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Female facial hair - if so many women have it, why do we feel so ashamed?

(24 Posts)
QuentinSummers Thu 30-Nov-17 09:34:41

Very interesting article in the Guardian.
I'm getting hairier as i get older and i hate it. Have to carry tweezers in the bag and I've been worrying something's gone skewhiff with my hormones. But the chart in the article shows I'm totally normal.
I found it an interesting read anyhow.

www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/nov/30/female-facial-hair-if-so-many-women-have-it-why-are-we-so-deeply-ashamed

GuardianLions Thu 30-Nov-17 11:15:35

That's a great article. And it is good that she names male bullying as being the start of girls and women's body shame about hair.

When I used to wax my own legs (I now realise helpfully from that chart I am actually within the normal range - who would have thought?), I remember feeling like it was a form of torture. Going to get it done professionally was like torture with a bit of humiliation thrown in. I was extremely aware that this time-consuming, unnecessary torture was because I am female. And only men have ever dissed me when I decided to let it grow and get the hair out. They genuinely looked horrified.

As to the facial hair - I am one of the 3 quarters of women that constantly touch my face looking for whiskers to pull out, but I have got to the stage of only using tweezers maybe every few days to leaving it maybe a week or two... I think I still have a rebellious streak. ha ha

Nuffaluff Thu 30-Nov-17 11:16:36

What a fascinating article. I am white, fair haired and have hardly any body hair but I still managed to score six on that chart.
So if you are of Indian origin you are most likely to be classed as having 'moderate/severe hirsutism' for having normal body hair. On a scale invented by men. Sexist and racist!

SonicBoomBoom Thu 30-Nov-17 12:11:05

It is weird. Obviously it's because hair is not considered "feminine" (even though it should be). But conversely, muscles are a masculine trait, but it's considered a good thing for women to look athletic and have strong muscles. That's a masculine trait that is admired. Strange juxtaposition.

SonicBoomBoom Thu 30-Nov-17 12:12:19

Masculine trait that is admired on women ** I mean.

QuentinSummers Thu 30-Nov-17 12:16:02

sonic I think women are praised for looking lithe and athletic. Powerful muscular women (Serena Williams springs to mind) seem to attract criticism.

Ponzi Thu 30-Nov-17 12:24:03

I have noticed that when I have posted on MN about hair removal I have been told I must have PCOS. It becomes acceptable to remove hair if there is a medical issue. I don't have a medical issue.

MakeMisogynyAHateCrime Thu 30-Nov-17 12:30:46

I'm about a 15 on that chart and have myself checked for different conditions which I don't have.

I'm a hairy woman. I am very pale with extremely dark, thick, strong body/facial hair.

I had a moustache from about the age of 12 which my mother wouldn't let me tend to, so I was humiliated 10+ times a day at school. Until I was allowed to take control of it at 15. Subsequently I've spent a fortune getting rid of my hair. I now use an IPL machine which removes the hair on my legs and neck but I still have hair on my chin and upper lip that won't budge - only tweezing or threading will remove it (waxing my chin won't touch it) and I can't handle the pain. So I'm shaving it which is a nightmare tbh.

When the IPL worked on my neck/under my chin I cried. When i could see that it wasn't growinf back I felt a sense of overwhelming relief, I sobbed my heart out. OVER HAIR.

I struggle with it a lot.
I'm fairly happy with my pubic hair being wild and letting my legs go a bit for a few months but then I have a panic about fancy work events and shave then IPL them. I get into so many arguments with myself about hair removal but I'm not brave enough to face an adult version of the abuse I got at school. It nearly drove me to suicide when I was 14.

GuardianLions Thu 30-Nov-17 12:41:28

flowers Make

It is so upsetting. So sad that the female body hair taboo makes perfectly healthy women and girls feel so shit.

But on the upside I am really pleased there are those women who with instagrams and other social media accounts who are helping to normalise hair on women in a small way.

BahHumbygge Thu 30-Nov-17 12:56:02

This is my specialist subject... I have spent hours/days researching naturopathic/conventional solutions to body hair.

I suspect that idiopathic hirsutism is a sub type of PCOS, but because I've always had regular normal periods, I've never been taken seriously by doctors, even when undergoing fertility investigations... they never looked into the PCOS side. First time I went to the doctor at 16 ish, she even reassured me I wasn't turning into a man hmm It's the psychological shame... it's really contributed to my life long low self esteem. I'd be happy to be hippyish and laissez faire with the razor... if I had a low-normal amount of female body hair... I don't wish to be "patriarchy-compliant" totally smooth either.

I probably score about 12 - 15 on the F-G chart. Many times I've cried in pain while epilating, not the physical pain, but the emotional pain of being so hairy and knowing I'll have the feeling of a cactus growing under my skin again in half a week sad

I have had a lot of relief drinking spearmint tea (small scale scientific studies back this up - it contains an inhibitor that prevents the conversion of standard testosterone into its turbo version - which promotes hair growth). Also eating a low carb/GI diet as insulin shares much of the metabolic pathway that converts to testosterone.

GuardianLions Thu 30-Nov-17 13:08:39

I'd be happy to be hippyish and laissez faire with the razor... if I had a low-normal amount of female body hair... I don't wish to be "patriarchy-compliant" totally smooth either.

I've felt that about women with fine blonde body hair. I always thought - I'd never bother shaving if I was like that. Imagine - no ingrowing hairs, itchy stubble, tedium. And I have mentioned it to them - but their common or garden arseholes male partners have always criticised them for it, saying/implying they felt embarrassed to be with them in public, so they duly shave this soft, imperceptible hair off.

SchadenfreudePersonified Thu 30-Nov-17 13:19:08

Interesting article. I am middling on the scale and have always been ashamed and embarrassed by my body hair. My DD is the same. I got a huge amount of mockery and bullying about it when I was at school, and it destroyed my confidence.

Those women who are standing up for themselves as normal are wonderful. I wish I'd had their example before me when I was growing up.

And thank you for the dietary advice BahHumbygge

Nuffaluff Thu 30-Nov-17 13:42:04

flowers to all of you who struggle with this issue.
I am one of those women with fine hair but I do shave, remove my lip hairs etc. It's a habit and because I don't have much it's not onerous or expensive.
I have just asked my husband how he would feel if I grew my body hair and he gave me an honest answer. He said he wouldn't like it! I was a bit surprised as he never normally expresses any opinion either way about what I do or don't do with my appearance.
He said he realised that he only thinks that because of 'society's expectations'. After a bit more discussion, we came to the conclusion that he perceives armpit hair as masculine.
I'm going to let it grow for a bit.

Elendon Thu 30-Nov-17 14:04:51

I stopped shaving my underarms decades ago because I have some moles there. Thankfully I'm a 3 on the scale but my shins have always been hairy and they are not included. I shave those in summer if there is a heatwave (and I always cut myself - I cannot use anything else), simply because I itch if I don't do it. In the winter it gives me that little bit extra layer of heat.

I did know hairy armed friends at school. I used to stroke their arms and I found it beneficial as did they (twas an all girls school). I loved the feeling of stroking female hairs because it was so soft. Obviously, it was a sort of female bonding ritual thing. I've been married twice and have three children. Am now in my 50s and am losing my body hair as I age. Even my once thick head of hair is thinning.

Male hair is so much coarser though! Both exes had no chest or back hair.

Ineedacupofteadesperately Thu 30-Nov-17 14:59:11

I have PCOS and am hairy. As I've got older I do less about removing partly because I don't have as much time (babies) but I realised recently that part of the reason I didn't want to do a WOH job was because I'd feel I'd have to remove it more thoroughly / often. How depressing a realisation.

GuardianLions Thu 30-Nov-17 15:12:41

Ineed
I wonder how many other women make huge life decisions like this because they are ashamed of body hair - or rather afraid of being publicly shamed and humiliated for having it.

I bet it keeps women out of public speaking, public life, etc.

DJBaggySmalls Thu 30-Nov-17 15:23:33

I'm 8 on that scale but have no hair on my back so its mostly in places that show. It feels conspicuous. I mind armpit hair less than hair on my face.
At least one religion makes women pluck all of their body hair. I dont believe thats a message from god, otherwise why did he put it there in the first place?

GuardianLions Thu 30-Nov-17 15:28:49

After a bit more discussion, we came to the conclusion that he perceives armpit hair as masculine.
I'm going to let it grow for a bit.

I had an experience of seeing a woman defiantly wearing a slashed-arm tshirt and leaning back with her arms behind her head once. She had very dark hair and it was far more abundant than my fuzzy pits. I remember having a host of feelings about it - because to me it looked extremely sexual. I almost felt a prudishness like I would if an attractive woman was walking around half naked. It didn't look masculine to me, but it suggested sex hormones and made her look like a force to be reckoned with as a sexual woman - rather than a pretty packaged thing to be picked off the shelf and consumed, as most female grooming turns women into.
It obviously made an impression since I can remember it so clearly. I find it strange that evidence of female puberty is seen as 'masculine'. I bet, with all this porn culture pube shaving, even pubic hair is now seen as masculine - on vulva!

Nuffaluff Thu 30-Nov-17 16:05:01

Isn't it ridiculous that a bit of hair under your armpits can be so shocking?
It shouldn't even matter at all, but growing your armpit hair is making a really big statement.
Hilariously, I have an advert for razors on my phone screen as I type - men's ones.

Gacapa Thu 30-Nov-17 17:07:03

Vaniqa cream (for use on face for women with facial hair - medical name Eflornithine) has been blacklisted by my NHS trust as it's too expensive. So you can't get it on prescription anymore. Unless privately and it costs a fortune. My NHS consultant told me they can prescribe it for "trans women". Right. So women can't have it, but men who want to look like women can.

Yet another example of this fucked up reality in which we find ourselves.

SchadenfreudePersonified Thu 30-Nov-17 17:23:08

they can prescribe it for "trans women". Right. So women can't have it, but men who want to look like women can.

angry angry angry angry angry

MakeMisogynyAHateCrime Thu 30-Nov-17 17:27:29

. My NHS consultant told me they can prescribe it for "trans women". Right. So women can't have it, but men who want to look like women can.

I would be identifying as a man and then identifying a transwoman the next day I order to qualify. If my ex NHS colleagues are anything to go by they are so terrified of being fired over this stuff that they will comply.

Ttbb Thu 30-Nov-17 17:33:47

So I just realised that I am really not that hairy. I thought I was a bit more hairy than average-not that I cared enough to remove any of it.

Bluelonerose Thu 30-Nov-17 17:42:48

It's actually one of the things I'm bring up with the Dr tomorrow.

I think I'm about a 18 on the scale .
I've learnt to live with the stubble appearing on my legs and under arms 6 hours AFTER shaving. It's still depressing.
My facial hair though I hate. I've been getting my top lip chin and eyebrows threaded every 3 weeks for the last few years. The ONLY place it hasn't seem to make it fluffy (I can deal with fluffy facial hair) is 2 patches either side of my chin which grows into pubes shock
I trim daily with scissors but ide love to not care or not have the problem.

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