Monday, March 1, 2010

Sugaring and Other Consequences of Cultural Experiences

So about two weeks ago, I was sugared for the first time. No, tragically, this process did not involved cupcakes.

What it did involve, however, was lying with only a towel wrapped around me while a woman ripped out most of my body hairs violently from their roots. Sugaring, it appears, is when a professional hair removal artist takes a handful of what looks like a wad of thick, clear, orange Gak (yes, that awful stuff we used to play with as kids) and stretches it tight and hard against your skin. Then she rips it off of your skin in pieces. The hair comes with it. Fortunately the skin stays put. Regardless, I too would have preferred the cupcakes.

But that's what they do here. Women in Jordan get sugared. It appears that any body hair is just not attractive, so Jordanian women routinely get everything removed. And when I say everything, I mean everything.

In the spirit of trying out new cultural norms, I decided to go with my friend for my very first sugaring experience. Note: I have never, ever had any professional hair removal done in the U.S. My total hair-be-gone experience has consisted of a razor. No waxing, no cremes, and definitely no sugaring. But we had a Dress-To-Impress party coming up, and I thought I'd give it a try.

The most traumatic thing for me going in was the undressing and lying there pretty much naked part, I have to admit. I wasn't even that concerned about the pain part. I really just thought it would be enormously awkward having someone rip the hair off of parts of your body that you can even see. I really shouldn't have worried.

I walked into the softly lit, beautiful room with an older woman, who promptly left me alone. "Well crap," I thought to myself. "I have NO idea what I'm supposed to be doing." The logical thing was to take all of my clothes off, wrap the towel around myself and curl up on the table/bed type thing. So I did.

Once I was firmly seated and just as firmly clutching my towel, the woman came back in. She had to be the sweetest woman on the face of the planet. She made delightful small talk with me, and it seemed completely normal for her to be ripping the hair off my legs as we chatted. The legs went well. She moved on to my arms, which I had decided to sugar as well to enter into the spirit of the Jordanian full-body sugar, and armpits. And then it was time for the clincher: the bikini area.

This was the part I'd been dreading. The painful, excruciatingly embarrassing part. But to be honest, it wasn't that bad. Yeah, it hurt. It hurt quite a bit in fact. But she was just so matter-of-fact about the entire procedure that I wasn't embarrassed at all. Or perhaps I was too busy trying not to cry to be embarrassed. She also kept apologizing to me with every rip. "It's not fair," she told me after one particularly painful separation of skin and hair. "The men, they get to keep the hair. But us? So much pain." I agreed completely.

Once the bikini area was complete, (And this is the part I debated on whether or not to write... But in the interests of honest service journalism and perhaps the chance to make someone out there chuckle, I'll tell all the facts as they happened.) she straightened up and said, "5alas." Finished. Great, I thought, about to hop off the table. Survived. "No, no," the woman said, pointing me back into place. "Turn. Fi hair here," she added, pointing to the very center of her butt.

Well, that was news to me. Yet I obediently rolled over and let the most awkward part of the entire scenario take place. But you know what? Even that was so matter-of-fact that it wasn't even as embarrassing as it could have been. And now my arms, legs... and everywhere else are as smooth as can be.

So if you'd also like to experience the thrill that is the Jordanian full body sugar, I would recommend Sara from Amber Spa. Darling woman. Is now my best friend, based solely on the fact that she has now seen more of me than I have.

Cheers to new, albeit painful, experiences.


  1. oh my goodness, i loved this blog entry.

    thank you for the laughs. :)

    i have yet to be sugared... was it expensive??

  2. Haha. It was definitely amusing! Well. Afterward. :)

    It was not very expensive at all. Maybe 20 JD for a full body sugar? We are going again tomorrow, but I'm only getting a half body this time. I'll let you know exactly how much it cost when I see you Thursday.