Be Kind to Your Kipper
VAGINA. There, I said it. That mysterious, underestimated, wrongly-taunted womanly void that holds the keys to your inner goddess, or so I hear.
My mother recently sent a group message to my auntie, cousin and I. It was one of those ridiculous gender binary advertisements circa 1950, but this one was in regards to the ever-effacing “mimsy” or what I now – thanks to Naomi Woolf – like to think of as my treasure box. My family and I are a fairly vulgar bunch at times, and I’ll admit I got a good cackle out of, “A daily wash with new Lux kebab soap for women will freshen up your flaps and stop you stinking like an old kipper.”
Terrible tasting joke, I know, and to be honest I was more amused by my mum and auntie’s sick sense of humour than anything else, but in questioning the meme’s origin, I found myself pondering the influence society has over our poor old va-jay-jays, my own especially.
While the miasmic restraints of patriarchy fade and society greedily indulges in fresh notions of gender equality, I can’t help but feel the heterosexual gal and her mimsy have been left behind. While I have no problems with expressions of femininity – there ain’t nothin’ wrong with chucking on some lippy, a pair of heels and hitting the town feeling like a million bucks – when my mimsy is forced to conform to a standard of appearance most likely set by men, I wonder if gender equality is as present as we are told, or if past successes are as superficial as a bald vagina.
Up until recently, it had been entrenched in my conscience that any sign of muff-scruff negligence was a reflection of an askew set of priorities. I was somewhat bound by the idea that regular maintenance of my pubic region was vital in attaining a well-rounded and accomplished sense of feminine self.
Once at a social gathering, my girlfriends and I were basking knee-deep in the river. The majority were contently stripped down to their bikini tops and bottoms, their boxes no doubt bare as a baby’s ass, while mine resembled the derriere of a marsupial. As I stood among the frolicking hair-free females, my dad’s hand-me-down Bintang t-shirt clung unforgivingly to my upper thighs, leaving little to the imagination. I furtively tugged at the fabric sticking around my groin. My friends began plunging into the water.
Dear lord, here we go, I thought as I copped a splash to the face.
“Why aren’t you swimming? It’s so hot!” one of them asked. In hope of some reciprocal empathy I replied, “I haven’t gotten around to my wax this month”
The most self-righteous of the bunch replied complacently, “C’mon, that’s what you said last time!”
Ahh shit, I thought. They think I’m a dirty hippie. What hope do I have if I can’t even keep my box tidy?
After some solid self-reflection, and confronted with the possibility that I could very well be dubbed Hairy Maclary, I made it my mission to incorporate those gruelling monthly waxes into my schedule, only to prove to my peers that I did, in fact, have my shit together.
This resolution saw me resembling a disheveled beetle turned on its back, legs twitching in the air, while my beautician apologetically informed her next client that she “needed an extra half hour” to rip apart my groin. I had let myself go, but in my defence it was winter, and waxing friggin’ hurts.
“Alright, we’re on the home stretch!” she exclaimed, yanking at the last strip.
“I may as well be giving birth,” I said jokingly, eyes welling. Her reaction implied that she was having an equally unpleasant time.
“Don’t worry it’ll all be worth it.”
Really? Will it? I felt nauseous. As I hobbled home, I contemplated the unnaturalness of what just happened. Fuck it, I thought, I’m done.
I’ve since invested in a pair of clippers, only to trim the hair that God intended me to have. It’s somewhat therapeutic, really. A word of caution though, there’s a real art to it. But my mimsy and I couldn’t be happier.
Cover by Anna Larsson