The New York Post is reporting on how Brazilian devotees come to view their waxers as “mothers without the baggage.” Says one loyal client:
“Meeting her made me realize how two women, complete strangers, can be nice to each other without all the catty drama. Granted, you should never be rude to anyone ripping hair off your body.”
Hmmm, responds Jezebel’s Sadie:
I wonder, as much as the genuine phenomenon of bonding with a professional you like — and of course I believe that’s real — there’s also another phenomenon, that of casting in oddly close terms a relationship which is essentially a business one, which can make recipients, alive to the nuances of class and inequality, feel uneasy.
Tonight Sue’s leg wax client asks Sue to also do her underarms, which translates to Sue pulling wax strips for nearly two solid hours, through the time when normal Americans are sitting down to family dinners, while said client reads a magazine and checks her Blackberry. (How can one check a Blackberry and read a magazine while another person is pulling hot wax off your legs and armpits? I do not know, but this lady manages it.) I think it’s safe to say that nobody feels the mother-daughter bond developing there.
Meanwhile, the rest of us give Brooke her first Brazilian. Maybe it’s because Brooke is just 19, but I think a lot of us do feel maternal, or at least sisterly, vibes. Campbell, who sings in her church’s gospel choir and also frequently in regular conversation, holds Brooke’s hand while I paint on the wax, and when I rip and it hurts — and yes it hurts a lot — she starts to make up a song that goes “Brooke has a pretty vagina now/Because she let us put hot wax on it.” We circle around and because it’s now a group of women coaching another woman through spreading her legs and experiencing major pain, all the moms in the room start sharing their childbirth war stories. Campbell is singing and everyone is laughing and talking at once, even Brooke.
It’s like how Naomi Wolf (Ooh, second Wolf call-back in the same week, guess what I’m re-reading right now?) acknowledges that as much as it creates competition and animosity between women, the beauty myth can also bring women together, enabling us to bond over shoe shopping or failed diet attempts or even our frustration with the beauty myth. We’re all here to do this thing that feels so fundamentally anti-woman (rip out Brooke’s perfectly serviceable pubic hair so she can meet a standard of beauty brought to us by the porn industry). And yet, maybe just because we all like Brooke, who, I tell you, is a brave little toaster about the whole experience, but also maybe because this is the way women have always cared for one another, it ends up feeling really pro-woman. And she’s so happy with the end result (you know, once the redness goes down) and so we’re happy for her.
But Sue’s client gives her a $3 tip for two hours of serious waxing and leaves without saying thank you. So yes, money changes the game. With Brooke, we have a level playing field; next week, she’s waxing me. With a paying client, you’re there to perform a service. The girlfriend-bonding stuff gets stripped away. And I don’t blame the women in the New York Post article for wanting to put it back. Even if “I love my waxer, honest!” sounds a little like “but I have lots of black friends!”
I just hope they remember to tip well, so their new BFFs can make rent.