That time I went to the nail salon and ended up in a wedding dress…

No, this isn’t me on my Wedding Day.

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No, this isn’t me on my Wedding Day.

It’s Friday afternoon in downtown Gongbei, Zhuhai and my lovely friend and āyí, (nanny, literally meaning “aunt”), Su, is taking me to her beauty school where she studies.

Su kindly invited me to have my nails painted – for free! How could I refuse?

Walking in the door, with my gorgeous three-month-old girl, Sasha, we’re swarmed by the students, and clients, fangirling over my baby’s blue eyes and gummy smile.

… we’re swarmed by the students, and clients, fangirling over my baby’s blue eyes and gummy smile.

“Hĕn piàoliang!” “Hăo kě ài!” (How pretty! How cute!)

I say my xie xie’s, sitting down in a chair in front of the mirror … even though the nail booth is just outside.

Wait a second…

This should have been my first clue that my nails are not the main aim of the afternoon.

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Surprise, surprise: Found a bunch of videos and photos on Wechat 😉

 


Being white = model material in China

Now, clearly, I am no Kate Moss. I’m 5’4, have a big ol’ butt and a massive vein that pops out of my forehead when I smile too hard.

Clearly, I am no Kate Moss. I’m 5’4, have a big ol’ butt and a massive vein that pops out of my forehead when I smile too hard.

But being a white foreign woman in China has – unfairly or not – earned me celebrity status.

And somehow these hairdressers and makeup artists think I’m model material.

Lol!

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Look Mum! : Stopped recently in Huafa. It’s fun to take photos with this really white laowai!

What next?

In no time, three salon women surround me, brushing at my hair, face, and nails, while we make small talk in Chinglish.

In the background, Sasha is being cooed at and adored over, to the sound of a frenzy of camera phone clicks. She’s giggling, so I’m not worried.

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Got ma fancy face on.

After an hour or so (super efficient, I know), my hair is curled, my makeup is on point, and my nails are a shimmering pink.

After an hour or so, my hair is curled, my makeup is on point, and my nails are a shimmering pink.

Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty baller.

Here comes the bride

Just when I think things can’t get anymore Twilight Zone, Su says,“Now, it’s time to get changed into something beautiful,” pointing to a ball gown on a mannequin.

“Now, it’s time to get changed into something beautiful”

Stepping into the changeroom, I see a shoulder-length wedding dress being pulled off the rack.

“Whhhhaatttttt, is going ON” 

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It fits like a dream!

Actually, this is the first real wedding dress I’ve ever tried on, despite being married.

(My husband and I had a wonderful, quick, whirlwind wedding in Paris, two weeks before moving to China, and I picked up a debutante dress the week beforehand).

Le Shooting

I’m tied tight into a wedding dress, in full hair and makeup, and nails, and I wonder what the heck can happen next?

Enter, photo studio.

Soon I’m staring down the lens of a big, round light, light boards behind me, and a whole bunch of cameras in front at every angle.

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Going against ever fiber of my being, I try not to smile.
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Awesome Chinese-style wedding hair.

An absolute frenzy of cameras are snapping at my face and I am totally bewildered.

I have no idea how to model!

I’m directed around, in Chinese, to turn left, turn right, do a 360, and everything in between.

I try not to smile too much because, in China, it’s apparently not the ‘done thing’ for photos like these. This is really difficult as I am a nervous smiler – and I’m nervous af.

This is really difficult as I am a nervous smiler – and I’m nervous af.

Sea of selfies

Just when I think it’s all over, out come the phone cameras – selfie time!

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Selfie invasion! Where do I look?!
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Sasha Bear lapping up the attention.
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…then quickly, getting sleepy.

 

Wow. What an afternoon.

Heading out the door, I feel a little dazed but happy.

Smiling to myself, I think, only in China do you go to get your nails done and end up modeling bridal wear in full hair and makeup!

Smiling to myself, I think, only in China do you go to get your nails done and end up modeling bridal wear in full hair and makeup!

I love China.

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Thanks to Paris Makeup in Gongbei 🙂

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