Sans Sugarcoating: Pour Être Belle Il Faut Souffrir

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Written by Mariem ELTagoury

*Please note that names of places & people are kept discreet for privacy issues. Also any use of Franco Arab in this article is to deliver the detailed picture of incidents. 

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Thinking about undergoing laser hair therapy removal? I’ve tried it! My feedback; IT FUCKING HURTS! Just thought you should know before you think about going under the gun without an anesthetic!

Hair laser therapy has recently become a trend in Cairo; it seems like every Cairene lady has either tried it, is considering it or is talking about it; that magical touch of a pulse which will have your body swimsuit ready forever. LIES! Laser is not permanent, it just allows you longer time without hair!

I’m not one to follow fads, precisely when it involves playing around with health care and doctors; but being an Egyptian woman living in Egypt with hefty Egyptian expectations, being a busy woman and not having much time to fulfill them made me choose to have a therapy session.

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Before the session, the nurse asked me if I wanted an anesthetic, I asked her if it hurts and she replied “it’s like waxing.” so I said “no”. First thing that came to my mind during the session: “WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T ANYONE MENTION HOW MUCH IT HURTS?!”. Somehow, the ladies of our city (and the nurse) while chatting about the hair removal miracle, recommending it and boasting about how their skin looks lovely now – hands spread forward for a live example as if it ever looked different when shaved by a razor- somehow forgot to mention how much it hurts! Second thought that came to mind was, “Oh Lord, I’m being electrocuted!”. Third thought was, “Is it worth it?!”.

“Pour être belle il faut souffrir” a simple French saying I continuously heard my grandma say while growing up.

99% of women in this city live by this saying. Those fabulous shoes you wear even though they leave your feet sore, the push-up bras and corsets suffocating you, the threading you go through every other week and the constant need of waxing, because according to Arab expectations women should naturally be hairless…. naturally….. huh!

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Remember Alyssa Milano from Charmed? She also found laser hair removal painful.

After hearing my friends’ insistence that there was no pain, one admitted feeling electric sparks…. if you use anesthetics, and being a girl with very low pain resistance I decided to go back and give it another chance. I booked my sessions in a Laser Therapy Centre, which meant that there was quite a waiting list and a crowd with….. ummm, variety. I discovered ‘the anesthetic room’, a small room where women waited while their anesthetics kicked in before the sessions,  after sitting  for a while, we started chatting.

When inquired about the issue of the pain during sessions, a young single mother replied, “It does of course, the inflammation and the pain happen every time, it’s the kind of pain that wears you out, you feel  exhausted after the session, thing is it never gets better, it’s the same experience every time, but it’s totally worth it when you see the results!” I noticed when she kicked off her shoes that she wasn’t wearing socks and looked like she could use a new pair of shoes!

A young dentist sitting beside me laughed and said, “It’s very painful. During my first session I had an extreme reaction to the treatment. Severe inflammation, fever, chills, I was treated with a cortisone injection and antibiotics, I spent a week at home. But when I saw the results, I came back! I didn’t care if I had to go through all that again to remain hair free for two whole months; I was willing to do it!” still smiling, “But then I got lucky and didn’t have them again. It’s painful but it’s so worth it.”

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“Pour être belle il faut souffrir”; this very old French saying which, ironically sounds quite pleasant and fancy, means “In order to be beautiful one must suffer”.

Let’s talk about expectations from women; you are expected to have fair skin, the right size breasts and hips (not too big, not too small), tiny waist, the ability to walk in stripper heels, the ability to transform yourself using makeup… hang on these are international expectations, let’s focus more on Egyptian expectations… you are required to have ‘colored eyes’ (another word for green and blue, as if black and brown didn’t belong on the color spectrum), and dense – silky smooth- hair, but somehow the rest of you (literally all of you, including your ‘down there’ zone) should be hair free… ALL THE TIME! (No, you’re not allowed to have re-growth time).

Ok, I get that leg and pit shaving are considered essential and hygienic worldwide for women – pits go for both men and women mind you, and I agree with that; but why wax?! Why pain?! Western women, who are far more productive choose to shave, it’s less painful and saves time. (Myths about hair growing back thicker, scientifically is bullshit.)

So why do we (Egyptian women) persist on taking the painful and more time consuming paths?! Why are Egyptian women expected to accept hairy men who would die before being caught under wax!?If men in the west (who have a taste in women like Beyonce and Megan Fox) think it’s okay for women to be natural ‘down there’ why do Egyptian women have to go through the pain syndrome, generation after generation?!

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Why do women pay other women to pin them down and painfully rip or electrocute their hair out?!

Speaking of which, men always complain about how much they spend on women, but has anyone ever stopped to see how much women spend on themselves for men?! The expensive makeup, the endless hair care bills and the waxing! Laser treatment is not cheap either but I couldn’t help noticing the number of women willing to pay thousands of pounds per session. I highly respect that each person has the right to spend their money on what pleases them, but I noticed farmers’ daughters (brides-to-be) lining up for sessions, young women from distant governorates and the single mother who I spoke about earlier. In a time where our country is going through an economic crisis, if money abundance wasn’t as plenty, would hair removal treatment be the first thing to cross your mind? It kind of shocks me that rather than buying a pair of warm socks & boots for winter, a woman would rather pay money for hair removal treatment “because of people at work who stare”!

“Pour être belle il faut souffrir” a saying that can be traced back to the 19th century, yet it still lives in us.

Why do we choose pain? Are men worth it? If it isn’t for men then what is it for? Society yes! Is it worth it? Is it worth our money and time as well? As I sit here, I’m still pondering whether I should go back, the dangling bait of hope of a promise of long-term hairlessness that would make my life with society easier, but is the pain and money worth it? Honestly, I haven’t made up my mind yet. And honestly, I don’t think I’m granted fair options either….

Update 2016 – I admit to succumbing to social pressure! So here’s my experience…. After living for a good long time hairless, just an occasional shave here and there I must say laser therapy was well worth my money. I went back for another session this month.

For the pain I strongly advice the use of local anesthetics – Pridocaine or Emla should do the trick- before the session. Apply anesthetic cream to the treated area, then wrap it in plastic (snack bags will do), have the nurse help you wipe it off before you start the session. Do this at least half an hour if not more before your session. This should save you a lot of pain. Good luck with your hair removal method… which ever it may be 😉 

Your Thoughts?

Would you suffer for beauty? Would you undergo laser therapy in spite of the costs and pain? Let me know what you thing in the comments section below or send me an email on tago@cairocontra.com .

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