Maimed for Beauty


(Slhore trans: Slut + whore)

In ‘primitive’ cultures around the world, women disfigure themselves in the name of beauty. We have our necks stretched with copper/brass coils in Thailand; our lips stretched with clay and/or wood plates in parts of Africa and South America; nicked our faces, bellies and backs with razors in the Sudan with the purpose of producing a 3D keloid kaleidoscope – on and on. By comparison, Western beauty rituals are child’s play when juxtaposed to the practices of our sisters in less developed countries. An hour after a good shampoo, hair coloring and a pedicure, we’ve declared ourselves ‘transformed’. We generally don’t disfigure ourselves in the name of beauty – or so I thought until last night.

My co-worker Monique is a stunning woman. She has natural hair that she keeps pressed that exhibits a natural shine and bounce that I rarely see. Her skin is flawless. Her eyebrows are perfectly arched. She works out and is in prime shape. She has 4 kids (just like me, although the oldest is in college) and takes pride in maintaining her physical appearance now that her kids don’t require so much attention. Since my kids are still very young and the youngest is still waking up in the middle of the night, which leaves me too tired to go to the gym, which also leaves me fat with oily skin, I decided to emulate Monique in the one way I could…I went to get my eyebrows done last night.

I’ve been doing my brows for years: From using a raw razor blade in my dorm room, to self-applying hot wax to get some semblance of shape, I’ve done it all. Now that I’m a working woman, I’ve eschewed all those techniques and allowed the professionals – my Vietnamese sisters – to take over the task of removing my unwanted follicles. For the last 6 years, Dani Loung (which of course is NOT her real name – it’s Doung Loung) or some member of her staff has taken care of my brows. 90% of the time they get it right. I come back because of the ambiance and the service. But last night, a new member of staff, some girl I have never seen before, did my eyebrows for the first time. What happened when she was done was a first as well.

That slhore burnt me!

Oh she greeted me nicely enough, bowing and smiling as she led me to her torture chamber like an unsuspecting virgin about to endure a 20 minute gang rape. She chatted gaily about my new baby and asked me about my new job. Being chatty myself, I happily answered all her questions. In the midst of our discourse, I felt a sharp sting on the my eye lid and then another close to my tear duct. As she carefully applied hot wax to the majority of my face, I realized that she was also applying it to areas where there was no hair at all – like MY EYE LID! I lay there frozen in horror, praying that what I thought was happening truly was not happening.

When she was done, she put some cold antiseptic on a cotton ball and began to stroke my eyes roughly. I stiffened and finally cried out.

“Oh…dat hurt yew?” she asked innocently.

“Yes,” I yelped. “It burns!”

“Oh. I put some t’ing on, make it feel better.”

She applied something else that burned even worse.

“Dat betta?”

I nodded yes, just so she wouldn’t try to ‘fix’ it with something that would pain me worse.

When I got up from the chair, she led me to the register to pay.

“OK. Dat gonna be twenny dolla,” she chirped with a charming smile.

I balked.

“Dani,” she whispered harshly, trying to get her attention. “Look at my face.”

Dani looked up from the computer screen and glanced at my throbbing red eye. She and newbie murmured in Vietnamese. She finally spoke to me.

“Dat happen because you skin dry. Sometimes the wax do dat because you skin too dry.”

“So what should I put on it?”

“Uhhh…maybe some Vaseline? But if it not get betta, you come back, okay baby?”

Vaseline? Come back? For what?? I’ll be frikkin’ blind by then! I looked at her coldly through what was left of socket.

“Okay, Dani.”

I paid them and left. Today, my skin has gone from beet red, to plum purple. In a day, I’m certain my lids will be tar black as they heal from the trauma. This is so wrong. I just wanted to be beautiful dammit!

No more hot wax near the eyeballs for me. Uh uh. For the 2011, I’m taking my $10 and going straight to Little India so Lalitha and dem can thread me up. Dani will never have the chance to blind this Black girl again!

Have you ever been defaced for the sake of beauty?