A piece in the Telegraph this week got me thinking about the lengths we go to in the name of beauty. From the gruelling Master Cleanse diet to 24-karat gold facials, there are lots of extreme (and often bizarre) things people will do to look good. I’m blaming celebs—radical beauty regimens usually require an open schedule AND a big fat bank account, both of which they have in spades.
Of course, beauty editors are also privy to some strange beauty treatments, and I’ve certainly tried my share. The weirdest of all? Without a doubt, it was a body wrap at a spa (which shall remain nameless) just outside Toronto. The premise of the treatment was that you lose several inches—which sounds amazing, right? I mean, who doesn’t want to lie down for an hour and then get up, miraculously slimmer?
If only it were that simple. But like a lamb to the slaughter, I don’t even blink when they ask that I bring a pair of thong underwear—and not just any pair, but an “old” pair—to the treatment. Okaaaaay. So I get changed and, wearing my “old thong” underneath the spa robe, shuffle down to the treatment room in the basement. (Why do spas insist on doing treatments in underground, windowless rooms? I mean, it’s bad enough to lie there, held captive at the mercy of an unskilled esthetician, but must the surrounds also resemble a prison cell?)
Anyway, my esthetician then asks me what DVD I’d like to watch. Um, excuse me? This is my first clue that what I’m about to experience will be a little unconventional. Of the selection of ’80s hits like St. Elmo’s Fire and Beverly Hills Cop, I go for Dirty Dancing—not, of course, having any clue as to why Baby and Johnny are now part of my spa day.
Next, I’m ushered into what is, in fact, not a spa room but what looks like Jane Fonda’s aerobics studio circa 1982. The esthetician asks me to disrobe and pulls out her trusty measuring tape so she can record the “before” numbers for my chest, waist and hips. Then, to my horror, she opens up a giant cooler (classy!) which contains a bunch of tensor bandages soaked in clear, gelatinous goo.
Lord have mercy! I’m standing there, buck-naked except for the thong, as she proceeds to mummify me as tightly as she can in gooey, dripping wet bandages. Within 10 minutes I’m basically wearing a skin-tight tensor-bandage tube dress. Eat your heart out, Hérve Léger!
Oh, but it gets better. At this point, I’m thinking, finally! I get to lie down. But no. Alas, in order to “mobilize the toxins” and “lose the fat” I have to move around. Which is where the DVD comes in. She pops it on and instructs me on the grapevine (a move I haven’t done since step class in the late ’90s), and says I’ll need to do this for about an hour.
And where do said toxins go, once they’re exercised away? Why, they come out of your feet, of course! (Silly me—how could I not know that?) So, no joke—my esthetician puts a plastic bag over each foot, secured with rubber bands. She says she’ll return every 15 minutes or so to drain them; apparently if the water’s cloudy that means your body is toxic and the treatment is “working.” (Obviously, at this point I’m calling B.S. on this entire treatment, but this line in particular takes the cake.)
So there I am, mummified, barely able to breathe, covered in goo and slipping and sliding in plastic bags as I grapevine away in a green-carpeted ’80s basement.
It doesn’t get better than this, people. Incidentally, at the end of it I do lose a couple of inches, but come on—as soon as you have a glass of water the bloat comes back. Utterly ridiculous.
There’s a reason The Devil Wears Prada showcased the fashion department, not beauty.