I first began to catch on while laughing into the wee hours and listening to my friends talk about the changes to their bodies, specifically their body hair, including all of the places and ways it could sprout out from their formerly feminine skin.
It all started so innocently, and all seemed so comical and distant to me- one of those things I’d joke with other people about, but that didn’t really affect me in any personal sense. That’s what I thought at the time anyway. But, as time went on, I began to realize that I had just been blind.
Unwanted hair is a hard core and ruthless bully that attacks even the most unlikely of candidates. None of us is safe.
The first woman to really open up about the subject was a real life wise woman who wears her long and flowing grey locks like a crown, and frankly she rocks this look. This particular night, my Silver Wise Friend shared an experience more terrifying to me than a head full of grey hair. “Right around the same time as my eyesight started fading, I started sprouting hairs on my chin.”
I choked in disbelief at the horrid news and my wine shot out of my nose. I’d never personally seen any hairs on her chin, but apparently she has made a deal with her teenage daughter. If the young one will discreetly and kindly point out any stray facial hair to the older one, she will avoid being seen in public with a bearded mother. Since mothers of teens are inherently embarrassing to them, the girl was apparently happy to avoid further mortification.
I tried to console myself with the fact that this friend is older. I should have years before I have to worry about things like this, right? Nevertheless, it strikes a pang of fear in my heart.
If that’s what’s to come, frankly, it scares the heck out of me.
Another friend who is closer to my age told of the side effects of waxing her eyebrows and upper lip. “The worst part is, it’s started to change the texture of my skin. It’s all thick and weird above my lip now.”
Holy crap. I felt so naive. No part of this conversation had ever even occurred to me. But after hearing all of this, all I could think was ‘What if have a freaking mustache?’ I’m much darker than this fair skinned red headed woman. I have way more hair in general.
What if I’d been walking around with whiskers and not even knowing it? Someone would tell me, right? Or would they just ignore it, perhaps thinking it was some anti establishment statement of mine and just whisper behind my back about it?
Dear God, with her Nordic ancestors, she doesn’t look like she’d have enough body hair to pluck, let alone wax. Did I mention that she’s nearly ten years younger than me? The tiny eyebrows she does have are thinner than her eyeliner. I tried imagining something that fragile and slim above my eyes- the pain it would take to achieve and how silly it would probably look on me. I come from people with eyebrows. To some extent I need to embrace this.
But all the facial hair talk was still haunting me. My heart began to panic, and I considered running to the bathroom to check and see if I had any surprise shoots sprouting out of my upper lip. Before I could get up, another friend refilled my wine glass. Sidetracked by the burgundy liquid, I decided to just listen and laugh along. After three glasses of wine, it’s probably not the best time to make any cosmetic decisions decisions anyway. Perhaps my wise friend is wearing off on me after all?
The next day though, I was still thinking about hair issues and remembered that my college roommates had nicknamed me ‘Bert’~ as in Ernie’s friend from Sesame Street with the long face, big nose, wide open mouth and monobrow. They even bought me a Bert doll for Christmas “When we saw it, it just totally reminded us of you!”
I was never sure if I was being paranoid or if these conversation and memories were signs that I really needed to inspect what might be growing on my face, but it wasn’t really on my mind when I pulled down the visor mirror in the car that day. I had only wanted to check my teeth- to make sure there were no signs of the blueberry smoothie stuck in the spaces between. I hadn’t really wanted to see myself so up close and personal, certainly not while under the influence of self doubting paranoia.
It was as if suddenly my visor mirror had gained magnifying properties, blowing up every imperfection on my face, but there seemed to be a magnetic force drawing my eyes to the hair just above them on my forehead.
I literally gasped when I saw the thick and unruliness of the black lines crossing my forehead. It wasn’t quite Frida Kahlo style, but more of a resemblance than I was comfortable with.
Apparently, it had been a while since I’d picked up the tweezers. Damn those years I spent in the hippie coastal town. I made it out of there still shaving my armpits, but I’m afraid it influenced my slacker efforts in maintenance of my physical appearance. Suddenly, I had a massive job to do.
I began mumbling to myself in the car, questioning if this was too big a job for such a small tool. I realized I could be there all day trying to pluck those babies one at a time. This problem of mine was going to require a fast speed and large scale solution. I knew then that it was time for me to pull out some big girl tools.
The moment sticks in my head, alongside other “firsts” in life. I don’t know if every woman remembers the first time she succumbs to the idea that she is a candidate for waxing, but for me, it felt like a cross between resignation and initiation. It was a scary thought, but not as scary as the idea of letting those brows get any bigger.
Of course, the shelves of the beauty aisle had nearly a dozen alternatives to confuse me. I was too shy to ask anyone about it, even though statistically speaking, it seems that every woman in the country has unwanted hair somewhere or another.
The box that caught my eye was a sugar wax, with honey, aloe and lavender. How could it not be wonderful for me with those ingredients? According to the box, it would nourish my skin, leaving me feeling relaxed. I bought it and raced home.
I read through the entire instruction pamphlet before I began. It’s something I never bother to do, but this was too important to mess up. It was my face after all. Carefully warming the small jar of sugar mixture so as not to burn it, I inhaled the smell of something delicious. Back in the bathroom under the brightest light I could come up with, I used a fine comb to arrange my brows into a pleasant shape, separating the keepers and the losers.
As I slowly spread the food grade ingredients over the rejected hairs, I briefly wondered if doing this myself was a mistake. Should I have gone to a professional? An annoying little voice in my head, the result of a lifetime of genius marketing campaigns designs, questioned not only my eyebrows, but my competency in dealing with them myself. My heart and breathing sped up a little.
My mind flashed back to a girl in junior high who have herself an angry red rash between her eyebrows with an at home hair removal cream.
What kind of example would I be for my daughter if I wound up with a self inflicted ugly mess above my eyes from chasing some illusive external standard? What about natural beauty?
But at this point, I was already committed with a rapidly cooling sugar solution spread around my brows. It was too late to go back, so I forced myself to get a grip and move on with the show.
I slowly spread the food grade ingredients, briefly wondering if this was a mistake. Should I have gone to a professional? At this point, my heart started to race, and my breathing sped up. I had to talk myself down.. I was already pretty committed at this point with wax on my face. It was too late to go back.
As I gently pressed the muslin strip in place, I prayed that I wouldn’t screw up and botch my face. Taking a deep breath, I go for it. It stung, which I expected, making my eyes water. When the tears cleared, I took a deep breath and looked at me reflection in the mirror, it actually looked OK. Not too big, not too small, my eyebrows fit my face. It did look better, and wasn’t so drastic that people would blatantly notice.
But nothing, absolutely nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I looked at the muslin. When plucking one hair at a time, there’s just no way to gauge the cumalative excess of eyebrows removed. Looking down at the strip however, my mouth gaped in horror. It looked like I’d pulled a wooly caterpillar off of my face.
Later that day, I’d recovered from the shock, and was feeling pleased with my first time with wax when I heard the DJ on the radio announce that a scientist had developed a new procedure.
Apparently, doctors can now perform eyebrow transplants. Well, I have plenty to share, so maybe someday I'll get to be a donor.
Have you ever had to deal with scary and hairy changes? Any advice or words of wisdom? Please share in the comments below. And if you liked this, I hope you'll also "like" it on Facebook and share with your friends.