i am often asked why i wear my chin hair. i am often told that i am beautiful but would be so much more beautiful without it. i am often pointed at and talked about cruelly “behind my back.” my chin hair is a thing everyone sees and that few are neutral about.
in the past when i’ve been asked why i dont get rid of it, i’ve responded with the line that one) i like it, two) i think it’s all sorts of mad bullshit that i’m supposed to get rid of it and three) that i want to fuck with people’s ideas about gender. but until recently that last bit was more theoretical.
until last year when my partner’s son decided he loooooooved wearing dresses. a battle ensued with the principal of his school who was close minded, underhanded and downright hateful. in the end she conceded that he could wear dresses (not really her choice, it’s protected by city school policy). but that was it. there was no in school support for E around school bullying.
and after joyfully stepping into the hostile environment that is a school full of children bred into gender rigidity, E chose to stop wearing dresses altogether. because he doesn’t want to get teased for it (his words). and my heart breaks every time i think of how happy he was then and how unhappy he is now. i know it’s not all a result of losing this part of himself, of being beaten into social expectations of what a boy should like, but i know that it contributes in a real way.
enter this summer, when i was unceremoniously fired from a nanny position for something that wasn’t my fault. fortuitously friends of mine were looking for another hostess at their worker owned inn and hostel, but that ended recently and i’ve been searching for a new job for the last several months.
i’ve nannied for many reasons but have recently considered trying to do something different. something less isolating, something with co workers maybe. but here’s the catch. i’m a lady with chin hair and almost anyone who might be interested in employing me before they know that are not so interested after i reveal this part of my identity. it’s been fucking hard. and i know that my chin hair is a choice. that i could get rid of it and be readily employed in many of the positions i’ve unsuccessfully applied to. i am a young, white woman. people love their young, body privileged white women. and i’m good at the things i do.
but ever since elijah’s learned not to wear his dresses i feel even more disinterested in modifying my body presentation to succeed. i do not want to reinforce that lesson for him. i dont mind enduring the stares and the snark (most of the time, i am not a rock though and sink into the pain from time to time). it makes me defiant when it doesn’t slam into my vulnerability. i want everyone to see that a lady with chin hair can be like any other lady: can be their friend, their colleague, their comrade.
so i will resist for as long as i can. but my family’s needs are real and we are not cradled by the luxury of wealth. i hate to consider being smooth faced. i hate to think of looking into the eyes of all the kids who have known me and loved me despite this cultural oddity. and i hate to give in. hopefully i won’t have to.