitation, asked who on earth I was trying to impress (followed by a winky face).
A girl can’t get a little color and practice some standard unibrow prevention tactics without being accused of trying to impress the opposite gender? I highly doubt any man understands the dynamic of a perfect brow arch, anyway.
As the summer wore on, I noticed a frightening number of similar responses: my female friends were linking impressing the male gender with grooming procedures that I had just considered standard hygiene.
I got the same reaction when I announced my wish to color my hair, or purchase a face masque. I found an overwhelmingly large number of encouragements to maintain my healthy and fit lifestyle were my friends urging me to “get hot for the boys.”
To my own disgust, I soon found myself using men as a key motivating factor to push my friends at the gym.
Why has impressing men become the only acceptable reason for women to engage in bodily up-keep maneuvers? How did this idea become a normality?
As women, we seem to attribute our motivations to look and feel our best as a desire to impress those around us. Females have been fighting a battle against men for gender equality for years, but maybe it is time for women to practice some introspection.
We cannot move forward in our quest for equality if we continue to keep this mindset: a mindset that suggests we do productive things for someone other than ourselves. Our drive to impress the opposite sex and compete with our fellow female counterparts has become part of our innate nature as women. And that needs to stop.
Let us get to a place that allows hair removal to occur because some women find hair uncomfortable, or we just plain want to. A place where tweezers, Jergen’s and hair dye are tools used to make us look and feel our best. A place where eating right and going to the gym is a direct result of our aspiration to feel healthier and stronger.
None of these things should imply anything other than that we are women, and we like to take care of ourselves. The time for feminine competition has passed, and the idea of looking good to impress men is ancient. Let’s stop attributing our actions to the pleasure of others, and let’s start letting our women be women.