Today was my day off, so I was up early this morning, volunteering with some girls from church. Five of us, varying in age from 14 to 30, found ourselves waiting in a van and making small talk. And it was girl talk. Breast self-exams, when we got our first period, the craziest thing we ever did with our friends. In fact, I don't think I've ever had such a quintessentially female conversation in my life.
The subject swerved towards beards. The younger girls voiced no opinion about the degree of facial hair they preferred on men, but some of the older ones knew what they liked and weren't afraid to share. Goatees, soul patches, mustaches... and then one of them said, "Do you think it's hard for guys to shave their beard every day? I can't imagine what it's like, it must be such a pain."
Another gal said, "I think they should wax, so it grows back slower. Can you wax your face?"
"I don't think so, the skin is different on your face than your body. But can you imagine? I hate shaving my legs--I'll only shave my legs once a week! And armpits? My husband gets so irritated, he hates doing it everyday. He wants to save up for laser hair removal."
This goes on for several minutes, while I sit in the back, biting my tongue. Yes, I can imagine, very well. Yes, you can wax your face. And no, being hairy like me is the worst.
It felt like a safe place to say so, which made it more difficult. I trusted most of these girls. But I can't get past the idea that every time I'm in the same room with them, they'll be looking at me and thinking about me having a gorilla hide under my clothes.
"Guys have it so easy," one lamented. "They can get away with hair all over. But being dark-haired and fair-skinned like me is the worst, the hair is so dark on your arms and legs... The only time off we get is camping." She looked right at me, as if expecting me to agree.
"How do you mean?" I asked cautiously.
"Well, you have no choice but let it grow, right? No baths or showers..."
I shrugged weakly, turning it into a joke. "That's probably why I don't go camping!"
I really do wonder how they would have reacted if I'd told them. It would certainly be sensational for a few moments. (This girl has a beard! A beard!) They might be a bit curious, ask some questions. But after that... I'd never know when they'd be thinking about it, what their opinion of me would now be. Because they'd probably be too polite to say.
We expend so much effort worrying about what other people think. It makes me tired sometimes! Especially when I can feel the words building up in my throat, wanting to come out, as if it would relieve some huge burden on my shoulders. I can actually taste the admission sometimes, thick and hard to swallow back down again. The thoughts are so loud I wonder if anyone heard them. And then I try to relax, assuring myself my secret is still safe, and I have total control over who knows, and who will remain blissfully ignorant of what's under my make-up and my clothes.
...Speaking of what's under one's make-up and clothes, I found this to be wonderfully honest: http://amarilloo.tumblr.com/post/8151302946/appearance