Dip Wife Tales: The Delicate Art of Hair Removal

Okay, I’ve debated whether or not to share this humiliation, but my girlfriends and I determined a while ago that it’s much better to release and disclose one’s personal humiliations and embarrassments otherwise they fester and grow into paranoia. So at the risk of exposing readers to “TMI” (too much information), I shall share.

So, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before the overwhelming concern/fascination with hair removal here. It is very common for Egyptian women to remove almost all of their body hair, including arm hair, any facial hair (except eyebrows, but we’ll get to that torture, I mean tale, later), leg hair, and any little hints of hairs on hands and feet. It’s so common that during my Egyptian desserts class, our cooking teacher showed us how to make Halawa out of sugar, water and lemon juice, which most Egyptian women use at home to remove their hair. They just keep a big ball of this sticky sugar mixture in the fridge and re-use it over and over. It’s similar to the Australian product, Nad’s, that is available back home.

Anyway, the few times I’ve gotten manicures or pedicures here, I’ve been asked if I’d like the miniscule blonde hairs removed from my hands. I tell them don’t bother. But I have gotten hints that the hairy-Americans bother some Egyptian women. I don’t take offense, and I don’t feel overly concerned either. I figure my blonde arm hair is probably the least of offenses I commit on a daily basis.

Back home, I was in a semi-regular routine of getting my eyebrows waxed. Even though I’d been doing it for ten years, I always found it painful and horrid. Maybe the rest of the world “gets used to it” or “doesn’t feel a thing” but I am not one of them. And each time I handed over cash to have someone pour hot wax on my face and tear hair out by the roots, I would always wonder at the lunacy of the whole thing. I guess it beats foot-binding, though.

Well, I finally submitted to the Egyptian way and went with two friends a few weeks ago to get “threaded.” Threading is very popular here and was catching on back home when I left. I had a few friends back home who swore by it, but I now know they are liars and fiends (but I love them anyway).

From what I can gleam, threading is hair removal done with a simple spool of thread (Magic thread? Regular thread? Extra-painful-tortuous thread? I don’t know). The threader plays out a long piece from the spool, holds one end in her teeth and the other in her hands and using the tension of the thread wound very tightly, gently tears at the hairs on your face, ripping and wrenching and grabbing and plucking with great force until you feel that the top thirteen dermal layers have been successfully removed leaving a gently throbbing bloody mass – but totally hair-free.

Oh, can you tell it didn’t fare well with me? I knew it would be painful, because I’m a delicate, sensitive, sweet-young-thing, so I was bracing myself for the typical hot-wax-tearing feeling that I would put up with back home. However, I was not prepared for a constant, never-ending, searing pain that this she-devil with an innocent face in a hot-pink tunic was inflicting on me. I found myself scrunching ever lower in my chair to just get away from her. I kept patting my face, trying to diminish the pain (and check for hemorrhaging), and apologizing to her as she had to take breaks due to my anguish. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen a manicurist actually look annoyed at her client (no language lessons needed for that moment). Once I could sense that she had torn at both sides of my face evenly, I begged her to stop. I actually slumped in my chair in relief. Forget electrocution, I say go with threading.

So, my plans are to start a revolution and convince the world that fuzzy whorlly eyebrows are sexy as hell. Anyone with me?