November 7, 2009

In Defense of Face Shaving, Part 2

As my ill-fated internet surfing session took me from beauty experts forbidding a woman from shaving her face to general lay-people's opinions about it, I was surprised to find a lot of women cringing from the thought of female face shaving. More often than men, they were saying that a woman should never put a blade to her face, that "it isn't okay."

It's very hard not to get a little up in arms. Hirsutism and hypertrichosis are somewhat rare--or perhaps just seen rarely--and I suppose it's understandable that some might think bearded women and "wolf people" are merely made up... even if TV and the Internet have made the world a much smaller place. Just because a person is aware of bearded ladies in the context of historical circus side shows doesn't mean they would consider the implications of a real-life girl or woman trying to make her way in today's world.

Without providing links to their sometimes frustrating thoughts on the subject of women shaving their faces, many people still say the act of cutting a hair makes it somehow morph into a thicker, darker version of itself. (See my argument about that in this post.) Then there's: "stubble's not feminine." Maybe it doesn't feel so nice, but who are these people to tell anyone else what's supposed to make them feel feminine, as if the sense of femininity were that fragile? Some try to sound knowledgeable by listing other hair removal options, completely missing the reality that every woman is different, the causes of excess body hair are multiple, and not everything will work for every situation. And then there was the young lady who ventured to ask readers if they could imagine sidling up to Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome and having him lean in and feel the stubble on their top lip.

Could I imagine that? Honey, I've lived it, as have many, many other women. Some of us have no choice, so we manage.

So I am very glad to see others out there coming to the defense of a woman's hair removal choices, whether she requires them or simply wants them (and that's not to say a woman who feels she "requires" them has to choose to use any of them, either). One woman's response brought tears to my eyes; she has PCOS, and despite sharing the difficult memory of having to hurriedly shave with her husband's razor while staying in the hospital for an emergency cesarean, she handled her rebuttle with class. Here is a link to her response to the issue of women shaving: "Why Ladies Shave Their Faces" ...But if you're not feeling thick-skinned today, try not to read the other opinions on the subject.

It's a shame those heroes seem to be either women who know what it's like to have no choice but to shave, and men. (I know, interesting!) Does that mean the average woman's world is just a little too small, fenced in perhaps by beauty advertisements and air brushed role models? I say that because that would have been me, had I not developed hirsutism in my teens. I might have said "eww" or made a joke to ease the discomfort of the concept of modern bearded ladies.

Would it take much to open up that world a little? I don't think so. I wish I could find more people out there trying to show others that, hey, some women are bearded, and that's okay. Sadly, most of them only show up to post a comment on a news bulletin or beauty editorial to set everyone straight, and disappear again. (The woman who wrote that heart rending piece does have a blog.) To all of you out there doing that, don't give up! I've always been heartened by your efforts. So thank you.


Becky said...

Wow! Yay! I love this blog! Don't know how I didn't notice it before. I've subscribed, and I plan to settle in and read and read for a while. You rock my socks. And my beard. :) I'm especially interested in face shaving. I've used an electric razor for years, but it's so ineffective. Hopefully, I'll get enough tips here to make the switch. Thank you SO MUCH for hosting about hirsutism. I'm excited to read your posts!

Sophie said...

Al, thank you for this post. You have pretty much put in words all my thoughts.
As you know, I read these comments, too. First, I get annoyed by reading articles/advice/ask betty sections because they are so often written by "ladies" who dont have a clue. But ok, let's not expect editors of cosmopolitan put an ad in the paper: looking for a hirsuite chick who will provide advice. But then i ... always... stupidly... scroll down to the comments. And then I am not annoyed any more. Then I am just sad. Because the editors are in their own imaginary world where everybody looks and behaves the same (if not, they shall be prescribed something for it). But those who comment... They live in the real world, with real people with diseases and uglinesses... and THEY say these awful things... I am just physically unable to understand why looks matter so much. ...
Shaving shmaving. Its not about shaving, plucking, lasering, eating pills for hormones (it's been a couple of weeks, my boobs are still small, by the way lol) - its about the fact that we should not be having these discussions because we should be able to go out in short skirts in the summer without spending hours on cosmetical actions beforehand and without attracting attention of everybody in sight.
Do you know whats wrong with all these women who post this moronic bullshit? They are scared. They spend so much time on shaving their legs and armpits they believe so much they should that they got this weird stuff stuck in their minds and there is no hope for them... The stuff is: we all need to look the same. You different? haha, you dont belong. Scary.
Funny thing with men. Two reaction types, I can identify. One among those that are planning to have sex with me/or observe me (office) as an object - let's not go into that now. And the other ones, the "just friends" ones. Actually, those very few who do or might know - they really couldnt care less. They even like it because if they want to come over for a weekend they wont get paranoid about looking all smooth themselves (they know i wont!). It just doesnt matter to them as long as I treat them right and am a loyal friend. Doesnt work like this with girls... Well, apart from the italian girl, who is an exception, the girls always have some good advice, some - oh maybe that would help... Oh, Im rumbling on...
Anne's post made me cry, too...

I am planning to become a brave person (in some million years maybe) and just be able to tell EVERYBODY. Like a preselection process: hi, my name is sophie and i am disgustingly hairy - if they keep talking to me, it means there's a chance that are of this rare, almost extinct specie who thinks for themselves... if their face goes funny, I wont waste my time on finding out what kind of "people" they are just to get disappointed in the end.

Harsh? Deserved.

Allerleirah said...

Hi, and thank you so much for commenting! I appreciate your posts about hirsutism too. I love that you are so positive.

Manual razors certainly aren't perfect, either. It's still my preferred method, though, and I'm just hoping I'll find some magic combination that'll create better results.

Allerleirah said...

And wow, Sophie, lots of thoughts here.

I have fantasies about being brave enough to tell everyone I know, and letting those who can't handle it slip out of my life--and good riddance to them. For the rest, I make some awesomely articulate speech that makes them rethink the importance of appearances forever. Heh. I don't know if it'll ever happen, though!