Thursday, 12 March 2009

No pain- no gain

Well I must say, this recession is not all bad. Sales are on everywhere, interest rates gone down and the local beauty salon offered me a free facial when I spent a silly amount on face lotions.

This sketch illustrates how blissfully relaxed and happy I must look while I lie there melting into the bed, this girl’s soft hands massaging my stresses away.
I think I might have even snored a little.

But I did not always love facials. Back home, a facial is not something you lie back and enjoy while listening to ambient music in the background.
We Azeri women, are trained to believe that we can only achieve beauty through excruciating pain.

Facials, manicures and pedicures therefore, are all forms of torture.

At my very first facial, I remember being led into a little dark room where the beautician took me without any explanation. She tossed a towel into my hands and pointed to a big old pan of boiling water. I pulled the towel over my head and sat there, leaning over it for what seemed like ages. After a while, I tried to get away, but she poked at my cheeks and sent me back.

What I did not realize then, is that that part was the best of the session. After about 20 minutes of steaming my skin off, she lay me down, and began the squeezing and pinching, and sticking metal needles in my face. And none of my whimpering noises stopped her. I felt abused. But my skin, once it grew back, looked pretty flawless. That was indeed, a very long time ago, so I am hoping the methods got more humane since then.

But in a way, having got used to enduring pain in order to become more polished I can no longer see the benefits of any other methods. It just does not quite do it for me. I feel ripped off if I don’t get to suffer a little.

Take a massage. I have this irritating inability of asking for what I want when it comes to such things. So when I pay £40 for a massage and get soft touching instead of a proper back rub, and a lovely lady asks in her specially trained super-sweet voice: “Is this pressure OK for you?” I say: “Oh, lovely thank you”. While I should really say- Are you kidding me? You call this a massage?
But I am afraid of hurting her feelings. The word harder also sounds too embarrassing so I just fake it. Typical woman, eh.

And OK, I might have had a G&T tonight, so I am feeling brave and can tell you that they also have no idea in this country what a Brazilian really means. When I first relocated here I did not know what it was called in English. I could not just pick the phone up and try to describe such a delicate procedure to a gay boy on the other end. It took me months to find a friend who knew what it was. She told me there were only two places in London that did that. When I got to Nicky Clarke in central London, the specialist beautician told me that she was from Iran. And that something that was quite normal there is a total shock to an English lady.

So imagine my excitement at seeing my old intimate beautician’s name mentioned as a celebrity favorite waxer in Harper's Bazaar last year! My bikini line was done by the same hands as Sienna Miller’s.

In the last few years most of the beauty salons, even in our village claim to know what it is. But let me assure you: they don’t. They just heard the name, and added it to their brochure so they could charge you more.
And when I told the girl it was not what they claimed it to be, she smiled sweetly and asked:- Is this not how they do it back home then? Oh, I just love the poise with which English women can deliver insults!


  1. Hi Scary, recently found your blog. Terrific! Keep up the good work and I shall keep enjoying from California, USA.
    As a massage therapist I would like to help you get the type of massage you deserve. Ask for what you want before the massage. If you go to a spa you could say, "I would like a therapist how does deep work." If you call an independant therapist ask the same thing. If a therapist knows that is not their style they should let you know and maybe give you a referal. Most therapists really want to give you what you want and we often have the fear that even when we ask you if it is okay, you will not answer truthfully because you feel it is not polite. As a therapist I feel best when there is good communication about the work. Then we can both be happy. Hope that helps. Bill

  2. @Bill Anderson: Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment on this very old posting! :)
    And yes, you are right...always best to ask openly for what you want. somehow, it is often hard to do! But I am working on it. :)