Monday, June 19, 2006

Who Is That Handsome Stranger?

So I was talking to my girl Edith and she was poking me with her internet poke-y machine, being all up in my grill. "Pull your blogging weight bitch," says Edith. Which made me think about how cool it would be if "a blog" was a unit of measurement, since it's obviously a much cooler word than "gram" or "pound." How much does a bunny weigh? Why 2.4 blogs children! How much patriarchy can Vicky take before her head 'splodes? Why .00001 blogs! Clearly I am a scientist and you should all worship me as such.

Anywho, after much deliberation I come to you today to address the topic of female facial hair my fine, furry friends.

I happen to have a moustache. Not a big one. Just, you know, a wispy one that's big enough to give my upper lip a humble dose of 'tude. For many years I've taken a pair of tweezers to my face on a semi-regular basis like some might stroll through their garden, delicately plucking at the weeds. Of all the many, many things that I was self-conscious about through junior high and high school, my moustache hits the top of the list with a fucking bullet. Indeed, for a period of a couple years one of my most characteristic mannerisms was to put my hand over my upper lip whenever I thought someone was looking at me too closely. Then I realized, oh adolescent curse, that just drew more attention to it.

Still, I used to be very reluctant to just get rid of my facial hair. Indeed, my mom used to literally chase me around the house with an electric facial hair remover. These episodes would usually culminate with her holding me down with one hand and using THE DEVICE on my face with the other while I howled in pain and distress. Yeah. She still regularly tries to bribe me with cold hard cash so I will get my "jungle-like" eyebrows waxed. Whether my resistance came from an early, just budding feminism or an instinctive impulse to keep all objects with spinning circular blades away from my fucking face the world may never know.

I also remember overhearing my mom talking to a friend from church who we'll call Joy (insert gossipy, super image-conscious stereotype here). Joy was telling a story about how she was at the supermarket once and saw this woman with a fully developed beard. With lurid and vicious detail, Joy described a brief moment when she looked into the eyes of the bearded lady (a.k.a. beast) and registered what she called, "a look of utter defeat." Joy gave a tragic shake of the head and both women made that wooshing, clicking noise of pity and shame you may or may not be familiar with. That image of the bearded lady in the supermarket is still a very vivid one for me today because it was one of the most blatant messages I received that to display your masculinity, instead of hiding it and pretending it wasn't there, was to fail as a woman.

According to an old Bitch article, "Growing Pains- Female Facial Hair Gets Plucky" from Spring Aught Five, "41 million American women between the ages of 15 and 74 have removed unwanted facial hair within the past six months, and approximately 22 million American women remove facial hair at least once a week." Which is a pretty crazy statistic if you ask me. Think of what a huge amount of women that is! But there's hardly anything more taboo and ugly by our cultural standards than facial hair on a woman. Because, corollary, there are few things more taboo than a woman who isn't all woman or, taking things a bit further, a man who isn't all man:

It's easy to look at Frida Kahlo self-portraits and gush about how feminist and ahead of her time she must have been to include her monobrow and facial hair in the portrait. But let's think about that for a minute. Is it true that one of the boldest feminist acts of all might be the simple choice to proudly display a moustache? What's so captivating about the Kahlo self-portraits isn't just that she had the ovaries to resist being ashamed of her facial hair, but that she had a moustache and was still SEXY AS HELL in a big poofy dress because, let's face it, Frida Kahlo was hot. She captured the awesome potential of both the feminine and the masculine.

Now, not all of us are graced with Frida's bone structure and I thought I might google the topic a little more to get some fun facts about other regular and not so regular women with facial hair. Wikipedia has an entry about bearded ladies with this charming tidbit: "The bearded woman has been a phenomenon of legend, curiosity, ridicule, and more recently, political statement and fashion statement. A small number of women are able to grow what may appear to be a beard. This is usually not truly beard growth, but simply dark facial hair." Huh. Simply dark facial hair. Since that's not what a beard is? I'm confused.

With a little more digging I came across this fascinating website about historical bearded ladies who performed in various circus sideshows all around the country. Don't these women sound completely, ridiculously awesome?

You may have also happened to notice some pretty hot pictures of feminist celebrity JD Samson of the band Le Tigre, sporting her signature mustache that has turned her into a lesbian pin-up of sorts (note above picture of Prince for freaky resemblance):

I also happened to find this delightful website of famous actresses who sported some facial hair falsies for various roles. I particularly like the photos of Rebecca Romijn-Stamos with a full beard. Sure, she looks hot cartwheeling around in a full-length blue body suit in X-Men 3. But surely, SURELY, it cannot hold a candle to the extreme hotness of Rebecca with a full set of honey blonde whiskers.

Frankly, the world wide web has inspired me to do away with my regular moustache plucking regimen. And yet, I too, want more than a moustache now. If you, like me, are ready to take the next step I strongly encourage you to buy some of these fine wares or, if you're feeling particularly advanced, please partake of what has simply been labeled The Neptune Wig.

Hopefully this post has tickled your feminist whiskers for the day. My parting advice to all my feminist friends (and enemies too I suppose), "Go with glory, oh bearded ones!"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a very interesting post. I like the pictures, and a few of those links at the end made me VERY UNCOMFORTABLE INDEED!


5:15 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

"41 million American women between the ages of 15 and 74 have removed unwanted facial hair within the past six months, and approximately 22 million American women remove facial hair at least once a week"

Wow. According to THESE stats, facial hair ISN'T really a secondary sex characteristic of men, is it? To some degree, it appears everyone has facial hair.

I'm a Shaver and a Plucker.
I like shaving and I even like the word Shave, especially after my period - when all the old is gone, refreshed, starting anew. I have this freaky ritual I do after each period which involves bathing, shaving, body scrubby exfoliating - I step out of the tub as clean and fresh as my recently emptied uterus.

(I let the cooch run wild tho -- My Delicate Flower (snort!) NEEDS protection, poor thing.)

BUT -- unquestionably shaving can be a chore, is definately forced down our throats as the ideal. Indeed -- a woman is even seen as DEVIANT if she doesn't shave and there is the pesky problem about the genesis of shaving for women: to emulate a pre-pubescent ideal (puke.)

2:48 AM  
Blogger Edith said...

Kaka, I got really nervous that you were talking about shaving your vulva after every period, and I started to inwardly cry a little. (After my period, my entire reproductive system wants to take, like, a nap.) Otherwise, that seems like a nice ritual, actually.

And Vicky, I love you and your wit. And mostly, if the only thing we contribute to the femisphere is your assertion that JD Samson and Prince are practically the same person looks-wise, then I'll be more than satisfied.

And you might have a Neptune present coming up.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Vicky Vengeance said...

I spent about 5 minutes laughing at your comment David. Seriously. You are the funniest person ever.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

"Kaka, I got really nervous that you were talking about shaving your vulva after every period"

NOPE, no way :)!

One time, as it suddenly seemed every woman I knew was all about the shaven pubes, I gave my it a mild go -- not everything, but a pruning, if you will.
While I do shave the legs, I have no desire to have my *Rose Petal of Aphrodite resemble that of a little girl, thank you.

*Yes, I made that up. Beats the heck outta 'bearded clam.'

1:45 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

I'm honored to be a "crush!" :)

11:20 AM  
Blogger FallingStar said...

Ahhh!What a lovely refreshing post! I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and therefore facial hair. However, the doc prescribed dianette to lighten my hair. I do, however, tend to get a hairy chin and upper lip as most women do, but I admit I trim the chin hairs! I LOVE Frida Kahlo though, she is actually one of my favourite artists and inspirations. I dunno whether I can personally stop trimming my chin/upper lip hair though..its become such a habit :( Frida did, as you say, have a fabulous bone structure so she did look rather lovely with her eyebrows and moustache. I do shave me legs and underarm hair most of the time (only when I feel like it!) but I would NEVER touch my bush. I have shaved the bikini line before and it was HORRIBLE - stubbly and painful growing back. Never again!!!

2:46 PM  
Blogger Vicky Vengeance said...

I'm glad you liked my post fallingstar. I totally understand the need to trim and I respect women who shave or tweaze or wax or pluck. Yikes. There are certainly a lot of painful memories for me in those verbs. There is a LOT of crazy pressure out there to do those things. I just want the world to know that facial hair can indeed be the sexy on women.

12:44 AM  
Anonymous dreamer said...

I love this blog, And bearded women rock.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Deb said...

Wonderful post!
This blog came through from a post on the Michigan Women's Music Festival website and it's great to see people talking hair hair everywhere.

Check out


2:55 AM  
Anonymous hairy beast said...

ok.. i dont know what to think right now cuse my problem .. is much worse. not only do i have a mustache (sp?), small chin hair, but ihave long and noticible sideburns, and chest torso hair. i feel ugly . i am 18 yrs old too?!!

all this talk of being happy with who you are is BULL..try being the one with hair under your jaw.

frida is icon. but come on.. she is hott.. what if you are not? what if you have a hairy face without the looks

.. im not ugly. many have complimented my looks but it only worsens the fact becuse they can not see my facial hair.. and when they do i know they will alter their comment.

i just want to hear from a guy that i am attractive even with so much hair.

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"hairy beast" I know how you feel, i'd love to have just the moustache but no I get the side burns starting to show along with the hair on my neck and chest.

Its hard sometimes especially when you hear other woman talking about how they always wax their facial hair becuase its discusting. But at the end of the day its my face and my choice, the majority of woman have this problem but its deemed 'socially unacceptable' so they end up shaving, waxing and plucking most of their days.

When and if I'm ready I'll get rid of it but it'll be down to me.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

Everyone! Send in your beautiful pictures!

9:25 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home