Monday, February 2, 2009
Il faut souffrir pour être belle.
One must suffer to be beautiful.
– French saying
I wasn’t a high-maintenance mama before I moved to Paris – my trusty tweezers and Gillette razor took care of all my depilatory issues.
But that’s before I found out that French women worship the wax.
La cire is a girl’s best friend. It’s not just the obvious body parts that get a wax job around here – I know women who’ve waxed a couple of stray hairs off their big toe. This is a country where women touch up their bikini line to visit their gynecologist. A special occasion like, say, giving birth calls for a full-on Brazilian. And if you’re perfectly coiffed “down there”, don’t be surprised if your midwife compliments you – and asks for the number of your esthéticienne.
Several years ago, I embraced the pain and booked an appointment for an armpit wax. I had to grow out the hair so the wax could do its stuff. Gross-out factor: 6 on a scale of 10. On one of those early Parisian spring days that begs to be spent at a sidewalk café, I met some girlfriends at the ultra-branché Café Marly next to the Louvre.
“Hey, there’s Ashley,” I said, as I waved over the fourth member of our group. My other friends stared at me like I’d crawled out of a cave. I realized that there was a bird’s nest sticking out from under the sleeve of my floaty top – we’re talking a whole family of pigeons could have happily taken up residence.
Nas-ty with a capital T.
“On second thought,” I told the waiter, “change my espresso to a Kir Royale.”
Here’s a little vocabulary lesson for your next trip to the institut de beauté:
Jambes-aisselles-maillot: This is the triple whammy – legs, armpits, and bikini line. Just make sure you’ve downed a coupe de champagne with an Advil chaser before getting to your appointment.
Ticket de métro: A “hairstyle” that resembles, well, a metro ticket. It also looks kind of like a Hitler moustache, but I don’t think that Parisiennes would be pleased to have a little Fürher in their panties.
L’integrale: This is the whole nine yards. Definitely not for the timid. And no, you can’t sue the esthéticienne for sexual harassment – she’s just doing her job!