I love spa activities, and bath goos, and scrubs. I love doing my nails and getting facials and all that jazz. But I just realized this weekend that I have some weird anxiety about these processes. I get pedicures maybe twice a year, manicures even less. I used to go get massages pretty often, when the local massage school charged $30 for an hour. I’ve had a couple of facials which I love but just can’t afford on a regular basis. In terms of consistency, I get a regular professional hair cut maybe every other month, and a ladyparts wax maybe once a month.

I got a pedicure this weekend. I went to an inexpensive little nail place pretty close to my  house, a place recommended by my friend C who gets manis and pedis quite often. This place has the ridiculous huge massage chairs and the TV was tuned to the Food Network. The young lady gets to work on my hooves and I shyly tell her that the flowers on my big toenails are stickers. (Sidenote: I did my last pedicure and painted my nails patent leather black, with a top coat of purple sparkles, topped with a flower sticker with a purple rhinestone. Kuh-lassy. But it’s Halloweeny!) She laughs and begins to scrape off the sticker with a nail tool.

She asked me a few questions, I made a few comments. She liked my crazy beaded flip flops that look like something a Golden Girl would wear. I liked her ruffled sweater. But mostly I read about how Katie Holmes ended up with Tom Cruise, in between my pedicure stress.

Cue the anxiety. I got really uncomfortable! She was just doing her job and I was spazzing out. I don’t like to chat while I’m getting stuff like this done because I want to try to enjoy the experience. My old hairdresser, with whom I was close enough that she came to my wedding, used to give these awesome head massages when she washed my hair and I would always  ask her a really in-depth question just before she started so that I could just relax into that head massage. So there’s this pedicure gal and they do a whole slew of sloughing on your legs and feet – scrubs, pumice, the works. And the leg massage! It was really nice.

I’m sitting there with my Vanity Fair just staring at it and I’m totally ambivalent: one half of me is going, “Oh that feels really nice! I ran two miles and did 70 minutes of yoga this morning so that’s great!” and the other half of me is going, “Does she think I’m a snotty East End bitch who gets pedicures all the time and I’m looking down on her for doing this and maybe she wants to chat but I really just want to sit here and is it okay for me to totally bliss out while she’s rubbing my legs because I don’t want to be a pampered brat here…” etc ad naseum.

I felt the same way a few years ago when I went to this fast facial place. It was amazing – you sit in a zero-gravity chair, get a facial, and then she gave me hands down the best massage I’ve ever had on my arms, shoulders, and head. But the whole time I was afraid of how women like me are perceived – like if you get facials and pampering and stuff then you’re spoiled or something. Another time, I was writing a column about skincare and I asked the facialist a zillion questions because I felt like I was technically “working” so I shouldn’t enjoy it too much?

I’m having a hard time putting this into words. Put simply, I really enjoy those pampering treatments, emphasis on the ‘treat’ because I don’t do them often. I don’t feel this way with my current hairdresser – maybe because she doesn’t knead my head like a bowl of raw bread dough – and I certainly don’t feel this way with the girl I go to for waxing – maybe because it FUCKING HURTS? But at the same time that I enjoy them it’s like I don’t want to enjoy them too much because I don’t want the technician or whomever to see me as a spoiled fancy lady. Which I am not.

As I was waiting for my polish to dry, a woman came in with two youngish daughters. Mani-pedi for mom, and manis for both girls. When I was that age, my mom and I were painting each others nails. I don’t remember the first time I had a professional manicure. Probably in college? And suddenly my judgy pants were on and I’m judging this lady for bringing her two little girls in for manicures. And maybe that’s the problem – I am judging ladies who come into these places, by making assumptions on their income, parenting skills, and personalities and I don’t want to be tarred with the same brush.

To sum up: pampering activities make me anxious. I don’t know why. I wish it would stop. I feel judgy.

Is this just me?


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