I originally posted this on the blog in October, 2011. You can find the original post here. Below is a very slightly modified version.
A few years ago, in 2006, my good friend Rose and I did a photo project together about my hair and shaving.
It’s called, “If Found, Please Shave”.
After much consideration, I’ve decided to post it here for your enjoyment and perhaps a sense of solidarity if we happen to be in the same situation. I took pictures of the pictures, so please excuse the quality (some of them are a little blurry – not Rose’s fault, totally mine), and I’ll type the original text so you don’t have to strain your eyes 🙂 So you’re aware, there is one swear word in the text, just in case you might be offended by such things.
Looking at it now reminds me of how I used to feel, how much things have changed, and then again, how much things have stayed the same.
Thanks to Rose, for lending her wonderful photography talent to this project, for being a supportive, great friend for a lot of years, and for being my designated shaver just in case.
So, without further delay…
Yes, I’m a woman and I have hair on my face and you can all go fuck yourselves. Which would totally be what I would say if I had a giant megaphone and could stand outside of the Nair or Veet corporations or laser hair removal clinics or anyone who makes waxing products. Except then I’d probably say something like, “No, guys! I was kidding! Guys, come back…”
I have this weird relationship with my facial hair. It’s only been weird in the past few months; I used to just hate it, period. But suddenly, I feel compassionate toward it. Almost proud of it in a way. Before this time in my life, I either pretended it didn’t exist or felt sad and angry that it was there and did everything I could to make it actually not exist. I used to fight it so hard, and it’s odd to begin to let go of that.
How does a girl learn to shave? It’s certainly not that her father teaches her. Can you imagine? Me and my dad, hanging out in front of the mirror, he in a towel around his waist, I with a towel around my body, each with a razor, both Gillette, but his would be a Mach 3 and mine would be a Venus, lathering up our faces and bonding.
No, she learns by trial-and-error at first. Then, she picks up tips from magazine articles that are designed to help women reduce razor burn and ingrown hairs along the bikini line, but are actually pretty helpful for the face. She later learns from watching episodes of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “Extreme Makeover” that she should shave with the grain and notagainst it, although this does not produce quite as close a shave.
For the last nine years, I’ve been shaving my face. I’ve tried other things to get rid of the hair, but with little luck. I got really close to waxing it once, but I tried to wax the hair on my leg first, and not only was it painful, but it didn’t really work that well. I decided not to risk it on my face. Then, I tried to pluck it, but that was much more painful than it was worth, and it started to take a really long time. The most extreme thing I’ve done is to go in and have laser treatments… twice. The laser stimulated more hair growth, so now I have hair on my neck where there used to be none.
So, shaving it is. I do it an average of every other day, unless I’m dating someone, in which case it’s every time I see that person. Chances are, that person will be touching my face, and I can’t risk anyone feeling it. These days, the process goes like this: If I have time, I take a shower. While in the shower, I wash my face with Proactiv cleanser, because it exfoliates. Also, Proactiv does something with the hair follicles. After I rinse off the cleanser, I lather my face with soap. I’ve found that shaving cream/gel doesn’t work as well for me.
There are so many hair removal products out there, and I can tell you from experience that they don’t really work. Either that, or they’re so chemically scary that I can’t even bring myself to put them on my face, like Nair. Nair totally freaks me out. I bought some Veet, intending to try it, but I figured it would be similar to Nair. I still have it, though, just in case.
And why? What’s with all of this hair removal business? Why do I even care?
That’s the question. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.
When I’m in the car with another person and I’m driving, I worry that that person will notice my facial hair, because he or she is looking at me and seeing the side of my face. I have to face forward and watch the road, so there’s no buffer – that person has full visual access to my right cheek, and that side of my neck, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
I really worry about going into the hospital, for any reason. In fact, “worry” doesn’t even begin to cover it; I’m terrified. What if I’m in a car accident and I haven’t shaved that day? I’ve heard that you should always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident, but for me it’s making sure I’ve shaved. What if I have a heart attack or go into a coma, or what if I’m in labor for a really long time and can’t get up to shave? I’m going to have to have a designated shaver or something. I should carry a note around with me or wear one of those medical bracelets that says, “If found, please shave.”
So, I’m torn. I’m trying so hard not to care and to be proud of who I am and what I’ve been given. It’s tough though, being a woman with lots of hair on her face, in a society where that is NOT ok. Park of me wants to let it grow and celebrate the fact that it’s there. But the bigger part of me, at least right now, wants it to just be gone.