This week's post comes from Carly of The Pink Razor Project, which is rapidly gaining momentum and if you haven't checked it out already, what are you waiting for?
Carly responded to the optional prompt: "Do you think hirsutism is something women should be hiding?"
Talking openly about my, or your, facial hair or body hair is such a personal choice... It's difficult for me to definitively say whether or not it's right for someone else to talk about it or reveal it or whatever. Who can tell someone else what's right for them?
If I'm really honest...
I do NOT think hirsutism is something women *should* be hiding.
However, keep in mind that I shave my own facial hair. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I think that for me, if I grew out my hair, it would be tough for people to swallow. I think I would end up having to explain myself a lot, and I just... don't want to have to do that.
It doesn't feel fair.
But then, on the other hand, there's a part of me that wants to be a pioneer. To educate. To break barriers and make it safer for other women like me to be open about it. And that part of me feels ashamed about the first part.
I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 13, and since then, I have been trying to come to terms with my hair. For the first 10-ish years, I was only mortified. I just wanted it to go away. There were so many mornings in the shower (where I shave, because the steam makes it easier for me and less likely that razor burn will develop) when I found myself in complete despair, thinking, "What did I do to deserve this? Why am I being punished?" I swung between thinking those sorts of thoughts, and trying not to think about it at all. My long-term high school boyfriend had NO idea about it. And people I've told about it since, who have known me for a long time, also had no idea. I lived in constant fear that someone would see - would find me out - and so I became extremely good at hiding it. Trust me, I have done probably everything you can think of, including expensive procedures, to get rid of my hair.
Toward the end of college, and I'm not sure exactly why, I got tired. Tired of hiding. Tired of not feeling authentic. I felt like I had learned so much about myself, about the world, about others from the hair, and I had no outlet for those lessons.
So, slowly, I started telling people I trusted. Luckily, I have wonderful friends who are supportive and have been very positive about it all.
It was a coming-out process of sorts for me. I told more and more people. Not everyone, but people I thought would take it well. It was around that time that I had the idea for a documentary about the daily lives of women with facial hair. We're really quite normal (whatever that means), with the added special quality of more hair. The idea came out of wishing that there was something like that that *I* could watch, and my fascination with peoples' reactions to it.
A friend suggested doing a photo project together as a beginning. That was a fantastic, intense experience for me, mostly because she photographed me shaving (in the sink, not the shower!). That remains the only time another person has watched me do it. It's such a personal thing, and it was cathartic for another person to witness it. And not just witness it, but get it on film. And not only that, but react positively.
Shortly after that, I went to graduate school in another state, and I told more and more people about it. I went to school at kind of a crunchy east-coast place, and it wasn't hard to find supportive people who were appropriately interested.
I find that I feel so much better when people know. I feel like I can relax a little more. Be more myself. The more I tell others, the easier it gets. And the thing I keep repeating over and over in my head to feel ok about it? "It's just hair. It's just hair."
I don't think women should have to hide it, because I don't believe anyone should have to hide ANYTHING about themselves. What's the point? Don't we owe it to ourselves to be authentic? What favors are we doing by hiding? Ideally, we should feel like we have the choice of whether to remove it or not. And if some days, we feel like not removing, we should be able to feel just as confident as on the days we do.
Wouldn't that be awesome?
Carly recently posted some of her personal story on her own blog, which are an enjoyable read as well: Some History, or My Journey to Beardiness, Part I and Reflecting, or My Journey to Beardiness, Part 2.