December 20, 2008

And they lived attractively ever after.

Warning: this post will contain some movie and book spoilers.

I just saw the movie Penelope again. I always find that movie charming on a lot of levels, but I remember being very anxious to see how it would treat the subject of love surpassing a person's appearance. And I was impressed.

As soon as she stops trying to beat the curse and starts experiencing life, she finds a lot of what was missing, and realizes that even if she never breaks the curse, she can be happy. When she finally reveals herself to the public, they are more curious than appalled, and in a weird fanish way, they accept her. And when she refuses to compromise that happiness to possibly break the curse and realizes she likes herself the way she is, the curse is broken. Also of note was that her love interest, John, kisses her before he knows she has broken the curse, showing us that her looks don't matter to him and assuring us that he really is worthy of her.

Good movie. But my question is, why does the curse have to be broken? Why "reward" the ability to see past an imperfect exterior by saying, "Congratulations, now you won't have to?" What does that really teach us? That unconditional love is all well and good but you can only be truly happy if you look like you deserve that kind of fairytale?

The thing is, it's satisfying. We all feel a little bit better when the beast becomes a human again. Now they can live happily ever after. I'm sure if any of us bearded women found a way to remove the unwanted hair from our lives forever, we'd live a little happier too. But what if the beast's situation were permanent, more like life? How would that story play out?

There's one book I can think of. Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley, which is her second retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale. In the first one, the beast became a man again. In the second, she chose for the Beast to remain a beast. It was a fascinating choice to me, and I have yet to find any articles that explain why McKinley told it that way. The sophistication puts it above and beyond the simplistic moral point (vanity is bad) of Grimm. Maybe that's why it's just not that popular.

Has anybody else ever tried to relate to a Beauty and the Beast story?

December 17, 2008

Would you believe...

...that with all the hair on my body, my eyebrows require very little maintenance, and I have been told are very nicely shaped?


Real update soon, I promise. It's just been a tremendously busy week.

December 10, 2008

Persistent Awareness

It was a tough day at work and I feel like I'm coming down with something, so I'm not going to talk about what I'd been planning to talk about (which was something more in-depth).

You know you’re hirsute when someone passes you a really strong drink or a really spicy food with the perfectly innocent phrase, “That’ll put hair on your chest,” and you wonder how hard you should laugh to overcompensate for the fact that you really don't find it funny, or whether you want to discourage the use of the joke.

In my case, I always wonder if it would be comical to say: “Well, actually...”

It's supposed to be humorous. To have hair on your chest means you're robust, healthy, virile, and mature. But said in the company of the secretly hirsute woman, it becomes secretly a little offensive. Irrational, maybe, but it pricks me a little each time I hear it, reminding me that I react differently to it because I'm different. It's not about the joke. It's how I feel about the joke.

I've been thinking about that little innocent phrase recently. “That’ll put hair on your chest” is often spoken in the circles I wander. I have some very cliche acquaintances, I guess.

Last week I was standing in line at a fast food place with some members of my family, and one of them chuckled and pointed at my brown lace sweetheart neckline.

I immediately thought, Oh crap, did I miss one?

“You’ve got a thread,” he said. “Looks like a chest hair. Right in your cleavage.” More chuckling.

It was a thread from the seam of the lace, poking right up in the middle of my chest. Relieved, I tucked it down, laughing myself. “Thought I’d got all those.”

It’s an almost constant awareness, and when you manage to forget, someone or something helps remind you--often in ways much more subtle than what I've just mentioned. I’d love to be able to describe it to relatively un-furry gals out there so that maybe they can understand, and feel fortunate. But it’s so easy for the few people who know me this well to forget my limitations, as well. I still get criticized for being unable to get up and go right from the bed to clothes to door.

Picking chest hair as an example, imagine having to plan your wardrobe around whether or not you can wear any of your open-collared shirts that day. I can only shave there once every few days or I risk irritation that takes weeks to go away. If there’s a special occasion and the special outfit I want to wear has anything lower than a crewneck, I have to make sure my skin has had enough of a break to ensure the most flattering results. On holidays I need to pack for the hope that I’ll be able to wear cheery open tank tops and fun pendants--but also pack for the assumption that the entire time will really be a battle against a rash of in-grown hair further aggravated by sunburn.

It sucks to live this way. Hiding. But we do it. It’s a kind of maintenance a lot of women can’t imagine having to worry about, and you know what? It takes strength. It could be said I'm one of the lazier ones, and it still takes a lot out of me. It takes strength to carry that with you every day. You should be proud of your ingenuity and tenacity.

As well as your robustness and virility, too.

December 3, 2008


I wonder if anyone finds my posts too long? I really like to type.

One of the things that made me really want to start a blog like this was hunting for resources on the internet to explain, support, give me hope for the issues I'm facing, and seeing the hurtfulness of ignorance playing out before my eyes.

Say, for instance, a beauty site posts a little article on excess body hair and plugs some methods of hair removal. Often you'll see a barrage of thankful posts from girls and women who live with the condition, just to have their troubles acknowledged. To have an opportunity to lay out on the table: "I have that, too." To simply have the existence of women with beards accepted, published, put out there for all to see. It was an amazing relief for me just to know I wasn't alone.

But then you see a response from somebody saying, "Ewww, are there really people like that?"

Ah, the Internet. Home for everyone's opinions. Isn't it wonderful?

I remember when I was conducting a search for similar blogs like the one I was considering starting, to see if there was really any niche that needed to be filled, I would follow lots of links that mentioned bearded ladies or some version thereof and be disappointed. But none so much as someone's blog entry about discovering a stash of shaving cream in an older family member's bathroom and upon finding out that it was for her face, joking that it might be time to put her in a home.

I just hope my fellow hirsute ladies have some resiliency and forgiveness, and the strength to believe these reactions come out of people as easily as flatulence (and look just as complimentary to the person to dealt it).

There's no crime in being ignorant, insofar as not being aware of something. The issue becomes when someone acts on that ignorance and the results are harmful. Not knowing is no excuse for being unkind. That kind of automatic closed mindedness, the immediate revulsion of the very idea that a lady has a beard, has got to be one of the biggest fears for a lot of us.

I don't think I could propose the world to "stop." Judgment and categorization based on physical appearance is so innately ingrained in us. I admit, I'd love it if this blog warmed someone up to the idea of us slightly more furry folk being just as human as the rest of the world. But I know how strong the instinct is to judge.

So what if we all started with something smaller? Like thinking before we speak or hit "post?"