Femininity, Guest Bloggers, Hair, Self-Image

Guest Blogger LilahCello: Yes, I’ve got facial hair

I was delighted when LilahCello offered to write up her experiences with facial hair as a guest post. I know this is a topic that hits close to home for many Shapelings; we’ve talked about the politics of head hair here before, but facial hair is a subject that occasionally arises in comments and always spurs a lot of interest. Like LilahCello, I’ve had facial hair since I was a teenager — first on my upper lip, then on my chin — and have spent an inordinate amount of energy on trying to hide that fact. Like fat, facial hair is a reminder that “femininity” is not an inevitable consequence of having a female body; instead, it takes a lot of work — and often, a lot of shame.

My (online) name is LilahCello. I am 33 years old, have been married for 12 years, have 2 children, home school the older one, go to school (training to be a philosopher/ethicist), am fat, have rosacea, have facial hair, have a dog, recently lost his brother, love sunsets and the mountains, and so much more. So, that’s about it. Oh, you saw that? That teensy tiny, little admission? The one thing that I still have trouble talking about, even though I can deconstruct any misogynistic television ads, call myself fat publicly, discuss male circumcision (my field of ethical study) in graphic detail, or explain trans issues to my eight year old? Yes, I have facial hair. I do not have PCOS, I have little body hair elsewhere (although I have thick, thick hair on my head and cute hair on my toes), and I have chin hairs. A goatee, of sorts. And I am embarrassed as all hell about it. I don’t even talk about it with my very kind, loving partner of 14 years who has watched me give birth. He has literally watched my body open itself to let our sons enter this world, and I can’t talk to him about some hair on my chin?

It didn’t happen overnight. When I was a teenager, I had a couple of long, stray hairs on my cheeks. No big deal, right? Clip ’em off and they were not thought of until I noticed them again. Then, one day, I had more hair, this time on my chin. I don’t remember the exact moment that it happened, nor do I remember much of a build-up. I just know that one day, I suddenly had hair where I hadn’t had it before. I mentioned it to a nurse practitioner during an annual exam once and said that I had to shave it off. “Oh! Don’t do that!” No? Don’t get rid of dark hair on my chin the only way I know how? Cutting it with shears was too difficult and didn’t produce the desired degree of invisibleness. I am too chicken-shit (and embarrassed) to get it waxed, and have not had the money to get it lasered off. Besides, I have heard from friends who wax that you have to let it grow out in order for the wax to adhere. No thanks! So now I shave everyday, or at least every other day, if I happen to forget (then notice it at an inconvenient time). I do it on the sly, which is no easy task in a house that is freely naked, co-showering/bathrooming, etc. I know that I will be coming into a little money when my financial aid comes in, and my plan is to go in and have this arch-nemesis laser-ly removed FOREVER! (Let’s hope that I can afford that when the time comes!) But what do I tell my husband when I go? I have a nursing baby, so I can’t be gone for long. I am guessing that there will be some sort of discomfort and redness afterward, so I can’t deny it. I think that my best bet will be to tell him after I have made the appointment.

This is the person with whom I have chosen to spend the rest of my life. I have children with him, we are equal partners in this life, and I can’t tell him this one little thing. I have talked about it with two other people. One friend who has PCOS and is studying to be a doctor, the other is a very open, unashamed woman (who had grabbed and plucked hairs from my face). Other than that, I deal with it in private. Why do we do this? Why are we so ashamed of something that A. we have no control over, and B. is a totally normal place to grow hair?

Because we are women. Women aren’t supposed to have hair on their faces (or their feet or their bellies or their nipples and so on), though many of us do. Some of us assume it is because of our heritage. All of my Italian grandmas and aunts had moustaches. I have a little bit of dark-ish hair over my lip, but not as much as on my chin. Not yet, at least. As you may remember from earlier in my post, I once had no hair on my chin. Women are supposed to be small (FAIL), quiet (FAIL), hairless (FAIL), pretty (possible FAIL), and reserved (FAIL). (Those are fails on my part. I am a loud, proud, fat, average looking, hairy-chinned woman.) Women ought to be dainty and demure, and that sure as hell doesn’t include having facial hair.

So what do we do about this? Bitch magazine had an article about this in their Spring, 2005 Masculinity issue. What struck me about the article was that women were embracing their facial hair. This is absolutely foreign to me. ME! The woman who hates gender constructs (though I willingly, and I’m sure, unwillingly, play into those constructs) was blown away. The same woman who tells her long-haired son, who is often mistaken for a girl, “So what?! Nothing wrong with being a girl or looking like one!” If I had a daughter, I would tell her the same thing if she “looked like a boy.” But I, a woman with facial hair, do everything in my power to pretend that it isn’t an issue.

Having side-tracked the Stop Her Before She Diets Again! thread to talk about this, I found out that many of you struggle with the same problem, and like me, find it very, very difficult to talk about. So, Shapelings, what is your experience with this elephant in the room –- or on our faces, to be more specific? Do you embrace and flaunt it, or do you pretend that it doesn’t exist while you secretly pluck, shave, or thread it away? How do you deal with people who notice? Do they comment on it? What methods of hair removal have you tried? And, more importantly to this Shapeling –- did it work and did it hurt [the most important question to this scaredy-cat (who has had two children with no drugs, one at home, and one preemie in the hospital, so why should she worry about a few plucky pangs — but — she — does!?!)]? I want to know how others feel, and want others to know that they are not alone or abnormal –- something I believed for years.

276 thoughts on “Guest Blogger LilahCello: Yes, I’ve got facial hair”

  1. The few hairs I’ve discovered on my face, actually my neck, since menopause have been plucked with little pain. Embrace them? I don’t think so.

    But being someone with little body hair has caused embarrassment. There is none under my arms. This caused shame in high school gym class. All my classmates had tufts in their pits. Me? Nothing. And during the critical period of a leg problem most of my pubic hair disappeared.

  2. Although facial hair doesn’t happen to be among the many undesirable physical traits I possess, I want to say that this is a great post and I can’t wait to hear what others have to share.

  3. Hey – I usually lurk, but I thought it was worth mentioning that I have experienced ZERO shame going to a salon to have my upper lip waxed. I usually get it done along with my eyebrows at an Indian salon near my house – $6 for both, even! Pretty much all the woman in my family get it done – being South Indian, facial hair is not exactly uncommon. My mom started taking me to get my eyebrows done when I was maybe 13, and the lady just asked ” upper lip too?” as if it was no big deal. And it’s really not. I’ve seen woman there doing their chins, foreheads, cheeks, chest, whatever.

    The pain factor is almost zero, like pulling off a couple of band-aids. It lasts a few weeks, and tends to grow in finer each time. This is why it’s considered a bad idea for ladies to shave facial hair, I believe – it grows back thicker and faster. (I don’t actually have proof, but I’ve been told so my whole life.)

    And yes, once in high school a boyfriend commented on it – ” I know you wax your lip right here, eh? Sometimes you’ve got these little hairs, and sometimes there aren’t any at all.” I believe I punched him in the arm and said “So?” Problem solved.

  4. I wax. Like LilahCello, my facial hair started with my upper lip, but, in college, I started having a serious amount on my chin. If I don’t wax on a fairly regular basis, I end up with a beard. Instead of using the wax designed for faces, I use the stuff designed for legs. I have not noticed any difference, and the leg stuff comes in a much larger container, and I’m less embarrassed to buy it. Waxing my chin really doesn’t hurt any more, but my upper lip, especially in the middle, hurts like crazy, every time.

    I would rather not worry about it, but all I can think about is this biology teacher I had in high school. She was a wonderful woman who I thought was great, but she had a dark, very noticeable mustache. This was a cause of great hilarity amongst the high school cretins, and that was when I learned a cruel lesson. It doesn’t matter if you’re brilliant and kind and good at what you do. If you have facial hair, no one will take you seriously. You won’t be Ms. X, the fabulous biology teacher; you’ll be Ms. X, the woman with the mustache.

    I honestly don’t know how true that is; high school cretins are, I have since learned, poor representatives of the population in general. There’s still that voice, though, that whispers in my ear that I’ll never succeed at anything unless I carefully remove all traces of hair from my chin and upper lip.

  5. I don’t have PCOS, but I’m half southern Italian. I have about 10 dark, coarse hairs that grow on my chin and neck, that I pluck with tweezers. I also have some dark hairs above the sides of my mouth. They’re not visible unless you’re very close to my face, so I just leave them. Judging from my aunts, this will become more of a problem (and, yeah, I don’t like my facial hair) when I hit menopause. I’l probably resort to bleach, wax, or laser hair removal when that happens.

    My husband knows about it. He’s blond, so I just told him “All dark haired, light skinned women have stray hairs that grow in odd places, that they usually pluck.” So, no biggy. I shape my eyebrows with tweezers a little, too. Just part of my standard grooming.

  6. Okay, so I am going to own up to the things I have tried for my facial hair. When I was a teenager, I tried Nair and it gave me a hideous rash. Now, I use a special “facial hair formula” of Nair for my upper lip, and it works, but it does absolutely nothing on my chin hairs, which I pluck and/or shave depending how patient I’m feeling. Also when I was a teenager, my grandmother took me to get waxed a few times (when I visited her), but that really made my skin break out, and I’ve been afraid to do it since. Same grandmother also gave me FOR CHRISTMAS an epilator set which included a facial hair attachment of some sort. This was actually one of my presents waiting for me under the tree, so I unwrapped it and my family was waiting to see what was in the shiny box and I was completely humiliated. Merry Christmas: you’re hairy! I did use it for a while, and while it worked decently, it hurt like fuck and I wasn’t terribly sorry when it broke. I’ve also been prescribed pills by doctors that are supposed to have diminished hair growth as a side effect, but they never worked for me.

    I actually have paranoid fantasies about being in a coma or otherwise hospitalized and unable to deal with my facial hair. In my mind, people stop visiting me, my partner won’t look at me, and nurses laugh at me when they think I can’t hear.

    Yeah. This is my one completely undeconstructed capitulation to the beauty ideal. I can understand where my shame comes from intellectually, but so far nothing I have done has allowed me to stop feeling that shame. Thanks, LilahCello, for being so open — it’s inspiring.

  7. I shave my chin/neck every other day, but as I age I often have to shave every day if I want to feel ‘professional’ and as well groomed as possible. I don’t have PCOS, and I am an out and proud gender queer, so it isn’t something that bothers me a whole lot, even as I relate to so much of what you wrote.

    It isn’t something that I’ve had people comment on unless I bring it up first, and the only thing about it that bugs me is the fact that the hair grows back so fast when I shave.

    I will say that as I age it seems as if something else pops up every time I think I’ve mastered some part of my bodily self acceptance. Right now, the things that irk me have to do with other aspects of hair, and how I’m thinning at my temples and growing more hair in my nose (ugh!).

    I think its crucila for us to recognize the power of these issues, and thanks for bringing this up, LilahCello.

  8. I forgot to add that when my grandmother took me to get waxed, she didn’t tell me where we were going. Like, she refused to say; we were just out on the town and going to various shops and then she was like, “Oh, we’ll stop in here” as if it was completely unplanned. It was like it was too shameful to acknowledge what was happening.

  9. Oh, and I’m very open with my husband about my facial hair problem. He has even offered to help me wax (it can be hard to make sure I’ve gotten everything), but I haven’t taken him up on it. I’m probably less hesitant to discuss it with people, however, because my college roommate, who was Indian-American and had a lot of facial hair, taught me how to wax, so I was already used to talking about it with people I’m close to.

  10. Oh boy – this is a big one for me. I have facial hair on my chin and neck, some strays on my cheeks and some in the sideburn area (from in front of my ears all the way down to spread across my jawline).

    Mostly I pluck. Even my mustache. I used to bleach, which requires some alone time that it sounds like you don’t have. The bleach was great though because I have black hair and freakishly white skin and the bleach makes the hairs disappear without the redness and occassional blemish (in-grown hair) that plucking and shaving can bring. The only negative is that those facial hairs can get pretty wiry, and I don’t want anyone feeling them on my face during a romantic, touch-my-face time.

    I did laser off all the hair at one point. It cost $650 dollars (a pretty good deal – the place had a buy three get two free deal going and I had a $100 coupon, so full price would have been $1250). It was NOT permanent, but it was very very good. I was hair-free for about 3 years. Now I’m saving to do it again.

    As for pain – the laser is attracted to pigment, so if your hair is very dark (mine is) then it will barely hurt on the spots where you have a hair or two and hurt like hell on the spots where you have more hairs. The laser thingy is about 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inches and they move it from one spot on your face to the spot right next to it in a very precise way, zapping every inch.

    They sell numbing cream – buy it, use it. If the zapping makes you alarmingly red (it did me) they will insist that you sit there with ice packs on your face before they let you leave. But you will have to tell your husband because you’ll be red for a few hours. And you can’t wear make-up for a few hours so be sure to make your appointment in the evening.

    You’ll need 3-5 sessions and they’ll try to schedule them 2 weeks apart. That’s okay for the first 3, but then vary the time. The hair is only zapped in one growing phase (I forget if it’s when the hair is actively growing or resting, but you want to vary the timing so that you get them all). After the three sessions, you’ll think it’s all gone so wait three or four weeks or even longer, until you notice the hair, before you go back.

    Thanks for talking about this. Good luck.

  11. Lilah — your husband could (like mine did) complain to you about the hair. I’ve got it on chin, upper lip and neck. I used to shave it twice a day, because the DH complained that I was “prickly” at night.

    I spent a year having electrolysis every week on the chin/neck hair. She never tried the upper lip, because every time she’d get even CLOSE to it, I’d twinge because it hurt (and I’m also pretty tough when it comes to pain). Eventually my skin got very irritated and it cost a lot, so I stopped going.

    My husband says he notices the hair less since the electrolysis, but I still shave those areas every morning (at least it’s only once a day now). I can’t say I’m thrilled with the results of the electrolysis process. I get stray hairs on my cheeks, which I pluck.

    I once had a prescription for Vaniqa, but I don’t remember that working very well. And, FWIW, I was tested for PCOS — mostly due to my discomfort with the hair (my arms are really hairy, too)– but I don’t have it, so that’s not the cause. Just “luck” of the gene pool, I guess; apparently, my sister got all the tall, thin, blue-eyed, minimal facial hair genes there were ;)

    I’ve thought about going the laser route, but I keep remembering this woman I saw on some “news magazine” show who ended up with a red patch around her lips from her nose down to her chin (which bore an unfortunate resemblance to Homer Simpson’s coloring). I’ve got enough issues with my looks (which I’d describe as “average” .. maybe “cute” on a really good day … but certainly not “pretty”) that I’m hesitant to take the risk of ending up with red scarring around my mouth.

    One last thing, and then I’ll stop. I’ll never forget the day I asked my then-doctor for the Vaniqa prescription. Because I felt totally ridiculous that the fact that I had hair growing on my face bothered me more, made me feel less feminine and was generally a bigger problem for my self-image than the fact that I weighed 300 pounds. I didn’t really mind being fat, but I sure as hell hated that hairy chin! And the same is still true today.

    Hope this helps.

  12. I forgot to add that when my grandmother took me to get waxed, she didn’t tell me where we were going.

    We’re just going for a ride in the car! You like that, huh? You like a ride in the car?

    I’m surprised she didn’t drop you off at the vet.

    No disrespect to your grandma.

    Anyway, as I mentioned in the other thread, I have kind of a weird relationship with facial hair because I have it (PCOS), but I’m (originally) blonde and could probably ignore it, but I can’t ignore it because I also have a touch of trichitillomania. Being assiduous with the tweezers (I have a pair at home, a pair in the car, and a pair in my purse) mostly keeps me from pulling out the hair on my head, so while I haven’t exactly made peace with my antifeminist facial hair shame, it’s at least serving a purpose for me. I have never forgotten the utter shame and revulsion of finding a hair on my neck for the first time (I know exactly where and when it happened), but at the same time, I’d feel a little bereft if it went away and I was left without my plucking rituals.


    Thanks for coming out about this, LilahCello. When these things come up it always leaves me wondering whether there are any women who don’t have some facial hair.

  13. Great post.
    I have what I consider to be a normal amount of facial hair for a gal of Italian and eastern European descent, that is, a moderately impressive amount to the rest of the world. ;) Pale skin and lots of dark hair, woohoo. These days I bleach my moustache and the hair on the sides of my face, wax my eyebrows, and pluck the few chin hairs I have.

    My facial hair is just kind of matter-of-fact to me now, but when I was younger it really bothered me. When laser hair removal first became popular, I was in high school, and my mom let me get it on said moustache and sides of face. I was supposedly the perfect candidate; it hurt like hell and totally didn’t work. Has anyone tried it more recently and more successfully? Not that I really want to do it again!

  14. My problem isn’t facial hair, but nipple hair. Being a very pale white girl with dark brown hair, it’s really noticeable. When not in a relationship, I tend to pluck the hairs about once a month, When in a relationship (rare occurrence), I pluck them whenever I think the other person might be seeing my breasts. Though I guess I’d get more lax in a long term relationship.

    I don’t care about my unshaved legs, hairy pits, or bushy pubes, but the nipple hair bothers me. It bothered me more when it first started coming in, but I have become more accepting of it (just not in front of other people). It helped me to know that I wasn’t alone in having hairy nipples. That I’m not weird or wrong or less female because of it.

  15. I have facial hair. Not only is it my chin, its also my jawline and down my neck. I also have hair on my upper lip but that is a different matter.

    My eyebrows, eyelashes, leg and arm hair are all the same white or damn near clear color as is the hair on my upper lip.

    The hair that grows on my chin, my neck and up both jaw lines though is bright flippin’ red orange. It is very very noticeable. So I shave ever or every other day. I have tried a home waxing kit, but crap it hurt. ( which personally is humorous to me, I have a very high pain tolerance, extremely high – except when trying to wax or pluck chin hairs) and the Nair products burn my skin – no matter how sensitive the formula is touted to be-
    This was just another issue in a long laundry list of things wrong with me that my mom held as reasons why adopting me as a mistake.
    It took me a long time to get over it, and actually it was my sig. other who helped me learn to deal with it.
    I am still self conscious, but when people ask me or make comments I can now blow them off or discuss it honestly with feelings of embarrassment and shame.

  16. I forgot to add that when my grandmother took me to get waxed, she didn’t tell me where we were going.

    We’re just going for a ride in the car! You like that, huh? You like a ride in the car?

    I’m surprised she didn’t drop you off at the vet.

    No disrespect to your grandma.

    This was already hilarious, but I think it’s greatly improved if you imagine Jon Stewart saying that last line in the Brooklyn accent he sometimes uses.

  17. This is really weird because I was writing a post in my head last night about the dark hairs I found on my chin recently.

    Now, to back up, I am part Italian, etc. but my body hair is generally very light and fine. So finding DARK hair on my chin was a little startling, especially because I don’t know how long they’d been there before I found them.

    Anyway, I noticed them after purchasing a magnifying mirror to use while tweezing my eyebrows. The light caught my chin just so and BAM! There were four or five dark, CURLY hairs growing! Ack. The one super long, curly hair growing directly out of the middle of my chin was alarming.

    My sister got a kick out of this story because she has darker hair and has had some kind of facial hair probably since puberty. I didn’t think it’d happen to me but it did and that’s fine. That’s what tweezers are for.

    It was more surprising than traumatizing to find them. I just wasn’t expecting it.

  18. My most humiliating body hair story is that in the first year of my relationship with my current partner, we were traveling to Chicago for a rock show and I was wearing a low-cut tank. We were in the car and he reached over to brush off what he thought was an eyelash that had fallen into my cleavage. When he realized it was attached, it was one of those movie moments where everything goes quiet and time slows. He was embarrassed which embarrassed me and – queue cycle – go. It was an awkward ten minutes with me apologizing and him being like “don’t worry about it” and eventually me just plucking it off and us enjoying the show upon arrival. Before that, I guess I never even realized I had sprigs of hair in odd spots. I tweeze that one now, checking for its re-growth maybe once a week.

    I nair my blonde mustache. I used not to, but I overheard someone say, “Even if it’s light, it’s STILL a mustache,” to her friend on the bus. I guess I don’t think it’s such a big deal. We remove the hair from our legs and pits and bikini lines, so what if we have to remove some from our faces too! I know that’s an oversimplification and it’s harder to feel that way than to say to ourselves that we should feel that way. But that helps me put things into perspective when I feel odd about buying the facial nair at the drugstore.

  19. I meant to add that I have been diagnosed with PCOS, but the Dr. Wouldn’t completely attribute the hair to that, he said it could also just be my genetics though and opening adoption records and finding parental medical histories would help find out. Which means this is just one more thing on the list of questions I have for my birth mom if I ever find her or my birth dad.

  20. feministing had a post about this a few weeks back, highlighting a Marie Claire article that claimed shaving off facial hair was “psychologically confusing” for women. There are some really great comments up there, and I highly suggest people go read that thread too.

    sorry I’m kinda hopeless with html stuff, but here’s the URL


  21. I have nipple hair, too. I pluck it, but I’ve been getting lax about it lately, and my husband hasn’t said anything yet… I remember when I found out I wasn’t the only person in the whole world with it, and it was really comforting.

  22. (I apparently have a lot to say on this subject; I’ll stop, I promise.)

    How do you deal with people who notice? Do they comment on it?

    I remember one day I was chatting with a woman I worked with, and she was talking about waxing her upper lip, and I mentioned that I had to wax pretty much my entire lower face. She told me that she never would have known, and that I must do a good job, because she had never noticed.I was obscenely proud, until I reflected for a moment on how sad that was. I mean, I’m a pretty cool woman who has done lots of interesting stuff, and I was about to burst with pride because someone had complemented my ability to painfully rip hairs from my face. WTF?

  23. I have very light brown hair on my upper lip. I refuse to get it waxed because it is barely noticeable. My boyfriend pointed it out once and I pointed out that he is going bald. All is well.

    I’m actually not allowed to keep tweezers in easy to reach places. I tend to pluck my eyebrows into oblivion. It’s kindof obsessive. I did it in college, but then I got depressed and quit taking care of myself at all. I was quite surprised at how much eyebrow I had been removing. I thought I could handle it now, but I was wrong. I cannot be trusted with my eyebrows so I take them to women who are trained to do this sort of thing.

  24. DAMMIT – mods, please ignore the last comment – I posted under the wrong name (fatthink)…

    I totally left out the hair-on-my-neck part. Of course, I have an almost non-existent neck, but there is lots of hair there. Sometimes I think that if I didn’t have a double chin, I could just let that part be. I just can’t figure it out – I have oodles of hair on my face, but, like someone else said, have very little pubic hair. That bothers me almost as much as the facial hair – go figure. The hair on my arms is almost translucent. My leg hair is fairly light, my eyelashes and brows are light-ish, but my chin/neck hair – dark as night. Fun, fun, fun.

    I, too, am interested in people who have had recent experience with laser hair removal. I am so paranoid about doing anything to my face since it is so sensitive, not to mention the rosacea and acne.

  25. I don’t have noticeable facial hair, just the normal fuzz we all have; but like JR, I have nipple hairs. They are dark and get two to three inches long sometimes. It doesn’t bother me, but I did get very upset when one boyfriend insisted that I pluck them. I recovered fairly quickly and got quite angry at him then. His excuse was that they’d get caught in his teeth. Now, he was much more hairy than I, and *he* didn’t shave/pluck so where did he get off on insisting that I do so! My DH doesn’t seem to care about it, neither of us have ever brought it up. It’s not a public place, so I don’t worry about strangers, I think that makes it easier than facial hair.

  26. I just had the following conversation with Sweet Machine, building on a point about how we all think we’re the only ones but actually most of us have facial hair because women are mammals:

    FJ: With how much some of our other mammalian characteristics are fetishized, I’m surprised facial hair isn’t desirable on women.
    SM: Right? Huge tits and hips and a fine moustache! That I could get behind.

  27. I stopped shaving my legs and pits in freshmen year of college. At University of Oregon. In Eugene. Which meant I actually was blending into the crowd, rather than the reverse. I’m blond, but I’m hairy–like, my arms have super-thick hair, so thick that even though it’s blond, it’s obvious, and my pits just GLINT like two Brillo pads made of 24-karat gold. (Bling!)

    But when I turned 23-24, my PCOS hit full bloom and I began growing a beard. At the time I was already gainfully employed in a university library setting, so really, they didn’t give a shit. And I was busily embracing my right-on dyke feminism, which meant, hey, this is what my body wants to do, and I’m not gonna mess with it. What that meant is I also put off for years a consult with a physician about the missing periods (seriously. No period for 5 years? That’s a problem), because if my body doesn’t want to bleed, then why should I make it?

    Anyway, when my partner and I were getting ready to move to a new area, and I knew I would have to look for work, that’s when I added a huge helping of pragmatism to my politics of body hair. I didn’t want to be skipped over for a job that I wanted because of the busy blond beard that was off-putting to everyone outside of my library world and/or certain areas of San Francisco. Gah. So I shaved. I got the job, too.

    I tried to keep the shaving business a secret from my hubby-to-be, but he figured it out about three months into dating me.

    These days I shave about every third day. I’d laser ’em out if I had the money, but until then, shave. The stubble bothers me on the evening of the second day, but then I stroke it, and I remember what it was like to have a silky little beard. It was kinda cool.

  28. I have a hairy chest–a strip of hair that’s similar to leg hair, that goes from slightly under my collarbone to the band of my bra, between my boobs. I tweezer them when I have time and remember to, but there are always some that I miss, or I’ll go for a long time without doing anything about them and the area will get hairier and hairier. I have an even harder time finding cute tops to wear–not only are my breasts smaller than most plus-size manufacturers seem to think they should be, but any kind of v-neck or cleavage is problematic unless I’ve just recently tweezed. This is probably the feature of my body that I love the least… maybe someday I can get something permanent done for it, but it will be a struggle until then.

  29. OK this probably sounds uber-gimmicky, but not too long ago there was a story about drinking spearmint tea to temporarily get rid of facial hair. I gave it a shot (two cups a day) and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work. I’m very pale and have dark hair (no PCOS) but I was plucking four or five chin/neck hairs every other day. After a week or so of drinking the tea I noticed about a week or so went by before I had to pluck anything. Of course the hair came back when I stopped drinking the tea. Twas an interesting ex *spearmint* har har …

  30. I definitely got the dark body hair too, including nipple hair…I used to bleach my arms, but that was just too much of a mess. The best, though, is that my ass is really, really fuzzy. It’s embarrassing if anyone has occasion to see it, but I leave it alone, as I can’t imagine a good outcome to any of the various hair removal methods in that area!

  31. I have a few stray hairs on my chin and on a mole to the side of my chin. Well, I call them chin whiskers since they’re stiff and dark. Just like my eyebrows, I pluck them with tweezers when they come in, which is on some mysterious and indeterminable schedule.

    My problem is not that I get chin whiskers — I can cope with the occasional plucking, especially since they’re not really noticeable to anyone but me. It’s that I can be a little obsessive about them. If I can feel the tiniest bit of whisker breaking through the surface of my skin, I go at it with my tweezers, trying to get that thing out of there. (I keep tweezers at home, in my desk at work and in my purse when travelling.)

    Sometimes I create a sore by digging around too much. And the worst part is I still haven’t plucked out the offending whisker. So then I have to wait two days for the swelling to go down and the whisker to grow an extra .016 of an inch so I really can pluck it. And I have created a tiny wound on my chin. Even better than a whisker, eh?


  32. Oh, to have this topic on a day that I can’t write a lengthy reply. I have PCOS and started growing a beard as a teenager. I spent 45 minutes EVERY DAY when I was in college standing in front of a mirror plucking it out. Eventually I went to an electrologist. And then I realized I could be an electrologist, and I got licensed and ran a business doing permanent hair removal for years.

    In skimming here, I’ve seen a lot of misinformation about shaving and lasers and permanent removal. I’m an expert and I’d like to clear that up…but I don’t have time right now. I will come back later today to talk about it if somebody doesn’t beat me to it.

  33. I have a female friend with really beautiful blond facial hair. I know that sounds totally strange, but it’s true; she’s got enough blond hair on her face to be obvious, and she’s deeply sexy in a totally non-standard way. Lots of fans.

    Anyway. That changed me a bit, meeting her. I have a lot of fuzz myself – but it’s dark and looks especially dark over my lip. It looks a little like dirt.

    I used to tweeze but moved to bleach when a film friend, a makeup artist, suggested that since we have hair all over our faces anyway that balding one part of your face changes your skin texture. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with hair.

  34. I’m a dark-haired, medium-complected white girl with dark, dark body hair (seriously, my hair is medium brown, and I’ve got the same leg-hair color as people with much darker hair). I didn’t realize that was a problem until I found out that I’d have to shave my legs about every other day in order to have ‘nice’ legs. Well, other than a brief stint in gym classes, I said ‘screw that’. My arm hair was more plentiful when I was younger (or maybe I just care a lot less now), so I ignore it, although I know a lot of women with a lot less arm hair than me who shave or bleach it.

    However, I have probably ten really dark hairs on the outsides of my chin and I pluck them religiously. I know ten isn’t a huge number, but if I knew that electrolysis or lasering would work permanently, I’d definitely shell out to have it done.

    Anti-feminist? I guess. I wish I had the grace to accept such changes as I did the other ones (“I gained 20 lbs . . . hey, I have a rack now!”) but there’s only so much society I can give up at once, y’know?

  35. Thankfully I don’t struggle much personally with this issue, but I just wanted to share something with those of you who do. I’ve had a partner who could completely identify with you, and I know she has struggled with insecurities. I just want to say that there has never been a moment I didn’t love touching her, and that she is radiant, breathtakingly beautiful – and utterly feminine.

  36. I also shave my face and neck (basically, a full beard) every day (arms and upper chest / neckline too) and need to apply thick facial makeup to hide the ‘shadow’ and the redness/nicks from the blade.
    I’m saving up for laser and/or electrolysis (not easy as a student), so I’m also interested in others’ experiences. I’ve been doing this shaving + makeup thing everyday for about 15 years now, but I just CAN’T anymore. I can’t continue to live like this, and spend so much time and money on shaving and supplies. (And I fear what would happen if I meet someone and decide to get married someday — I can’t be waking up with a beard of stubble everyday.)
    If I didn’t have such obvious breasts, I would seriously consider living as a (gay) transman, just to make this easier.

  37. I don’t have any facial hair (disclaimer: that I am aware of!) but I do have a very long, white hair that grows on my chest. It’s seriously weird, I’ve never seen anything like it before, except on the chests of very old men.

    I never would have known it was there expect my future husband noticed it one day, and the teasing I endured from him will never fade from memory. He was amused, I was humiliated. And I couldn’t even tell you specifically why.

    Now, it’s just…there. I make jokes about how drinking coffee when I was a child put hair on my chest just like my grandfather always said it would. And I pluck it whenever I see it coming back, but it’s almost impossible to see on my own unless it’s really long.

  38. My upper lip got hairy in high school and the chin/neck hairs started in college. It was a huge source of shame and embrassment. The worst part was that I felt like the only person in the world with this problem. When my mom found out I was shaving (in college) (faster than plucking and bleaching left dark hair under the skin visible aganist my pale compexion), she pitched a fit because she once knew someone who did that and messed up her skin and had to get a chemical peel. A few months later, she said that I probably inherited it from her side of the family, but that the closest she ever came to saying it was her (which I later came to suspect). I still haven’t forgiven her for abandoning me that way.

    After college, I got electrolysis on my chin which hurt, but not much. I think I had her take care of some chest hairs too (or maybe she just waxed those–I had a medication-induced burst of hair on my cheeks and chest and I think waxing once brought that under control).

    It hurt to much to have electrolysis on my upper lip, but those hairs aren’t too dark anyway. I wax those periodically and pluck the few chin hairs that still crop up. I am a much happier person having gotten the situation under control.

    My I started dating my husband, I told him about it when he touched my chin and I pulled back. I also told him that it was his job to tell me if he notices a hair that I might’ve missed so I can deal with it.

    As for comas–we all should find someone to make a Sunny von Bulow pact with. If one person falls into a coma, the other visits twice a week to tame the facial hair.

  39. I have had bad chin hair since high school, I’m in my mid 20s now, and I used to shave every other day. I’m currently undergoing electrolysis, but it’s a painful and long process and my skin looks awful because of the constant stress. On the other hand electrolysis is permanent, where laser treatments are not. If I can get rid of the hair forever in another year of weekly treatments it’s all worth it! I love the idea of a guy touching my face, but hate the thought that there are prickly hairs. I hate touching my own face.

    Eastern European and Asian descent can be killer in the chin hair department.

  40. I’ve had facial hair since late teen-hood. My sister has as well, as do most of my cousins (huge Irish family, dozens of cousins). The funny thing? None of our mothers do, so they’ve freaked out about it all along. My mother will take one look at me and ask if she can run to the drugstore to pick up nair or whatever for me to do something about my mustache. I’m lucky in that I’m quite blonde and the stache is too – most of the time, I just ignore it and don’t even notice the fuzz. However, for a few years now, I’ve had growth on my neck, under my chin, and these are not the light blonde fuzzy hairs, these are the darkest, longest hairs I have on my body.

    I hate them. I hate them to the point that I either get them waxed or wax them myself every 3 weeks (plucking as needed in between) despite the fact that waxing makes my sensitive skin react so badly that I need to spend a couple of hours with an ice pack strapped under my jaw.

    I’m (almost fully) ok with saying I’m fat in public, I’m down with not conforming to any beauty ideals but what I’ve defined as my own happy ideal (basically, whatever I’m at is where I’m s’posed to be), and I cannot get past the hate I have for my chin hairs.

  41. Ehh I’m lucky, I only get the long wirey ones on my chin. I pluck. I have new ones every day, but the rest of my facial hair is a soft, white blonde peach fuzz. If it were dark though I’d look pretty hairy.

    I also get long hairs on my breasts… their annoying and I pluck those too. I figure by time I hit 30-40 I’m going to have to wax or get lazor done because the older I get the more I have.

    It’s stupid and I shouldn’t care but I do. =\

  42. I actually have paranoid fantasies about being in a coma or otherwise hospitalized and unable to deal with my facial hair. In my mind, people stop visiting me, my partner won’t look at me, and nurses laugh at me when they think I can’t hear.

    This is my ongoing nightmare. I have PCOS, shave every day and also keep tweezers and a razor at home/work/car.

    It used to cause me so much shame I could barely look people in the face. Today, still shame but not nearly as much. I don’t talk about it and I just keep it exceptionally well hidden – which is what I do with a lot of my life.

  43. I’m a pretty hairless person. My racial background is Korean, some Generic Western European Mutt, and a smidge of Native American, which has conspired to leave me relatively unhairy. I don’t shave my legs, so the hairs are pretty fine and unnoticeable, the hair on my arms bleaches nicely from the sun, and so forth.

    On the other hand, I also have a little cluster of hairs that grow right around my belly button. It weirds me out, because it’s not like a line of hairs, trailing away into my knickers; it’s just fifteen or so dark brown hairs, chillaxing on my abdomen.

    I also have a single hairy mole on my leg, which delights me to no end. It’s like a witch’s wart got lost! It’s so cute!

  44. Well, two things. I have an imaginary moustache. Seriously, I don’t know if it’s a sign of body dysmorphia or what but I really do see a dark moustache when I look in the mirror. However, I have it easy because everyone I know including a person I went to to have it waxed has insisted that there is nothing there. It used to be a source of embarrassment but at this point I’ve mellowed out to the point that people can joke with me about it including one friend who, when we were messing around in class and decided to doodle pictures of each other, drew me as a Picasso-esque (I also believe my face to be slightly crooked) smiley-face with a Groucho Marx moustache. It’s probably not easy to joke about something when it’s real and not your own acknowledged neuroses but on bad days it’s still real to me.

    My nipple hair though is quite real and even though I love my husband I didn’t tell him about it until after we’d been married over a year and I had some and couldn’t find my tweezers. So I was laying in bed just looking at it when he came in and asked what I was doing and there was this long back and forth of denial until I finally broke and told him about the hair. After my confession, I was noticeably embarrassed. He tried for a long time to calmly explain that he didn’t care and I shouldn’t be embarrassed but when I refused to be persuaded (possible TMI coming) he reached over, held me down and plucked one of the hairs out with his teeth. Next, he looked in my eyes and said “I. DO. NOT. CARE.” One of the best moments of my life, ever and I echo the sentiments of others that it is sad that we can live these great lives and body hair or lack thereof moments can affect us so much.

  45. About 20 years ago, I went to a doctor to try to figure out why my periods were so irregular and if there was something wrong with me. I walked into the doctor’s office and he audibly – I’m not making this up – gasped. He immediately said, “Has anyone ever tested you for PCOS? You’re rather… hursuit.”

    Because I wasn’t self-conscious enough. Thanks.

    LilahCello, you are my new hero. Thank you for talking about this. I haven’t hidden it from my husband – we have taken showers together and it’s difficult to miss me shaving my face every day – but I am extremely conscious of my facial hair. If I miss a spot and notice it at work, I will go buy a disposable razor so I can resolve the problem. I also shave my arms every couple of days (Thanks, Doc!) so that people never get to see my braidable arm hair.

    I’m so much more confident saying “I’m fat an proud” than “I’m hairy and….” not proud. Mostly mortified. Funny, that.

  46. Personally, I’m a big fan of my moustache. It makes me look distinguished. I was hoping it would grow out more so I could turn it into a fantastic handlebar confection.

  47. This is something I’ve been struggling with, lately. I’ve been a very pale, very hairy woman since puberty or before. Once upon a time I used to shave and bleach my arm hair, which has always been dark and plenty, but I grew it all back in high school and ever since have been trying not to let it bother me.
    Part of the reason is this: I have dark hairs that grow out of my toes, on the tops of my feet, on the backs of my hands, my FINGERS, my upper lip, my chin, my nipples. My hair removal routine is a pretty much constant thing and I would be lying to myself if I believed that my partner never noticed the occasional stray hair that I miss.

  48. Oh, I was going to say: the reason that I’ve been struggling with this especially lately is because I live with my partner, now, and I don’t know! Do I have to “come out of the closet”? Should I just spend every spare minute removing unsightly hairs?

  49. LilahCello,
    I’d be willing to bet that your husband knows. I have a hard time imagining a relationship lasting that long, through two kids, without him knowing about your facial hair. Good luck with your ongoing struggle to manage it.

  50. I have hair on my upper lip. Enough that I have a bit of a mustache when I let it grow in completely. I used to wax, and I used to find it so embarassing. I would make up stories about where I was to my boyfriend because I didn’t want him to know. One day I didn’t know what else to tell him so I just said: “I’m getting my upper lip waxed, I have a bit of a mustache” and he said: “Yeah, I noticed” in a totally non-judgemental way. Then I started getting more into feminism, and reading about beauty rituals being harmful to women and you know, I still like my makeup but I realised waxing was harmful to me – it hurts like a motherfucker, it costs money, it’s time consuming, and it reinforces the idea there’s something wrong with my face as is. So I stopped doing it, but I do still pluck a little. What I noticed with the hair on my upper lip is I have a lot of blonde fuzz, and a moderate amount of thick dark hairs. If I pluck out some or most of the thick dark hairs, the mustache is less noticeable. That’s my compromise until I get to the point where I feel comfortable just living with it.

    One of the things that’s helped me come partially to term with my facial hair is realising how many women have it. (Reading the Feministing thread someone linked to above helped with that). I always thought it was the case that women naturally had no facial hair and I was a freak for having some, but that’s not the case at all. Most women naturally have some facial hair, and many women have substantial amounts. Having no facial hair is just another way in which we’re supposed to all look like tall thin blonde northern european women, and it’s bullshit.

    Finally, for anyone considering laser hair removal, keep in mind that they tell you it’s permanent but it’s not. Everyone I know who had it had their hair grow back within a few years. Also, if they tell you not to tan, make sure you don’t. My sister accidentally got a bit of a tan before coming in and she ended up quite badly burnt because of it.

  51. I actually have paranoid fantasies about being in a coma or otherwise hospitalized and unable to deal with my facial hair. In my mind, people stop visiting me, my partner won’t look at me, and nurses laugh at me when they think I can’t hear.

    Did you see that postcard on PostSecret a while back that said something like, “I made my husband promise that if I ever fall into a coma he would shave off all my hair” and a picture of a sleeping woman with all sort of hair drawn on in the places we’re “not supposed” to get it? It was followed by a bunch of e-mails of women either confessing to having their husbands make the same deal, or other beauty deals, like keeping their roots dyed and so on should they ever fall into a coma. It was super revealing.

    I get a bit hairy, but I’ve never had much of a problem with it. I have tiny-barely-there mustache, but the thing that gets me the most self-conscious is armpit hair. I just feel like whatever I do, it’s never invisible enough, and whether I wear certain shirts is often dependent on the likelihood that someone will see my armpits and how recently and thoroughly I feel they have been shaved. I trying to get over that. Especially because when I watch TV it always occurs to me that even the most shaven women seem to have kind of dark armpits, and that’s probably just how armpits are, but it still worries me all the time.

    As far as other parts, in general (especially with legs) I hate shaving, but love the just-shaved feeling. And so will shave more out of not wanting to feel itchy that any visual aesthetics. I used to only shave my little mustache (which is kind of noticeable, but only if you look too long) when I felt it was really bad (after it had been growing for a while), but that was when I used lathered soap instead of shaving cream. When I started using shaving cream (on the influence of my sister), I found myself shaving anywhere that might get “unwanted” hair just because I kind of love playing with the shaving cream. I revert to being about seven years old every time, and am like “Where else can I put it???” I even shave the tops of my toes (which grow some dark toe-hairs) because it’s somewhere else to play with the shaving cream.

    *is probably more embarrassed by tendency towards shaving cream games than hair*

    I am pretty hairy though, getting it all from my dad. My mom isn’t hairy AT ALL. She doesn’t even have to shave her legs. Because SHE DOESN’T GROW HAIR ON HER LEGS. Which just plain Isn’t Fair. Whenever I point out how Not Fair this is, she tries to say that, yeah, but her lack of hair gives her a small bald spot, and I’m always like “I would totally take a bald spot if I never had to shave again”, and the thing is, she knows I’m not lying. I think we would switch places any day. She wants my ridiculously thick and curly (and unwieldy) hair, and I want to never worry about hair on my legs or armpits.

    My sister is hairy like my dad, too. The only child of five who inherited my mother’s complete-lack-of-hair was my BROTHER, who barely grows any leg hair at all, especially for a guy, same thing for armpit hair, has thin hair on his head and not one trace of chest hair or any hair anywhere else. He barely even has to shave his face (which was probably a source of masculinity issues during puberty, being entirely unable to grow a proper mustache or beard, instead just getting a light sprinkling on his chin and small single file line of hair on his upper lip, which is completely useless in beard growing).

    Which is just proof that genetics are totally unfair. On purpose, probably.

  52. this pregnancy has brought about a patch on my chin that annoys the hell out of me. I don’t embrace it but I don’t hide it either. I pluck it out ASAP and bitch about it my friends.

    I wax my lip because I have dark hair that isn’t normally a problem but when the thicker, lucious hair of pregnancy happens to me it happens everywhere I normally get hair.

    My eyebrows are growing at an alarming rate. My slight lip hair is way more than slight. My chin thinks its needs a slightly askew soul patch. And my pubic hair, well I can’t reach it so my husband has to help me keep things trimmed there (its too damn hot in the summer for pubes so long they can be braided).

  53. Hey- I’m sorry to comment AGAIN and kinda sidetrack, but people keep mentioning PCOS- if someone didn’t have a period for three months and was not pregnant, would that possibly be a sign of PCOS?

  54. I grow a better full-face black beard than most teenage boys. Plus, I have several large moles on my face.

    Waxing hurts and costs money. Plucking takes forever and also hurts.

    So I shave my face every morning.

    But I don’t shave my legs unless it’s a blue moon out and I’m wearing a dress.

    It’s how I roll.

  55. I have a single hair on my chin that I actually sort of delight in. I kind of wish I had more, so it wasn’t alone.

  56. I have a few cheek and chin hairs, but most of my “extra” hair is on my neck, chest, and breasts. (Not so much on the nipples as on the whole boobular area.) I don’t have PCOS. My neck hair started when I was about 17, and my mom made me feel SO self-conscious about it (as she did, and still does, about my weight). Sometimes I shave, but usually I pluck. One of these days I’m going to save up for lasering/electrolysis/whatever.

    The boob hair I’m less self-conscious about, for whatever reason, even though there’s a lot of it and it’s long. Probably because it’s less public — my husband is the only one who ever sees it. I did shave it a little bit for my wedding, because my strapless dress would have revealed a little of the hair.

    And thanks, LilahCello, for this post. It’s so nice to hear from you and the other Shapelings that I’m not alone!

  57. This thread is awesome; I love reading all these stories. But it’s also making me pretty fucking sad hearing the tortured antics we go through to try to appear “feminine.”

    I’m not a particularly hairy person, but I do have some fine, dark hairs on my upper lip. I shave them whenever I feel like they’re particularly noticeable–probably once every ten days or so. One time my boyfriend came into the bathroom when I was doing it in front of the mirror–he was like “whoa, what are you doing?” “Shaving.” “I can see that.” It’s not like he hadn’t noticed my upper lip, and he even knows that I shave it. But it was like the very sight of me doing it was a surprise, since it’s such a “male” activity. For the record, he doesn’t give a shit. But it was still a funny moment.

    I’m pretty lax about my shaving–probably do my legs every couple weeks, my armpits once a week, and trim my pubes and pluck my eyebrows every now and then–maybe twice a month. I thought I didn’t have huge body hair issues. But then! As an experiment, I decided to stop managing my body hair in any way. At first, it was kinda cool. Then after about six weeks, I started to feel bad. Like, really unsexy. It was like no matter what I did, I couldn’t feel sexy with my unkempt eyebrows, faint mustache, underarm hair and bush. One day, before going out to a baseball game, I almost started to cry I felt so bad. Then I did it all–eyebrows, pubes, legs, armpits, and mustache.

    I left the house feeling relieved and pretty like a million bucks.

    And this is me, someone who doesn’t have that much body hair to begin with, and whose boyfriend has explicitly told me multiple times that he doesn’t give a shit about any of those grooming habits. Even during my brief hairy period, he noticed, but was like “you know, I can tell you’ve stopped plucking your eyebrows, but I think it looks cute and you basically look exactly the same.”

    Anyway, all this is to say that man, body hair issues are fucked up, yo.

  58. I have some course dark hairs on my upper lip, which are easy to shave off and they don’t really bother me so much.

    However, I have the same course, thick dark hairs growing under my double chin and down my throat and they are difficult to deal with! I’ve tried plucking and waxing, but the hairs become horribly ingrown due to my chin waddle. I’ve heard laser is NOT permanent, just semi-long lasting. I’ve been told electrolysis is the only true permanent removal method, but it takes a very long time and repeat procedures. Has anyone had success with electrolysis?

  59. My sister was in the hospital and I did go to help her with the chin hair. She wasn’t in a coma, just unable to get the mirror/ tweezers combo to work in the light she had in her room. It reminded me of MY nightmare which evidently is also the same as Sweet Machine’s.

    I’ve had lots of facial hair all my life. When I was in high school I could see the bus coming from far off and so could stay inside to wait. What did I do while waiting? Plucked. I practically had a uni-brow when young and also had upper lip hair, nipple hair, and ridiculous amounts of hair on my arms and legs.

    I am peri-menopausal (thought I was joking about my age?) and it has gotten steadily worse. I now have chin hair and the hairs that grow in there and scattered through the hair on my lip are wire-like. I mean seriously wirelike, they’re about three times the thickness of the hair that was there before. The upside to that is it is enormously satisfying to pluck these. “There you bastard, got you!” and you can really get a grip on them.

    I truly can’t imagine not attacking them. Truly. I don’t like random bits of facial hair on men, and I hated the stage when my son was just starting to get a beard and couldn’t be bothered to shave. This is one norm that I just can’t see my way around.

    And for those out there that have to pluck forever, I recommend comedians on YouTube to pluck by. There’s nothing like Eddie Izzard doing the “Death Star Canteen” bit to cheer me up.

  60. My facial hair crusade started when I was probably 14 Our dishwasher had broken with a load of dirty dishes in it….on a 90 degree day. My brother and I were washing the dishes and my upper lip was sweating on top of the hair that had showed up there….and he felt the need to point it out. Because that was the most crucial thing to talk about, of course. I still inwardly hate my little brother for things like this. Anyway, I then developed hair on the side of my face, then chin and neck hair. I shave everything and still end up using tweezers on evil chin hairs. My eyebrows however, never a problem. I only have to remove one or two here and there. I have hairy hairy legs and pubes. In the last year, I started shaving my arms every few days. I have fair skin and thick, darkish brown hair, so everything shows up. It really drives me crazy. I wish I could take a hair removal bath and be done with it!

  61. CJ in VA, that doctor is unbelievable. Seriously, does the phrase “bedside manner” mean nothing anymore? I’m sorry you had that experience. (Tangent: about 15 years ago, my mom needed sinus surgery. She went to several specialists, one of whom did a CAT scan of her head. When he got the pictures back — while she was still in the room — he looked at them, turned pale, and said, “Oh my god!” in this horrified voice. My mom, aghast and thinking she must have an enormous tumor, asked him what was the matter. He turned to her and said, very seriously, “You have the largest sinus cavities I’ve ever seen!” Way to go, Doc!)

    when I refused to be persuaded (possible TMI coming) he reached over, held me down and plucked one of the hairs out with his teeth. Next, he looked in my eyes and said “I. DO. NOT. CARE.”

    That is such an awesome story. Yay for your husband! I think our partners care SO MUCH LESS than we do about this kind of thing — but as in so many other areas, I’m still traumatized enough from middle school that I can’t quite believe that.

  62. @liberalandproud – Oh, he definitely knows. I think that he just knows how embarrassing it is for me and is kind enough to not bring it up. In fact, I once mentioned (now that I think about it) my hair, though I wasn’t specific, and he said it didn’t bother him. Of course, I’m so anal about keeping it shaved that he may well NOT have known the extent of it. He may have thought I meant the few stray ones on my cheeks. Regardless, I could shave in front of him daily and he wouldn’t care. I know this. But somehow it makes me feel… I don’t want to say less of a woman, b/c gender is so constructed…

    As an aside, I loved the scene in Shrek (2?) where Fiona shaves alongside Shrek. I know, she’s an ogre, blah blah blah, but I found it sweet.

  63. I have very fine, very light colored hair in the same area that a beard grows on a man. That’s never bothered me and I don’t see myself doing anything about it although I do bleach the mustache area as that hair tends to be darker. I do get a few wiry, dark hairs on my chin/neck that I pluck as they grow in. I also get one on the edge of my ear that I. The weirdest one though is pure white and grows out of the side of my nose. That one drives me nuts cause I can just see it in my peripheral vision and I have to pluck it as soon as I notice it.

  64. Jessica: YES, it could. That’s actually exactly what led to my diagnosis. It could also be due to a couple of serious things wrong. If you’re talking about yourself, PLEASE get this checked out!

    I’ll write a long comment about hair now, but I wanted to get that answer out there ASAP

  65. Oh! It makes me feel more normal to read all of this – thanks! I shave my chin area every morning and probably could in the evening as well. I’ve tried waxing and the nair thing – very painful and left amazing amounts of redness on my skin. I have really pale skin and really black hairs. Haven’t tried any sort of laser or electro-process – but I did get some pills from my doctor once that didn’t do anything.
    I haven’t ever talked to anyone else about it (not even my husband) except the one time at the doctor’s office. I was so scared about waking up next to someone when I first slept with my husband! He has never mentioned it, although I’m sure he has noticed. I still shrink away if he comes close to touching that area of my face. It makes me sad that I can’t bring myself to talk about it with him – I tell him everything. I usually get up and take a shower right away in the morning to shave. I would love to be able to just lounge around in my pjs without showering right away on the weekends for a while!
    I also have the coma-fears – I’m going to have to make that pact with someone I guess.

  66. I’m a plucker. A tweezer. The eyebrows, the upper lip, the weird “sideburn” hairs that seem to have wandered down my jawbone, my random billygoat chin whiskers (they’re mostly white and crazy bristly), and the three jet-black hairs that grow, more or less at random, around my right nipple. Yep, just the right one.

    I hate the hairs themselves, but I love to pluck them. Tiny victories, I guess? I’m sure, as I get older and hairier, I will love plucking less.

  67. The only negative is that those facial hairs can get pretty wiry, and I don’t want anyone feeling them on my face during a romantic, touch-my-face time.

    That is my biggest fear. I would be okay with fuzz on my face. I have some fuzz. It’s at least soft, so I don’t worry about someone touching it and being repulsed. But my chin and sideburn area are sprinkled with very thick, wiry dark hairs. They drive me insane.

    I’m rather vain about my face, actually. I’ve always thought I had a pretty face, the kind you might see in paintings of 19th century girls or something. Not modern supermodel type but more classical, “soft” style. It’s rather round and my eyes are an extremely odd collection of colors, but other than one eye being slightly narrower than the other and having a large black spot in the iris (that’s another story), I like my face.

    So having facial hair is kind of an insult added to injury. One of the only areas of my body I don’t generally feel bad about except for that.

    I tried depilatory creams for a while but my skin is extremely sensitive and I have pretty serious eczema, so any contact with chemicals can be a real problem (changing my laundry detergent can give me hives; it’s a pain in the ass). I probably shouldn’t bitch, though, since the super dry skin means I’ve had minimal acne problems in my life and one of my sisters who just turned 40 is still dealing with it.

    For some reason I cannot pluck out hairs. I’ve tried but it hurts. Maybe that’s a side effect of the sensitive skin? Or I’m just a wimp? Am I doing it wrong?

    I use an electronic hair trimmer on my cheeks and upper lip these days. It’s one of those little narrow ones that run on a AAA battery. Not at all painful, and while it probably does encourage the hair to get thicker, it is pretty effective. But it leaves me feeling bristly because it trims off all the hair it touches, and I’m not so happy with that.

    My chin hair only responds to shaving. I was prepared to go for laser hair removal at least for my chin, then I got a new job and now I have to move and don’t have time to go in and then go back for a few visits. Rar.

    I also get the one or two hairs on the nipple thing. And I have to keep my pubic hair trimmed for hygenic reasons (if you’ve never had a Bartholin cyst, girls, be thankful). And I have very visible dark hairs under my belly button, a legacy from when I had to have surgery at 21 and they shaved the skin, and it all grew back in dark and thick, though thankfully not wiry.

    I’m pretty sure all of this is genetic. My mom is Italian and I have a lot of hair on my arms and legs as well. It’s probably sad how only certain areas of my body being hairy bothers me, especially since nobody’s going to be seeing me naked any time soon anyway, but at the same time, it bothers me and I want to do something about it! If that’s capitulating to the beauty myth or allowing myself to be manipulated into letting my own values be compromised by buying into these standards, well, so be it.

  68. Thank you for this post!

    I completely related because I too live with my chosen partner – he is now my fiance – in a freely naked, co-showering home – and have to ‘shave on the sly’.
    I get only a couple stray hairs on my chin, but my problem is my cheeks… like a small round area on each cheek that grows hairs – and then the ‘sideburn’ area too… and well as underneath my chin on the neck. I have to shave all of those areas every day (my hair grows fast, even on my legs).
    Even my legs piss me off… for example, me and two girlfriends were talking about getting our legs waxed. I decided not to because I was afraid of the pain, but they both went to do it. Like you said, it has to be grown out in order to wax it. So, I saw them last weekend and they both showed me their 3-week hair growth on their legs…. I couldn’t freaking see it!!!!! That’s how mine looks after 2 days!!!! In the winter I’ve gone 3 weeks without shaving and let me tell you, I look like a man then. And my friends went 3 weeks and I couldn’t even tell they had hair on their legs. One of them was still wearing shorts. I can’t wear shorts if I’ve gone more than 2 days without shaving.


    I guess I’m a hairy person and like you said, I feel ashamed because of what a woman is supposed to be and I feel like I fail in many areas.
    Small – FAIL… Delicate – FAIL… Hairless- FAIL…


    But it helps to know I am NOT alone here!!!!!

    I don’t know why I can’t talk about it with my fiance. I have told him literally everything else about myself and he never judges me. But I just can’t admit this “failure” to him.

  69. “I have a hairy chest–a strip of hair that’s similar to leg hair, that goes from slightly under my collarbone to the band of my bra, between my boobs.”

    OMG me too. Only mine start right at the top of my cleavage and are the only blonde hairs on my body (other than peach fuzz body hair), so I get away with not doing anything to them. But they’ve always nagged at the back of my brain, and it’s a relief to hear it’s not just me!

    The rest of my hair is all dark brown. I shave my otherwise very hairy upper lip every other day in the shower, which takes about 15 seconds, so having to do it doesn’t bother me much. (Ditto for the three hairs on each big toe. I wish I could find them cute!)

    The ones that bother me are the super thick under-the-chin hairs. There are only a few but they drive me nuts. I pluck, so as to be rid of them as fast and for as long as possible. Nobody has ever said a thing to me about them, yet loathe them I do. The worst is the one that once got ingrown, so now the skin is a little thicker there so it routinely gets ingrown, at which point I have to wait until it gets really sore before I can get in there and dig it out…. For that reason alone I’ve considered lasering those off, but so far have been prevented by the cost.

  70. Another high school body hair story: I was not a part of the cool crowd (you’re shocked, right?) and heard from a friend that was in the fringes of that group that one of the Very Cool Cheerleaders had some hair on her chest. For the first time EVER, I saw her as a real person and I felt bad she had to deal with it. It was especially bad that it was something that people talked about and that helped me realize that maybe being a Very Cool Cheerleader wasn’t all that great a gig.

  71. I never cared much one way or another about my fairly copious chin hair…I tried to pluck in when I remembered…somehow I didn’t even notice it in the mirror very often even though I wear make-up and am rather feminine. My husband, when we were dating, asked me about it and I asked him, “does it bother you?” He was too nice to say so, so I pursued, “do you want me to look into electrolysis or laser?” He said yes, so I got it all removed.

    I never felt self-conscious about it and so it also didn’t bother me when he wanted it gone. Hell he loved me fat…just didn’t really dig the facial hair…

    In lived in SF for most of my life. One of my favorite cafe’s was “The Bearded Lady” owned by a wonderful fully bearded lesbian woman…

    I always thought she was great…I wonder if that cafe is still there? I’m not anymore.

  72. Talk about a subject near and dear to my heart. I’m in my mid-20s and I’ve got facial hair. Dark, obvious, ucky facial hair on my chin, and on my upper lip, and the sides of my face, and I am CONSTANTLY working myself into self-loathing fits over the stuff. I can come to terms with being fat, because there are lots of pretty fat girls out there. I can come to terms with being broke and not having lots of fancy clothes, because I’m good at finding cheap things that make me feel nice. But I CANNOT come to terms with HAVING A BEARD, because there is NO WAY that is the LEAST BIT ACCEPTABLE in society. (So sez the little voice in my head.) It makes me feel horrible and defective. I hate leaving the house some days because of it.

    I can’t really afford to go to a salon to get it taken care of. $6, man, that’d be a nice price. Places around here would ding me a huge amount simply for the sheer area they’d have to take care of. And yeah, with wax, you need to let it grow in a bit so you can get some grip… I wax at home and I hatey hate HATE the grow-in period. And the stubble. And the fact that I can never seem to get ALL of the hair. I am a general all-over “fail at matters of personal care” girl so the fact that I seem to fail at waxing doesn’t really surprise me much.

    I’ve tried Nair removal-y stuff and it worked okay at FIRST. Then more hair sprang up. Thicker hair. And the results basically boiled down to “I am shaving with burny chemical stuff. This sucks.” I tweeze and pluck the coarser hairs on my chin and my eyebrows and whatever that I can’t seem to reliably wax. It’s gotten to the point that it doesn’t even hurt anymore. (Well, except for anything done to my upper lip. That’s horrible and agonizing but at least it’s fast.) I hate the whole process. I hate all of the effort. It takes an enormous amount of pep-talking to psych myself up to “deal with the hair”, because it all feels so futile. I just want to be one of those women that DOESN’T look like a fuggin’ sasquatch.

    …and okay, now that I’ve spilled out a few buckets of self-loathing, I can step back. I realize intellectually that it’s probably not that big a deal. This list-o-comments is proof that I’m not alone in this. No one I know calls me on it. My friends don’t mention it, my co-workers don’t claim to notice, and my old roommate thought I was completely off my rocker when I’d go into fits about it. Hell, some of the most normal “pretty” women that I work with have told me that yeah, they wax, they use product X and do thing Y and MAN can’t you TELL I have a ‘stache today? No? Really? Well then I can tell either, you, so siddown! Guh. Even my mom, sweet little guilt-trippy lady that she is, will shamlessly wax and pluck her own hair for anyone to see, and has told me that HER mother also waxed. It’s just the way it is, it seems.

    KC – Thank you for that rundown of laser hair removal. I’ve always been curious, but y’know… LASERS. Pointed at MY FACE OH GOD. I’ve always used the “well it’s just too expensive for poor broke me” excuse to avoid even thinking about it. I feel educated! I feel like I’ve learned something. Thanks.

    Time-Machine – …armpits! Geez, and I forgot how weird I can get about my armpits, too. I shave them, sure, but I can’t make ALL THE DARK GO AWAY. Which weirds me out, and makes me wonder if I’m doing it wrong. I’m so so glad I’m not alone in my befuddlement.

  73. The ones that bother me are the super thick under-the-chin hairs. There are only a few but they drive me nuts.

    I have just one! It only appeared recently and it drives me nuts too. I have several long, dark, substantial hairs under my chin, but because they’re under they’re not so noticeable and don’t bother me much, but that one super thick one I just obsess over. I just hate the feeling of it. So weird.

  74. I don’t have any hair on my face or chin, but I have something of a neck-beard, and a strip of sparse dark hair that basically goes from between my boobs down to my pubic area (looooong happy trail). I’m pretty obsessive about keeping everything waxed/shaved, so my boyfriend of two years still doesn’t know. Or if he does, he hasn’t commented on it. We’re both of Southern Italian descent, so I doubt he’d be shocked if he did notice it.

    When I initially read this post, instead of stopping to ruminate on why female facial hair is so taboo, I immediately ran to the bathroom mirror to check for regrowth. Sad.

  75. So I don’t have much hair angst. I have a tiny adorable mustache that is very fine and blonde so you only notice it if you get REALLY close to my upper lip. My boyfriend pets it. I also have one lone dark hair that grows out of the mole I have by the corner of my lip, I cut it periodically.

    But I do have a few nipple hairs which a couple of people have mentioned that they pluck. OMG HOW DO YOU DO IT? It hurts SO bad when I try to pluck it I just give up and either cut it or don’t worry about it because only two people on earth ever see it and neither of them are complaining. I don’t pluck my eyebrows, so maybe I’m just not used to it but seriously… it is so painful.

    Anyways, three cheers for everyone coming out of the facial hair closet, I think you’re awesome.

  76. So, although I started to develop pubic and underarm hair when I was 7, I didn’t start having visible facial hair until the PCOS hit when I was 19 (I’m not counting my sideburns, which although long, are head-hair in type). I ignored it (other than taking spironolactone prescribed by the doctors) for several years. Eventually, I started getting pointed and laughed at by strangers on the bus. Then I (very reluctantly) got it waxed.

    that started a period of YEARS in which I had a little war going on inside of me between the me who is a radical feminist (I had stopped even occasionally shaving my legs and armpits around the time the lip and chin hair showed up) and the me who desperately wants to be conventional. When I started getting pointed and laughed at by strangers, I’d get it waxed, and then feel guilty about it. Then I’d go through three to four months where I ignored it because why the hell should we have to conform to constructed beauty standards? Then I’d hit THAT POINT again, and back I’d go to the Salon to pay money that I didn’t really have to get it taken care of.

    My worse moment during this period was actually (funnily enough) a strange woman coming up to me while I was manning the table for the women’s center I was on the board of and enthusing about how I was so brave and an inspiration to her because I let my beard grow. I had to go and have a private cry.

    I refused to shave because just considering it made it feel like I was a) giving in and b) totally unfeminine. Those two contradicting feelings had no problem combining to make me feel truly lousy about it.

    I wouldn’t use Nair because I’ve seen the chemical burns it can cause, and the effect on the skin that can come from regular use of it.

    My mother tried electrolysis once, and said it was horribly painful and didn’t help any.

    Vaniqa doesn’t seem to have any effect on me.

    I got waxed fairly frequently during the six months in which I met the guy who became my husband –I was doing study-abroad, and was more nervous about living with strangers, etc…. Although, he saw me in various stages of waxed-ness by the end of that six months, and more later, before we got married. It doesn’t seem to bother him. The most disturbing thing for me has been when he’s absentmindedly played with it while we’re cuddling. I guess that showes how little it bothers him… :)

    He helped me during my one horribly ineffective attempt at waxing my own lip and chin. I just have to say, I bled, and most of the hair was still there. And it’s really hard to wax under your chin and on your neck when you can’t really see it.

    During all this, the amount has grown. I now have more of a goatee than my ex-fiance could ever manage to grow, which amuses me.

    Since moving to Germany, I got it waxed very constantly until about April (right after we moved across town from the salon I had been going to). I was reasoning with myself ‘why shouldn’t I treat myself with respect?’

    Something I always noticed about waxing was that I got a rash and a lot of little zitty-things. I found out after I stopped waxing in April that that may be a waxing-induced recurrance of rosacea, which I had as a baby. But that actually wasn’t what stopped me waxing.

    I had gone two or three months without waxing (I was sick for an appointment and then hadn’t really bothered to reschedule), and I looked at my face in the mirror one morning and realized that I actually like the way I look. And that’s with beard (although I have some hair on my lip, it’s barely visible). So for my sister-in-law’s 40th birthday party, instead of getting an emergency waxing appointment, my husband showed me how to trim it after he had trimmed his beard. And that’s how I’ll keep it and “treat myself with respect”

    I figure (in anticipation of looking for a job at some point in the not-to-distant future, thesis gods willing) that if I keep it neatly trimmed, anyone who doesn’t hire me because of it is discriminating against me because I’m a woman, and I wouldn’t want to work there anyway. After all, they’d probably hire a man with a neatly trimmed beard.

    I have to say, though, the fact that I like the way I look with the facial hair came as a complete shock to me. I discovered the fatosphere in February or so, and have been trying to learn to love my body, but I never expected that to be the part of me where it worked first.

    The one hangup I really really still have about it is talking about it. I have been trying to write about all of this on my blog for WEEKS, and couldn’t.

    By the way, I also have hair on my breasts. Most of it is fairly fine, but there are always a couple of big ones.

  77. I am also from a long line of hairy (and fat) italian women. as soon as my sister and i hit puberty, we were covered in hair – arms, faces, fingers, toes, butt, back, you name it. for awhile i tried waxing, but it was painful, pricey, and like you, i did not like having to wait for it to grow in. So for now it’s a combo of plucking (chin, eyebrows, and neck) and shaving (upper lip). it works pretty well, but does take some time, and i’m kind of neurotic about it – my boyfriend teases me because i’ll start rubbing my chin looking for strays when i don’t even notice. if i had the money i’d get it lasered, but i’m not terribly annoyed by it anymore.

  78. I shaved my legs and armpits sporadically until I was in my late twenties. I hated doing it, so even though I was filled with feminine concern about looking ‘fresh’ and ‘pretty’ I couldn’t make myself do it that much. In my thirties, I entirely stopped shaving, but invariably wore long sleeves, long pants, and long skirts so nobody would see my body hair.

    Now, in my mid-forties, I have reclaimed the right to wear sleeveless outfits and shorter skirts. If anybody thinks it looks gross or unfeminine, they haven’t told me so to my face, and Mr. Twistie has never said a peep beyond admiring my new clothes.

    That said, I never had any qualms about either my pubic hair, the hair on my forearms, or the tiny ring of hairs around each nipple. I actually kind of love my nipple rings. It’s sort of like they have frames.

    Bodies are hairy. I refuse to be ashamed because my body is doing something it’s meant naturally to do.

    The one thing I do deal with by plucking is one extra-long, curly, jet black hair that grows in periodically on my upper lip and one extra-long, jet black straight hair that grows on a scar just below my lower lip. If they matched anything else on my face, though, I probably wouldn’t bother. As it is, I’ve been known to just pluck them with my fingernails in front of family or close friends when I find them. I wouldn’t do it in, say, a restaurant, but if I’m sitting in my living room dishing about Project Runway with a friend, I won’t hesitate. No big deal.

    I must admit, though, if I had a really noticeable moustache or beardlette…I might not have such an easy time with it emotionally. It’s hard to ignore all the social training, no matter how much we try.

    Rachelgbd, I think I love your husband.

  79. I’m very hairy. My father pointed out my side burns when I was a teen. I used cold wax for years. I now shave. I more recently started growing hair on my chin and neck. I used to feel embarrassed about it. With peri-menopause it’s actually getting thinner. I like that I don’t have to shave it off as often.

  80. I’ve had chin/underchin hair for about ten years, and it bugged me so much that I got electrolysis (blend). I found it extremely painful, though, and time-consuming, and not very effective so I stopped and resumed my old shaving and/or waxing routine. (This is just my experience and not meant as an invalidation of electrolysis in general.)

    I also have coarse, dark hair on: nipples, upper lip, belly, toes and sideburns. I either wax or shave all that, plus my legs, arms and pits. I recently noticed some finer but dark hair on my cheeks and a couple patches on my upper back.

    I’m “out” to my live-in boyfriend about all the hair but the nipple hair. For some reason that nipple hair really upsets me.

  81. Dear World,

    I have nose hair.

    Sometimes I trim it. Sometimes I forget. Thank you for giving me the strength to not give a shit about it.

    If you could help me to apply that philosophy to other areas of my body, I’d be totes appreciative.


  82. I pluck about five or six that grow on the bottom of each side of my chin, one or two that grow nearer my neck, and two or three that grow near my ears on my cheeks.

    I shave everywhere else body hair congregates. Wow, Constance? Where was this progressive high school where girls had tufts under their arms? If a hint of too-long-since-last-shave reared its head at my MIDDLE school, we were ruthlessly judged.

  83. I have moles on my face, like my mother. She doesn’t pluck the wiry hairs that come out of hers, but I’m sure I will when the time comes (no hairs yet). I plucked a hair out of her face once because it was annoying me – oh the shame! My poor mum.

    Hair wasn’t something I’ve massively worried about, as it used to be confined to head, legs, pubes and pits. But as I’ve got older, I’ve noticed the little buggers are wandering all over the place.

    Toes (I have hobbit feet and have to shave now), pubes going astray, one thick wiry hair on my chin that irritates me beyond belief, a fine blond mustache that appeared around the same time my acne revved into gear.

    The killer? I’ve always noticed fine blonde hairs on my breasts – no problemo. But I’m noticing dark hairs on my boobs too, which I’ve not been able to mention to anyone until now.

    It is so easy for us to believe that the images we see everywhere are true – hairless, tanned, perfect skin, no pores, or spots, or wobble, or cellulite, thread veins, spider veins, dimples, moles… I could go on. I’ve read all the comments on this thread, and it seems to me that being a woman can be bloody hard work at times!

    SMALL – I get a pass for that one – but only height wise. QUIET – you must be joking – big fail. DELICATE – erm, no. Another fail.

    Slightly off topic, but there was a programme on TV here (UK) a wee while ago about body hair. And there was this great woman in NY sporting a proper Fu Manchu stylee beard. It struck me that she was possibly the most confident person I have ever seen on TV, really happy in her own skin.

  84. I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this yet so I apologize if I am repeating something that has already been mentioned.

    Personally, I don’t have too much facial hair, just typical upper lip hairs that I take care of every once in a while. However, my neighbor and her three beautiful daughters are of Persian descent and all have a lot of facial hair. The mother removes the hair using a very old and very effective method of hair removal with a piece of string. She also does my upper lip and eyebrows, and I absolutely love it.

    I looked it up online just now and discovered that this method is called “Khite.”

    If you can find a professional near you who specializes in this I totally reccomend it. It is a great alternative to waxing, the results last just as long, and women have been doing it for centuries! And while it is painful, I find it far less painful then waxing.

    I am including the website where I found the information, however, I am not endorsing this website, just providing some information.


  85. I started out having one or two coarse hairs on my jaw that eventually started turning into a little goatee on the sides of my chin (but nothing in the middle) and now I also get a line of hairs going down under my jaw as well and what I call my cat whiskers that grow near my temples.

    I’ve plucked, waxed, sugared, naired – I think I’ve tried pretty much every hair removal product in the known world. My dermatologist prescribed Vaniqua but that was such crap – $50 a tube (not covered by insurance) and all it did was make my ingrowns worse. And the suckers are stubborn, I got a facial epilator and even that can’t yank out the really tough ones. I sometimes joke with my sister (who has the same issue – yay genetics!) that they’re tied around my jawbone.

    I don’t have PCOS. I’ve had blood tests and my facial hair and thinning scalp hair has been blamed on slightly elevated free testosterone which, I was told by the endo (female), would be resolved if I lost weight – of course.

    I’ve been married to an awesome guy since the days of 2-3 chin hairs – and he’s fine with it. In fact he will occasionally pluck the ones that are driving me crazy but I can’t see. He honestly doesn’t care – but I do. When I was waiting for my appt with the endo (to get tested for PCOS) I had to let it grow so I could show her the “hirsuitism” and I killed me to be able to see that beard shadow even standing back from the mirror.

    I hate my facial hair, I hate it. I don’t think I’ll ever embrace it. The constant removal and painful ingrown hairs have left me with permanent blotchy areas on my chin. If I had the money and could guarantee it worked, I would get laser removal in a heartbeat. And it’s funny, because I’m so not looks proud in other ways – I don’t wear makeup, I get my haircut at Supercuts (when I remember to get it cut at all) – but the facial hair is my Achilles Heel.

  86. I must admit, though, if I had a really noticeable moustache or beardlette…I might not have such an easy time with it emotionally. It’s hard to ignore all the social training, no matter how much we try.

    It’s fascinating to read all these responses from people with various levels of hairiness… It’s making me have a parallel experience to the commenters we get occasionally who tell us that we’re not really fat and therefore have no idea what it’s like to experience fatphobia. I’m finding myself having similar thoughts in response to some of the comments here — Oh, sure, if I only had a couple long hairs on my chin, life would be all puppies and sunshine! — that I’m consciously trying to redirect. I’ve personally experienced far more harassment and gender policing with regard to facial hair and than with regard to fat, probably because I’ve been consistently hairy since puberty, but not consistently fat. The truth is, we can’t know how each of us would respond in a different situation, and some people might experience vast amounts of shame and fear from a few hairs while others cheerfully play with their beards in public. To me, that’s part of what’s so incredibly valuable about this kind of “coming out” thread — it’s really an old-fashioned consciousness-raising of sorts.

  87. “This is why it’s considered a bad idea for ladies to shave facial hair, I believe – it grows back thicker and faster. (I don’t actually have proof, but I’ve been told so my whole life.) ”

    I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but this is a myth. The external process of shaving or cutting hair has no effect on the internal creation of the hair in the follicle- and thus no bearing on the color, thickness, etc. of the hair.

    “If I can feel the tiniest bit of whisker breaking through the surface of my skin, I go at it with my tweezers, trying to get that thing out of there. (I keep tweezers at home, in my desk at work and in my purse when travelling.)”

    I am so there with you. I have even Macguyvered myself plucking or shaving tools when the conventional tweezers or razor aren’t at hand.

    I get dark hairs against my very fair neck. Just one patch on one side; I don’t know why. I generally pluck because it takes the hair a bit longer to return. I’m sure other people have noticed and commented behind my back, but then they’re going to do that anyway. They will always find *something*. And the people that love me don’t care and will find better reasons to pick a fight. I came to accept that many women deal with this problem, even if we don’t talk about it.

    I don’t recommend Vaniqua. It didn’t work for me. The laser hair removal is also tricky because- like waxing- you have to grow the hairs a certain length before each treatment for the hair to ‘register’ for the laser.


  88. Sparing you the drawn out details. I pluck most parts, buzz cut some with one of those skinny personal shavers they market to females. I used to wax when i had the extra money.

    I hate shaving my legs and bikini line because i have sensitive skin and ALWAYS, no matter what, get lots of ingrown hairs that hurt and itch. So i tend to ignore the hair on my legs and bikini until it is absolutely necessary to deal with it (which isn’t often). I had a boyfriend once tell me that my legs were “disgusting” got rid of him instead. And the random occasions when someone remarks about my facial hair (it has happened more than a hand full of times, mostly by family members) I tell them that it keeps me warm and cozy at night, and leave it at that. I take care of the hair when I want to on my schedule. I am actually pretty self conscious about it on an emotional level, but I make myself step back and address the logistics and cultural double standards behind it and that keeps me sane.

    I feel that if females are required to do the upkeep so should males, and until that changes they can bite me.

  89. To the women with hairy feet: THANK YOU. I don’t feel like such a freak anymore.
    To Bald Soprano: I’ll get it checked out. Promise. And, thank you.

  90. Like Stephanie, I’m a dark-haired, medium-complected white girl. My natural hair color is medium reddish brown, but I’ve recently started dyeing it black-brown because my eyebrows are black and I finally match. I have dark arm hair, which I quit worrying about in middle school; I shaved my arms once and was mortified by how they looked when the hair was growing back in. Also there was another girl (I think from Thailand) who had dark arm hair and let it grow. If she could do it, I could do it.

    My leg hair is dark too, and I cannot seem to shave myself without causing razor burn (don’t ask me about the time I shaved my pubic hair), so I compromise by shaving once or twice a week and wearing pants a lot. I used to avoid shirts that would show my armpits for similar reasons. Even if I have just shaved, the hairs are dark enough that it looks like I have stubble. Mostly I’ve just had to get over that, because it is TOO HOT to go around in full-length jeans and sleeved shirts all the time. (I will confess to being a total Wookie in the winter.)

    I vividly remember finding the first long, curly hair on my neck in 9th grade English class. I yanked it out and stared at it for a few seconds before I brushed it away and hoped no one saw. There’s about five on that part of my neck, one or two on my jawline, a few strays on my cheeks, and a clump of 10-15 on my chin. I pluck them obsessively, and like archdiva, I’ll dig around in my skin to get them out — and if I don’t they’ll sometimes get ingrown and create a zit-like thing (the ones around my nipples especially do this) so I consider it worthwhile prevention. I’ve gotten good at scratching gently with my nails to break the skin and allow the hair to pop out without creating a sore.

    All this I consider tolerable compared with the soft, dark patch of hair on my lower back. I can’t wax it or shave it myself, and it’s too much to pluck even if I could reach. All I can do is wear long shirts to make sure it won’t peek out. I want a tattoo there but couldn’t deal with the hair issue.

  91. I have scattered coarse, black hairs under my chin…enough that you’d notice, but yeah, I dunno. I use an epilator on them. It hurts a teeny bit, but nothing I can’t handle (i’m the pain queen! You should see the size of my tats :D ) I have faint facial hair that grows in on my upper lip, above the corners of my mouth. when I remember that my mini ‘stache is there, I epilate the fucker off. Now that? HURTS. But yeah, if I’m in direct sunlight, you may surely notice my facial hair…but…I don’t know, it just hasn’t ever really bothered me. I figure all women have facial hair…if I see it on another woman, it doesn’t bother me one bit, so why should mine bother anyone else? If it bothers men, they can suck it, cause I’m not bothered by THEIR facial hair even if it’s craggy, and I’m also so not interested in being the fantasy female for doods, you know? So they can deal. I can’t remember ever getting comments on my facial hair. People tend to not comment on my body in general…i think it’s the “Go ahead…make my day” vibe that I give off, or something. My body, not yours, so eff off.

    My bf has seen me epilate off my facial hair. He doesn’t care. He knows I have facial hair (hallo, he can see it, cause he gets really close to my face, naturally) but he’s never given me any reason to feel uncomfortable. As an aside, I hardly ever shave my legs and he still jumps me all the time, so yeah. I dunno, I guess he’s the kind of guy who realizes that women are people, not delicate hairless flowers or whatever. I have body hair. If you want my body, you have to accept the hair. *shrug*

  92. I’m currently in the process of getting electrolysis for my underarms. I know. Well, I’m a pilates instructor, which means sleeveless shirts every damn day, and I have dark hair, which means constant shadows, and I have sensitive skin, which means red rash.

    And, you know, electrolysis? Hurts like shit, at least for me, because apparently my hair grows almost flat under my skin and so she has to stick the probe in there at a very particular angle, and doesn’t always get it exactly right. Plus, that isn’t exactly an un-sensitive area to be working on. But It’s only half an hour at a time, and i take Advil an hour or two beforehand and use an analgesic creme, and it’s not so bad.

    Actually, the worst part is having to come up with something to talk to the electrologist about for half an hour once a week. The one I see is good at her job but, honestly, has the conversational skills of a wet brick.

    I’ve been at it about three months now, and one side is mostly clear most of the time. I think it’ll be worth it when it’s done.

  93. I don’t know whether this counts or not.

    I don’t have any long facial hairs, but I do have a very thick, blonde fuzz. If my hair was darker, I would have natural mutton chops, a uni-brow, a ‘tash and fuzzy earlobes. I actually really like it, as it feels really soft and downy.

    But I am really messed-in-the-head about my genital hair. I have, ever since I was 17, started getting a spread of longer, darker hairs encroaching up my stomach and around my belly button. You know that line of hair men get that looks so awesomely sexy?

    The crazy thing is, this line of hair is the one thin-fantasy issue I have left. I love the idea of having it, but keep thinking it would look damn sexy if only I had a slimmer and more boyish figure. I imagine myself going out topless, with my fantasy small boobs bound, wearing low-slung men’s jeans and looking so hot. But somehow I just can’t accept that same hair on my fat belly, so I pluck it.

    It’s really daft.

  94. Oh, and I Nair the ‘stache and I totally shave my toes and feet. The hair on my hands is light and fine enough that I don’t worry about it.

    Hairy confessions, whee!

  95. I am surprised no one has mentioned the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. My favorite scene is when on the day of her wedding all the Greek women are bleaching mustaches and plucking chin hairs. Ha, I love that!

    And I guess that is how I view it. It is a normal part of life for darker women.

    I have to say though that I think the old wives tale about hair growing back darker if you shave or pluck is totally untrue. I think that the opposite is actually true. At least that has been my experience.

  96. I’ve about two dozen wiry black hairs on my chin, and a soft little black moustache — on light brown skin, so it doesn’t really stand out. I’ve got a treasure-trail, too, and very shaggy pubes and armpits, and leg hair like Brillo.

    These days, I shave the chin and the lower legs. I’ve noticed that since I’ve been through the change the hair on my legs is getting softer, and have some hope that in a few years I’ll feel comfortable letting it go.

    For awhile after I had onset of rheumatoid arthritis, I shaved and plucked and trimmed everything. That was because the doctors and nurses I saw so frequently made arch comments about it, and about everything else about me that wasn’t feminine or mundane or lily white.* Back then I was so vulnerable, the disease made me feel so unlike myself, all those little criticisms were like a rain of exquisitely painful poison darts. I caved. Then a few years later, when I was both more at home with my arthritic self and more impaired, when it became difficult to do most of it and I realized I would never, ever please these people, I got blazingly angry and stopped. These days when anyone comments or asks unnecessary intrusive questions, I raise an eyebrow and look.

    *I feel I should explain on this. My mother’s folks are what anthropologists call tri-racial and polite folks used to call Heinz 57, though mostly they pass for white. Culturally I was raised boho white, but in the genetic crapshoot at conception I got all the brown genes and in appearance I’m racially ambiguous. And fucking everyone on the goddamn planet seems to think they’ve got a right to question me on it and have an opinion about it — What are you? as if I were some kind of weird benthic creature never before seen by light of day — and some of them think they’ve got a right to harrass and hassle me over it. AUGH!

    *cough* Scuze me.

  97. I started growing my “mustache” in my early teens and had a semi-traumatic experience as a caddie where the boys were expected to shave. The head guy was telling this one boy he was getting scruffy and it was time to shave and the boy said “well, why don’t you make her shave?” and the head guy laughed and I was embarrassed as all hell.

    I’m not sure if I’m proud or sad that I left that job that day and didn’t come back.

    Anyway, when I was younger I tried bleaching but the hairs grew out long enough that they seemed pretty obvious, at least to me. I shave now, and I highly doubt that the hairs are coming in faster because of it. (I mean, if that were true wouldn’t all men be able to end up with huge beards from shaving every few days?)

    I don’t feel too bad about shaving since it’s certainly no worse than my boyfriend having to shave his face all the time *shrug*.

    Now the arm shaving that I do, that makes me kind of sad… How can I embrace most of my eyebrow bushiness, but not arm hair?

  98. As you know if you read my guest post that SM links above, I have ridiculous amounts of face and body hair. So much of it that I can’t imagine ever keeping it a secret from a partner; I told them all early on, figuring that if they couldn’t handle that, they weren’t going to be able to handle anything else about me either. I haven’t had one guy who was interested in me get un-interested in me as a result of my hirsutism. Probably because someone who would like me that way is a little bent-in-a-good-way already, I figure.

    C. and I have a mutual “no face stubble” rule. Grow it in or shave it off completely, but don’t sandpaper your partner’s skin with the stubble. (He has a very soft schnauzer-like goatee, the softest facial hair I’ve ever felt on a man, lucky him.)

    I use an electric razor daily on my upper lip, and either shave or pluck the chin. Like FJ I’ve got some trichotillomania issues, and that’s where pulling out the chin or neck hairs comes in. (Good thing my job does not involve meeting the public, I guess.) Boy, are there a lot of them, and they are as dark and coarse as eyelashes, and I am pale pale pale. I use this stuff called Tend Skin to make the redness go down on the spots on my neck. I also have to use covermark (green, then beige) some times to make it look less blotchy after I’ve been plucking.

    I never thought about being hospitalized and not being able to shave, though. Maybe it would be kind of a relief for me — yeah, I have ALL THIS HAIR, you would not believe how much I’ve SACRIFICED to try to hide it, and now I’m INJURED and you’re all just going to have to deal with it. But, I figure anyone who’s going to visit me in the hospital already knows I’m a hair factory, and nurses and doctors (especially in hospital settings) have to look at things a lot more disgusting than that all day long and thus probably would barely notice.

  99. what the FUCK is with these doctors who make comments about patients’ body hair? they’re supposed to be able to mess around in people’s guts or whatever but they can’t handle some hair on a woman’s body? that is some bullshit, Eucritta, and I’m so sorry you were in the care of such assholes.

  100. I only get a few hairs on my chin that I pluck (although they do get like an inch long if I don’t, it’s so bizarre) but I definitely have the nipple hair problem.

    My husband doesn’t care about the hairs–I pluck them anyway because I’m annoyed by them (and it hurts). I’ve tried shaving them but for some reason I’m afraid of putting a sharp razor by my nipples. I told him one day I’d probably grow a beard after menopause considering how hairy I already am and he said we could shave our faces in the shower together. I guess I’m lucky to be with someone who realizes that women are mammals too, although I’m guessing a lot of the partners women are ashamed to speak about their hair problems with wouldn’t have a problem with it either.

  101. The Bald Soprano: Yeah – I’m not entirely convinced that there’s nothing going on there myself – but I had a pelvic u/s (clean) and my cycles have been always been regular as clockwork – so it go to the point where I was just tired of pushing.

    I also forgot to mention in my last comment that the rest of my body hair doesn’t bother me – I’m a summer only leg shaver and even then I forget :)

  102. Sweet Machine: I’m finding myself having similar thoughts in response to some of the comments here — Oh, sure, if I only had a couple long hairs on my chin, life would be all puppies and sunshine!

    I have to let you know, I consider this a completely valid response. I have a very easy time plucking out my 10-15 coarse face hairs, and only occasionally do they become ingrown. With so many things to feel sad about regarding my genetics, this is one area in which I can be grateful for my fortune.

    Also, I posted a sort-of response to something you posted in the Michelle Is Smart thread, don’t know if you saw it. :)

  103. they’re not all like that, thankfully. Eucritta’s anecdote reminds me that when i first got nipple hair, post-puberty, it freaked me out, and my mom took me to an endocrinologist about it. mortifyingly, he was young and cute, but he was SO KIND about telling me there was nothing wrong with me. he just seemed to really mean it when he told me, emphatically, not to worry about it.

  104. I got my ‘stache at the same time I got hips and boobs – 13 or so.

    Ever since then I’ve waxed it. As I’ve gotten older the hairs have gotten finer and lighter colored, but also some seriously coarse and thick hairs have shown up that are very hard to remove. Usually waxing only takes off the fine hairs, and the coarse ones I have to pluck.

    About 5 years ago I started getting chin hairs too.

    In my case it runs in the family. All the women have it. Its funny, I’m obsessive about the hair on my face but currently I sporting the Sasquatch on my legs etc. I can’t be bothered to shave/wax my legs, really.

    “I actually have paranoid fantasies about being in a coma or otherwise hospitalized and unable to deal with my facial hair. In my mind, people stop visiting me, my partner won’t look at me, and nurses laugh at me when they think I can’t hear.”

    I have exactly the same nightmare, except because I started going gray in high school that I wake up with gray hair AND facial hair.
    I also have what I consider heavy peach fuzz on my cheeks that I don’t bother with.

  105. I have just a few strays that sprout up now and then on my chin and neck that I can pluck. But just the other day I had a nose hair curling up from the top of my right nostril, plain as day.

    This thread has really enlightened me. I am ashamed to say I pooh-poohed this subject when a friend once described her morning ritual of major plucking of her chin and neck. I said something like: Oh, how bad can it be? I simply had no idea, and figured her hairs were similar to mine. I didn’t really think about the “daily” part of it until we camped together and she spent what seemed like a very long time in her tent with a battery-powered mirror so she could complete her plucking. I am just shattered by the thought that I did nothing to ease her embarrassment and I certainly provided no comfort to her. Will have to think about how to remedy that….

  106. I don’t have any facial hair (yet), but I absolutely despise shaving. I have super sensitive skin, and I end up with razor burn and ingrown hairs no matter what I do. It’s almost more embarassing than the hairiness.

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned sugaring yet! I’ve only done it once, on my legs, but the results were AMAZING. I was hairless for almost two weeks! And let me tell you, it was quite the shock…I have PCOS, and the hair on my legs/under my arms/around my groin is a little ridiculous. There was absolutely no irritation, no risk of burning (you have to heat the stuff up, but not nearly as hot as wax), and my mom even used it on her chin. Now, it took absolutely FOREVER to do, but that’s probably just because it was my first time. Granted, you do have to let the hair grow out a little, just like with waxing, but I really don’t mind because I would have to do the same with shaving anyway (or I get horrible bumps) and the results don’t last nearly as long.

    The recipe: 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 2 cups sugar. Heat in the microwave until it’s a medium-dark amber color, taking it out every minute or so to stir. Then refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to sugar, take it out of the fridge and heat it up a bit in the microwave until you can spread it easily. It’s going to be somewhat hot, but it shouldn’t be so hot as to burn you. Try to get it as warm as you can stand, though, because the hair will come off easier.

    The best tool, I’ve found, was a butter knife. I tried to use popsicle sticks, but the sugaring paste sticks to the wood and doesn’t spread easily at all. So, you basically just dip the butter knife in the paste and spread it in a thin strip along your leg (or armpit, or whatever). Let it harden for a few minutes. Then, grip the end of the strip and rip it off like a band-aid. It stings, but I really don’t think it’s that bad at all.

    It took me quite a few tries to get it to the right consistency, but you can heat and re-heat it as many times as you want, and if it’s too liquidy, then you can just let it sit and solidifiy again.

  107. I have very little body hair, and it is all platinum. EXCEPT for the black long hairs that grow on my chin. I pluck them every time there is something to grab with my tweezers.

    I’m anewbie to FA. I’ve admited it before, but I wear makeup, perfume and hair product everyday. I do live in the south, which has very traditional codes of physical femininity — the American Association of University Women is populated by plucked, powdered, sprayed and high-heel wearing women.

    I’m also a femme in a butch-femme relationship. My grooming standards are part of my “attraction upkeep” for my girl. For her, it’s all about hair (short but very styled) clothes and shoes.

  108. Not sure if a comment from someone whose hair is not a problem is exactly appropriate here, but it does provide a troubling and humorous (I think) side note to the stories of those women here who do have dark facial hair.

    One of the things I’m noted for physically among my friends and family is my relative lack of body hair (it runs in the family) and light eyebrows. I was a light-blond child, and though the hair on my head and some of my other, less public, areas is now dark, my arm and leg hair is light and sparse. On my face, I only have the vestigial kind of hair that doesn’t show up unless you’re an inch away from my face and staring. You know, the kind of hair you have just because you’re a mammal, after all. One time, in order to provide support to a friend who was getting her eyebrows threaded, I did, too. For shaping; I had some “strays” I could get rid of.

    Given the detailed description of my hair situation above, would you believe that the threading woman asked me if I also wanted to get rid of the hairs around my upper lip? HAIRS THAT I HADN’T EVEN SEEN after a lifetime of staring at myself in the mirror searching for flaws?? Mercy, I never thought to check myself for short, colorless hairlets where a woman should be perfectly bald and smooth. OH, THE SHAME. Yeah, I took a pass on that.

  109. ha Lu! in my experience, women who work in hair removal have some…issues surrounding body hair and are very quick to suggest unnecessary added services. not that i blame them for the issues. sometimes when i get threaded (eyebrows, upper lip and chin, but i’m indian and i got over the shame of this stuff in middle school), the lady will suggest, “whole face?” all eagerly, and i’m like, no, i’m not getting the fine down on every inch of my face pulled out with a piece of thread, infinitesimal hair by hair.

  110. What is “threading” I have never heard of that before? And also I admit my ignorance about what PCOS stands for. Anybody?

  111. Wow. This is an issue that is so close to my heart. I have been dealing with my body hair since I was a child – really – I was 11 when I started freaking out about my body and facial hair!

    I have hair on my chin, upper lip, neck and cheeks (although some of it is light and soft like peach fuzz … only long and noticeable). I have thick dark hair on my arms (all the way up), legs, butt, toes, feet, and chest. Although I have come to terms with most of my body hair, my chest hair is what causes me the most upset – I wax it, pluck it, and I used to shave it if I was going out in a slinky outfit. The plucking takes up a lot of time while the waxing leaves angry looking red marks that last for days. I have to PLAN when to wax and when to pluck and fit that into my social schedule and work-clothes rotation. My other body hair I deal with using wax (I wax everything! – face, legs, arms, butt, toes, feet) and don’t fret about when I wax or how often (normally) but my chest hair causes me sleepless nights and was the source of great self-hate when I was younger. I tried laser hair removel but had to stop when there was a bus strike and I couldn’t afford to go back.

    Clearly, I am not proud of my body hair and I have wished so hard for it to just go away. The waxing doesn’t hurt so much anymore (but holy hell did it hurt the first time I got my legs waxed!) but I still have to plan my life around when I wax my chest which I hate.

  112. threading is a technique of hair removal where individual hairs or lines of hair are removed by wrapping them with a piece of thread and rapidly removing them. it’s common in India and I think also in the Middle East and Turkey. it’s good for precision–i think it’s the best technique for eyebrow shaping if you’re into that kind of thing. it can also be better for sensitive skin than waxing, though i don’t know if that’s true across the board. it is painful, though less painful to me than tweezing.

    the place i go to is run by a bunch of Indian women.

  113. Oh! And recently, my girl and I started getting our brows waxed when we go to our hair appointments. Hurts like a mother-effer, but it looks so symmetircal!

  114. it’s quick, actually. it’s kind of hard to describe, but if the threader knows what she’s doing she pulls out one line of hair after another methodically and quickly.

    i feel weird, like i’m trying to sell people on hair removal. i definitely don’t think there’s anything wrong with a woman accepting her facial/body hair and not doing a thing to it.

  115. I find it *so* interesting that all of us, many you comment here regularly about accepting our bodies as is on so many other levels, are so serious about hair removal!

    PCOS – Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (I think) – messes with your hormones

    threading – a technique that I think come from the middle/near east – you take thread and tie it in a certain sort of knot and run it across the skin. It’s kind of the same effect as plucking, but you get many hairs at once. All my Indian and Persian friends use this technique.

    Maybe because my closest friends are of ethnicities where facial hair is common, all my girlfriends and family members talk about it. My gramma plucks her “whiskers”, as do I, my mom gets them waxed, and most of my friends have them threaded.

    At least where I live, every salon offers brow, lip, chin, cheek waxing and I always see people getting it done, without really feeling embarrassed. Could be because I live in a more ethnically diverse area.

  116. I am a very fair-skinned redhead. I’ve always been sort of hairy, but most of the hair that shows—eyebrows, moustaches, arms, backs of hands, fingers (I am hairy!)—is very blond and I never messed with it. In fact, I always kind of liked it. The hair on my legs is reddish and there’s not a huge amount of it. I don’t shave it, never have, but I mostly live in long pants. For the twice-yearly occasions that work events demand more formal dress, nylons cover it adequately. In high school I wore shorts for PE and wasn’t particularly self-conscious about it, and nobody ever seemed to notice. There’s a little bit of reddish hair on my (substantial) belly and down just about everywhere else. I’ve always liked it and none of my lovers ever complained about it (some have liked it a lot). It’s part of my very strong feminist/rebellious streak– doing what women “aren’t supposed to do.” I cheerfully embrace my Shaggy Wildwoman side (though I can sort of fake being civilized at work) and being fat and hairy is part of that.

    In my early twenties, I started growing a few long chin hairs. My grandmother had them, my mother has them, my brother had them before he started shaving. When they bothered me, I clipped them off. In my late twenties, I started to develop more of a beard. Eventually it grew into just enough of a fine, red beard that people often stared. Which I hated. So I started shaving it a few times a week, more often if the stubble irritates me. Nobody ever seems to stare at the stubble, which grows in blond. Maybe it’s not that noticeable. I use a safety razor and high-quality men’s shaving cream because I like the way it feels and smells. There’s an Italian one called Proraso that has the most delicious fresh, herby scent, and I have a jar of French vetiver shaving cream on deck. If I have to make do with drugstore shaving cream, Nivea makes a nice, rich, menthol-y one.

    I clip the more unruly moustache hairs that grow over my lip if they irritate me. I also have very fuzzy red sideburns, but nobody seems to notice those either, even when my hair is pulled back. And I like them, so they stay. I have some hair on the tops of my feet and toes too—hobbit feet! Once in a while I shave under my arms, though there’s not a huge amount of hair there, and it’s blond. I hardly ever wear anything sleeveless, so it’s not a big deal either way.

    Although I was a little self-conscious of my beard before I shaved it, I’ve never had any trouble talking about it, or any of my body hair. Except with my mother, with whom my unshaven legs were a constant bone of contention, but you all are probably getting sick of hearing about my mother.

  117. I was very interested to see a few other post-ers say that as they got into peri-menopause, the hair got finer. This is exactly the opposite of my experience. I never had the really wirey hairs until I aged. I always had dark hair on my face but it was soft-textured before.

    Oh, and just to make everything super special, I’m getting the occasional tribute to Andy Rooney hair in my eyebrows. Twice as long as a normal eyebrow hair and often sticking out at a right angle.

  118. I’ve got a ‘stache, dark hairs on my cheeks (along with fairly thick light hair), and lots of thick hair on my chin! I also have hair on my big toes, and hair around my nipples. Lots of hair everywhere! I generally remove my ‘stache with Nair for the face, and my chin either with the same, or by plucking. The dark hairs on my cheek I pluck when i notice them. My toes I shave if I happen to wear sandals. Nipple hair I sometimes pluck, but usually just let it be.

    Me and my partner are ridiculously open with each other about our body hair! She’s got hair in most of the same spots as me. It’s definitely one of those times I am grateful to be gay – there are no unrealistic expectations of femininity in this relationship. We’ll pluck hairs that are hard to reach off the other’s face, wax or nair together. It’s pretty awesome, and definitely makes me not care whether I’ve got hair somewhere weird.. we’ll just laugh about it. I do still deal with my face because society isn’t quite as awesome about facial hair as my partner.

  119. To me, threading hurts like hell. I’ve also had my eyebrows waxed, and have waxed my legs*, and it doesn’t compare in pain to threading. I can feel every hair being pulled, teensy weensy little needles of pain. With waxing, it’s wax-on, zip! wax-off, some throbbing and hurt, but it’s a robust kind of pain, not that death-by-a-thousand-cuts kind of thing with the threading.
    *what hair I do have comes in weird-looking patches, so every once in a while I take it off.

  120. For the record: electrolysis worked great for me. It does cost a lot (which is why I tortured myself with less effective methods for so long), but it’s not like you pay a thousand bucks up front. When I went, it was $1 a minute and I went for 30 minutes a week (possible 45 minutes to an hour for the first few weeks) and this lasted for over a year.

    I remember going there for one of my first appointments and someone was just leaving from her last appointment ever and hugged the technician because she was so happy.

    And sideburns! I had forgotten about the sideburns! Electrolysis took care of those too. One of my cousins actually complimented me on my cool sideburns and I almost died of mortification. But it’s actually kind of cool that a tween girl would see a woman with sideburns and think it was cool instead of cause of shame and embarassment.

  121. I have a small asymmetrical mustache that drives me moderately crazy. It’s not very thick and I could probably live with it if it was on my both sides of my upper lip — but it’s not. I keep thinking that sooner or later the other half will grow in, too, but apparently not. So I pluck.

    For those of you who worry about going into comas and having facial hair turn you into the bearded lady, don’t worry. The nurses won’t laugh, and the staff will keep you shaved. Not long after high school I worked in a nursing home as a nurse aid. Shaving the little old ladies’ facial hair was a routine part of helping them with their overall bathing and grooming. As a society we’re all so conditioned to think of women as not having facial hair that even when you sink into a permanent vegetative state someone’s going to come around and remove that hair for you.

  122. OlderThanDirt, what I noticed that was my facial and body hair got thicker and more wiry during perimenopause (and I had some of those wayward eyebrow hairs too) but now I’m two years post-menopause, it’s becoming shorter and finer. Even peachfuzzy, in some areas.

    On the other hand, the hair on my head is thicker, wavier, and in humid conditions wildly frizzy, so go figure.

  123. Dammit, Sweetmachine! I just put my mascara on, and already I’m crying. Why? Because this:

    “I actually have paranoid fantasies about being in a coma or otherwise hospitalized and unable to deal with my facial hair.”

    is exactly what I worry/think/obsess about, too. And I thought I was the only one.

    I have told my husband and he knows. I don’t know if my kids know. I don’t remember actually telling them. It’s the one and only thing I lock the door for.

    And if anyone’s curious, yes, I do have both PCOS and Diabetes and I shave chin, jaw, upper neck and the sides of the upper lip every single day. And I don’t let hubby touch my cheeks if I can avoid it.

  124. Can I give everyone a hug? Just reading everyone’s stories made me realize I’m NOT alone in this, other people have similar bodies and spend similar amounts of time on this annoying chore.

    I was hoping there’d be better news about lasers because I’d be willing to pay for it only if it was permanent – but if it’s going to come back and I’m going to be right back where I started, what’s the point? I’d only be doing it to save myself the time and annoyance in the long run.

    And OlderThanDirt, my experience with the perimenopause fairy has been similar to yours – hair that I used to bleach once a month and forget about now needs it every two weeks and plucking of the new coarse, curly ones because even though they’re bleached to a pale white, their thick spirals sparkle in the light. Same with the chin – it’s a darned near daily ritual. I’ve got tweezers EVERYWHERE.

    Just when you think you’ve accepted your body you get to start all over again as it changes.

  125. I’ve had quite a bit of facial hair most of my life and have tried a lot of different things. Electrolysis worked well for my upper lip although I found it very painful and it left some scars that went away over time. Lasering has worked well for my “sideburns” and somewhat well for my chin. HOWEVER, when I got it done on a few stray hairs on my neck, it somehow activated latent hairs and I ended up with much more hair on my neck than I had started with. In addition to what KC said about the numbing cream, ice on the lasered area afterwards feels really good. Right now, I get my face threaded. I have very little sideburn or upper lip hair, but the hair on my chin is coarse. Threading works much better for me than waxing because it doesn’t irritate my skin at all and I get no ingrown hair, which was always a problem when I waxed. I get it done right after a period because my facial hair tends to grow in cycles, usually peaking at the beginning of my period. Also, I am less sensitive to pain then, as compared to right before a period or while I am bleeding. (The woman who does the threading said a lot of women experience this). The difference in pain sensitivity is *tremendous.*

  126. women who work in hair removal have some…issues surrounding body hair

    Seriously. When I used to get my upper lip waxed, I was pretty sporadic about remembering to go in. Every single time I’d have to deal with the shock and horror of the woman doing it that I let it grow in so much (and it wasn’t always the same person either, I’d just go wherever, and every single person reacted that way). Then when it hurt, I got the: “Well it wouldn’t hurt so much if you didn’t let it grow in so much” lecture. Bleh.

  127. Wow, body hair.

    This is one area that I feel I lucked out in, both from the hair itself standpoint and from the early training I got about it. I’m about as white as you can get (genetically, not tonally), and I don’t have much body hair. However, as I’ve gotten older, my ‘stache has really started coming in, as well as chin hairs. I’ve never shaved my pits, and rarely shave my legs, so the facial hair got the same treatment — when I found the first long black one, I showed it to my husband — ‘look at this!!’ Now we have a running joke that if I end up bedridden he has to pluck my facial hair.

    I think part of my response to it I got from my mother, who’s pretty damned lackadaisical about her own body hair. It was sort of treated as a kind of entertainment-value thing — plucking, shaving and dyeing as kind of ‘hey, what if I did THIS?’…

    I guess this isn’t very helpful — I’m chiming in just to ‘belong’ today, as I’m having a freak day (day where I feel like a freak in a world of non-freaks).


  128. Oh, oh! I forgot my one encounter with the body hair police:

    I had my hair cut at an unfamiliar salon, and as the woman was finishing up, she said ‘come back in next week and let me wax your eyebrows.’ I was dumbstruck, and I think I actually said, ‘what? why?’

    My eyebrows are fine, thanks.

    Crazy broad.

  129. Wow, I had never thought about hair removal during comas. I’m still more worried about the diaper issue and related smells. Well, if a friend was in a coma and turned out to be all hairy and smelly, I wouldn’t care in the least, and I’m sure you guys wouldn’t either.

    To put a positive spin on the body hair issue (and to bring it back to fat), I find that the rare times I shave the inside of my thighs, I get much worse “chub rub.” All the tiny (and not so tiny) hairs help our skins to glide when rubbed against each other.

    I’m really interested in hearing what Sony, our hair removal professional, has to say on the subject (hint, hint, please come back and post when you have the time).

  130. Minerva: I know! Almost EVERY time I have gone in to get my chin waxed, the woman has tried to convince me to get my eyebrows waxed too!

    I LIKE the shape of my eyebrows!

  131. Art3mis, ditto on the chub rub/ingrown hair issue!

    My inner-thigh hairs are starting to grow back in thicker and darker, even though I haven’t changed how I shave. They look more like pube hairs than leg hairs. Dammit, my pubes do NOT need to extend to my knees! :(

  132. Oh, God, this topic. Facial hair (and body hair in general) has always been a huge problem for me. My skin is not incredibly fair, but I don’t go out in sunlight often, so it stays lighter. And I have thin, light brown hair on my head. For some reason, this equates to thick, BLACK hair all over my body. On my upper lip, completely covering my chin, on my breasts, belly, etc. And it’s always been a sore point for me. I don’t know how I’d ever let someone see me naked when I’m covered in, what I consider to be, undesirable hair. Since I’m pretty much always covered from the upper-chest down, I never wax the other thick hair, but I DO wax my facial hair. And since it’s pretty expensive to get it done by a professional here, I tend to just wax it myself, which works pretty well.

    I tend to go into a bit of a panic when it comes to discussions of facial/body hair, because I get to thinking, “well what if someone will see my naked in all my hairy glory and be disgusted by the sight of me?” That’s pretty much the biggest one. No matter how I can possibly feel about my own hair, I feel like how others feel about it will always affect my self-image, no matter how much I try to not let it do so.

  133. This has been such an enlightening conversation! I can now stand in front of the mirror and say to myself “you are not alone”!

    I shave my neck and sideburns and get my upper lip waxed. But I do end up looking in the mirror and think that I am ugly because of the hair – I need to get over that.

    I also nearly belted my youngest brother when he commented on my ‘tache – I quite firmly told him not to do it again and he hasn’t.

  134. Shaving the little old ladies’ facial hair was a routine part of helping them with their overall bathing and grooming. As a society we’re all so conditioned to think of women as not having facial hair that even when you sink into a permanent vegetative state someone’s going to come around and remove that hair for you.

    Okay, despite it being my paranoid fantasy, I’m not sure if I’m comforted by this. I guess if I think of it as overall “grooming” rather than “compulsory feminization” it strikes me as a reasonable standard of care. Come to think of it, that dichotomy is the cause of most of my anxiety: I can’t get myself to think of facial hair removal as normal grooming instead of as some bizarre thing that only I have to do to pass as feminine. This thread is helping a lot, though! (ZaftigWendy, sorry I ruined your mascara!)

  135. I’m really interested in hearing what Sony, our hair removal professional, has to say on the subject (hint, hint, please come back and post when you have the time).

    I second this!

  136. I have Frida Kahloesque unibrow. I have to pluck it almost daily. I also have wild, errant eyebrows that appear almost halfway between my regular brow and my eyelashes. And they hurt soooo bad to pull that I tear up and sometimes grab the skin on accident. I can’t wax or my uber oily/curly-course hair causes mad ingrowns.

    I also have a Cindy Crawford mole that grows a black hair in it. When I pull the hair, the mole turns to a zit-mole. Mmm.

    I am blond and covered head to toe (literally, really) in peach fuzz; however, I have a trail of BLACK, course hairs that go from my belly button to my nethers. They also have to be plucked and frequently become ingrown.

    Finally, the peach fuzz. My jaw line, “sideburns,” the top of my back at the vertebra that pokes out, the small of my back, and my arms are all covered in long (1/4 on the face, 1/3 inch on the arms), thick, blond peachfuzziness. My (giant size 12) feet look like Hobbit feet if I don’t shave them.

    So there you have it folks. A blond, fuzzy Frida with Hobbit feet and random black spikes. Foxy!

  137. Like many of you, I’ve got the random dark hairs (five that appear on my chin, and two near each nipple) that I pluck. They’re no big thang to me because the ten seconds it takes to get rid of them is an automatic habit that doesn’t afford much time for reflection. The hair removal rituals I really have issues with are my upper lip and asscrack. My ‘stache is mostly blond, but darker (thankfully not thicker or more coarse) near the corners of my mouth. It’s noticeable to anyone standing in conversation range and is the only hair I possess that my husband is just not cool about. Plucking is out because it would be soooo time-consuming, and waxing gives me awful tiny zitties for a week afterward, but I do it anyway. My asscrack is problematic because…well, because it makes me feel so terribly unsexy. It’s only begun proliferating over the past year or two, and I’ve tried shaving and waxing it. Now I’m just letting it ride, because it is so time consuming and awkward to try to remove. I really resent feeling compelled to remove any hair at all, but I’m working on it. Hopefully it will go the way of my makeup habits, which is to say, the fuck away.

  138. Yorke, I have those odd eyebrow hairs on my upper lid, too. Yes, they hurt like fuck to pluck (haha, didn’t intend that to rhyme), so I clip them with scissors usually. I also get those weird super long brow hairs, too. And until I read it here, I forgot about my finger hair. Again, it’s so light, I rarely notice it. I bet that if it were darker, I would be bothered by it. I actually think my hobbit feet are cute. I have less hair on my feet than I used to (don’t ask how that happened), but I still have pretty hairy toes. I hated it until my husband mentioned how cute it was, now it doesn’t seem to bother me. I hope it’s not because I’m buying into the idea of appealing to the male gaze – egad! :-)

  139. This thread is fascinating to read. I honestly had no idea it was so universal. Maybe I’m just so focused on my own imperfections that I’m completely oblivious to what other people consider theirs.

    No facial hair for me, as far as I can tell, but I’m still in college and some of my relatives got it as they got older (Greek background). No guarantees either way.

    I’m there with everyone who mentioned nipple hair, though. It’s so dark and feels screamingly obvious against pale skin. I usually pluck it all out. But I’ve been letting it go lately, since my very furry boyfriend makes me feel completely smooth by comparison. I feel stupid for getting hung up about a few black hairs when he’s pretty much wearing a pelt.

    (If I were single I’d hate reading what I just said – a man makes everything better – but that kind of outside perspective can be nice.)

  140. I choose to pluck my upper lip, chin, nippular area, and upper chest.

    Note that I say here that I CHOOSE to, not that I “have to.” Nobody has to do anything except breathe oxygen and die. ;)

  141. SweetMachine:Okay, despite it being my paranoid fantasy, I’m not sure if I’m comforted by this. I guess if I think of it as overall “grooming” rather than “compulsory feminization” it strikes me as a reasonable standard of care. Come to think of it, that dichotomy is the cause of most of my anxiety: I can’t get myself to think of facial hair removal as normal grooming instead of as some bizarre thing that only I have to do to pass as feminine.

    Could this be because the only reason we have to do it as part of our “normal grooming” routine is that we’re women and not men?

  142. Becky said: Then I started getting more into feminism, and reading about beauty rituals being harmful to women and you know, I still like my makeup but I realised waxing was harmful to me – it hurts like a motherfucker, it costs money, it’s time consuming, and it reinforces the idea there’s something wrong with my face as is.

    I’m conflicted. I don’t want to conform to unrealistic beauty norms so I can relate wholeheartedly to Becky’s comment. But, you know, I have a mustache — and starting a beard — so I don’t know what to do.

    I do pluck but it hurts and it’s not really helping. I find the fur is growing in thicker and darker and there’s more of it. I want to laser it off but the cost is prohibitive and, again, it gets back to me not wanting to conform to “American” beauty standards.

    My husband has commented he doesn’t want me to look like my Aunt Nancy.

    Really what it comes down to is I don’t know what to do. I’m conflicted.

  143. I’m fine with the idea of saying “I tweeze because I don’t like the way dark hair looks on my face; my husband shaves because he doesn’t like the way dark hair looks on his face.”

    As I said on TheBaldSoprano’s blog, though, this is me at 43. In my teens and twenties, I was all freaked out that the vellus (thicker, darker) hair on my face was ZOMG UNFEMININE!

  144. Minerva: I know! Almost EVERY time I have gone in to get my chin waxed, the woman has tried to convince me to get my eyebrows waxed too!

    I LIKE the shape of my eyebrows!

    Both my mother and my sister pluck their eyebrows and regularly get them waxed. When I was 14 we had this special occasion thing coming p where I had to get all fancy, and when I was at the salon getting my hair highlighted and trimmed, and getting manicured and all Girl-ed up, the woman asked if I wanted my eyebrows waxed. My mother was like, “Oh, you should, honey! You’ll look so good! It’ll be fun!”

    And so I was like, why not? And I said, “Okay” and they waxed my eyebrows.

    I HATED it. So much. After the waxing was done I looked at my brow and it was all wrong. My eyebrows were too arched and too thin and I didn’t even look like me anymore. Everyone was telling me how gorgeous it looked at I was just thinking “I am NEVER letting anyone NEAR my eyebrows again.”

    When I went home and looked in the mirror I started crying.

    Ever since I’ve been really defensive about my eyebrows. I love my eyebrows. You and your beauty standards cannot, under any circumstances, have my eyebrows. They are caterpillary and thick and when I wiggle them or scrunch them you KNOW, and I like it that way! Damnit!

    Speaking of beauty things and things we are self conscious about, I have acne. And it sucks. And they said it would go away as I got older and that is not happening. Good hygiene and every acne product off the shelf, including that really expensive stuff (like Proactive) is barely effective, if effective at all. And right now, while littered with acne all over, I have THREE of those deep, painful, HUGE, under-the-skin zits that make you practically peel your skin off they’re so oily and so big, and they hurt so, so much. And so on Friday I’m going to the dermatologist and getting an acne facial with spot treatment and hoping that this might work, at least temporarily (but I can only afford this because I have a gift certificate, as it normally costs approx. $80).

    But I’ve been on the lighter medications and they haven’t really helped much, and so I’m thinking of going on something stronger but I am TERRIFIED of all the scary side-effects that go with them (stuff like Accutane, where most doctors make you sign a contract saying you’re using at least two forms of birth control because pregnancy while on it can end so disastrously, and which makes you allergic to the sun for a short period of time and causes severe sunburns and peeling skin all over and nose bleeds and joint pain, but supposedly, when you’ve finished, you never have acne again – because IT KILLS MOST OF YOUR OIL GLANDS), but at the same time I just plain CAN’T keep dealing with the acne the normal ways, because it’s not working, and because it hurts. It’s not just not conventionally pretty, it hurts a lot. And it is all over my face and my back.

    So – sorry to hijack a thread – but anyone experience anything similar? Advice?

  145. Yes, but men who have the ability to shave themselves also have the option NOT to, and have beards.

    Right; there’s no problem with depilation. There’s a problem — not that you’re doing something wrong, but that you’re feeling something unpleasant and unnecessary — with experiencing deep shame over the need to depilate. We do that because of unrealistic standards of femininity, not by choice.

  146. Thank you so much for this post. I have been ashamed of the hair on my chin for years, but have never been able to talk about it. I pluck, but I never get everything, and I’m always embarrassed about it. This thread has me considering trying waxing.

  147. I see your points, BaldSoprano and fillyjonk. I suppose my point was that even though I’ve decided I don’t NEED to depilate, I still CHOOSE to do so and feel okay about that choice.

  148. Time-Machine, my fiance had the same problem, but of course he’s male so it matters less. (Other than the fact that he’s convinced that he’s ugly and unattractive, despite quite a bit of evidence to the contrary.) But the majority of the stuff on his face and neck and arms (oh, it was bad) went away when he was about 21. The stuff on his back and chest is still there, but lessened. I HATE to say this, but it just might take another couple years. His sister had the same situation, and the same thing happened (although I’m not 100% sure when, exactly).

    I have seen Accutane, which is incredibly scary, work with a disturbing amount of success, and I have seen it fail miserably.

    Have they put you on BC yet for the acne? It made my back clear up (but not my face, but it wasn’t that bad to start out with). I assume yes, and it didn’t work. :(

  149. As a teenager, I was totally freaked out by the hair on my body. I really did feel it was some kind of shameful, dark secret that absolutely no one else on the planet had. I felt like I was a monster during my teens because of this. At one point, I actually thought to myself, “I can never have sex with anyone, because I can never let anyone see me naked.”

    But then I found out that lots of women have stray body hairs, or hairs on their chin, or whatev. I didn’t care so much anymore. I pluck and shave (when I feel like it) and just kind of deal with it. My husband knows about it, and doesn’t seem to have an opinion one way or the other.

    What bothers me is: why didn’t anyone tell me earlier? When we were learning about puberty and periods and crap, why didn’t anyone say “You might get hair around your nipples, or on your face”? Sure, they mentioned the leg/armpit/pelvic hair, but why not the other stuff?

    It would have been such a simple thing to say that might’ve saved me years of hating myself.

  150. Time-Machine, I wish I had an answer to the acne problem for you, but alas, at 25 I’m still stuck with it. As a teenager I went on antibiotics (minocin or something?) that worked absolutely beautifully. BUT, we all know we can’t be on antibiotics forever so it eventually crept back. I keep my face in line with Pro-Activ (except the nose-o-blackheads) but my back and chest are just a mess. The more I work out and sweat (and subsequently shower, at least 2x a day!) the worse it seems to get.

    I’m freaked about Accutane. I’d love to go on it but I’m conflicted. I also thought, well maybe I’d go on it in winter so that I could cover up more and not worry about the sun, BUT the winter is soooo dry here and I get all crusty anyway so I don’t know if that’s a good plan. Bah. Anyone have any experience with it?

  151. I started noticing stray hairs on my upper lip a couple of years ago (in my early 30s), and it seems like every few months another one pops up. I’m fair-skinned and fair-haired, so it was always soft pale fuzz that I never noticed much, but what’s weird is that these new ones are wiry and hard. Like, noticeable feel of the prickly. I’ve been plucking them out, but as I notice them they seem to increase. They also fight back; even with good tweezers, sometimes it takes so many attempts I shred the end of the hair before it finally comes out. I have just a few hairs (like 5) around my navel that I’ve been plucking for a few years now too, that are dark. It just seems odd that random follicles are suddenly making hair. Actually, what just occurred to me is that the upper lip ones might be gray hair – those are more wiry than regular hair, right? I’m getting gray on my scalp a bit, but (warning, TMI) it seems like I’m going gray much faster in, um, alternate hair areas. Much, much faster. The body is an interesting thing.

  152. When I was in high school, my then-boyfriend and I were having an argument. He ended it by telling me to go shave my mustache.

    I was already insecure about my profuse body hair (nipples, face, stomach, legs, bikini line, feet, etc.), because I’m a brunette with very dark hair and very pale skin. That just made it worse.

    I wax/tweeze/etc. my face on a regular basis, but I tend to keep the rest of my body (and body hair) hidden. I get too embarrassed when people notice “ZOMG hair!” in “inappropriate” places.

  153. One thing I forgot (and which may be a bit too much info, for which I apologise).

    My last bf (before my wonderful partner) had little experience when he met me (

  154. Time-machine. My dermatologist told me that those huge ones under the skin are (at least in my case) cysts. They fucking suck. I am 33 and still suffering from acne, though it’s not as bad as when I was younger. Now the rosacea has taken over and that is literally disfiguring my face. When I was on meds, it was so much improved, but since getting pregnant and nursing, I can’t take anything for it and it hurts a LOT sometimes, not to mention that red mask that I always have to wear. I sympathize with you – my acne was horrendous for so long – arms, back, chest, face. People think so poorly of people with bad skin sometimes. So the two things I bow to re: “beauty” – good skin and no facial hair! I wish you well.

  155. I am a 53 year old menopausal woman who is fat and hairy. I’ve been hairy all my life, but it really ‘bloomed’ when a doctor prescribed steroids to treat an allergic reaction (mid-’70s). I’ve noticed that my leg, underarm, and pubic hair has thinned out quite a bit since reaching menopause (2 years now), but not the chin, neck, and chest hair! WTF, body??? This is the hair I hate the most! I’ve tried electrolysis, epilators, hair removal creams, shaving, waxing, plucking…and hate it all. I have tried just leaving it alone, and resigning myself to being the Bearded Lady of TN, but the neck hair itches in summer heat. There’s just no upside to it.

    I once joked that I had more hair on my chest than my husband — but it was true, not just a joke. :(

  156. Have they put you on BC yet for the acne? It made my back clear up (but not my face, but it wasn’t that bad to start out with). I assume yes, and it didn’t work. :(

    Yep. They didn’t put me on it for acne (they put me on it for cramps and other issues), but I am on a kind of BC that is specifically supposed to be good for treating acne, and it does nothing.

    My oldest brother had acne similar to mine, and he went on Accutane and, while he was really achey and had chapped lips the entire time he was on it, it worked for him. All the symptoms went away as soon as he stopped, and he no longer has acne.

    But that doesn’t mean it would be the same for me.

    What bothers me is: why didn’t anyone tell me earlier? When we were learning about puberty and periods and crap, why didn’t anyone say “You might get hair around your nipples, or on your face”? Sure, they mentioned the leg/armpit/pelvic hair, but why not the other stuff?

    Seriously! As I get older I continue to be astonished by how Not Helpful the sex ed classes I had to take were. They didn’t even explain to us what an orgasm was, and that some girls (including me) will spontaneously orgasm during puberty, and it’s no big deal.


    Meaning I went for a full year wondering what that weird vibrate-y feeling I had sometimes during sit-ups in gym or while listening to music in band (or while ignoring the teacher and reading in geometry – which happened so frequently I came to expect it) was, and finding it REALLY IRRITATING.

    Note: if you don’t know what an orgasm is, you don’t know you’re supposed to enjoy it, and you’re trying to concentrate on your sit-up count, they’re actually not all that great. And then when you do find out what an orgasm is, and that you’ve been having them all over the place, you lose all kinds of faith in humanity because THAT’S IT? Really? That’s the ultimate goal of sex, and what every spends their time chasing? That’s this taboo we have built so much of our culture around? OMG, humanity sucks.

    And until you manage to get an orgasm under more proper-for-orgasm circumstances (which didn’t mean sex just yet, just, um, yeah) and you suddenly get that it IS pretty pleasurable, and it would definitely be way pleasurable sharing it with someone (should you ever meet that someone and agree to it together), and so it’s not all that crazy after all, you have this way screwed up views of humanity and especially men and especially sex happy teenagers.

    And I could have avoided ALL of that mess if some teacher in sex ed had just mentioned “Like boys sometimes get random erections while they’re developing, some young women will orgasm, which is that weird distracting thing that happens with your vagina sometimes that you’re too embarrassed to ask your parents about. And eventually learned what it was by reading a book and overhearing a dirty conversation and making the connection – which is a totally messed up way to find out.”

    “P.S., here’s a helpful diagram for sticking in a tampon, so that the first time you try one you don’t waste an hour trying to poke it in and then end up crying because of your lack of understanding of your own vagina. And now how are you ever going to have sex, if you can’t even stick a small piece of cotton in comfortably? And so then you worry that you will die a virgin and alone. And those three hairs you have on your boob are totally normal. Also, this isn’t necessary for your sexual development, but did you know you can hold a pencil under your boob? How awesome is THAT? Someone should have totally told you this earlier.”


  157. I forgot to mention – a previous boyfriend had little experience with women before he met me. Hell, I only shave my pubes (sorry if too much info) if I’m swimming, as frankly there’s not a lot down there anyhoo and I hate ingrown hairs. So the first time we got intimate he recoiled so much I ended up shaving regularly because otherwise he didn’t like it.

    Wow, I have just reread that and am *headdesk* at not telling him to piss off. (It only took me another 2 years or so…)

    I think he’d spent much, much too much time looking at porn on the internet – he was also surprised to see that my boobs don’t point north when I’m lying down!

  158. And those three hairs you have on your boob are totally normal.

    “It’s even normal if it’s more than that. Or even on your face. Go figure.”

  159. @Time-machine:

    Look seriously into the possibility of food allergies. I suddenly developed a severe case of obstinate bad acne (similar to what you’re describing) in my late twenties. After 2 years of misery and makeup I went to a dermatologist completely fed up and demanding Acutane. Luckily he refused, and said he could cure me in two weeks without any meds. He talked to me for ten minutes about my eating habits, then told me to cut out all caffeine, to which I was definitely addicted at the time – coffee, chocolate, tea, coke, etc.

    I was skeptical but agreed to wait another two weeks before poisoning my body with drugs, and give it a try. I spent a week woozy with withdrawal, another week surprised at my new energy level (the allergy was sapping my energy in a huge way), and by week three my face was CLEAR. it was totally amazing. Recently I’ve been having a reoccurence of acne which I haven’t been able to deal with by completely cutting out caffeine again (since the original diagnosis, I’ve learned I can have a little now and then). So I went to an allergy doctor and he said cut out the soy. Again, within two weeks, gone.

    Skin is the way your body gets rid of toxins – since you’ve tried everything else, I’d be willing to bet your acne is an expression of your body fighting foods that are toxic to you. Get tested, find out what they are, and you will probably also enjoy additional side effects like increased energy levels, mental acuity and well being.

    If you can’t afford to see a doc, and are serious about this, I’d recommend cutting out dairy, caffeine, soy, and sugar (and wheat if you’re feeling ambitious) – the usual suspects. After four weeks, if your skin has cleared up, start adding them again one by one and pay attention to the results.

    You can think of this as your body trying to tell you it’s in distress, so this is actually an opportunity to learn to take better care of yourself. Good luck – I know how hard this can be!

  160. Forgive if covered, but I didn’t have time to read 165 posts in depth! on struggling with the feminist implications, I look at it along the same lines as feeling good when you get a great bra (there was a period of time where to be a feminist was to go without those!)–if it makes you feel better, than by all means remove by whatever means you deem appropriate. I can’t get lasered as the majority of mine is blonde, and it only works on dark hair. Then what’s the problem, you ask? Well, get a tan, bleach it out to almost white, and you’re left with a very shiny pelt! sweetmachine, my doc once prescribed a gel to apply whose name looked perilously close to vagisil (at least, as I read it on the prescription–vasinel maybe?) to reduce unwanted hair growth. It was kinda yucky to have on your face, cost the earth and wasn’t covered, and only helped me a little, but the effectiveness data is pretty decent in the majority of patients.

    Excellent post!

  161. Vaniqa–that was it. I see now Jmars covered it

    Oh, forgot to add that there was an awesome postsecret a few weeks in which a person confessed she and two female family members had a pack to take care of facial hair if any of them ended up in coma!!! It’s off the site now, sadly, but here’s a shout out for http://www.postsecret.com

    Finally, I won’t hijack the thread, but another great post in the making is the pedophiliic overtones of the brazilian wax! (imho)

  162. Dear God, save me from posting in haste. I meant, a few weeks ago and members had a pact. And me a former copyeditor!

  163. The other side of the story on Vaniqua: I’ve been using it for about seven years and I LOVE it. Yes, it’s expensive if you look at the price per tube. But the price per USE is cheap, about 25 cents a day. Well worth it for me. It’s thinned out the density of my facial hair and made it much finer. I only have to wax every couple of months now, when I had been shaving every other day.

    Maybe it doesn’t work for everyone, but I say give it a try and find out if it works for you.

  164. @Time-machine:

    Look seriously into the possibility of food allergies.

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely look into it, though if it is an allergy, I really hope it’s not milk. I love milk. I don’t think it would be caffeine, as I don’t have much caffeine regularly, but that doesn’t mean it might not be something else.

  165. Time-Machine, I just want to say that this rant is possibly one of the most entertaining things I’ve read today.

    And thanks to everyone else for this thread–I have fuzz all over my face, and a little tiny wise man beard that keeps trying to grow in. I can’t bring myself to shave it, there are too many hairs for plucking, and I er…gave myself a chemical burn with Nair (mostly because I am stupid.) Which, I’d try the Nair again, had it worked.

  166. @Time-Machine: Wow– spontaeous orgasm during puberty? I’m fairly well-read about sex and I’ve not come (ha-ha) across that. None of my sex-crazy women friends ever mentioned it, and we were all, ah, early starters, almost all pre-pubescent.

    Yes, for those of you who experienced it, it would have been helpful to know! We had sex ed in school, but I can’t imagine anything *that* explicit being discussed. It was mostly about birth control & STDs.

  167. Even though I’m South Asian AND Eastern European, and have plenty of unmanageably thick curly hair on my head, otherwise my brother and I are both almost completely hairless. I have very dark hair, but it’s so fine that the hair on my arms is usually blond from any sun contact, and even in a bikini I only have to shave my shins and ankles. My eyebrows are so wispy that they look like they’re from a Japanese scroll painting. I don’t even think my brother, at 36, CAN grow a beard.

    BUT, I have a big, thick, recurring, practically pubic, hair that grows from my chin at its own irregular schedule. I tweeze it, and it horrifies me. I only ever told my mom, and she was so revolted, I’ve never told anyone else. And, yes, sometimes I have a cut in my chin from where I’ve been too impatient to let it come in, and just gauged it out. I have tweezers everywhere, just in case.

  168. I have black hair on my belly. I let it grow until I can pull it out with my hands, which hurts terribly. It doesn’t bother me much; no one ever sees my belly.

  169. I am so happy that I am not alone.
    I am very fair skinned and red haired but started getting hair on my chin when in my late teens and my mother threw a fit and made me feel HORRIBLE about it.
    She wanted me to have electrolysis but I had heard how much it hurt and never was much of a masochist, so refused.
    I shave, daily. I too try to hide this fact but my husband thinks nothing of it. It’s just if I was obliged to have a hospital stay it would be difficult and embarrassing.
    I love the idea of a coma pact…

  170. @Time-Machine: Wow– spontaeous orgasm during puberty? I’m fairly well-read about sex and I’ve not come (ha-ha) across that. None of my sex-crazy women friends ever mentioned it, and we were all, ah, early starters, almost all pre-pubescent.

    There’s a name for it, but I don’t remember what it’s called. It happens to something like one in every 30/40 girls or something like that (been a while since I read up on it). I researched it once because I got kind of curious as to what it was after a very private confessiony conversation with a friend, where she wound up telling me that it had happened to her, and I was like “ME TOO!!! OMG!”

    The only time before that that I had ever heard of it happening to someone else was when the fictional protagonist of the book Sloppy Firsts discovers that this has been happening to her (in a very similar way to how I figured out what was happening with me), and has a very similar THAT’S IT? reaction.

    It plays no major role in the story, and yet when I read it was totally thrilled, like I AM NOT ALONE!

    In one of the Vagina Monologues as well, a woman mentions how orgasms just used to happen to her, and then that stopping, and goes on to describe finally realising it wasn’t just going to happen any more, and she wasn’t meeting “the one”, and so taking a class where she learned how to make it happen herself (through masterbation, obv.), which is the only other pop culture reference I’ve EVER come across to this actually kind of common thing, and in both cases the random-just-happens-to-me thing is kind of a side note and barely thrown in there and somewhat easy to miss (though easier to miss in the Monologue than in the book).

    And I probably super tuned into those sorts of things because it totally happened to me. And I’ve still only ever come across it TWICE in the truckloads of stuff I’ve watched and read. So it doesn’t surprise me at all when other people have never even heard of it.

  171. Wow, I’ve never heard of anyone being ashamed of this. I mean, most dark-haired women do have bodyhair, yeah, it’s part of our heritage. You are not the only one, there are many female creatures out there with the exact same problem.

    And yes, I use my own name here to declare that I actually have to shave my toes, pluck my nipples and tummy and – drum beats faster – get rid of my moustache with the help of an epillator (=body-hair remover machine). Yep. In fact, the latter is bloody painful, and many times it removes the skin too if I’m not careful enough… so sometimes I just bleach it (and then look like a wallrus for weeks, lol).

    I used to have it waxed but it took too long (luckily it’s not too expensive here in the heart of Europe, but heard it’s extremely expensive in the US, poor American chicks).

    All in all, this is not something to be ashamed of. It’s a natural thing you were born with, but you have numerous ways to get rif of it. Shaving it off is the worst thing you can do – it’s going to make the hair thicker and in a few years, you’ll have to do itwo or three times a day (knew a girl who used to shave it).

    The only problem with laser removal is – besides the fact that it costs a fortune :D – that you will have to wait until it grows “long(er)”. Yeah, been there, tried to do that and was enlightened they cannot get started with shaved, waxed or short bodyhair in general.

    Please sit down and tell your husband this is a problem you are struggling with, just like millions of other women all over the world. He will definitely understand and try to offer a solution: laser treatment or a more sensitive home-machine made specially for facial hair removal (like the thingie I use, ask me if you need any further details).

    Good luck and don’t worry, it will be fine! :)

  172. There was also an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where a woman had some brain defect that was causing her to spontaneously orgasm and simultaneously lose all function and moan uncontrollably in front of whoever happened to be watching. Which, please.

    Time Machine, your sex ed speech would have saved me a world of grief as an adolescent, particularly the part about the tampon (I gave up after that and just wore pads).

  173. I don’t like it when people notice my facial hair (so I remove it) but I have been known to pluck out wiry chin hairs while hanging out with people. The first time I found a chin hair I was sharing a hotel room with a bunch of people at a conference. I pulled it out and was like “holy crap! Look at what I just pulled out of my face!”

    Threading was the most painful way I have ever removed hair. Nair was awful and burn-y.

    I wax – it’s painful (but not as bad as threading) and I am red for a couple of hours afterwards. But I like it. I get it done at the salon pretty regularly. Everyone there is cool about it, I never feel weird (even leaving with a red mustache where my hairy one used to be), and I think it is pretty run of the mill. I mean they have a price for it, so it’s not like I am the first one to have ever gotten it done.

  174. DRST!! Those have a name? My God, they are the devil! I used to get really bad cystic acne on my face when I was a teenager, and I thought that it was just the same thing but on my nethers.

  175. TM, I just finished a course of Accutane, at the ripe old age of 28. I’m still only ~4-5 months out, and it takes 3-6 months to know for sure how well it worked, but so far I’m still very clear. (It fails completely in maybe 1/3 of cases, and of the remaining 2/3, half of those stay as clear post-isotretinoin as they were while on the meds. My fingers are crossed that this sticks!)

    Whoever said above that the really deep ones are cysts was right – cystic acne is really painful and sucky and craptastic. I’d had it since i was a teen, though I never realized that the cystic part requires different treatment from the more regular variety, which also respond to different treatment from blackheads, or the little tiny ones… it’s more complicated than I had realized, hence the cocktail regimen most dermatologists prescribe when you come in for acne. And for some people the birth control or antibiotics work, but for a lot of us the improvements are incremental or not very noticeable (in my case there were also serious and scary side effects with the minocycline, so I have to now avoid those drugs). And although muzaika is right that food allergies can contribute to a variety of skin problems, for many of us dealing with that doesn’t seem to make a difference, either. (Or hey, an even MORE drastic dietary modification is just not a long-term solution for me, and I decided to use allopathic medicine for something easier to live with on a day-to-day basis in the long run.)

    The government rigamarole, which is designed to make sure that no one has to consider an abortion ever, under any circumstances, to the point of completely infantilizing women AND their doctors, is incredibly frustrating. It was especially hard for me because my health care situation was crap and I had to travel really far for my monthly pregnancy tests AND for the prescription refill later the same week. But I did it. It sucked, all right, but I had a good dermatologist that I trusted, and for once I did NOT have serious side effects with a medication. (The whole story of my history with meds is even more OT, but yeah, it’s a long one.)

    After a couple months I had a daily nosebleed-coping routine (saline spray made it worse, but vaseline in the nose is AWESOME). I bought hydrocortisone cream chapstick online, which (together with more vaseline, since you can only put hydrocortisone on your lips 4x/day) seriously saved me. As someone who already had the most sensitive skin ever, I developed routines for treating the dermatitis outbreaks with hydrocortisone and/or straight-up vaseline. I adjusted to my new sleep habits (not falling asleep as quickly and then sleeping like a ROCK). The monthly bloodwork would have caught any serious problems very early, so once I was doing it I felt safe enough, even though in advance of the treatment I was in a near panic about everything I had heard about it.

    In other (shorter) words, I dealt with it, and in the long run it has done me a lot of good. My face is not in pain all the time now, and I’m back to barely wearing make-up, which is how I prefer it. (I had acne from the time I hit puberty, but it didn’t get really bad until my 20s, so for a long time I was able to wear almost no makeup and it didn’t look so bad.)

    Incidentally, though, my slightly dark moustache seems darker since the treatment, which could just be me getting older, but I don’t know for sure. :)

  176. OK. I’m back. I don’t have time to read the whole thread unfortunately. I’m sure there’s perfectly accurate information up there too, it just drives me nuts to see the old wives tales mixed in.

    So, first, what makes me an “expert”. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nurse. I’m a Registered Electrologist in the state of California, which means I had to go to a trade school for some number of hours (700, I think. It was a loooooong time ago) and pass a written and practical exam administered by the state. That means I went to school to learn about hair, how it grows, and how to make it go away forever. I also closed my business about 8 years ago because lasers are better than electrolysis for most things and I really didn’t have a choice anymore. Now I’m a software engineer and I’ll debug your shit in another thread. :)

    The biggest problem I see is the “shaving makes it worse” idea. This is just wrong. Your hair follicles are between an eighth and a quarter of an inch below the surface of your skin. They are not affected in any way by anything that happens at the skin surface, whether that is cutting with a pair of scissors, cutting with a razor, or using a depilitory cream.

    The reason why it feels like shaving makes it worse is because shorter hair is less flexible, and because shaving creates a blunt surface. First, the less flexible bit – think about snapping a piece of spaghetti in half. If you have a full sized piece you can bend it a bit and then it breaks easily. If you have a one inch piece of spaghetti and you try to break it in half, it’s less flexible and a bit tougher to break. It’s also why the hair growing from your head probably doesn’t make you itch, but small trimmings in your clothes when you get it cut do – they’re less flexible.

    New grown hair is naturally finest at the tip and therefore softer at the oldest end. Until it’s ready to die and fall out on it’s own every individual hair will always be thickest at the point where it exits your skin. Depilitory creams dissolve the hair which makes the end softer and can sometimes dissolve it slightly below the surface of your skin, which gives you an extra day or two without visible growth and then a less stubbly feeling for a day or two longer than shaving. Within a week you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two methods.

    Hair follicles can be shocked or damaged by any of the tweezing methods. Tweezing methods include tweezing (obvy), waxing, threading, sugaring, electric epilators. Basically anything that grabs one or more hairs and yanks. Eyebrows are the most likely to see “permanent” hair removal via waxing or tweezing because the skin under them is so delicate.

    Electrolysis uses a needle and electricity to cause a chemical reaction around the hair follicle. By applying current to the salt and water in your skin you convert it to lye (yes, the same stuff you clean your drains with) which then kills the hair follicle.

    Thermolysis uses a needle and electricity to apply heat to kill a hair follicle. It’s done with the same kind of machine as Electrolysis, and is equally as painful. The only difference between the application of the two is whether you’re using AC or DC. Thermolysis tends to go faster per hair, but also slightly less effective over time. Over the period of years that it may take for a person with serious hair issues I think it’s a wash as to which method is best.

    Lasers or pulsed light use heat to destroy hair follicles.

    The absolute best candidates for lasers are people with fair skin and dark hair. There are newer lasers that can work with darker skin. Being fair skinned and no longer in the business, I haven’t followed them too closely. Check with your dermatologist.

    People with curly hair are harder to treat. Typically what happens is that you do some damage to the curled follicle, which causes the next iteration of the hair to grow straight, and then when the straight hair is treated it goes away for ever. The combination of dark skin and curly hair means that people of color typically take more time (and money) to resolve problems like this. That sucks.

    Electrolysis/Thermolysis is still the best thing for shaping eyebrows, since lasers can’t be as precise – it’s just too easy to take the whole thing off. It’s also the best for blonde or gray hairs, or people with very dark skin. People with a tendancy to keloid should not have electrolysis. By the time you’ve finished puberty you’ll know if that’s the case for you or not.

    Finally, the other myth of hair growth that I hear a lot is “I did X for years and it made it worse.” This is just bunk. The problem here is not X, the problem here is “years”. As we get older, we grow more hair, and we do it in more interesting places. We also lose it where we want to keep it most. The thing that made the hair coarser, thicker, grow heavier down your throat, whatever, is age, pure and simple. So if you find a method you like, go with it. It’s never going to make it worse. Blame your parents for passing along their hirsute genes.

    If anybody has any questions for me, please feel free to ask. Just use my name when you do it – I’m not going to have time to read the thread any time soon, but I’ll do a search for my name later tonight and tomorrow. I’m vain like that. :)

  177. Time Machine:

    I feel your pain. I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but acne has been my ‘fat’, so to speak. And yeah, the deep, tender, painful cystic kind where you can’t touch your skin in any way. My mum took me to my first dermatologist at 10 to get an acid peel on my poor little face. Twenty years later and I’m still dealing with it.

    I’m obv. not a doctor, but it sounds like a topical solution- Proactiv, peels, etc.- are really not going to be a solution for you. The problem with some of the topical stuff like Proactiv is the higher dose of benzoyal peroxide which many people with acne and sensitive skin issues are allergic to; so the upped dosage makes things worse, rather than better.

    I’ve been on Accutane twice- once at 12 and then again at 22. After the first round I had about an eight year lapse in acne; after the second round, half that time. Accutane was not a cure all, for me at least, but it helped. It really did. And yes, you have to be beyond cautious and slather yourself in sunscreen and Aquaphor.

    I am currently taking Yaz and it is beyond the beyond. I don’t know if that’s what’s you’re using, but I highly recommend it. Cheers and good luck. Know you’re not alone.

  178. I’m hairy. I was once called “Hary Alice” by some kid in jr high school teasing me, rather than Mary Alice,
    my real name.

    And I just got a comment from a boyfriend in a bitchy mood about the ‘stache being a little overdue for some de-hairification.

    I now wax my lip hair and eyebrows. I try not to let hair removal take over my life by I have a heck of a lot of it, and yup…you gals with pale pale skin and dark dark hair aren’t alone, because that is yours truly as well.

    My latest eyebrow waxing experience wasn’t as good as the ones before it. I had gotten used to the same awesome lady and the last time I went she wasn’t there and I just went with someone new. She made them way too thin, and as a consequence it kinda hurt like an eyebrow wax had never hurt before. Usually it doesn’t hurt, just to alleviate any fears of anyone. But she said “your eyebrows are so thick and tough” and just went to town. I wish I had a video to laugh at now, I’m sure I looked ridiculous.

    But you know what, they can grow back. A blonde pregnant friend’s eyebrows just went invisible since the pregnancy, she now looks like she has none at all. My eyebrows (when they aren’t this thin, grrrr.) frame my face well and I also have long dark eyelashes. People buy makeup to give themselves eyebrows and eyelashes. Also blonde emo kids sometimes dye their hair on their head dark, and emos and blondies make the contrast on their cameras brighter to make their features stand out and look all dramatic when I naturally have that drama sans makeup and camera trickery. Not to mention the thick hair on my head.

    I considered myself “de-greekified” since my last eyebrow waxing gave me very un-Greek eyebrows :( But I’m still a feisty Greek in spirit. I may want to do a little hair removal grooming to show how sexy I can be, and I may not always feel 100% down with the hairieness. But I know it’s part and parcel of other parts of me, the hair came as a package deal with the rest of my looks and all in all I do love myself. Also, may I mention that Frida Kahlo is my very favorite painer :D

  179. I had the same facial hair history many here describe — start on the lip, then a little more on the chin, THEN A LITTLE MORE ON THE CHIN… I spent a LONG time every day plucking them out. Every… Single… Day… Pluck… Pluck… Pluck…

    In my mid-30’s I opted for electrolysis. It’s the only permanent method, but the electrologist has to be experienced and GOOD. I never looked back. It was the best money I ever spent (except for my graduate degree tuition money). It gave me the gift of time, as well as a boost in self-esteem. In fact, I think that (personally) I felt more comfortable interacting with others when I was being less worried about the chin hairs.

    A couple of things took some getting used to. You have to get used to letting it grow out a bit so the electrologist can get it. No plucking. You also have to get used to having little spots for a day or so after treatment. On me, they disappeared quickly. I didn’t use the numbing cream, but I did once I started getting chest and nipple hair removed as well as the hair on the lower belly. I wanted to go for the legs, but after a few sessions I figured it would take too long and cost too much. I wax the legs now.

    I do have PCOS, but who knows how much it is responsible for my hairiness…

    Anyway, I know laser is the thing now, but the electrolysis still is the only permanent method, and it worked well for me. Alas, it still depends on a competent practitioner (then again, doesn’t it always).

    –Andy Jo–

  180. How do you deal with people who notice? Do they comment on it?

    My reactions have been as follows: Mortification. Tears. Refusal to leave my house.

    My PCOS symptoms started in high school and it was sucktacular. I started with Jolene Creme Bleach bought very surreptitiously. I also tried home waxing which never seemed to work. Then I tried tweezing and electrolysis, both of which caused severe acne. In my early 20s the hair became more noticeable and I’d sometimes wake up with an inch-long white hair growing out of my cheek. That’s one of the weirder PCOS issues.

    About 7 years ago I started laser. The first two treatments cost $600 total, and I still go for maintenance treatments about six times a year – they cost $25 each. I like laser because it doesn’t hurt much (I thought I would pass out during electrolysis), doesn’t cause me to break out, and it works for a long time.

    I am simply not brave enough to go around balding and mustachioed. One or the other, but not both.

  181. Hi, I don’t have time to read all the comments, but if you have problems with acne and rosacea (sp?) you might not be elligible for waxing- (i don’t know much about laser stuff…) reputable salons will make you fill out a questionaire about your dermatological health before waxing any hair. I’ve only had my bikini line and eyebrows done professionally, but it hurt way less than the few times I’ve tried to wax my legs at home. (As far as facial hair goes, I grow a few long stragglers on my neck from time to time, which I pluck, and other than that I just have peach fuzz, but even though it grows all over my face, it is clear, so I don’t mind). Yes, waxing is tingly at best, but a good aesthetician will do all that she or he can to make the experience pleasant, and keep you comfortable and informed about the process. After just a few good professional experiences, I will never try home waxing again. The results are better and the pain is less when you go professional.

  182. Wow, I don’t feel so strange and freaky anymore! Unfortunately, giannakali, The Bearded Lady is not there anymore, I remember that place. In its place is some upscale hipster establishment. Imagine, that neighborhood used to be sketchy, it’s going the way of everything else in SF-wealthy, young, beautiful, overpriced. Ruining my funky city! Anyway, rant over. I have hairy arms, chin hairs, tummy hairs, a few boob hairs, moustache. The arms and moustache I don’t really do anything about (occasionally pluck a moustache hair) but all the others, I pluck. I’ve gotten a few brazillian waxes, other waxes, laser surgery (worked ok-one spot really worked because they did it high enough to burn a bit). All the pain and expense, but I feel weird and gross otherwise.

  183. I hide the fact that I shave my chin from my husband. He knows that I wax, but I’m not really up front about the fact that I’ve been too lazy to let it grow out and then wax it. Waxing, at least for me, is painful but over quickly. Plucking is a lot more painful. I just can’t stand to let it get to the point where it tickles my neck before I feel the need to do something about it.

    Sometimes I’m embarrassed by my facial hair, but unless it’s itching me, I’ve stopped thinking about it. People already look at me like I fell from space.

    You know, it might actually be kinda cool for doing male drag, it it weren’t for my enormous knockers ruining the illusion. *sigh*

  184. @ Time Machine (again) re spontaneous orgasm: it occurs to me that since most of us were “early starters,” we were already familiar with the sensation by the time puberty hit, so we would have known what it was. And since we were already inducing it deliberately, it’s not likely any of us would have been candidates for the spontaneous sort.

  185. @ muzaika

    sorry if I offend anyone here, and I don’t mean to single you out, but I hear this sort of advice about my acne a lot.

    I know that you just mean to be helpful, but telling someone with bad acne that it would all go away or be much improved if they just take caffeine/chocolate/fat/wheat/dairy/anythingnotrawandorganic out of their diet is like telling fat people that they would be so skinny if they would just stop shoveling donuts into their mouths for two seconds. Perhaps for some people that works, but for many, many people it does not, and it just reinforces that awful feeling that “I must be doing something terribly wrong to look like this.” I’ve tried everything short of accutane, and now that I have insurance that will cover part of the cost, I’m just about fed up enough with my face to shell out for it. I’ve had bad acne since I was 11, been on most of the other prescription and OTC products out there, been on birth control (which did help slightly), but had to go off of it for other reasons about 6 months ago, and the acne has been creeping back in ever since.

    For now though, I find that a soap with tea tree oil in it at least cuts down on the more painful lesions. There’s a nice one made by Desert Essence, and I got it for about $9 in a health food store, if anyone out there is looking for yet one more product to try.

    Sorry for the non-facial-hair rant.

  186. hey pickleberry –

    Sorry if it hit you that way, was not my intention; and I was speaking as someone who did, myself, suffer from bad, cystic acne for two years (as opposed to the implied metaphor of a blithe skinny person telling a fatty to just stop stuffing their faces). And I don’t really think I was saying “I know if you just do X, Y will happen” – it was a suggestion for exploration. Obviously it can’t work for everyone, but from TM’s initial post it seemed like she hadn’t considered food allergies, and I still think it’s an important avenue to explore before medication.

    God knows I would be the last person to imply that anything that anyone was eating made them good, bad, or “doing something terribly wrong” – I’ve spent years learning to liberate food and eating from that kind of judgment. Though I totally see how you would be triggered by anything that even smacked of that kind of language or approach, seeing how glib and oblivious people can be about telling you what will work for you.

    This actually feels like an important point: there must be a way to say: “hey, you might be able to change this condition by changing x behavior” (though, of course, maybe not); without it meaning: “you’re wrong for engaging in x behavior, which makes this painful condition your fault”. yes?

  187. I’ve waxed my upper lip since I was about 14. I’ve actually always paid people to do it because I am a wimp and I wouldn’t be able to pull the wax off all quick and ninja-like. In the last few years I’ve added the chin, too, which surprisingly hurts much less than the lip.

    I have PCOS and I am simply covered in hair. I don’t shave my legs, snatch, or armpits very often. Not for feminist reasons (though I absolutely consider myself a feminist) but because I just can’t be arsed to do it. It takes so long! I feel like my body hair’s much thicker than my husband’s, which makes me self conscious sometimes, but he says he doesn’t care whether or not I shave so that’s all right. I don’t shave my arms but one of my secret fantasies is to have hairless forearms like my mom and sister do.

    I have a wee patch of dark hair right between my boobs that I pluck, as well as on my nipples. In between waxing visits I pluck my chin and neck. I keep tweezers with me all the time because I get the best light when I’m in the car, so I can see what’s there. I don’t think I could tweeze my upper lip, though.

    I went to a new endocrinologist a few weeks ago and she told me that she doesn’t recommend that PCOS sufferers get laser hair removal, since, according to her, the hair will merrily grow back until a hormonal balance can be reached, so it was a waste of money.

  188. @ muzaika

    heh. sorry I came across so irritable, it’s been a long day, and I’m glad that you did find something that works for you!

  189. Funny that this post came up today. I was sitting in my class tonight, picking at a long black hair coming out of the side of my face.

    I get these same hairs growing out of the brown moles I have all over my body. I’ve got hair on my stomach, upper lip, face, and arms. And it’s dark hair too – my mom always says I inherited it from my dad. And then she joked tonight that I was turning into a man.

    I just shave off what I don’t like. I’m fairly low-maintenance.

  190. Time-Machine:

    I’m 25 and started getting cystic acne fairly badly on my cheeks about 3 years ago. I left it alone but it started impacting my self-image- or I suppose I left it impact my self-image- and I went to see my doctor about it nine months or so ago. She put me on a combination treatment of generic birth control, a minocycline-based antibiotic, and a topical treatment of differin gel. It started slowly working after a couple of months and now my skin is pretty much free of acne. I took the minocycline for six months or so and I’ll be taking the birth control for a total of a year and a half and sporadically applying the differin when needed. Hopefully, that should do it.

    Now for the bad news: side effects. I got the weight gain side effects to a certain extent, which screwed with my head for a while and almost made me fall off the FA wagon. I also got dizziness, which I assume was from the minocycline but may have been from the birth control. That freaked me out exceedingly. There was also the pleasant side-effect of less painful periods.

    I realize this is nothing more than my individual experience, but I wanted to let you know that I had a similar experience and that it cleared up for me. Also, I wanted to mention that a combination of medications can work as well as a singular “magic bullet” type like Accutane, and without the severe side-effects Accutane can have. I also really appreciated that my doctor structured my medicine regimen to tail off: I’m lucky to have a doctor who doesn’t like to rely on medication for the long-term if she doesn’t have to.

    Anyway, hope that’s useful.

  191. I haven’t gotten very far into the comments but I have to say, SM, “Merry Christmas: you’re hairy! ” made me bust out laughing.
    And I think that what friendship really, truly means is that if you are in a coma, then your friend will come early in the morning, before any of the other visitors, and lovingly remove your facial hair (shaving or waxing or whatever is needed) before anyone else sees you. Right, FJ, you would do that for her, wouldn’t you?

    I just had my chin hair (which I think I can get away with shaving once a week, twice max) waxed a few weeks ago and it’s just getting to the point where I need to shave it again. My husband knows about it, and has been known to chase me around the house with tweezers offering to pluck my hair for me, not because it bothers him, but because he thinks he will do a better job than me. He’s romantic that way.

  192. I have PCOS and I pluck all over my face between waxes. I wax my legs (way more painful that my face). One of my fears is being stranded on a desert island and not having my tweezers. I pluck at work, at home, while watching tv, surfing the net, on holidays, when I’m sick/depressed, while reading. I’ll spend 10 minutes locating a hair and dig it out regardless of pain or scaring. It bothers me so much more than my fat.

    My friends tell me it isn’t that visible but I dread having a guy caress my face and feel my stubble. Luckily I live in a place devoid of any romantic interludes so it’s not an issue for the moment.

  193. I carry one of those baby eyebrow razors in my purse so when I see a chin hair starting to become noticeable I can go in any bathroom or just in my car and get rid of it. I’m 22 and have had chin hairs for a couple of years now, and I’m pretty hairy all over. I may have PCOS but my doctor said there was no reason to test for it? I said, “I think I might have PCOS.” And she said, “Yeah maybe, but it doesn’t matter because it’s just a cluster of symptoms.” Does that sound right to anyone? Dunno.

  194. I don’t have time to read all the comments, but I’ve seen a few people asking about laser hair removal.
    I’ve had it done.

    I think my excess hair started appearing when I was around 17 or so, and wasn’t bad at that time, but got gradually worse and worse. I’ve got relatively pale skin, and medium-brown hair on my head, but the hair that started growing – very dark, very strong. None of that light fuzz that many women have. And yes, it bothered me hugely, made me depressed and ashamed that every morning before I went to work I had to spend ten minutes with tweezers on all areas of my face and neck. I also used to bleach my arms, which had very dark thick hair too – but I’d have to bleach every single week because after just 7 days the dark roots were already showing. Legs weren’t as much of a problem because it’s ‘ok’ to shave them, but if I shaved them in the morning they’d already be bristly at night.

    I had had a couple of tries with laser on my face/neck before. Did a few sessions in London – hugely expensive, not particularly effective. Then did a few sessions in Israel – again hugely expensive, awful, awful male doctor who did it, and not particularly effective. These were treatments were it was pay per treatment.

    I can’t remember exactly when I discovered the deal that I ended up going for – my HMO (or Israeli equivalent) offered a half-price at a specific laser place if you joined the highest level of the HMO. So for a slightly higher per-month fee, I got that, and went off to this place.

    What was good about this place is that there was no pay per session, but pay per body area you want to do – until the treatment is successful. Success can mean between 12 and 24 sessions and it can take YEARS. And I signed up for full legs, lower arms, stomach (where I had a line up to belly button) and face/neck.

    First thing – yes, IT HURTS LIKE HECK. I really don’t think there’s anything quite so painful, even *with* the numbing cream.

    However – it actually really worked this time. At first I had to go once a month, then once every two months, then it got cut down to once every 3 or 4 months, so although I started about 2.5 years ago (I think) I think I’ve only done maybe 7 or 8 treatments on each body area.

    Results are mixed, but such a huge difference. My legs are almost hair-free. I get stray hairs all over the place, but not the thick growth I had before, and each indiviual hair is also thinner. I can forget to shave them for weeks and months now, and it’s not a problem. My arms too – I’ve almost forgotten how horribly self conscious I used to be. I now have a few stray hairs, much thinner and hardly noticeable and not coarse to the touch at all. My stomach is totally cleared up. My face/neck is the most stubborn area – I do still get stray coarse thick hairs that I have to tweeze – and the rest of the area still has quite a lot of hair but it’s much much thinner and less noticeable.

    I’m six months pregnant now, and you’re not allowed to use laser whilst pregnant so I’ve had to suspend my treatments for a while. I would have liked to be able to carry on with my face, but even that is now manageable – instead of knowing I have to check for hairs every day, I check every few days, pluck the stray thicker ones, and leave the thinner ones because they’re almost unnoticeable. I’d bleach them, but that also might not be good for the baby.

    I was worried also because I’d heard that pregnancy makes you hairier, so I thought it might put paid all that hard-earned hairlessness, but so far, that hasn’t really happened. So the only drawback hair-wise has been not being able to continue the lasering.

    I was lucky that when I met my husband I’d already dealt with most of the hair and it was already much better than it was, because if it was bad I don’t think I could’ve talked about it to him and I would have still felt extremely self-conscious. But I have told him that I’ve done laser, and I’ve had a couple treatments since we were married. Skin is red and icky for a while, and sore, but it fades afer a couple of days. I woudn’t do it on my face for a few days before a special event though.

    I don’t know if the laser this place I go to now is different from the others that I’d tried before – it could just have been advances in the technology over the years, even though there weren’t many years between my various trials.

    Right or wrong, I simply couldn’t help how absolutely disgusting I found my excess hair. It didn’t matter that I could tell myself ‘it’s just hair’ it was AWFUL. To make matters worse, neither of my sisters has any kind of excess hair, and as for my mum – I don’t think she even ever had to shave her legs she had so little. So of course it made me feel even more freakish that I wasn’t like anyone in my family, couldn’t commiserate with them (of course my dad and brothers are *very* hairy men).

    Laser *is* very expensive, so I’d definitely recommend goign for a place that you can pay once per body area until it’s a success, rather than per treatment, or you’ll end up bankrupting yourself. I think I ended up paying the equivalent of a few thousand dollars (and salaries here are a lot lower than in America so those dollars count more) but it was so worth it. And worth the pain, too, even though it really does hurt a heck of a lot. To be able to not worry about/think about it anymore is amazing. To not worry about the state of my face, or wearing short sleeves, or whether my legs are scratching my husband, to have cut down on hours of maintenance – bleaching, waxing, shaving, plucking, I did combinations of all… so worth it.

    (I think I was even luckier that I started this before I met my husband because unlike my dad and brothers, he’s one of those men with relatively little hair on his body – I think my arms and legs were hairier than his are! I know that would have felt even more embarrassing.)

  195. I’ve had coarse, sometimes dark hair on my chin, neck, and jawline since my teens (i’m 28). also no PCOS, normal testosterone levels. Just the luck of hte draw.

    My biggest issue is how it interacts with my acne. shaving irritates my skin and makes me break out. tweezing, which i do now, does too, but less, plus no stubble.

    I tried laser several times, and that actually made me break out worse than anything else has. I actually walked away from the last two prepaid treatments because i couldn’t face that again. I know there are different kinds of lasers, but i ‘m very leery of doing it again.

    for the longest time i was terrified of getting involved with anyone because they’d be up close and personal with my face. my gf doesn’t seem to mind, which is nice, but i still spend a lot of energy worrying about and dealing iwth facial hair.

  196. integgy – “well what if someone will see my naked in all my hairy glory and be disgusted by the sight of me?”

    That kind of sums up all my body issues right there – I fear someone seeing me naked, both because of hair and fat. *sigh*

    At least this thread is rather conclusive proof that 1) facial and “inconvenient” body hair is extremely common, b) many women do something to remove unwanted body hair beyond leg and armpit shaving and c) most of us have deep seated fear and discomfort discussing it because we feel on some level that the existence of all that hair is shameful.

    I don’t think this thread is going to make me stop removing the hair (I’ve been really curious about sugaring and hadn’t found detailed instructions before – thanks RG) but at least I no longer feel like I’m struggling alone!

    (Apologies in advance for the thread-jacking. Also I’m not a medical professional, so this is all based on my own experiences)

    bellacoker – A Bartholin cyst is something like a pimple, but far more serious. A cyst develops when the duct to the Bartholin gland, which is the sweat gland just outside the entrance to the vagina, gets blocked. Fluid builds up and if it becomes infected, an abcess develops that often requires a trip to the doctor to drain it (and it hurts like a motherfucker by the way – I had to get my second one taken care of on my birthday back in April. My first BA got so bad I had to into the hospital for outpatient surgery, so I was under anesthesia, which I now realize was a small price to pay for avoiding the level of pain involved in getting it done in my doctor’s office. I nearly threw up it was so bad).

    There’s a difference between Bartholins and regular ingrown or pulled hairs. If you develop a red bump somewhere within the regular hairy area in your genitals, it’s probably just a hair that got pulled out and the follicle or whatever got infected. I get a lot of those as well, but they’re not dangerous. They can just be hellishly uncomfortable if they get big or are in a sensitive spot that you feel when you sit down or walk. Sitz baths (sitting in a few inches of warm water in the tub) help minimize those and ease the discomfort. Also I keep all the hair “down there” trimmed to lessen the number of pulled hairs. A Bartholin cyst will be deeper, away from the hair line, and may take time to develop into serious pain. It’ll register as a red bump somewhere there shouldn’t really be one. Some of them resolve without getting infected. My first one kept getting worse until it was the size of a quarter and I couldn’t move, walk or sit.

    Also, in my experience treating Bartholins with antibiotics does not work. If it progresses to the point where you go to the doctor, it needs to be drained. Sitz baths and pills won’t help at that point.

    Yet another reason we all should as much as possible be familiar with our bodies so we recognize changes when they happen.

  197. TimeMachine: You should write a book for girls, you really should. I just wanted to mention that my husband had terrible acne as a teenager. When he was about 18, he was diagnosed with very high cholesterol. Because of that, he put himself on a strict vegan diet (up till that time, he’d been eating the typical teenage boy diet of pizza, ho-ho’s, soda, etc.). Not only did his cholesterol drop, but his acne vanished as well. I know that you often hear that diet has nothing to do with acne (in fact, my 13 year old daughter was just told this in health class), but I find that pretty incredible. I’m not saying you should become a vegan, but I do think that seeing an allergist and maybe a nutritionist could be helpful for you. It could be that something in your diet (as the previous commenter said) is triggering your skin to react in this way. BTW – my husband is no longer vegan or even a vegetarian, but he eats a very healthy whole foods diet, and his skin is great.

  198. I 2nd peggynature….someone should have told us!!!! At least our female family members, of which I had plenty, who just acted like it was okay until I was at least 18, then it was something I was woman enough to deal with. By that time, I was already past freaking out about it, and on to what DO I DO NOW? But I guess that’s the point of this thread, women in general don’t want to talk about it, because if you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist…

  199. Oh, I’m tossing smooches and hugs to you all for a thread about body hair that can go on for over two hundred posts!! As a Southern Italian + Eastern European + PCOS girl, I pretty well cover the spread on hairiness, and I can’t tell you how relieved I am to know that others of you shave daily, as I do. I went the laser route for a while, but that only worked while my hormones were semi-balanced. Once I started deliberately injecting and pill taking (trying to get pregnant), all that chinny-chin-chin hair came back with a vengeance. However, I learned that instead of plucking for 30-45 minutes a night (like I used to), I just shave instead. I do cringe away from my husband’s inclination to cup my face, though, unless I’m freshly shaved, and I do wish that were different. :(

    As an aside, how do you fat ladies deal with being waxed? I know that sounds weird, but I’ve been tempted for some time to get my upper thighs waxed, but I’ve been hesitant to do so since it’s such lush flora, and I worry that people would be completely grossed out by my thunder thighs. What’s that experience been like?

  200. Oh, and that reminds me of a funny story. My Godson (aka my cousin) also has a lot of facial hair and even shaves twice daily, particularly if he’s going out after work. Once, he was doing that while sharing a room with a co-worker, and his co-worker said, “Dude! You have a seriously heavy beard! I’ve never known anyone who had to shave twice a day!” And my cousin said, “Hell, this is nothing! You should see my aunts!”

    It says something for my mother and my other aunt that they both found the telling of this absolutely hysterical. :)

  201. TimeMachine — chiming in late, but both my husband and sister had cystic acne as teenagers and in their early 20s. In both cases, Accutane was the only thing that solved it … although both of them had to have 2 courses of the drug a couple of years apart. They had these treaments in the early – mid 1980s, so it’s been 20 years or so post-treatment.

    As far as I can see, it didn’t destroy their oil glands. In fact, both still get occassional break-outs (my sister especially got them when she was pregnant … long after the Accutane treatment). And it didn’t cause any long-term damage on that front: DS and her husband have 3 kids, all perfectly normal and healthy. I think it’s just getting pregnant while on Accutane that’s a problem, but in case you were worried that it might be a longer-term concern, it doesn’t seem to be.

    You have to be careful not to get too much sun, but speaking as a 41 year old who’s often mistaken for being the youngest sibling (I’m actually the oldest — 9 years older than my brother), I’d recommend staying out of the sun anyway. I have almost no wrinkles, which I think has a lot to do with staying out of the sun. Also being fat, but turns out that not having tanned much was a good thing in the long run

    I didn’t know the DH in those days, but I know my sister tried pretty much every other thing she could before starting the Accutane. In those days (maybe now, too) acne was treated with topicals and tetracycline. I didn’t have especially bad acne, but I was probably on the tetracycline for 3 or 4 years. Different lotions and potions, eat this, don’t eat that … none of it really had much impact, but the Accutane did.

    And Shoutz — your mother and aunt have my vote for coolest mother and aunt! Sounds like they’ve got a good outlook on this particular issue.

  202. Time-Machine, I did the Accutane thing in high school, and dealt with the full complement of obnoxious side effects (including nosebleeds, the only time in my life I’ve EVER had those). My face cleared up for a while, but didn’t stay that way. However, the acne I used to get all over my back and chest is completely gone and hasn’t made a reappearance since. I don’t know if that makes it worth the effort for you; I doubt I would do it again, but I guess I might consider it if I started breaking out all over my body like I used to.

    I have had to deal with plenty of intrusive motherfuckers (er, I mean, “helpful strangers”) explaining why my acne was my fault. My favorite was the guy who told me that I obviously needed to wash my sheets more often, because my acne was caused by sleeping on a dirty pillowcase.

    I shave my legs and pluck my eyebrows (well, and I also shave my head, so there’s a general hair=bad theme). I like the idea of defoliating my bush, but have not found a method that wasn’t either more painful or more time-consuming than it was worth, so I usually don’t bother except for the occasional scissor trim. It’s not like anyone’s going to see it except a select few–and, to use one of my favorite Margaret Cho quotes, “If you care about what I look like when you’re fucking me, you shouldn’t be fucking me in the first place.”

    Also, for anyone who needs a good mustache role model, may I recommend JD Samson of Le Tigre? Oh the sexy androgyny!

  203. I know that you often hear that diet has nothing to do with acne (in fact, my 13 year old daughter was just told this in health class), but I find that pretty incredible.

    And I find it questionable to opt for the theory that blames the acne sufferer and rests on a good food/bad food dichotomy.

    Look, clearly some people get acne as a result of reactions to certain foods. Just as clearly, some people get acne no matter what they eat and what they do. My dermatologist told me that my acne is a result of being extra sensitive to male hormones; I have the “normal” amount of them, but I get more acne and body hair than the “normal” amount would give a different woman. It’s not about whether I eat a piece of fucking pizza.

  204. “Women are supposed to be small (FAIL), quiet (FAIL), hairless (FAIL), pretty (possible FAIL), and reserved (FAIL)”

    Ha, I loved this. I would say that for me as well, this about sums it up. Brilliant.

    As to what Sweet Machine last said above, I would amend it thusly:

    “clearly, some people get acne no matter what they eat and what they do” (SUCCCEED).

    I have acne pretty much all the time now, at 27, all over my face and back, because I opted for non-hormonal birth control. A lack of non-sequitor, hormally-induced mood swings was somehow preferable to a lack of red dots on my skin. Go figure.

    To speak to the original post, I also have a twee mustache which I refer to as my whiskers, and I wax. I wax half out of shame, and half because I really don’t like mustachios on anybody.

    But I had an acupuncturist who flaunted hers, and I realized that after the first few visits I was totally used to it. It was proof to me that, like leg hair or anything else really, my aversion to it was learned and could be unlearned.

  205. I wax half out of shame

    Okay, I genuinely misunderstood this to mean that you wax half of your mustache, and I find that hilarious and delightful.

    Also, what do you think it would take to get us all waxing our mustaches like this instead?

  206. This got me all fired up – and upset and squiggly all at the same, time. I, too, had a goatee hanging out under my chin for most of my life. I shaved it every day. It made me keep my head hung down (neck strain), be uncomfortable leaving the house unless I’d shaved (embarassment, social discomfort), avoid being kissed or touched (lost opportunities) for fear someone would get to close to my face and feel/see the dreaded stubble!

    As you probably noticed, I used the past tense. Before I found FA, I ended up saving and then spending a ton of money to get it electrolysized (sp?) right off my face. I spent two years going weekly to lie down and have someone stick needles into my hair follicles and zap them with electricity. (owch.)

    Did it help? You bet – I immediately felt more confident, less scared. As much as I knew I hated that beard, I realized even more so when I saw the difference it made in my attitude. But – now that I’ve encountered FA, I wonder if it was the right call. If I’d make it again? Especially given the cost ($$$$) and the pain – not easy for someone with fibromyalgia to put up with. But I was desperate.

    I might. The shame – as importantly distinguished from embarassment, shame, sitting in judgment on yourself shame – was so strong, I don’t know if I could overcome it the way I have started to with my body hatred and aversion – and that’s been a lot of work in its own right. I think G.B. is exactly right in terms of how this ties in with ideals of what women are supposed to be.

    So, thanks for this. It’s gotten me thinking again. And there’s my bit of the experience, FWIW.

  207. “I have had to deal with plenty of intrusive motherfuckers (er, I mean, “helpful strangers”) explaining why my acne was my fault. My favorite was the guy who told me that I obviously needed to wash my sheets more often, because my acne was caused by sleeping on a dirty pillowcase.”

    That’s the fucking worst, isn’t it? For me comments would range from the condescending “Oh you’d have such a pretty face if….” to the downright obnoxious assumption that I am slovenly (“Don’t you wash your face?”) or lazy (“Why do you need more pizza? To match your face?”)

    And, like you said, people feel free to come up to you and offer some outlandish solution that worked for their sister’s cousin’s boyfriend’s uncle. The best one I ever heard was drinking urine. Seriously.

  208. Re half-mustaches, there is a musician in Denver who has half of a dramatic sideburn/mustache thing, and the other side of his face is clean shaven. He does it because he’s one-half Native American, iirc. It is, needless to say, incredibly awesome.

    Also, one time for a costume party I dressed as Walter from The Big Lebowski, and realized how beyond fucking cool I would look with a goatee. So I almost kind of wish I had one. (I am sympathetic, though, to the fact that the emotional toll of facial hair in real life is a little different from my Fantasy of Being John Goodman.)

  209. I dated this crap guy who hassled me like crazy about my moustache. No one had really said anything to me about it before and I didn’t notice it much myself because I’m legally blind. But this douche went on and on, making fun of me and calling me “Miss Moustache”. Now, in addition to being embarassed about my Bert eyebrows and chin hairs, I’m insecure about this. And the stupid guy felt it was OK to pick on this feature because he complimented me on others. AAAARRRGH!

  210. I think that with the “here’s what worked for me/someone else” kind of thing, if you really feel like sharing that, just say “Here’s what worked for me” and let it go at that.

    I’m not even sure that “here’s what worked for someone else” is helpful, since the “someone else” isn’t there to answer questions or follow up.

    There’s a big difference between “When I had pinchnose fever, something that worked for me was foobar juice” and “YOU HAVE PINCHNOSE FEVER? YOU HAVE TO TRY FOOBAR JUICE!!!1!”

  211. JupiterPluvius–Well, and also, we’re talking about unasked-for advice, here. Like, would you walk up to a stranger who was pinching her nose and tell her she should try foobar juice? Because maybe she’s really fucking tired of talking about her pinchnose fever, or THINKING about her pinchnose fever, and she’s in the middle of an outing which has NOTHING TO DO with her pinchnose fever, and therefore she really doesn’t want to hear your opinion, as helpful as you may think you’re being. (Or maybe I really enjoy writing “pinchnose fever.”)

  212. Sweet Machine – I certainly never said that if one eats pizza, one will get acne. What I did say is that it is a feasible possibility that some people are sensitive to certain substances, and that acne could possibly be a result of that. I do not see that as blaming the acne sufferer for food choices; rather I see it as a possible source of empowerment for the person who discovers another avenue to venture down in the journey toward alleviation of the troublesome symptom. What I was trying to say in the sentence that you quoted was: I find it weird that something as essential as food would have no effect on the state of our bodies, and to just remove food out of hand as a possible culprit for any particular physical manifestation of imbalance is a bit hasty. I thought I was being careful to say that some kind of food reaction could be the issue, not that it is and that TimeMachine needs to give up pizza right away. I was offering an anecdote that I thought could be helpful. Jesus Christ. What the fuck is your damage, anyway? This sort of shit is why I stopped coming here a while back, and it why I shan’t return. TA TA!!!


    Next, someone gives you Fighting Pinchnose Fever as a “gift”.

  214. Jesus Christ. What the fuck is your damage, anyway? This sort of shit is why I stopped coming here a while back, and it why I shan’t return. TA TA!!!

    Whoa, reading that paragraph I was just going along, blahbideeblah read read read, and then BAM this caught me totally off guard! wtf!

  215. Also, I feel like people commenting on the posts today missed the commet threads for the posts from, like, two days ago. Which, maybe they did, but I’m starting to get really confused about which thread I’m actually reading now.

  216. Lynne – Okay, I lied – I haven’t really left yet. I guess I’m just pissed that what I thought was maybe helpful was called “blaming the sufferer”. Frankly, that hurts my feelings. And, as has been made very clear by the bloggers at this site (and quite proudly, I might add) that my feeling don’t really mean shit…well, anyway. See ya.


    It’s all blue monsters now which is… something I never expected to write.

  218. Jesus Christ. What the fuck is your damage, anyway?

    You know, I actually think my comments on this post have outlined my damage pretty fucking well, thank you.

    In the context of a conversation that is about how much incredibly damaging shame women are made to feel about the natural states of their faces, you come and say that your teenage daughter has been taught that it’s actually NOT HER FAULT if she gets acne, and you say but I find that pretty incredible. You did NOT say it is a feasible possibility that some people are sensitive to certain substances, and that acne could possibly be a result of that.

    People like you are my fucking damage. Enjoy your flounce.

  219. Maybe they are! And you and not-logged-in-SM have similar body shapes. A happy monster family!!

    Except for the trolls and the flouncers, that is. wtf again, denise. “What the fuck is your damage, anyway?” sure says a lot about how much you consider other people’s feelings, so I can’t imagine why you think nobody around here is being sensitive about yours.

  220. Nope. Did not say that. I said that my daughter was told that food has nothing to do with acne; in fact, she was told by the health teacher that washing her face would take care of it lickety split.

    Enjoy your righteous rage! Woops, I mean, your FUCKING righteous rage,

  221. Oh no, we cuss and we have righteous rage! We’ll never get any readers with that attitude.

    By the way, Denise, that personal persecution you’re imagining was illusory, until now. This is personal: you suck at flouncing.

  222. Lynne – I do agree with you. “What the fuck is your damage” is not a nice thing to say to anyone, and I do feel remorse. Seriously, though. I do wish that my (perhaps wrongly said) (and unasked-for) advice to TM hadn’t been called sufferer-blaming. And I never said that acne was about eating a “fucking piece of pizza”. This place is just too edgy for me. My anger got the best of me… Okay! That’s it for me. Sorry, SM.

  223. in fact, she was told by the health teacher that washing her face would take care of it lickety split.

    Well, that’s probably not true, either. Isn’t being a teenager subject to the disinformation of adults awesome?

    Denise, for god’s sake, I know that the Number One Rule of Flouncing is that you don’t actually leave, but seriously: you can go now. Before your comments on this thread I didn’t have enough of an impression of you to proudly imply that your feelings aren’t worth shit. Now, though? I’ve got plenty of impressions. And you know what? Those impressions are still not that your feelings aren’t worth shit. Those impressions are that this is not the blog for you.

    Everyone else: carry on!

  224. denise, your first comment was FULL of good/bad food language, and it totally made me wince when i read it. this is not everyone else being too sensitive. your words are the common denominator.

  225. OKAY! I get it. I really do. And SM, you’re absolutely right, as I said, things here are too edgy for me. My allusion to feelings not being important is a reference to the commenter policy and the fact that when people are called out, they are called out fairly strenuously. I did stop coming her a couple months ago because it felt like too much for me, but I occasionally like to peek at what you all are talking about, and, well, the facial hair discussion was groovy until all this shit. Anyway, lesson learned.

  226. I have dark hair, and pale skin. I’m fat, and I’m suffering from an existing hormonal imbalance (hypothyroidism). It came as no surprise to me, therefore, when I started having hairs on my chin and just below my jaw growing in thicker and darker than usual (which has been for about the last ten or so years, maybe more).

    I’ve always had a bit of a moustache (so does my mother). But the hair on my upper lip has always been pretty fine and downy, so I haven’t bothered to try and remove it (too much hassle/pain). These darker hairs on my chin and neck? Well, they’re thicker, stronger, more like the hair on my eyebrows (and yeah, some of my eyebrow hair is attempting to go feral, too, but that’s easier to ignore). So I pluck them. When I’m thinking about it, which isn’t every day, I’ll pluck out about 10 per day for a few days in a row. Then I’ll get fed up (or the bathroom will be too cold when I’ve just finished showering, or I’ll forget, or whatever) and it won’t get done for a bit, and I’ll eventually remember just before I have to go out somewhere, at which point the most obvious ten will be removed.

    I don’t comment on it, my partner doesn’t comment on it, none of my relatives comment on it, and so far I’ve not had any bystander raise a mention. I figure I’ll just keep ignoring it and leave the rest to a social tradition of polite behaviour. I don’t bother to remove the hair on my legs, or my underarms, so if some nit does decide to throw a wobbly, I’ll just give them my best “what the hell is up with you?” look, raise a trouser leg and let them presume I’m feral. My nickname for it (taken from the wonderful Kaz Cooke) is “I’m a furry princess”.

    A family history of low money supply is a Good Thing at times. Means I can bring that out as a reason why I didn’t get into “good habits” as a teenager (couldn’t afford it) and why I remain with the “bad habits” now.

  227. I’m 53 and a feminist. I haven’t shaved my legs or underarms since the 1970s, though for a while when I moved to the south I bleached the hair on my legs so it would be less conspicious. But the hair on my face is my limit of accepting my body the way it is.

    My mother always had hers removed by electrolysis, and when I started getting a few hairs in my 20s I would go in with her and use a few minutes of her appointment. That gradually increased and in recent years, in perimenopause, I have been going for 15 to 20 minutes of treatment every 6 weeks. In this rural area it costs $20-35. No new hairs are growing on my cheeks now, but more keep growing under my chin.

    Electrolysis hurts a bit, but not as much as you would expect. Any individual hair will stop coming back after 1 to 3 treatments, but more grow. I’ve never tried laser hair removal because I’ve been told that laser hair removal only works on black hairs and some of mine are white. The big advantage of electrolysis is that it removes only the big hairs, leaving the natural fine down.

    I initially went to an electrolysis technician who worked in a dermatologist’s office. When she gave up the business I couldn’t find anyone else in a doctor’s office who was convenient, so I started going to an independent technician. The important question to ask is how the technician handles sterility of needles. Mine has each customer pay for her own needle (about $25), so she uses a needle on me that isn’t used on anyone else.

  228. Fillyjonk and Meowser, this is off-topic, but I just wanted to say thanks – as someone else with trichotillomania – for putting that out there. I’ve never been brave enough to do so. (How many days has it taken me even to post this? Well, that was partly because I didn’t want to threadjack.) Anyway, I didn’t know anyone – let alone smart, sarcastic women – with the same issues. (Except one, from a drama camp I attended in 1993, and she got together with the pervy counselor I had a crush on, so we didn’t stay in touch. Oh, hell, I’m rambling all over the place.) Anyway, thanks.

    And speaking of bravery, LilahCello you are my hero.

  229. I think the reason it’s so hard for me to even acknowledge, let alone have a conversation about, my abundant (and luxurious!) facial hair is that I’ve never seen a women idolized for being hairy.

    We all know that in this strange, backwords world women are only as valuable as they are beautiful (rather than the other way around). It has been a sort of perverse comfort to see women that deviate from the “ideal” being upheld as beautiful, because it assuages my insecuritites about how valuable I am or can be to a society that seems to only want women who are tall/thin/white/bubbly. So when I see a fat woman, or a brown woman, or a short woman, or a loner-type woman, being espoused as gorgeous, I can breath a sigh of relief, because whew, I’m not totally excluded from the “who matters” party.

    But I’ve never, ever seen a hairy woman shown as attractive or valuable. (And unfortunately, being hairy feels like my primary defining characteristic.) But then again, maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places…

  230. Oh, and to clarify, I don’t mean valuable in the sense of “what can this person DO for me or for society”, but valuable in that “a woman is valuable because she is a person, a human being, and that is intrinsically valuable.”

  231. Thanks to everyone who was so open and honest with your experiences. This has been so helpful to me. I have even sent the link to 2 of my friends – guess my secret is out, at least to them! I realize that it is far easier to be open in such an impersonal space than it is in real life situations. I hope that this has helped those of us who are struggling with this issue to start opening up to people in our lives (if that’s what we want to do). Thank you all, for your comments and stories, and thank you to SweetMachine, Kate, and Fillyjonk for sharing your space with me.

  232. So many comments! Did anyone mention a combo of Spironolactone and Vaniqa? The spiro is a former blood pressure pill that turned out to be not so good for BP, but great for unwanted hair, and is stupid cheap. Vaniqa is a very new prescription facial cream that really kills off the hair that spiro leaves behind, but is stupid expensive.

    Between the two though, my chin hair plucking days are over. Call me vain, but the suckers are really annoying.

  233. Oh thank god. I thought I was the only one with a) nipple/breast hair, b) facial hair that’s not very visible, and c) facial hair that is VERY visible d) not doing anything about it.. Actually, come to think of it, I have very dark hair almost everywhere on my body. My husband doesn’t mind, he’s ½ Iranian, ½ Puerto Rican. (he’s a hairy MF.) I’m Polish, Italian, English, and Irish. And pale. But my hair is quite dark. And its dark everywhere.

    I don’t really shave my legs, my underarms, my pubic hair, or anything. Mostly, only my legs when I need to make a fancy appearance at a wedding or such. I guess, along with my fat, my hair has always just been a part of me, and I never minded. (god bless my mother, who never told me I needed to lose weight or shave my legs.) I also have that happy trail from my breasts down to my pants, but I’m hairy *everywhere* below the waist. And I do mean everywhere. Thankfully, none of my partners ever mentioned it. My brother mentioned the moustache once, and I punched him in the face.

    I’ve always had hairy arms, but never shaved them. And though my mom thinks I’m crazy, because she can’t go a day without shaving her legs and underarms, I usually let my legs and underarms grow long enough to be braided. They do stop at some point and seem to just get worn away.

    I read somewhere, a while ago, that women didn’t shave their legs until WWI (or WWII?). I can’t remember which war it was, but it was basically a big add campaign to get someone to buy the razors since all the men were off fighting somewhere and the domestic hair removal market was in a tizzy trying to sell their shit to anyone. The made a pink razor, and we have suffered since.

    Well, that’s longer than I anticipated, but much needed. Thanks LilahCello!

  234. Um.

    Sarah, Sniper, SM, or whomever mentioned it — you said a couple of cups of spearmint tea a day.

    Does that literally mean 16 ounces?

    And can you drink it cold, or does it have to be hot? (Or vice versa, for maximum discomfort in the winter months?)

  235. I think this thread is long enough that I can relax a little about threadjacking, hope you agree.

    I wanted to say that I understood Denise’s dismay about how her post was characterized because she thought she’d worded it in a inoffensive way. Where she went wrong was not accepting that it could be read differently.

    On another thread some time ago I posted a comment that was something that I thought would be comforting and helpful and got a pretty sharp correction. Luckily for me, I went back and re-read my comment before I responded. I was re-reading because I wanted to make sure that when I smacked down the criticism, I used my own words to show them they were totally wrong about their interpretation. Only they weren’t. And when I re-read my comment, I could see where someone who had different experiences from me could have heard something that I didn’t intend.

    We get injured so often from people in the guise of ‘help’ that all of us have the scars. The difference is in where the scars are located and what the ‘help’ is, but not in the experience. All this is my way of saying that I totally completely deserved the reaction to my comment and I recognized that and apologized.

    It’s like that time in 7th grade when I found out that boys had feelings that could get hurt (nobody told me they were people), just because I didn’t intend it, doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

    And to get back on topic, one more facial hair story. When I was very little I was staying with my grandparents. My grandmother was not a loving woman at all and her most frequent interaction with my grandfather, and most of the rest of the family, was criticism and complaint. I never saw my grandparents hold hands or kiss or pat each other. This one morning I came into their bedroom and they were standing in front of the window in the light and he was gently shaving her chin with an electric razor. I remember it clearly as a scene filled with vulnerability and tenderness.

  236. “I don’t have any facial hair (disclaimer: that I am aware of!) but I do have a very long, white hair that grows on my chest. It’s seriously weird, I’ve never seen anything like it before, except on the chests of very old men.”

    This tickled me, I can so relate. I have one white hair in my dark eyebrow. When someone suggested plucking it I replied that it would be the one identifying feature if I died and the cats ate me before my body was discovered.

    By the way, it grows back white everytime it’s plucked.

  237. OK, leaving the issue of hair aside.

    You are not a wimp, you are not weak, you are not a baby, because you would prefer to avoid pain.

    This is as a person with a disabling chronic pain condition.

    Pain is not a bad thing, it is not a good thing, it does not prove a person’s strength or weakness, their worth or worthlessness, their bravery or cowardliness.

    It’s just pain. It hurts. Most people don’t like that feeling. That’s that.

    Don’t beat yourself up because you don’t like excessive pain. It’s just how you roll. If you keep beating yourself like that, the dents are gonna make it a pretty bumpy roll. :p

  238. Bald Soprano I could hug you. I thought I was the only person in the world that had grown pubic hair by the time I was 7. Periods and underarm hair came at 13, but the pubic hair for some reason came early.

  239. Hello my name is Cynthia and I have… weir hairs. These black thick hairs grow from my 2nd chin which would I guess be my neck if it were not a double chin. I also have blond and red and now WHITE whiskers that I pluck or shave daily, on my upper lip and chin.

    The weir hairs grow back over night, yes I am serious, over night. If I shave them I can still see the nubs of them just under my skin so I usually pluck them. However plucking them makes a big zit pretty much 9 times out of 10. So isn’t THAT attractive?

    As I get older I am getting more hair every where. My arms, my pits my legs.. my legs holy crap my legs now have BLACK thick hair where once light fluffy blond hair once roamed free. By the time I am 55 my body hair transformation from woman to man beast should be about complete :|

  240. Ooh, hair fun! Like a few others up there, I’m very very pale with very very thick dark hair. I’ve been plucking my eyebrows since I was about 11 and I started waxing my upper lip around the same age after this little dick in my class told me I had more of a moustache than he did, and got all his friends to laugh at me about it.* I nair it now, or pluck it if .e.g one of my campers seems to have stolen my cream (not that I’m bitter). It does grows in to a genuine thick black moustache if I leave it alone, and I can’t handle that.

    Case in point: the girl I’m crushing on came over to my bunk and my eyebrows and moustache were a grown-out mess, so instead of saying hi or smiling like a NORMAL PERSON I literally FLED BEFORE HER so she wouldn’t see me like that. Because RUNNING AWAY FROM HER is going to do less harm to my chances than talking to her while slightly hairy? I…can’t even fathom the thinking behind that. Oh, Caitlin.

    Anyway, I have to shave my legs every day if I want to wear shorts/skirts without worrying about it (and I do). Pubic hair…man, I still haven’t figured that out. The only hairs that bother me are the ones that grow out onto my legs, because they make me feel like I can’t wear short skirts. I know intellectually that’s ridiculous, but I’m just too culturally conditoned to cope with it. Nair doesn’t seem to do anything and shaving grows out in a couple of days, and my skin’s so sensitive that both of those give me horrible rashes that are nearly worse than just the hair. I CANNOT afford to be waxing all the time, plus, the feminist in me simply refuses to get involved in that level of upkeep. So what do I do? I dunno. I don’t understand how everyone else manages.

    *It seems to me that almost all my body image issues stem from some chance remark by a acquaintance or stranger. Upper lip issues from this fuckwit; skin issues from the beautician who used to wax my legs and started going on about how my face needed treatment because my god, all those blackheads; slightly OCD hair issues (redoing my hair compulsively for hours if a single hair was out of place) after a girl in my class asked why my hair was always lumpy; ED after a guy in my class made a remark about “Big Cat” and all the boys sniggered. I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned there about the power of our words to hurt others or whatever, but mostly it just makes me want to slap anyone who ever comments on my body again.

  241. I’m practically ready to start a hair acceptance blog. I mean, I bleach my moustache and shave my legs when I remember to, but this level of shame and everyone thinking they’re the only one (and freaky) is really bowling me over. We’re mammals! Of course we’re hairy. Yet we’re feeling like it’s a shameful flaw?
    That’s so sad to me. It’s one thing to perform a beauty ritual – like shaving, or putting on lipstick – and another thing to feel like a freak for not being born shaved and with lipstick. Meh.

  242. Tanya: You’re the only other person I’ve ever seen/heard admit to the same thing. FYI, In my case, it was hypothyroidism (but not enough to get treated for in the states, or at the time, apparently)

    Arwen: Yay for the idea of a hair acceptance blog!! I can totally get behind that movement, too!

  243. wow… this is amazing. i have never seen so many women discuss hair before. @_@

    i’m a whitey white girl with very dark hair. while the contrast looks great in pictures, it also makes the rogue hairs stand out a lot. at least, i notice them right away.

    reading all of these comments got me thinking about the shame i feel regarding my facial hair. my hubby and i have lived together for 5 years, and i still hide the fact that i shave/pluck facial hair from him. if i feel one that i missed, i’ll sneak into the bathroom and secretly pluck it.

    recently we were sitting in a parking lot and he saw a chin hair. a LONG chin hair. before then i’d never had chin hairs. he pulled it for me and i tried not to cry from sheer embarrassment.

    on occasion.. (and i really do hate to admit this) when i’ve been visiting friends and feel stubble, i have been known to hide in the bathroom and use someone else’s razor to take care of it. *^_^* i know, disgusting. but if i don’t take care of it, i won’t be comfortable for the rest of the night. i can’t even concentrate on the conversation because i’m so focused on keeping my face turned the right way so they won’t see the hairs.

    the only person who ever commented on my facial hair was my mother. i have mixed feelings about it. i know she didn’t want me to be teased and she tried to present it as something we didn’t need to be ashamed of. but since no one had teased me at all, i interpreted her actions to mean that there was something wrong with me, and i needed to take care of it so i would be presentable to society. looking back, i don’t know if it would have been worse to be teased about it or not. guess i’ll never know.

    i do remember her taking me to the electrologist in my early teens. although my mom has blond hair, she had electrolysis for her mustache. i watched a video on how the procedure worked and had to sign a consent form. i still didn’t understand what was going on, to be honest. but i had a very sick feeling in my stomach, like i always do when i go to doctors and i think there’s something wrong with me.

    the procedure hurt a lot, even though they didn’t do very much. i focused on not crying and just tried to get through it. from then on i just shaved the stache whenever i’m in the shower, and i pluck the other hairs. the ones that are the most embarrassing for me are the ones on my right cheek. i have a large mole that has about 7 black hairs growing out of it. i used to shave it every day, but i’ve started to pluck them because it lasts a bit longer. it has been a major source of stress and humiliation for years, even though NO ONE has ever said a thing to me about it.

    oh, a few months ago i found that i’m now getting fine dark hairs on my boobs. >_< when i saw it i had a complete “wtf??” moment. (i’m 27, if you’re curious.) now i pluck those hairs so my hubby won’t notice them. and until i read this thread (and all the comments) i felt like a complete freak of nature for having boob hair. for years i thought even the soft down was unnatural, and i spent hours plucking the down off my chest and boobs. literally, hours. why doesn’t anyone tell us about this shit? arg.

    *looks up* dang, i always make huge posts!! oi. okay, i’ll finish up with a funny story that should get a few giggles. ^_^ it may include TMI. you have been warned.

    i’ve shaved my pubes since early high school. (they bug the crap out of me. my periods are sooooooo much cleaner without hair!) a few years ago i was crouched in the shower trying to shave some asscrack/asshole hairs. i nicked my asshole with the razor. that, my friends, is a mistake that i relived for several days while i waited for it to heal. every time i peed it was like someone was pouring salt in the teeny tiny wound. pooping? omg, OW!!! i was very scared that i’d get some dastardly infection and they’d have to amuptate… something. but it healed. now i cover my asshole with my finger and shave AROUND IT. lesson learned! ^_^

  244. I get those stray hairs around my nipples as well. Nobody has ever said anything about them. I don’t even think my boyfriend notices them. Every once in a while I will decide I don’t care for them and pluck them out. Doesn’t hurt, only takes a minute.

    OUCH, Hoshi, I have cut myself in bad spots too, so I literally feel your pain. I’m always terrified when I’m trimming or shaving around my girly parts that I’m going to get startled by something and jump, and do permanent damage to my clitoris and never be able to orgasm or even enjoy sex ever again. It’s a terrible thought. I try to shave that area only when nobody is home, and I double-check that the door is shut tight against curious pets.

  245. “I try to shave that area only when nobody is home, and I double-check that the door is shut tight against curious pets.”

    that made me snort with laughter. *^_^* i can’t tell you how many times i’ve been in the middle of shaving my cootch, and Daisy (one of my cats) will PULL ASIDE the shower curtain to see what i’m doing. she has no shame. *giggles*

  246. Duffy is pretty sure every time is playtime, and he should be in my lap no matter how I’m sitting, what I’m wearing, or what I’m doing. He’s 12 pounds of giant, hyperactive CAT. He also comes without warning, as he is very quiet when he feels like it.

    I’m pretty sure if he saw me with a razor he’d suddenly lunge for it. Therefore, I’d rather not have him silently sneak up on me while sharp objects are so close to sensitive places. *cringe*

  247. http://www.cosmeticscop.com/learn/art.asp?ID=138

    This site has a really good and thorough explanation of acne and many different treatments and what each one does. Also, I have taken Accutane after trying BC, anti- biotics, Retin- A, anit-biotic creams, and every single over the counter treatment, and it is the first thing that worked. I had minimal side affects too.

  248. Being that my personal blog is titled “Chin Hairs” (middleagechinhairs.blogspot.com-to be exact), I feel somewhat qualified to respond to this thread. The title for my blog was birthed from finding myself pondering various opinions, musings, life lessons, etc. whilst subconsciously feeling around the edge of my chin seeking out chin hairs. This is something I would do mindlessly and without much thought since entering middle age, but as a teen, I would find and pluck the occasional black hair from my chin, neck or cheek.

    As my mother aged, she grew a perfect half circle of gray hairs on her chin-one many men would envy. She, too would shave with a man’s disposable razor and shaving cream. When she had her first heart attack and spent a week in the hospital, I was shocked to see these chin hairs in full glory encircling her chin. It was beautiful in its precision and perfect salt and pepper coloring, yet smacked of oddity in that she was a woman and women don’t have beards! Upon leaving her room, I turned to my teenage daughter and said “If I am ever lying in a hospital bed with a full beard like that, you are REQUIRED to shave me immediately!.

    i have fully accepted that I have chin hair, and that I will one day most likely grow a beard that requires shaving and or some other form of removal. I do not hide it, nor am i ashamed of it. I just don’t want it on my face. It’s science….hormones and genetics cause hair to grow in specific places (my hubby has very little hair on his head, yet could provide sweaters for all the residents of Siberia with his massive amount of body hair I remove from the shower drain each day *collective “ewwww”*).

    Deal with it however you need to. It’s just hair. No need to feel ugly, bad, shameful, hideous, or any other label. I would give anything to see my mother’s wonderfully strange beard again. She’s been gone eight years now and I often think that my own chin hairs somehow keep her close by.

  249. I have some dark fuzz on my upper lip. I always have. Recently, it got a little darker/thicker. I’m 25. I like how I look, but it got to the point that every time I looked in the mirror, all I saw was my facial hair. It was depressing me.

    So I went to the salon and got a wax. It hurt a little, it was red for an hour, and then smooth for about 3 weeks. That was four months ago and at $5 – $10 a pop, it’s the best money on cosmetics I’ve ever spent. I like how I look, and I don’t care if that’s because I gave in to societal pressures. What was I supposed to do? Hate my face and suffer for the good of feminism? No thank you. Volunteering and donating money for good causes does a lot more than letting my facial hair grow and make me miserable.

    My fiance shaves his face. That does not mean he isn’t in touch with his masculine side. I figure the same applies to me – because if there is such a think as a woman embracing her masculine side, I do it while weight training and watching sports. :)

  250. So, now a month after the last comment, I am back to say that I have a consultation for laser hair removal in September. 3 sessions (for the chin) are only $137 (plus the consult, which is $50). I am very, very excited. From what I’ve read, I am a good candidate – light skin, dark hair – so I have my fingers crossed. Will let people know how it goes!

  251. I shave my face.

    I’m blonde and British, and I don’t have dark, wirey hairs, but a VERY thick peachfuzz mustache and goatee. My mom and sisters have the same thing, inherited from my grandfather, who’s half gorilla.. I’m just happy I don’t have chest and back hair too, being desceded from him.

    I do get wiry hairs around my nipples – those I pluck.

  252. I happened upon this board in a search. I do not know if I have PCOS. I have three kids, am of average weight but do have (and have had) an alarming increase in dark ‘male pattern’ hair since I went off the pill 9 years ago. I was desperately searching for a way to deal with it and had just come to a point of gloomy acceptance that no matter how often I plucked, there would always be ten to fifteen more dark hairs growing somewhere on my face and neck (and other unseen areas where dark hair shouldn’t be on a woman!)…when I made a discovery.
    Spearmint tea, ladies.
    There was a study done in some country (lord help me, I can’t remember which) which showed that regularily drinking spearmint tea decreased libido in men. This lead to researchers hypothesizing that it might also help hirsute women.
    I bought a box: 5 dollars canadian at my local grocery store’s healthfood section. I steep one medium sized teapot in the morning (box comes with twenty bags)…one bag for 10 to 15 minutes. I drink two mugs of it with a little honey (for taste) before work.
    I put the teapot, bag still in it, in the fridge. When I get home from work at night, I pour the reamaining cold tea (about two more mugs worth)into a pan and reheat it on the stove (the microwave destroys the efficacy) and then drink those before bed.

    Three days into this I noticed a difference. The dark hair growth has completely stopped. I DO have a few black ‘dots’ where ones that I plucked right before I started drinking the tea had just started to reappear, and I will have to wait for them to pop just a little and then I’ll yank them too….but no new growth.
    It’s a friggin’ miracle, if you ask me.
    Laser treatments cost thousands and aren’t permanent. One box of tea for five bucks will last me three weeks…and it’s painless. Yes, you have to keep drinking it to continue to be smooth. Uh..not a problem…please pass the tea!!
    I hope this helps someone!!!!!

  253. Wow….spearmint tea, eh? First time I’ve heard of that. I might try it, although I’m set to go for my first laser treatment in 2 weeks. I’m excited! I’m 40 and have had a semi-beard and quite a bit of hair on my chest since I was 17. I’ve been plucking for all these years, with the same problems others on this thread have mentioned — hiding somewhere to go tweeze hairs, ingrown hairs, too embarrassed to mention it to anyone, feeling decidedly non-feminine because of it, etc. Obviously, it is more common than one would ever know walking around on the street. I’ve only ever seen two women in my life who had visible facial hair (a beard, that is). Anyway, it bugs me that I don’t fit into any of the more common causes of hirsutism — I’m fair-skinned, blond, don’t have PCOS, don’t know of any other women in my family with this condition….oh, well. I am a “woman of size”, and the beard started growing soon after I turned 17 and suddenly gained about 35 pounds over one summer. So, definitely something was going on there, but not sure what, menstruation was always completely normal.

  254. I have PCOS. Couple that with fair skin and natural hirsuteness (genetics suck sometimes), and we have

    I remember in high school one of the guys in my friendship group (yeah.. awesome friends) calling me “goat girl”. It took me a while to figure out what he was talking about – I knew I had a few hairs under my chin, but I hadn’t thought they were really that noticeable. Apparently, yes they were. I SERIOUSLY gave out to him, and have since come to realise that he was a petty stupid little seventeen year old twat, but I’ve never forgotten the raw burn of humiliation I felt.

    I’m pretty handy with a pair of tweezers.. almost to the point of obsession. The hair has gotten more plentiful over the last couple of years, so it doesn’t grow evenly, so I have to have a little plucking adventure every couple of days. It works though.

  255. heh heh heh.

    I’ve been reading this post and comments over the past few weeks. It’s really amazing to hear so many women talking about their facial and body hair. It’s normal!

    Me, I’ve got it all. I have hair everywhere, all the places any of you have mentioned. PCOS, combined with genetics (I remember watching my mum shave every morning), combined with getting older, and there you go. Hair-tastic.

    It’s crazy that this is never mentioned as a secondary sexual characteristic of women. For many, many women (the majority?) facial and body hair is a normal part of life.

    I’m a feminist, and for me the issue with hair is balancing my sense of injustice that I am NOT ALLOWED to have this hair (which makes me really indignant and want to grow a beard) and my sense of shame that I am some kind of unfuckable freak. Oh, and throw in fear of public humiliation and young boys laughing at me in the street, and you’ve got the picture.

    I haven’t quite worked it out yet, but I’m getting there.

  256. Okay, this is a waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay late comment, but I feel that someone needs to comment more on PCOS.

    Here is the wiki for people who want to cut to the chase: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCOS

    PCOS is a wide spectrum disorder. There are lots of symptoms that you might or might not have. These symptoms can include: irregular period, heavy bleeding, extremely painful cramps, extra hair, acne, high blood pressure, obesity, infertility, miscarriages, wonky hormones, and of course cysts on the ovaries… and the list goes on. But you don’t even have to have the cysts to have PCOS.

    You can actually have PCOS while exhibiting only one symptom. IMHO, it is a lazy or ill informed doctor that does not check you for it if you are exhibiting any problems related to hormones and periods. The tests aren’t that bad either. Blood tests, pelvic exams, and maybe an ultrasound. But the relief you can get? Omg, I felt so much better.

    I was about 15, and I got sent to the dermatologist for acne. She talked with me and asked me pertinent questions, and suggested that I get checked for PCOS. I had the acne, the painful periods that made me throwup, skipped 8 months while a virgin, bled heavily, horrendous even for a teen mood swings, early first period (I was ten with no other puberty signals.), small breasts, extra weight, and of course… the hair. It was just some on my neck that looked like slightly paler than the brown on my head hair.

    I went, I got blood tests (slightly wonky hormones) and a pelvic exam (no cysts thankfully), was told that I was 99% likely to have it, and promptly given the birth control pill and metformin for PCOS and the acne. The BC was wonderful. No more cramping and throwing up. No more being out of commission for 3 days at a time when my period did decide to come. No more swinging from furious to laughing to crying in ten minutes. I know the pill isn’t so great for everyone, but I love it. The metformin though? Oh, boy. That shit and I do not get along. I already tend to hypoglycemia like my mom and that stuff had me in bad shaking sugar lows every day til I gave up on it.

    I’ve now been on the pill for nearly 10 years. The periods are lighter and far less painful. The acne is down a huge amount. I rarely have a mood swing now even when I should be pmsing. My breasts grew a bit, though they are still petite. I’m still overweight, but I accept it. And the hair is plateau’ed thankfully. Also, some women have libido, shifts towards the less sex side. I am not shy about declaring that I love sex and want a lot of it.

    I do fear trying to get pregnant and the hair that may spring up. Granted, the miscarriages scare me more, but boy I hate the PCOS symptoms too. And the hair is a pretty annoying one.

    Anyways, for anyone that comes after and reads all the comments like I did: If you think you have PCOS, you don’t have much to lose trying to get treated. The benefits can far outweigh the downsides. And it doesn’t have to be the pill. There are choices now.

    (Oh, and as for the wiki link it mentions: D-chiro-inositol (DCI) as a supplement treatment, and I tried it but I can’t comment on it other than be wary of taking it if you have kidney stones. It set me off into a month long marathon of mini stones. I think it was the brown rice base to the pill, but still. Be aware.)

    *hugs to everyone that has to deal with hair, acne, weight, and all of the mentioned unfun symptoms in all of the comments and in the post*

  257. I know I’m necroposting (sorry), but I’ve read every comment in this thread and am really disappointed that virtually no one posted saying they leave all of their body/facial hair just the way it is. It also strikes me as really off that this is (more or less) a blog about accepting your body the way it is, and yet the thread turned into a trading post for hair removal advice.

    I have PCOS, very pale skin, and very dark, coarse body hair. I have a full dark mustache, sideburns, chin hair, chest hair, a full treasure trail, ass hair, hair on my hands/feet/fingers/toes, nipple hair, hair on the small of my back, wild bushy pubic hair, big tufted armpit hair, hair all up and down my thighs, AND moles with hairs sprouting from them. I’m hairier than most men I know.

    I don’t get rid of any of it. None! It’s all fully grown out, and it’s not going anywhere. I’m also quite fat, don’t wear any makeup, and I have zero problems finding dates. And I’m actually really choosy about the guys I go out with, too.

    I’m not trying to brag or something. I honestly believe that unwavering self-confidence is the sexiest thing in the universe. And apparently a lot of men agree. I’m not some unnatural beauty, either. I’m just a human being who’s very comfortable in her humanity. ‘Stache and all.

    I completely reject the idea that women aren’t “allowed” to have body/facial hair. I’ll admit it took me nearly 2 years after I decided to stop shaving my body to finally stop shaving my face, but there have been exactly zero negative consequences. The world has not shattered in two. I actually don’t get any more dirty looks than I used to. No one has threatened me with physical violence. No one has stopped being my friend or refused to be seen with me. The hardest part was just blowing through my own anxiety and discomfort.

    The guys I date all tell me how sexy they think it is that I carry myself with such confidence, baring all my hair and fat freely. They tell me how proud they are to be seen with me. And, you know, I *feel* sexy. I feel like a whole, natural woman. I actually feel more like a woman with all my hair intact than I do with it all shaved.

    When I shave, I feel, well, stripped down. Naked. I feel forcibly subdued and in a state of perpetual worry that I’ll have “missed a spot” or that I have a rogue hair peeking out. Now, I don’t get anxious when people look at my face. I don’t think, “Oh god, maybe they see my whiskery shame!!!” When people look at me now, I find that I just automatically assume they’re thinking, “Damn, what a curvy, sexy, confident woman! Nice lady tickler, too!”

    You, too, can get to this point! There’s no special magic to it. I’m not some special, 1-in-a-million case, divinely gifted with the solid brass balls necessary for such an enormously difficult undertaking.

    The few people who do give me dirty looks? Fuck em. At least having seen me, they’ll hopefully be more tolerant toward their girlfriends’ (or their own) stray hairs. Because, you know, at least they’re not a yeti like me.

    There is one thing that makes me nervous, though. And that’s the idea that people will say, “God, I knew it. Fat girls are fucking disgusting and have no hygiene.” I REALLY do not want my body to contribute to a confirmation bias against fat people. I do not want to make fat people as a class look any worse in the eyes of the public.

    So I occasionally get very anxious and start thinking, “If I want people to respect and accept fat people, I should look as perfect as possible! I should be the exact image of feminine perfection, as determined by culture, except also fat! Then they’ll see that fat people can be sexy and accept that we’re not so bad after all!”

    You know what, though? No. Because all that would do is contribute to the idea that fat women can be shamed into submission just like “regular” women. I’m sending a much more positive message being out in public shamelessly, furry legs a-kickin’, havin’ a ball.

    Anyway, the overall message I want to impart is that it may seriously feel like you CANNOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES have facial/body hair. Because the universe will seriously crack in half, down will become up, and black will become white.

    But, actually, you can! And, frankly, I found that learning to love and accept my body/facial hair was a relatively shorter and easier process than learning to accept my fat. Mainly because I already knew how to calm down and just take the plunge. (Remember the first time you wore a sleeveless shirt in public, and you just KNEW everyone was staring at your arms? But then nothing happened, and you finally just realized it was actually okay? Yeah.)

    Anyway, I really hope someone reads this and thinks about it. You really can have facial hair and not die of shame and embarrassment! Push through the anxiety and try it! It’s really not that bad.

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