Taiwan

For the love of Brazilian waxes

I wasn’t sure if the woman about to go to second base with me spoke English or not, but she had delicate features and a nice smile so I trusted her.

The first time I went to get a wax, I was 21 and a lady in love. I figured having a 5′ 1″ European woman rip out all the hair below my waist was the best way to demonstrate this love.

Now, not only is waxing painful and awkward, it’s incredibly complicated. There are so many options! You have the infamous Brazilian wax, not to mention the American, French, Sicilian, European, Mustache. Let me repeat that in all caps: THERE IS A MUSTACHE WAX,  and more.* If you are geographically challenged (and not careful) there is a big possibility that you will come out of the spa with a vagina that looks like a show poodle, and not in the good way.

For my first time, I decided to go for the Brazilian because it was rumored to be the worst of all. If I was going to demonstrate my love for Randy, I wasn’t about to half-ass it (literally), I was going to go the full distance in the name of love. Guess what? I went through with it and it sucked but that’s a story for the stage.

Sadly enough, Randy never got to see the finished masterpiece because he broke up with me before I could show off my new “hairdo”. I remember the breezy walk down his driveway, tears streaming down my face. It will be three years before I get a wax again, and the second time I’d only get to the “bikini wax” stage of love.

This photo was taken on the night my boyfriend and I broke up. As you can tell with nearly empty vodka-coke I saw it coming. Poor thing.

This photo was taken on the night my boyfriend and I broke up. As you can tell with my nearly empty vodka coke I saw it coming. Poor thing. Oh, and that’s Ashley. She’s a gem.

The thing that I don’t like about getting waxes is what is assumed during the process. Every time I’ve gotten them done I’ve been in a relationship and never realized how much of the process revolves around discussing my boyfriend.

“You’re such a good girlfriend!” Svetlana says as I bite the inside of my cheek, drawing blood.

“Riaaahhhh—ght!?” I yell back at her.

“You better be getting a fancy dinner out of this,” she adds with a wink and a nod.

I did, however, come to this realization last week, after I’d gone to get a wax in order to be a proper woman. I’d woken up with dried ramen crushed between my breasts and decided a wax would help reverse — what I thought — were the first signs of imminent celibacy.

Getting a wax in Taiwan is a tricky business. Unlike furry European girls, Asian women tend to grow less hair and therefore do not feel the need to wax. It’s almost as if God’s trial run was a Russian woman and when he saw how hairy she was, not to mention how much alcohol was needed to get her drunk, he created Asian women instead.

“I don’t even shave my legs!” My astonished, Taiwanese co-worker exclaimed when I told her about my bikini wax adventure. I just rolled my eyes and made a mental note to put band aids in her ponytail later in the day.

When I met Disha, I waited approximately five minutes before I asked if she’d found a good waxing place in Taiwan. Luckily, my brash stereotyping of Indian women was correct, and she recommended a place — but not before becoming my favorite person in Taiwan.

Here’s an email she sent me:

“This place (WINGS) tends be booked ALL THE TIME. My hypothesis is the island is populated with Indians and Jews we aren’t aware of…Need not worry about memorizing your Chinese textbook lesson for “How to get a wax.” The people speak English…Number is here: 0225628768″

Now that we’re all caught up on why she is my favorite person. We can get back to my story.

There have been three times I’ve desperately wanted a boyfriend; (1) When Katie Spero and Ben Lansky started dating. Katie was the first of my girlfriends to get a boyfriend and for just cause; she was pretty, sweet and skinny. I, on the other hand, was knee-deep in my “ugly-face” as my mother called it (“ugly phase” for anyone who doesn’t speak with a heavy Russian accent), bitchy and fat, (2) When I ran into the aforementioned boyfriend, Randy, at a bar a few months after we broke up. I remedied the situation by crying and throwing up in the parking lot, (3) When I was sitting in the lobby of the Wings Beauty Fashion spa.

Just when I thought I’d heard of all the horrendous things a woman can do to her private parts, the lady offered me a “shape wax” for an added NT$500. I asked her what this exciting new prospect was and she pulled out an adult picture book of sorts to explain when her English failed her. Now don’t get excited ya pervs, it wasn’t actual photos it was this:


Bikini Waxes Taipei

Yup, that’s right! For the low price of an additional USD$17  you can have the hair on your nether regions molded into a shape that 6-year-old girls draw in their notebooks. As if this wasn’t enough writing material, she went on to explain (after a lot of awkward motioning, Chinglish and additional drawings) that if I had a boyfriend, whose name was — oh I don’t know — let’s say “Tom”, I could get his first initial done down there as a “nice grift”.

shape waxing taiwan

I wished, so badly, I had a boyfriend I could surprise with the absurdity of having his first initial displayed in my pubic hair (preferably someone named Oscar, Zachary or Ivan but I would demand it’d be a lower case ‘i’). I mean seriously, what better way to say ‘I love you’ than to make someone laugh until they can’t breathe and then remind them of that heavy laughter everyday for 6 to 8 weeks? I decided to save my money and wait until I had a boyfriend to surprise. I signed up for a no-frills bikini wax, along with getting my eyebrows done. LOOK MA! I’M A WOMAN!

Besides needing to repeatedly, politely refuse a Brazilian wax from the lady with delicate features — who kept telling me my “boyfriend” would prefer it — I was surprised with how smoothly the process went. I didn’t even reflexively kick over her waxing station!

I paid Wing (I am not sure if this is his name, in fact I am sure it isn’t, but I am going to call him this from now on) and left while trying to remember which cream was for my eyebrows and which one was for my vagina. I didn’t think much about the whole “shape waxing” option, I just chalked it up to a crazy Asian trend — like glasses without lenses, orange hair and blocking me from getting off at my MRT stop — and did my best not to walk all funny to the MRT.

That's Wing and his wife who wasn't there that day because she gave birth to their "surprise" three weeks ago.

That’s Wing and his wife who wasn’t there that day because she gave birth to their “surprise” three weeks ago.

It has now been a week after this experience, and my fury (not to be confused with ‘furry’ although it still works in this context) has been slowly growing. YOUR BOYFRIEND’S INITIAL!? WHY NOT SOMEONE MEANINGFUL LIKE YOUR DOG OR YOUR GRANDMOTHER? WHAT IF A GAL JUST WANTS TO TREAT HERSELF TO A PAINFUL DAY AT THE SPA?

It doesn’t help that I am reading, “How to be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran — a book about being a proper feminist. Feeling empowered after reading her chapter, “I become furry” I decided I needed to take a stand against this atrocity which is shape waxing.

I prepared a speech for Wing and the S&M clinic he was running:

First off, why do the boyfriend-initial-shape-wax pictures only show English letters? THIS IS TAIWAN. If you want to start a new fashion trend, then start it in your own culture’s language. Chinese characters would look so lovely! Are women so desperate to get male attention that they literally have to turn themselves into a human-crop circle? ALSO, why does getting a wax of any kind have to turn into seventh grade gossip hour? I DON’T HAVE A BOYFRIEND. OKAY, WING?! I had one, but I left him to move to your country so I could stop paying bartenders in bagels and IOUs. I MISS HIM AND I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.

I had approximately three more paragraphs of this bitching left when I realized Wing was not the problem. I was the problem. I mean, how different is waxing your boyfriend’s initial into your bikini line from waxing for your boyfriend in general?

Look kids, I am not making history here. This isn’t a new revelation (read Chapter 2 of “How to be a Woman”) but that’s not what this is about. This is about answering my questions. I know that getting bikini waxes is mainly something girls do for their partners, but why? Aside from not looking like a monkey, conforming to societal standards and following tradition, WHY? Do you like getting it done? If you do, more power to you! But if you don’t, WHY are you doing it!? Should we be worried about this? Should we take a stand against it? SHOULD I GET A BOYFRIEND? These are all important questions we need to work together to figure out. Now if you all will excuse me, I am going to 7-11 to get some ramen.

Lesson #27: What I am saying is, I have a lot of time to think about who I am and who I want to be over here in Taiwan. And I think that is finally leading me to who I want to be with. So where are you Oscar Zachary Ivan? 

*I have come up with a new form of waxing: the Russian. It’s where you make an appointment with the spa in the afternoon but before you go you take vodka shots until you can’t feel your lips — both on your face and below your waist — then you go and get a wax.

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27 thoughts on “For the love of Brazilian waxes

  1. Another funny blog post Marina. Other than the “bikini” wax for bathing suit wearing I never understood why a woman would go through the process of waxing any part of their body. Thank goodness men are not expected to groom in that way!

  2. Not that I ever waxed letters into pubic hair, but I’m assuming it’s a bazillion times harder to wax Chinese characters down there. Unless his name is “1″, which would be like a reverse airstrip.

  3. Frankie says:

    I must once again say you have the coolest dad for not only reading this story but for endorsing it. Is that Ashley Tebbe? Visiting you in Taiwan or is that NYC? Hope the stand up version of the story rocks. Love your humor and glad you’re using it…it’s a grift.

    • Aw Frankie! Thank you. I am incredibly lucky to have my dad, I think I’ve just slowly been getting more and more inappropriate so it’s been harder for him to realize the absurdity of my writing. It is Ashley Tebbe, that photo was taken on the day my boyfriend and I broke up (probably in 2009). Thanks as always for the kind words!

  4. Ben says:

    Great piece! I really enjoyed this. The whole furry fury thing cracked me up. I googled waxing. As my grandma often said- ‘Yee Gods!!’ Though the term landing strip is odd. I imagine a wee tiny plane crashing into Lord of the Rings trees. Don’t go through with pain. Fury bush sexy is.

  5. Barbs says:

    Funny post you have there! Can I ask you the price of the bikini wax at this place? (I assume you don’t know how much a Brazilian costs…)

  6. Terri-Ann says:

    So… have any friends in Kaohsiung that know of any waxing spots here? I so desperately tried to go to Wings while I was in Taipei this weekend after all the forums recommended it, but they were too busy to wax all 3 places. Hmm… I should’ve just did one bloody service.
    But if anyone you know, or yourself knows a place, I’d appreciate a response!
    Happy journey :)

  7. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Loved this, Marina. Your sense of humour is great. From “best way to show this love” all the way through. Love it! :)

  8. Mahmoud says:

    Your quitting your job song and dance which I saw on CNN brought me here

    You are a great (and funny) writer….use your powers for good!

  9. Tan says:

    Umm, people get waxes “for their partners” as it were, for the same many-fold reasons they do anything for their partners: a sense of affection, because it’s a turn-on for them or their partner, for a surprise. God knows, the variety is endless. I’m a straight guy, and I’ve gotten a wax for my partner because she enjoys going down on me a whole lot more if I’m waxed than if I’m not. You can grow it out or not, but in this little blog post your stereotyping didn’t stop with Disha. You were just getting started.

  10. Vivianne says:

    My keyboard is about to catch on fire–too many tears coming out of my eyes. This piece is WAY funny!! WTG Marina! You definitely have a future in comedy. Go apply at SNL.Take this piece with you.

  11. You are an inspiration to us all who blog about our passions…if you want a free trip after your ordeal with quitting, do let me know! Great writing!

  12. Jason says:

    Ok..so THIS IS CRAZY!!! <–slight exaggeration for emphasis on how I feel in real life, and what I'm about to say! SO! I was on the internet learning the dougie dance because I got back from a business trip from China where I get to eat cooked dead eels and veggies that was stored nicely beside the urinal where I took a piss at for 1 exciting month. I figure the very first thing I want to do Is to go straight home and learn the dougie dance..on a friday night..IN TAIWAN! I travel back and forth from California to Asia very often for work…It's a great company I work for but I think about the least painful way to kill my self every night when I come home but then every night I decide to just eat too much ice cream and candy from 7-11 with my 'can definitely get a raise' salary instead….So after my successful *[attempt]* of doing the elegant doughie dance(you never know when you need to bust a move) I CAME ACROSS YOUR VIDEO!! the 'I QUIT' one…SOOO MUCH AWESOMENESS! sooo inspirational and expressive! I felt your energy from my lap top! Sooo genuine! I'll never forget about the video…its not like a instagram vid that lasts 10sec that I'd watch it twice but it was long..BUT I watched it like THREE TIMES!!! NO SKIPS!! ok i skipped a little the first time…..but not the second or third time!! and guess what else?! I went to your youtube profile thing and discovered your stand up videos?!?!?! I've been wanting to do stand up for like 3 years now..<–no exaggeration..but I haven't done it yet..I have a set of descending ovaries, but the main problem is I have no time…ok MAYBE is the descending ovaries. But I was inspired after watching your video! thanks for sharing! I'm leaving back to Cali inext Saturday the 12th, but! if you are still in Taiwan hit me up here: chensbfh@gmail.com <– This is my bad e-mail just incase spams and stuff…I like spam fried rice…ok lets grab a drink with alcohol in it! or water is good too =D but if not! Best wishes!!! and keeping staying true homie! I don't really talk like that….ok I did, but it was a vanilla ice phase I had in middle school..k k that is all

  13. Marcela says:

    Hey Marina!! This post made me laugh a lot, (thank you for that) and I actually started thinking about the reasons why a girl does that kind of things like waxing (my own first experience doing so was the worst, I get you on that one pff)….Anyways It’s currently 1:53 a.m. where I’m at… a few hours away from the city I moved into almost 6 years ago (Guadalajara, Mexico) and that I dare to call “home”… I happen to be in this very place right now ’cause I felt I needed some “family energy” (if you’re currently far away from your family I bet you understand how I feel), this small town is not as far away from Guadalajara as the place I was born (Mexico CIty), where my parents and sisters are along with other 22 million inhabitants living in the same city… and still I thought it would be a great idea to come to this exact place after 4 years of not visiting my aunt and uncle. Right now (even though I’m starting to think it was not such a great idea) Anywaus, I was reviewing my job’s facebook group to chek out on some pending tasks (it’s Saturday for christ’s sake), and I found your viral video shared by a co-worker (that I hadn’t take the time to watch earlier this week), so I started reading more about you and your list of “30 before 30″ and so on at your blog…

    I have to say I admire the way you are facing the fact of deciding your true path is to write, it encourages me as well, since that’s what I’m also trying to do as a life plan, at least I now have accomplished someone paying me for writing even if it is only at digital media and even if I have to write about subjects I’m not so passioned about … or not even interested in at all… I would say you keep up the writing, and that you start thinking on how to soon mark as checked the 27th goal on your list of 30 before 30, so… thank you for the inspirational video, the nice reading and the opportunity to share… with not much more to say I guess that’s it for today… (by the way, I saw the “Queen Latifah video and, if what she promised to you is real, I wish you the best of lucks on that one) :P

    From Mexico…

    Marcela

  14. Janaina says:

    I don’t know, but probably you will get tired of this phrase, but, the fact is that I came to this blog because of your “I QUIT” video…
    My motivation to read this text is because I’m Brazilian! So I know very well this Brazilian wax (it made me laugh so hard)… and how I hate to have to do it!!! HAHAHAH (this is a nervous laugh) And I didn’t do it to my husband, I did because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to attend the pools, beach or wear shorts, skirts… terrible!!! When I have to set an appointment to do wax, I start to feel dizziness, beginning of depression… lol
    I always ask to the Lord, why do women need to have this kind of problem?!! Come on!! HELP US!! ahahah

  15. Lara says:

    Thanks for this awesome blog. I’ve just moved to Taiwan not even 1 month ago and I’m desperately looking for a waxing place in Taiwan. But I am probably the only Taiwanese that waxes on this island…thanks to my Canadian upbringing and the numerous Polish and Russian friends I have back home.
    As for waxing for my bf? yeah…don’t have one and even if I did, I don’t think the pain is worth it. I’m just waxing for my own sanity – I’m thinking swim suits in Taiwan’s winter (like still 20 degrees Celsius you know).
    Didn’t realize you are the same person as the I quit video until I read the comments. I say AWESOME! WTG!! Let’s go have a drink if you are still in Taiwan! Vodka is on me!

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