Saturday, November 22, 2014

I Have My Mom’s Attitude and My Dad’s Facial Hair

Genetics is a funny thing.  You can inherit physical features, mannerisms, even the way you laugh from your parents.  I’ve been told that despite not having grown up knowing or spending but a handful of fleeting moments with him, my brother (technically half-brother) walks exactly the same way as his biological father.  Equally as odd, I find it unlikely that solely from being around his father (my ex-husband) during his first four years of life and thereafter on alternating weekends, my own kid sounds just him when he laughs (causing brief and intermittent unsettling moments for me).  I was lucky to have inherited a wonderful sense of sarcastic humor and quick wit from my mother along with the color of my hair and we all but look like twins – decades part – if you look at pictures of us when we were each twelve years old…oily hair and all.  From my father, I inherited select patches of his facial hair.

Yes, I said it.  I am a 39 year old woman with enough facial hair to qualify for a position in a carnival side show.  Now that may just be my own personal perception of the matter but I can assure you, I am not imagining its existence.  “But Sandy, I’ve never seen any facial hair on you,” you may be saying.  You wouldn’t be wrong.  I spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy dedicated to putting a hairless face forward.  But, I will tell you, in preparation for my first visit to a new endocrinologist, I stopped tweezing for three weeks.  You know, so she could see me in all my X-Men Wolverine glory.  That was the longest, most traumatic three weeks of my life.  Ok, ok….that last part was a bit dramatic, it wasn’t the most traumatic time in my life, I once went six months without cable television!
I refrained from removing my facial hair because I had previously discussed my concern about the increasing facial hair growth with my primary doc and she thought I was greatly exaggerating because she didn’t see anything.  By the time my appointment rolled around, I was beyond bristly and had moved into the fuzzy stage.  It was embarrassing, very noticeable and my new, likeable endocrinologist thanked me for letting it grow because it went a long way to help her narrow the battery of tests she wanted to order to eventually diagnose my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and ovarian teratoma.  Thank goodness I was working from home as to not subject my coworkers to my mutantness.
I panic if I don’t know where my Tweezerman stainless steel slant tweezers are.  I invested a few hundred dollars in an at-home IPL system.  That stands for Intense Pulsed Light.  It isn’t a laser and it doesn’t permanently remove hair…and the safety and instructional booklet specifically states that it is NOT to be used above the neck.  But the sole reason I purchased it was to use it in that exact forbidden manner.  I threw caution (and common sense) to the wind, placed the ergonomically curved handset against my chin and pushed the button.  There was a zap-click, a flash of bright light and a momentary sting on my skin but I didn’t spontaneously combust or go blind.  There was a distinct smell of burnt hair, but that was all.  The second time around, I pumped that sucker up to full power, no fear.
After about a month and a half of every other week use, I noticed a marked reduction in the amount of regrowth where I had been using it.  Here’s the drawback…for me, at least.  During the treatments, you cannot tweeze.  WHAT!?  You can shave (wow…shaving my face…way to make me feel even more like a dude) but because of the way the light works, it needs those little dark pin points under your skin to find and zap in order to do its job.  If you tweeze, there’s nothing to find and the hair will grow back just like it was before you tweezed.
So I resigned myself to keeping an extra Gillette Venus Breeze in the shower reserved specifically for blindly scraping at my chin, neck and upper lip while showering.  It wasn’t so bad, I guess.  I only cut my chin once.
Long term, as long as I use the IPL on a regular basis – generally once every couple of weeks – the hair growth on face and neck is much finer and sparser than it is if I slack and forget to zap my face.
I have experienced the “miracle” of carrying a child and giving birth.  Some would say that is the epitome of womanhood.  Eh, I don’t know about all that business but I do know that it would be nice to be a girl and not have to obsess about keeping my face hair free.  I realized that is a personal choice but I have a thing about body hair in general (I’ve been shaving my arms since I was a sophomore in high school…story for another time).  More great stories about girls with a ‘stache are Bearded Lady, by Mara Altman and this spectacular blog post by one of my favorite strong ladies, The Militant Baker, Jess.  Being a woman can sometimes suck but I’m pretty sure I’ve already blogged about that.
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