Let us consider the battle against body hair which is big business here, particularly now Spring is upon us. In the land of Kardashian complexions, the beauty salons practice not only epilation but eradication, hacking back unwelcome growth wherever it dares to appear, and waging war on every whisker. It is a boon for the middle-aged matron I can tell you. My many chins are now smooth as cue balls and I have been promised that formerly troublesome follicles are now past the point where they can or would fight back. I hear you tut: is this devotion to the beauty parlor really appropriate for a Peace Corps Volunteer? Shouldn’t I be adapting to conditions of hirsute hardship and stretching my stipend to cover only worthy essentials like dried beans, and burlap bedding? Well, maybe. I had certainly expected my eyebrows to beetle and all foliage to go untrimmed during my two years of Peace Corps service but I have never been so sugared, tweezed, and exfoliated in all my life. I line up for threading, waxing and plucking on a regular basis, just like every other woman in town and it feels pretty good I can tell you. Here $2 is a day’s wages for the family’s breadwinner, and women who work only at home (most do) are unwaged. Nonetheless, somehow, there is always a budget for down patrol. I justify the time and money as an integration exercise, for we have community where we are coifed, mowed and strimmed.
The lovely Mari of My Lady Salon, Goris,
Mari and the other staff at My Lady Salon greet me warmly when they see me in the street, and offer me coffee, chocolate and fruit when I join them at the shop. I practice my language admiring the dresses and tresses of mothers and daughters getting ready for birthday parties (the salon does make-up too) and pass the time of day with neighbors in for more routine appointments, like forearm waxing which is considered an essential practice here. Never the most assiduous about personal grooming at home, I have now become addicted to furze-fighting, much as teenagers who can’t stop at one tattoo. I have even been introduced, rather unexpectedly, to laser treatment– something I never even considered in the States. Engaged in an admittedly rather one-sided discussion about moustache management the other day I was led to a previously unexplored chamber in the back of the salon. It looked much like a dentist’s surgery. Here, Mari applied cold gel to my face and supplied me with dark glasses. She then came at me with the arm of a medical-looking machine, zapping me with red light. I foresaw skin burns and carcinoma but then I felt my upper lip. Soft as a boatload of bottoms in an advert for baby oil. The cost? Only 1000 dram– $2. I was hooked. “I’ll be back” I told Mari. No need” she said. “You have fine, fair hair and that will take care of it”. (Full disclosure: I think that’s what she said, but I often make things up when I don’t catch every word). I beamed, recalling my father’s contention that the nurses in the hospital where I was born said I was the hairiest baby they had ever seen. Ha. Take that Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast circa 1960. I am now sleek as an eel and my eyebrows have arches McDonald’s would envy. The only hairs I now plan to encourage are my eyelashes. Mari says she has just the thing that will help. Look out Kardashians, here I come.
My Lady Salon also does make-up, nails and hair