“Oh, god, I’m sorry – I completely forgot to shave my legs. I’m single at the moment, so it’s just not been on my radar. Please excuse my fuzziness.”
Can you guess who I said this to?
A new fling?
Nope. None of the above.
I said this to the NURSE who was doing my cervical screening.
I’d remembered to “tidy” my pubic hair so there would be no interferance with the speculum (not that happens anyway!) but I hadn’t shaved my legs.
I apologised that I hadn’t got fully “gusseted” up for my nurses’ appointment, where she would be looking at my vagina for maybe two minutes.
And the thing is, I wasn’t actually feeling particularly embarassed that I hadn’t shaved my legs. It just seemed like something I should apologise for, while making awkward chitchat. Next time, in true British fashion, I shall stick to discussing the weather.
The nurse told me that I wouldn’t *believe* the number of women who have apologised to her for not shaving their legs or labia before a cervical smear.
She also told me that as a nurse, she doesn’t even glance at the amount of hair on a patient’s legs or vulva, because THAT’S NOT WHAT SHE’S LOOKING AT.
She’s trying to locate a patient’s cervix, so that’s what she’s concentrating on.
I *knew* that the lovely nurse didn’t care when I’d last shaved my legs.
I didn’t really care about when I’d last shaved my legs.
I was more interested/appalled by the fact that I literally spat the speculum out across the exam room (thanks, Vaginismus).
I was more concerned that the nurse was struggling to locate my cervix, which I’m convinced had jumped up under my diaphragm, mortified at the hulk-like strength of my spasming vaginal muscles.
We did (eventually) manage to get my test done.
I John Wayne walked back to my car, mostly thinking about why on earth I had felt the need to apologise for not removing my body hair.
I made myself a promise that day (ok, two promises – the more immediate one being that I was going to buy some cake, and an ice pack to sit on) that I would make a conscious effort to never apologise for not shaving my legs, ever again.
Initially, this was a tough promise to keep. But I perisisted. Every time I wanted to say “sorry, I didn’t shave my legs”, followed by the usual variety of excuses, I made myself stop.
To the lady who gave me a pedicure: I’m not sorry I didn’t shave my legs before coming to see you.
To the sports massage therapist: I’m not sorry that I didn’t shave my legs before our appointment.
To anybody who has seen me wear a dress or skirt without having shaved my legs first: I’m not sorry.
SORRY, NOT SORRY.
The first time the South African and I slept together, I pretty much prefaced the encounter by saying “Oh, I haven’t shaved my legs today. And I’m not wearing matching lingerie. And I’ll probably never wear matching lingerie.”
I knew I really liked him when his response (after throwing a mock huff and pretending to leave) was “Yeah, I haven’t shaved my legs today either. And I never, ever wear matching lingerie.”
That was exactly what I wanted to hear.
On an important side note, cervical screenings are usually pretty painless. They can be a bit uncomfortable, but they are necessary. The above speculum spitting story is an unusal occurance, and it was all about the vaginismus, not the screening itself.
Attendance of cervical screenings has plummeted in recent years. Please make sure that you book your screening. It’s worth two minutes of discomfort, honestly.