On Waxing and Stranger Things

Stranger Things like Game of Thrones has split the Netflix couch-and-wine society in two: where one has either seen it and is obsessed to the point of fan ‘merch’ and meme’s reposts or on the contrary - opposed to diving into the binge-watching marathon of yet another pop culture phenomena. 

If you are not familiar with The Stranger Things: it is a coming of age story of a lost boy, filled with cute kids, persuasive acting and mystery. To pitch a surfaced explanation: science fiction, investigation, Winona Ryder and 80’s paraphernalia. In the midst of it all is a twelve year old girl with super powers and a quirky name - Eleven. Eleven is the only girl among the boys (at least in the first season). She is neither a tom-boy nor considered a beauty. Eleven is Eleven. 

If you are a female (or perceive yourself as such) take a minute and go down a memory lane of all the painful procedures you went through in order to stay beautiful, relevant. ‘Beautiful’ as in a projection of the society you live in, the impact that other women have left on you while you were growing up. Go on, the list is endless: starting with the closest relatives; that girl back in the kindergarden with thick, perfectly waved hair; high school little goody two shoes gymnast (always a lead in the school theatre productions); and last but not least, a swamp of females circulating in the media (some more than others) whom you genuinely believe you happen to worship by choice.

Social expectations by-passed Eleven simply because she was kidnapped from an early age. Projections in terms of where women stand, the good-looks (or what is considered such) and accepted behaviour just never made it in her head. There is a riveting scene when Eleven gets to know the house of her friend Mike and singles out a photograph of an older sister, Nancy. Nancy is thin, big-eyed teenager with thick, wavy hair (sounds familiar?). With the contrast of Eleven’s appearance, her head is shaved. Eleven, rarely caught saying a word, mouths: “Beautiful.”

Next time you are in a waiting room of a beauty establishment, take a closer look at women around you. Diversity will strike you: clothing, skin colour, age. You will politely smile while flipping through a glossy magazine or scrolling down your Instagram feed, judging. A feeling of excitement will creep in. You are taking care of yourself. Never mind the take out you had for dinner the other night. You are good. Beautiful. If you happen to be there for a semi-permanent waxing hair removal, the unnatural episode most women are all too familiar with will unfold. 

A woman will show you down the hallway where the procedure will take place. From that point on you are no longer in charge of your lady bits, the almighty lady-master is. She will reveal the provided options with peculiar names and bizarre designs. Whether its a single letter, a diamond cut or stardust, you are in for a treat. The lady-master will see more than you ever cared to see for yourself, once you are on your back, legs spread apart, like a seal-whale casually dying on the shore. Choose ’Hollywood’ and you will have everything off. 

In one of the episodes Eleven receives a makeover by the boys, constructed of precious basement finds - the white wig and a blush pink Nancy’s dress. She can now go into the town as an average child and participate in the adventures unnoticed, venturing a conformist ideal of a fairy tale like, pleasant, not intimidating young girl. She looks in the mirror satisfied whispering ‘Beautiful’, awarded with prettiness that can be reflected today: an adorable dress and a platinum hairdo can do that much. 

To wake you up from a black oblivion of torment the lady-master will say something like: ‘ready?’ or ‘here it goes’. Which means, whatever pain you have endured up to this point was a piece of cake. She is going in for real. Why is she asking permission? She is not going to abandon you with hot wax stuck to your vagina for the rest of your life. Beautiful. You will look at yourself in the mirror with unflattering light, but you definitely look better than before. Blood flow? 

Whether you deem yourself as a feminist, or have no interest in recent movements of female empowerment, or something in between, take a minute to contemplate as to whichever pain you have accustomed to is solemnly your choice. Dealing with demogorgons of inner hypocrisy is shady. The truth to be told, if you really go deeper than basic response of ‘because I like it’ stranger things are about to come off the screen.


Written by Masha Nova