For the love of Brazilian waxes

by marinashifrin

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.