I’ve finally come clean. For the last five plus decades, I have been tweezing hairs every day in my chin, my top lip and my sideburns. My impetus to be honest about this horrible malady has gradually grown over the past several years since I chased an action I’ve thought about for most of the years. I’ve been getting electrolysis treatments.
It all began when a friend mentioned she had an electrolysis appointment. My ears perked up. I’d been thinking about this for several years. Why not now? I’m retired, so time was not a problem. Thank goodness, money was not a problem. And I had this horrible fear of lying comatose in the hospital or a nursing home, a gray beard gradually covering my chin and upper lip. My husband and friends would walk in and be shocked, believing this couldn’t possibly be the girl they knew.
In actuality, I’d already told both of my daughters to please, trim, tweeze, or shave my face at the very least, disguise my identity but do not let me grow a beard! So I made my first appointment with the tech my friend recommended and found that a capable, no-nonsense but kindly lady my age who made me promise to not tweeze again. This was hard. Tweezing had become a custom, part of my everyday routine and I discovered, curiously, I overlooked it.
The first few months were especially tricky. I had an hour appointment once a week (sometimes sooner) and had to live with the expansion in-between. Despite the fact that I cut the new growth as brief as possible, I could still see it in my 10 X magnifying mirror. And I was sure, so could everyone else. The one thing that helped my intense paranoia was the fact that the hair was white instead of black, one positive aspect of being over 70 years old. But the time went quickly and it was not long before I’d half-hour appointments once a week; then appointments every ten days, which climbed slowly to fourteen days. The next step was half an hour appointments once a month before I attained maintenance (Call when you want me, the tech said.)
Hurray! But a strange thing happened during the year of electrolysis. I started to notice a girl always left the electrolysis office as I was coming and a woman was waiting when I left. Could it be I wasn’t alone? If so, where were all these role models when I needed them? Most of the inhabitants of the little town I grew up were blonde and fair skinned, descendants of the first Scandinavian settlers. I was a brunette with brown eyes.
When the first hairs began popping up on my upper lip at puberty, I was bereft. Then the first chin hairs looked followed shortly by sketchy sideburns. I was convinced I was an aberration. Something terrible had gone wrong. I was supposed to be a boy. Women weren’t supposed to have hair in their faces. But I was a woman in every other sense.
In actuality, I was a normal girl. I played with dolls, dressing them up for balls, had a great deal of girl friends with whom I liked talking about typical girl things and, at twelve, had had crushes on at least four boys. My mother could not help me. She was a redhead with very light skin that is bald. She didn’t even have to shave her legs. Then my aunt on my dad’s side of the family came for a visit. She became my confidant and it was not long until my ugly secret came out. To my surprise, she laughed.
How it started
She told me about electrolysis (what was that, I wondered) and bought me my very first tweezer. I’d been spared and a lifelong battle against facial hair had started. I requested my electrolysis technician if many girls had hair on their faces and she said it’s very common. In actuality, many have a whole lot greater than I (Is this possible?). Indian women have a enormous problem, she told me. African American girls, Italian women, Jewish women (that is my category). Nobody group is untouched, except possibly for honest women like my mother and my Scandinavian friends. And the issue isn’t medical.
Hairy Women Unite!
Where have these girls been all my life? Why don’t we talk about it? Why does this appear like a deep dark secret? Maybe it just does not come up in casual conversations. Or maybe I’ve never brought it up with another woman. I was too ashamed, too sure something terrible was wrong with me. So this is a call to action. Hairy women unite! There’s not anything wrong with you or with me. Hair faces is natural for us. We must find the word out; inform our sisters, our daughters, our girlfriends. Let’s fathers, our husbands, our sons know that this is a natural condition. Maybe we should quit tweezing for a month to show our solidarity. When we meet on the road, we’ll recognize one another and we could raise our arms . Well, maybe later. At the moment I’m overdue for my electrolysis appointment.