In our neighborhood, and throughout the city, storefronts and signs offering opportunities for DEPILACION are, amazingly, as common as dog-related businesses. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued as I daily walked back and forth to the train past a dozen or more such shops, offering a range of services and special deals, and often filled with women leafing through magazines as they waited their turn. When I queried my “Portena” (Buenos Aires natives) friends. I learned that removal of body hair is pretty much an imperative for Argentine women, and that this is commonly accomplished, not with a razor in the shower, but instead via biweekly trips to one’s favorite depilacion shop.
Neither hair removal nor avoidable pain are my strong suits, but eventually my ‘when in Rome’ impulses overcame my reluctance – so one fine Friday morning my friend Patricia and I set out — she as guide and hand-holder, I as curious but trepidacious mammal — on an anthropological expedition to a local depilacion parlor.
As we chatted and strolled along the street, Patricia suddenly stopped, nose in air; she had caught the scent of warm wax – and when we looked up, sure enough we were standing in front of a small shop advertising the availability of a range of depilatory services on its window. Patricia explained my status as fearful neophyte gringa to Vero, who agreed to go slow, explain the process, and treat me gently. I decided to start with the ‘media-pierna’ (ankle to knee) and see how it went before I committed to more. Having assured me that the process was less painful than childbirth, Patricia held my hand, Vero wielded the warm caramel-colored wax, and soon enough my pierna entera was done! As usual, the anticipation was worse than the event.
I was rather conservative in the corporeal real estate that I exposed to the wax — coming away merely with smooth legs and gently arched eyebrows — but suffice it to say that there is not a square centimeter of face or body that is beyond the reach of the wax. A common special is ‘media pierna, cavado, y axilas,’ for 23 pesos (just under $6.00). While the place that we went to employed the common ‘french’ method, there are also plenty of locales for those who favor the spanish method (wax on disposable strips of paper) or higher-tech laser depilation. Apparently argentine girls first come in with their mothers at age 13 or so, and then they too become lifers.
Josh, who thankfully has a much more highly developed sense of decorum than his tell-all wife (and is undoubtedly wincing as he reads this), was less than enthusiastic about my describing my experiences “to the whole world”, so you can imagine how relieved he was to learn that the battery went dead on the camera just as Vero finished my calves and started heading north… However, out of deference to him (cherished husband AND the one who uploads the blog posts) we will not be seeing ANY of the photo-documentation of Martha’s experiences.