I started doing my nails way before nail salons sprouted in Kuala Lumpur like weeds. At that time, Mom was appalled with what she saw as frivolous behaviour; paying someone to do my nails. Now, she understood that many women wouldn’t be seen dead in public functions without their nails done (although she’s not a convert yet).
Occasionally, I like my eyebrows threaded and plucked too. As far as personal hygiene is concerned, I limit myself to haircut, manicure, pedicure, facial, eyebrows trimming and body scrubbing. There’s one thing which I’m intrigued with but never have the courage to try. I’m thinking that most of you would have guessed what I’m referring to.
A few years ago, I was having my nails done at a beauty salon. A beautiful young lady in micro-mini skirt walked in and she was quickly ushered into a private room. I thought nothing of it except for envying her long slender legs.
A few minutes later, I heard a horrifying scream coming from the room. For that split second, I did wonder whether I was at a beauty salon or the dentist. The scream continued intermittently. The manicurist attending to me smiled apologetically and told me that the girl was having a Brazilian wax.
I first heard of the term Brazilian wax in Sex in the City and hence was familiar with the procedure. Nevertheless, I must confess that I was a tad surprised that Malaysians have started adopting it.
Since then, I began to hear more and more women I know who have their zones down under taken care of. Some personal testimonies I received were equivalent to that horrifying scream. Women have described to me how painful and uncomfortable this treatment can be. On top of this, they are subjected to vulnerable positions which are normally more suited for private bedroom activities. A gynaecology’s scrutiny would have been less invasive compared to this. Yet, some have told me that they can’t live without it.
So yes, my reluctance to try a Brazilian wax stems from my unwillingness to be placed under such humiliating and vulnerable positions in the hands of a complete stranger. Lying face down on all four and spreading my butt cheeks to expose my privates so that someone else can strip off unsightly pubic hair is too much for me to handle. However, I do admire the women who can; those who attend to it and those who get it done.
All these trimming, filing and plucking has made me ask this question: Since when did we start to think that personal hygiene isn’t such a personal matter anymore? We have begun to leave what our foremothers would have regarded as extremely private matters in the care of strangers? We expose our bare feet, discoloured toe nails, untrimmed cuticles and what not, right in front of someone else’s face to have them cleaned for us.
In some manners, women in the olden days were much more mysterious and fascinating. They turned up in public looking their best and got everyone wondered how did they do it? Now, everyone knows where a woman could get this and that done.
I used to get amused when I watched movies showing aristocrats being undressed, bathed, dressed and having their hair combed by a chamber maid. I often thought to myself then, “Damn. Don’t you guys have hands?” But when you look at how we willingly pay someone else to take care of many parts of our person, what difference does that make? The only difference is, only few could afford such luxury in the olden days but now, many of us can.
The bottom line is, whether it’s a frivolity or not, many of us cannot seem to live without. In the end, it’s really a personal matter when it comes to matters of personal hygiene.
As our standard of living and level of education increase, there’s no denying that many urban Malaysian women are now much more eager to engage and share hygiene and beauty tips. I just hope that these women would be as equally eager to engage and share personal health care such as breasts and pelvic examinations. After all, you can’t possibly care about your pubic hair without caring for your vagina first.