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.