A chapter from my book ‘My Big Fat Fat’ (2018)
A humorous and touching account for those losing or coping with excess weight. With her laugh-out-loud humor, Samantha Dee covers all subjects from beauticians to socks in this easy to read A to Z guide on weight loss, maintenance, and ways to nourish your self-esteem.
B is for… Beauticians
Beauticians are just about the only strangers who will see you in a state of undress, and who will put their hands ‘on’ you. They keep their tone of voice light and pleasant, and pretend not to notice when you accidentally ‘toot’ as you get up off the treatment table.
My earliest memories of these experiences go back to the eighties – to a health spa that my mother and I joined, called ‘The Roman Way’. We’d visit after we’d gone to Slimming World (my mum was a Slimming World ‘leader’ for a spell) – and we’d swim, sauna, jacuzzi, and have a session on the sunbeds.
Sometimes we’d go before the weigh-in, and have an hour in the sauna to lose half a pound before turning up.
There weren’t really beauticians at this place. However, it made us feel healthier and pampered, even if we did have a tuna-mayo baguette in the bar before we left. Health spas, even this piddly one, were ‘all the rage’ in the eighties, you know.
As far as Beauty Salons go, they were the epitome of luxury and indulgence to me. They still are. When I was a healthier weight, I’d have all kinds of treatments.
The first salon I went to was a ‘Clarins’ salon, and one of my fondest memories was a day visit that I booked in preparation for a Christmas party. During said party, I danced on tables, and so can’t have been that fat (none of them collapsed). Anyway, I’d booked an entire day, with just about every treatment I could possibly have at once. There I was on the treatment table, wearing paper knickers, wrapped up in cling film, mud, and some electric pulse thing, with one lady doing a facial, one doing my nails, and the other doing a pedicure. I felt utterly pampered. I lost half an inch off my waist, apparently. Yes, I was that hooked.
As the weight went on, I grew less and less confident with the paper knickers and cling film, and so stuck to facials, pedicures, and nails. (That way I don’t have to undress or show any fat bits, and they don’t have to touch them.)
One time, I thought I’d push the boat out and went to get my legs waxed. I walked in to the treatment room and there was the little pot of wax in the heater on the side-table. The little muslin strips and little wooden applicators laying neatly next to it. She took one look at my legs and I could almost hear her saying to herself, We’re gonna need a bigger boat. Subsequently, she brought out an industrial-sized waxing machine that applied the hot wax in great swathes and table-cloth lengths of muslin to rip it off.
Okay, I thought, I’ll just shave in the bath.
Eventually, even facials turned out to be traumatic; I hated lying flat because of back pain, and they always want your ‘shirt-off’. One quite horrifying facial took place at a renowned health spa (anywhere that has heated waterbeds is nirvana in my book); the beautician clearly took ill to me. (I know that sounds paranoid, but I’ve been in the service industry), and her shoulder-neck massage turned into an agonising ordeal. I think she thought that, as I was overweight, she had to squeeze harder to get to my muscles.
That day I went home bruised across my shoulders. I was a little too traumatised to say anything.
I visited another spa with a friend as a treat, as we’d lost thirty pounds each that year, and so I thought I’d push the boat out and plucked up the courage to get a body scrub. Different beautician, same bruises, only this time on my legs.
Since then, I’ve stuck to manicures. Only very recently, after a few years, (and significant weight loss) have I had the courage to get a pedicure with the same lady who has done my nails.
She was excellent; although, she had to convince me that she has seen worse. She told me that she practiced her pre-qualification skills in her home village in Hungary—on an old man who had never worn shoes his entire life, like the werewolf-feet in those old movies. Thanks, love.