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Girl Smarts 'I've been getting Brazilian waxes for 15 years — here's why'

New experiences open up a world of possibilities. An introductory beauty adventure? Especially so. As children, it helps develop our taste.

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'I've been getting Brazilian waxes for 15 years — here's why' play

'I've been getting Brazilian waxes for 15 years — here's why'

(PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MARISA MELTZER)
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"I felt slinky, like I had a secret, like I had matured in that 20 minutes."

New experiences open up a world of possibilities. An introductory beauty adventure? Especially so. As children, it helps develop our taste.

But as adults, changing an aspect of our physical selves often symbolizes something bigger about the women we are...and are on our way to becoming.

In our January/February 2018 issue, we asked six writers to explain how these moments transformed them in ways that go far beyond lipstick tubes and hair dyes. Here's one woman's story:

I was 25 years old and had been living in New York City for less than a month but was already wondering if being there was a bad idea. I had moved from San Francisco for a job where my new boss routinely called me before 6 a.m. so I could take notes on his stream-of-consciousness thoughts about how to improve the small, failing magazine he'd founded.

My boyfriend of seven years had moved with me but was in a depressed funk. He worked from home and seemed to go days without leaving our block in Brooklyn.

This exfoliant will make your skin feel as refreshed as if you'd just left the beach, available at the Women's Health Boutique.

I was overworked, confused, lonely, and routinely lost navigating the subway. One day my boss yelled at me because he didn't like how I was organizing files, and I lost it. I cried right there in the middle of the office for everyone to see.

This wasn't just tearing up, but a major cry, an I'm-so-overwhelmed- I-can't-hide-it-anymore cry.

Luckily, my coworker Nicole took pity on me. She was the same age as me but more slick and polished and had lived here since she was 22.

She took me by the elbow and whispered that we were leaving the office for the rest of the day. We got in a cab and headed uptown. "We're going to J. Sisters for Brazilians," she said. I had never even had a bikini wax before.

The seven Padilha sisters from Brazil, whose first names all start with J, began offering their signature wax in the mid-'90s. The Brazilian was suited for teeny-tiny bikini bottoms and left little to no hair.

In Manhattan, it was a kind of high-maintenance point of pride and had a cult following with a plotline on Sex and the City. In the lobby of the townhouse their salon occupied was a headshot of Gwyneth Paltrow signed "You changed my life!!"

Learn about some of the crazy beauty treatments women have used throughout history:

The pain of the wax, Nicole told me, would take my mind off my emotional pain. When my name was called, a very efficient woman dressed in white asked me if I wanted anything left—she meant hair. I asked her what she recommended. "Remove all of it." I nodded. She got to work.

The wax was warm and almost soothing, followed by a tug that made me wonder if my labia was going to be ripped off. It wasn't, but the pain was burning and persistent, something the late writer Christopher Hitchens—he wrote a profile of a wax job from the very same salon—said "was like being tortured for information that you do not possess." And it repeated: moment of warmth, rip, warmth, rip, for a very long 20 minutes, until I was bald.

But when I put my underwear back on, then my dress, and walked over to the front counter, I felt slinky, like I had a secret, like I had matured in that 20 minutes. For that privilege I paid $75, and I booked my next appointment on the spot.

Fifteen years later, I've kept up with the ritual—it still brings me the same rush of confidence. I moved on from the J. Sisters years ago and now have a standing monthly appointment at Spruce & Bond. Tell Tara I sent you.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2018 issue of Women's Health. For more great advice, pick up a copy of the issue on newsstands now!

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