I don’t think there’s anyone in this town that allows their body hair to grow, you know, naturally. It’s a delicate topic, personal hygiene, but out here we discuss it freely. It is as mandatory as having a visa, this waxing lark: land at airport, show passport, book wax package (Singapore loves a good package, where you buy an amount of something and get one free plus some other handy treat, in this case, for me, a free facial once the beard has gone. I jest about the beard).
Us girls probably all waxed at home from a young age, wherever we grew up – razored the pits cautiously as teens, de-fuzzed with that awful-smelling cream the night before the school disco. Not many wildebeests left in this world, are there? And male wildebeests do it too, oh yes they do, plenty of them known to me personally. But out here it’s a proper sport, a real talking point, I suppose because there is good reason for being as smooth and as hairless as you can be – it’s hot, it’s sweaty, we stuff ourselves into swimsuits a lot and no one wears very much in the way of clothing, so the process of hair removal is more pressing and everyone has their own personal method of getting it off, from expensive laser treatments booked through a Groupon deal to the self-inflicted tazering of the thighs with one of those little hand-held electric nippers, or via the more routine salon visit, back room towel-covered benches discovered by going on forums or chatting over coffee.
We love or loathe these places and everyone has a hairy story: mine involves accidentally ending up in a very popular boutique chain where I was led into a dark back room, told to take EVERYTHING off and… well there were plastic pants involved, wet wipes and a carefully angled spotlight, and a woman with a mask who asked me where I was going on my holidays. It wasn’t what I asked for but I couldn’t go back and complain, I’m far too British and in any case, I decided, there wasn’t an awful lot they could have done. I declined the package.
Anyway, we’ve all got a story and we pass on the details helpfully and discuss the subject endlessly (yes we do, you do it too, don’t pretend you don’t – well if you don’t do it out loud then don’t tell me you don’t at least think about it a lot), and the main question that arises is exactly how bare we all dare to go.
Very often these days there is the assumption that you will want it all off, and I’m not just talking about expat living, it happens at home too. A journalist friend of mine in the UK covered this very topic for her newspaper recently, drawing huge interest and even a spot of protest, in all sorts of directions. It’s a right old hot topic, this whapping off of every last follicle, and we talk about it openly and long may that last because it’s, well, interesting, actually. Conversations become much more personal much faster out here, and I am getting quite comfortable with the scenario of meeting someone one minute and sharing intimate stories the next; I’ve long since stopped spitting out my tea.
My own bad-wax story is one of my favourites but I’m more likely to give it an airing out here, happy to discuss the bad waxing times and the good ones and the ones where I’ve held up my hand to physically outline in the air what I want and the ones where… well, we seem to have run out of coffee.