Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Hair removal, in all its forms, is not for sissies.  Until the movie, "The Forty Year Old Virgin", men did not know the discomfort and potentials horrors of it; the only hair removal most men are familiar with is male pattern baldness, aside from shaving only the 10 square inches that comprise their faces and necks .  Women of nearly all walks of life have come face to face with it, at least in most Western cultures.   While women with XX chromosomes are certainly challenged, women with XY chromosomes may have double the challenge.

My middle sister, Bean, has a theory that the youngest born child is always the hairiest, regardless of chromosomal gender determination.  She bases this theory primarily on the fact that our youngest sister, Flying Pig, was born with a fair amount of peach fuzz on her body, which has never abated.  ("Flying Pig" is not a weight or manners reference; it's an inside joke from our father, who passed away two years ago.  He stated that he thought he would see a daughter of his graduate college when pigs started to fly.  He then, in his wit, gave my youngest sister every flying pig gift imaginable for the 10 years following her college graduation, much to her dismay.)  When DJ was born with the same peach fuzz, Bean gloated.  Her theory, thus far, was 100% correct.

This peach fuzz bothers DJ, especially when she is about to don a bathing suit, or in tonight's case, a strapless dress for a dance.  We are fortunate (I say "we" because DJ and I are in this hair management process together since she needs my assistance) that there are tools out there to assist us in this endeavor. Granted, there is electrolysis and laser hair removal, both of which work exceedingly well.  However, those processes take time and lots o' money so, for now, the less permanent methods are what we employ.  DJ, luckily, does not have an issue with facial hair.  We started her female hormones before puberty subjected her to a beard, so that is not an issue.  But there are areas on her body where the hair is darker and and more noticeable than she would like.  So, she willingly subjects herself to either waxing or to an epilady-type tool, easily purchased in most beauty supply stores.

This tool, which I swear has origins in medieval torture chambers, has these tiny little coils that are affixed to a barrel that turns unbelievably fast.  The tiny coils grasp the hairs as you run the barrel across the skin and YANK out the hairs.  It works incredibly well, but, as you can imagine, is not a painless process.  DJ is stoic and has become quite a pro at enduring this without complaining. In fact, the kid has such a great approach to life, that usually at some point in the process, she and I both end up giggling about some ridiculous thing or other related to the experience.

Just so I could speak with experience, I had DJ remove some of my arm hairs.  The process lasted about 3 seconds (I am not exaggerating) when I decided I'd had enough.  It felt like my skin was on fire as probably only 10 little hairs, over an area comprised of one square inch, were simultaneously yanked out. Ordinarily, I've got an impressive threshold for pain.  After breaking my finger last year, I stopped playing basketball only long enough to get my wedding rings off before they cut off the circulation to my finger.  So I think I can speak with some degree of authenticity when I state:  Hair removal of this sort is only for the most dedicated of women, regardless of the plumbing with which you were born.  This is why, as a rule, genetic men and transgender men alike do not endure it because only a true woman could put up with this kind of pain for the sake of beauty.  In fact, maybe that should be the litmus test to find out if someone is male or female, if for some reason you won't accept their explanation.  Forget looking in their drawers, or at their DNA under a microscope, or even at parts of the brain with magnetic resonance imaging; simply ask the question, "Would you be willing to suffer pain for decades if you could be guaranteed a measure of beauty?"  Any person who leans more heavily to the masculine side, I will wager, would say, "Hell to the NO!"  Well, the men who watch Glee would say that, the rest would simply look at you like you're nuts.

In a periodical I read, a transgender woman was informed by a female relative that the transitioning woman could not simply join the tribe of women just because she wanted to; after all, she hadn't paid her dues.  She hadn't suffered years of living as a second class citizen and therefore hadn't "earned" the right to call herself a woman.  What complete and utter crap.  Lady, have you EVER tried to remove body hair from the same geographic square footage as a transgender woman?  Unless you are unusually hirsute, I doubt it.  As far as I'm concerned, screw childbirth, period cramps and discrimination as benchmarks for womanhood.  The new threshold should be the ability to withstand hair removal, in all it's oftentimes torturous forms.