I have a secret. It could be argued that keeping this secret makes me a bit of a hypocrite. For all my body positivity, there is one thing about myself that I cannot learn to love: my facial hair.
Until about I was about 30, I wasn't a very hairy person at all. My body hair was all fair & fine. As such it wasn't something that I gave much thought to. To begin with I had a little bit of fine hair on my neck, which I put down to getting a bit older. The hair quickly progressed to my chin, then to my upper lip. I started waxing it and so began my facial hair war.
As the hair got thicker I consulted my GP (as a person who had crazy periods, sometimes one a year, sometimes lasting six week). PCOS should have been any easy diagnosis. In actual fact, it took six years to convince a doctor to even investigate. Blood tests revealed increased hormone levels and that was that. I was prescribed medication to regulate my periods, which thankfully worked. The beard, however, remains. I'm too pale & fair for laser removal, and nothing else really does the job. The hair continues to get worse. I've tried waxing, hair removal cream, and even a no!no!; none of them keep my face smooth for more than a day or two.
I can love my fat and my scars. I don't even care what others thinks about my often hairy legs. I feel no compulsion to remove my pubic hair other than when I feel like it. I don't wear make up daily & my hair is most often to be found in a very messy bun. I have skin tags and moles and birthmarks that it has never even occurred to me to feel self conscious about. I am almost entirely impervious to societal demands upon my body. Expect it seems when it comes to my increasingly hairy face.
A hairy face appears to be my line in the self-love sand. I cannot get past the notion that it renders me repugnantly unwomanly. As I write those words I know how stupid and misogynistic and backwards they are. Yet none of my strident feminist views prevent me from being utterly ashamed of my stubbly chin.
The fact that I have internalised this patriarchal bullshit makes me so angry. I know I don't have to measure up to some nonsensical notion of femininity, but part of me still wants to. I hate that. I hate how much energy I waste on getting rid of this hair. I hate that despite my best efforts I have bought into such a narrow definition of what being a woman is.
Maybe part of this is the same as any other stigma; no one talks about it. Well, not outside hushed, unhappy tones with our closest ones, or whispered exchanges with professionals who might rid us of the dreaded hair. I know other women who have PCOS, but none of them have visible facial hair and I've never asked. Are they, too, constantly removing fuzz? I wouldn't know, because I'm not sure if talking about it would be rude or even outright offensive. So, I just carry on feeling like the only person who could have a side job in a Victorian freak show.
Until now. I've decided to come clean. Yup, I have a beard. I may not ever be ready to let the world see it, but at least I can start talking about it. It's just hair, right? Fuck it. Girls can be furry too. What's the worst that can happen? Someone might even have a good tip on how to get rid of it!
About the author
Freelance writer & blogger based in Glasgow. 37yr old plus size, vegan lefty. Specialises in body positivity, mental health & cruelty free living all with a feminist slant.