Monday, February 2, 2009

C comme Cire

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! registered & protected


Suburbia Steph said...

I've been considering gettin' the wax thing done here lately....I was cursed with my part Italian heritage of having thick dark hair...everywhere! TMI, I'm sure....but I just can't stand shaving anymore!

Kelli said...

Oh La Mom, you have done it again! I am starting out my day and am laughing histerically! Bien sur I remember my own trips to the esthéticienne {and they were many!} but the stories of others are always better! Thanks for brightening my morning with a rire Francais :)

Monkey Girl said...

"Just make sure you’ve downed a coupe de champagne with an Advil chaser before getting to your appointment."

Are you kidding?
Please pass a martini and a xanax, and quickly! No, make it a morphine IV instead.

Paris Atelier said...

So funny! Next time I go to my appointment, I'll ask for the Metro ticket and prepare for the confused look!

cancer mommy said...

And Americans think all European women just let it all grow out. Thank you for setting us straight.

I had a time in my life where a Brazilian was a necessity. All I can say is OOOOUUUUCCCHHH!!!

Under the Influence said...

Champagne and Advil? I think more like a bottle of Everclear and several vicodin!

Scandalous Housewife said...

Scandy is WELL acquainted with the waxer lady, but in Tejas, they usually come in the Asian variety. My personal waxing assistant always reminds me (in her checkered English), "Scandy, you no want full Brazilian, right? You know, once you turn terty (30), dat not pretty down dere no more".
Enough said.
But have you tried lazer? Ooooooh la la!

SuZ said...

With every post I love you more. :)

La Belette Rouge said...

Thanks to an over zealous esthéticienne I have had the metro ticket and it was a bit of a shock the first time I saw it.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog and really look forward to it. As a complete beauty product junkie, would you tell us are there any "magic" skin care or makeup products you've discovered in France? Hope springs eternal and I for one would race out to order/get any such item!



La Mom said...


I've had several requests for beauty tips -- watch this space for a beauty post in the near future!

La Mom

Gigi said...

I love your blog-you absolutely crack me up. And I love being waxed from head to toe (almost). When else do I get the opportunity to lie around during the day? Acutally, I am usually on my cell phone the entire time which my waxing lady thinks is so odd. If I happen to be talking to my brother he says he would prefer to not know what is going on.

mary said...

You are too daughter's job right now(she's in college) is working as a receptionist in a waxing salon - she's had some GREAT stories - like the 80 yr old
"Baby Jane " look-a-like eeeeww

Happy you found me/happy I found you !

Kasey said...

Sounds a little to painful to me :)

The Antiques Diva™ said...

OUCH! ARM PIT WAX!?!?!? I hate getting my brows done... arm pits?! I can't imagine!


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