A relationship with hair sounds weird, right? We, as humans, have all kinds of different relationships. While they are typically thought of between other humans or our furry and scaly pets, we can have relationships with inanimate objects as well. At least I do. Normal? Well, normal is relative, after all.
Growing up, I always wanted great hair. A good relationship with hair.
You know what I mean, don’t you? There was always that girl that had long blonde hair, or the one with perfect wavy hair that no matter how many failed perms you paid for, it never looked like hers. We all wanted what we didn’t have. If our hair was straight, we wanted curly; if it was curly, we wanted straight hair. Because we are never satisfied with what we have and always want something different. Which makes a good relationship with hair difficult to obtain.
I had moments of good hair growing up, and when I look back at pictures, even though I know I wasn’t satisfied then, now looking back, it seemed pretty good. Hine sight is a beautiful thing, served too late to make our childhood and teenage years a little more bearable.
When the hair and your relationship with hair, betrays you even further.
To be fair, I was more than harsh with my hair. I am not an intentional abuser of my relationship with hair, but I haven’t been kind. The perms, color, peroxide (yes, I was that girl) curling irons, hair dryers, sun, chlorine took a toll. You get the idea. The grey hair started, and I was covering them. They weren’t prominent, but I wasn’t about to accept them. Early grey runs in the family, and I wasn’t going down without a fight.
I worked hard to keep my hair “pretty,” or at least acceptable to me. Past pictures show I did ok. In 2013 I came down with a severe case of pneumonia. A month in the hospital and a couple more weeks at home, I finally recovered and was able to get back to work. My hair didn’t recover. It was falling out in clumps in the shower. I remember the first time it happened, and I just fell to the floor of the tub and cried. It took a year to get it back to where I could look at it and not cry. The vitamins, special shampoo, coconut oil treatments, everything I tried slowly started working. My hair and I have been through a lot!
When you save your hair, but it still, indiscreetly, betrays you.
Fast forward a little bit. I didn’t go through the normal menopause process. I had a medical procedure to stop severe blood flow during my periods. The ablation worked. My periods stopped. This was a good thing because after you are done having children, that is just a nuisance anyway, right? I didn’t think about how this would impact menopause for me.
My mom had a hysterectomy so I didn’t know at what age, or how the process would have happened genetically. My sister started signs of menopause early, but she didn’t talk about it much. To go back a generation would be fruitless. Grandma would have never talked about those things. EVER! So, I didn’t have a gauge on how this was going to go. I thought because I wasn’t showing signs that were the most popular, I had been given a pass. Silly me!
From peach fuzz…
I remember I was in my 30’s and Mom and I was at the beach. She must have caught a glimpse of my face with the sun and told me that as you age, the peach fuzz you had as a baby tends to come back. She explained there were lotions I could use to make it go away. Well, I was mortified! The hair on my face! A beard! Fuck that!
I went out the next week and got the magic potion. I proceeded to burn my face with it, resulting in a look that appeared I had skateboarded on the sidewalk with my face! Ever diligent, I kept trying, playing time I left it on, etc. I also had it waxed. That wasn’t too bad. Painful but quick. Until the girl waxing my face burned it. The wax left scars that are still there today. Great, not only do I have to deal with the peach fuzz on my face but now I have scars because of it. My relationship with hair gets a little dicey.
…to billy goat chin hair!
Then comes the day that I mistakenly looked into the magnifying side of a mirror. What the holy fuck is going on!! I had no idea all that hair was there. Dark hair! That wasn’t peach fuzz. I had the beard of a pre-pubescent boy! Why didn’t someone tell me? Have other people seen this and just didn’t say anything? Where are my friends? You know the ones that will notify you when you have a run in the back of your pantyhose or spinach in your teeth.
I immediately found the tweezers and spent over an hour plucking relentlessly at the hairs on my chin. Mortified doesn’t even cover how I was feeling. Why is this happening? What am I eating or doing that is causing this kind of hair growth? I checked in with a friend who was older and who we have had conversations about the trauma of big boobs and aging in general. She always looked so well put together, and she was a nurse! She would have my answers.
“Oh, that’s normal,” was her reply. My heart sank. Normal? What do I do to get rid of it? She didn’t have an answer to that, and that was all I wanted to know. She told me she handles it by plucking daily. Then she said the most horrible thing I could have heard about my chin hair. “It’s just a part of menopause. It happens to everyone. Get ready, sounds like your on your way to the miseries of menopause.” Ugh!
Menopause wasn’t supposed to happen to me.
Ok, I know that sounds pretty silly, but I had that medical procedure. My periods had stopped! My life was great! More importantly, in my mind, I didn’t feel like someone who should be starting menopause symptoms. Honestly, does any woman feel like she is ready to admit that she is starting this process? I had heard about hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, (all to be addressed in later posts), but chin hair? Why wasn’t anyone talking about this?
I set out on a mission to conquer the hair issue. After years of trying to get my hair (on my head) to grow and be healthy, I was not determined to be vigilant about the hair on my face. I used more and different depilatory lotions, waxing – home and in a salon, plucking, plucking, and more plucking. It is like a full-time job. There are all kinds of gadgets, creams, and even expensive laser treatments. I haven’t tried them but considering starting a fund to get it done.
There is no right solution
Nothing seems permanent, and it is clear to me this will be an eternal life battle in the area of “face prep for the public.” I have even told my daughter that if I have chin hair when I am old and unable to pluck it myself, it is her job to make sure my chin is hair free! If she fails, I will haunt her, relentlessly. She has been warned.
Some days I look in the mirror and just quite honestly say fuck it. I don’t have the time or energy to pluck, burn, or melt the hair off my chin. There are random hairs in other areas of my face, one or two on the jaw bone, etc. It is ridiculous. I remind myself that not everyone is looking at my chin through a 10x magnified mirror. That helps some times, but most times, it is just discouraging. Oh, and let’s add to the fact that now some of those hairs are white. Yep! Let’s add white or grey to the billy goat hair situation. Just lovely! Screw your menopause and facial hair!
Is it worth the fight?
I am not even sure, to be honest. It bothers me, and I know I will never reach the point that I just don’t care and let it go. I was so obsessed at one point that I counted them, spending two hours plucking and counting as I went to get a baseline so I could see when it started getting worse. My finances and spending habits should get this kind of diligence.
Aging isn’t easy. My mom makes it look so easy; I suppose I thought it would be. The bottom line is with aging comes all the other stuff. Some we expect and some we don’t. I won’t give up the fight but, I’m hoping that I have found a happy medium in dealing with it. At least I am not counting those fucking hairs anymore.
For more experiences and shared stories, visit the Menopause Diaries.