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Decisions, Decisions

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I wonder if the romantic relationships I’ve had are directly related to who might be ok with my beard. I wonder if I’ve limited my options and/or lowered my expectations because of my beard. Sort of like, “Well, I’ll just overlook [insert thing I should probably not put up with here], because he’s cool with me having a beard.”

Maybe if I’m asking these questions, I already know the answer.

Craig and I are getting a divorce. That has nothing to do with the beard, obviously, but it’s making me reflect on many complicated things. One of which is my hair.

I want to be able to open myself up to all opportunities at some point. With the hair, I don’t think I can fully do that. I’ve tried over the years, and I think I’ve gotten to a great place of mostly self-acceptance.

The fact is, though, that I don’t see myself as someone with a beard. Even though I am.

I shave it off. When I don’t shave and it grows out a bit, I don’t like how it looks or feels. I’ve never felt comfortable with my significant other touching my face, which is sad, because I like that sensation. I don’t like being in direct sunlight unless I’ve recently shaved. I get razor burn (less so now than I used to – I have a finely honed system these days). I occasionally cut myself, which is embarrassing. Also shaving is a temporary, 12-hour-at-most, solution. Tweezing hurts like a motherfucker. Vaniqa is expensive and not covered by insurance (or, at least that was the case when I briefly used it). Waxing scares me. Laser removal stimulated new growth for me, and doesn’t work anyway on red or blonde hair (sure wish the person who did it knew that at the time…). It’s also painful.

So guys. I’m considering electrolysis. Which makes me feel… guilty. Guilty because, while there would be several complex emotions involved in the process, I think I would feel an enormous sense of relief.

It’s a pretty big deal. I’ve made it a life goal to just be ok with what’s going on with me in the moment, beard and all. Because whatever, right? It’s just hair.

It’s just hair.

It’s just hair…

But as you already know, it’s just a lot of other stuff too.

I wrote this back in January, 2012:

I identify myself as a heterosexual, cisgender female. The larger culture, and the community that I consider myself to be a part of, is heteronormative. With that comes tremendous privilege in ways that I know I don’t fully understand, because I’m a part of it.

A trend that I’ve noticed through talking to you lovelies over time (and certainly this is not true for everyone – just a general trend I’ve picked up on in my limited experience) is that those who consider themselves part of the hetero community (such as myself) tend to remove. Those who consider themselves part of the LGBTQ community tend to feel more comfortable NOT removing. Or, maybe a better way to put it is that I have not talked to any hetero females who grow and consistently wear their beards, but I have talked to LGBTQ females who do. There seems to be more tolerance for bearded females and more freedom to explore what the beard means and looks like. I understand that my identity comes with privilege in a lot of ways that don’t just include the beard. I also wish there was more freedom within my identity to explore difference. I mean that in both an internal way and an external way.

So. Do I not let the hair grow because I’m afraid to lose that privilege? What would it mean for me to grow it? Because, unfortunately for now, it would mean so much more than just, “Ok, now I have a beard. Moving on.”

I still think that. Whether I like it or not, it DOES mean more than just hair to have a beard and identify the way I identify.

But then, what does it say about me that I’m considering this option? Am I just giving into The Man? Does it even matter?

Maybe what matters is that I’m content, and have one less thing to worry about during a truly shitty time, and from here on.


About Carly

A blog about being a lady with a beard.

9 responses »

  1. I decided not to wax or do electrolysis because sometimes I feel like wearing a cute little Van Dyck. But I identify as genderqueer, so it fits. I do fight with public perceptions and inner dialogue, but I’m usually glad I have the option to be more or less hairy, kind of like most guys. In the end, you need to do what feels right to feel good about who you are. Electrolysis is not permanent, despite what they say. I have much more hair now than I ever did when I was actively going in for treatments. It’s an age related thing. You get hairier as you approach menopause. I wish you well, whatever your decision is. Just make sure you are doing it for you and not for what someone else expects of you.

  2. One other thing…guys can be poopy no matter what their preference is for female facial hair. My experience is that I have been treated much more nicely by the men I have encountered who are accepting of it. And they constantly tell me to keep it or not keep it for me, not them. That’s the right response, IMO. Find someone who loves all of you and treats you well. A guy who will only accept you if your appearance passes muster will be trouble, trust me.

    • “A guy who will only accept you if your appearance passes muster will be trouble, trust me.”

      Couldn’t agree more. I’m not saying I would go after those guys or want them to go after me. And yeah, I’ve found that it does say something positive about the men who are accepting of it – they tend to be open-minded, more relaxed, etc., and not just about my ladybeard. But my major point is that it’s a near-daily… I don’t even want to say “struggle”, because that’s too strong at this point. Annoyance? Frustration? Near-daily annoyance/frustration for me to have a beard, because of the way I identify. Even with as far as I’ve come. Even with as much work as I’ve done and as much self-acceptance as I have. It’s dissonant with the way I think/feel about my identity.

      I hope that makes sense. I appreciate your comments. This isn’t a decision I’m taking lightly, and either way it goes would be for my own reasons and not because of anyone else’s expectations.

  3. You really sound like you are thinking this through. Wonderful! If you decide to take it off, will you close the forum? I’ll tell you, it was a much needed place for me when I was starting to have a dialog with myself about my facial hair. I appreciate just hearing other people’s thought process, questions, and comments on the subject.

    • That’s a great question! Probably not. My story would still be my story, even if I no longer had the beard, and others might still want to read/comment.

  4. I found your website a few years ago and it gave me the courage to shave and be Ok with it, glad not be the only one 🙂 I identify as lesbian and have a ladybeard due to PCOS, but I do not like wearing it. Whilst in general I’m rather accepting of my body hair, happy to have hairy legs and underarms, having it on my face makes me feel like I’m losing touch with my femininity. I do worry about a partner being unhappy with my body… However, I echo what kattdaida said and personally will accept all of any woman I love and know she is beautiful because she is herself.
    Good luck with making your decision, make it for yourself x

    • Thanks so much! I definitely hear you. It’s so interesting, because I would accept (and have been accepting) of men I have loved for the same reasons you have accepted women you have loved. Yet, I have struggled to accept myself, and still feel off about it sometimes. Sigh… It’s such a tough thing.

  5. I hope you’ll comment here to update us on what you decide.

    I would LOVE to do electrolysis, but I’m afraid it’s not worth the investment (time, as well as $) because I still don’t know what’s causing my hirsutism…which I’ve always had, but has gotten much much worse lately. (I’m 43. I suppose age could be a factor.) PCOS? Cushing’s? Adrenal tumors? All or none of the above? And yes, I have an endocrinologist, because I also have diabetes and thyroid issues; but I’ve had to initiate the testing for this particular problem, and apparently the process of diagnosis is not clear cut. The lab work so far suggests that, yes, I might have any of the above issues, but isolating the right one is a trick. To make matters worse, I can’t take BC to balance hormones because I have a blood clotting disorder. So if it does turn out that I have PCOS, there’s not much that can be done. A benign adrenal tumor might be the best case scenario; I don’t know. 😦

    Anyway, I mention that because — and you probably know this — if you get electrolysis done before you “fix” the hormonal imbalance, neighboring hair follicles will be stimulated and you might as well not have started. If I thought it would be a permanent solution, I’d start tomorrow. Like you, I just hate the way the hair FEELS…coarse and scratchy. And I hate the maintenance.

    Thanks for writing this blog. It’s awesome, and helps so many of us to feel less alone.

  6. I just found out from a hairdresser I have known a long time that some blood pressure meds can stimulate hair growth. Now that I think about it, my cardiologist told me that she could “help me with my hair problem” – without first asking if it was a problem, grrr. But it sounds like some of the drugs can promote hair thinning as a side effect. But my scalp hair is already thin, so no thanks. And I go full time bearded now. I still confuse the hell out of people – I got called “sir” today, and there was some comments by some suitmonkeys, but overall I am happy with my choice. I hope that your journey is treating you well. Please do let us know how it’s going.


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