Confessions of a Woman with Hair

(Originally written for a Women of Colour empowerment magazine)

November, 2007. 1:30 am. Alone. Chest pains. Shortness of breath. A feeling of overwhelming fear. Tears streamed down sullen cheeks. With what strength and composure I could muster, I reached for my phone and dialed 911 and asked for an ambulance. Twenty minutes later, I was sitting in the emergency room at a local hospital.

Naked with a hospital robe covering most of my pale body, I lay in the bed surrounded by that familiar smell one can only find in hospitals and elderly homes. That dysphoric feeling that penetrates through the curtains. I could hear people crying, whispering, coughing, and defecating. There is no shame in the hospital. There’s no time for it.

2:30 am. A nurse made her way towards me with a large machine and said she needed to check my heart performance. In order to do that she had to place this random wires over various parts of my body. Blushingly, I removed my bra and let her arrange the cold wires. Then she reached for my legs, and I gave out an odd sound, catchin g her attention and surprise.

She looked at me, her grey eyes questioning my state.

“I haven’t waxed my legs in quite awhile,” I said sheepishly. Nervous giggle added.

Her questioning look transformed to disbelief and fatigue as she turned away to continue her task.

I sat there, quietly; ashamed. Not of the comment I had just made – but the fact that I had not kept up with my hair management. I fell into some ease at the show of her lack of interest (and horror) at my Big-Foot like appearance.

A male doctor approached me around 3 am. My horror returned.

“ARMPITS! HAIR! AAAAHHHH”

“This lighting is horrid. I look like a pale, hairy beast.”

In retrospect, these were disgusting and horrific thoughts. But they were real. I consider myself to be a rather enlightened young woman in that I do not allow myself to fall into the exploitative female roles and stereotypes revolving around appearance perpetuated by pop culture and the society at large. Yet whenever I am asked “If you could bring one thing with you to a deserted island, what would you bring?”

…my mind always says “A tweezer.”

If I have the option of three things: a tweezer, some thread, and a razor. You never know when you’ll be found.

Yet I say “A journal,” so I sound profound and shit.

But hair is a serious thing. Arms, legs, thighs, butt, stomach, face, metacarpal joints; that dark area that dare not be mentioned. Hair is everywhere. Apparently I need to be smoother than a newborn to be attractive.

I can avoid Apple-Bottom jeans, boots with the fur, trendy hair cuts, make-up, calorie cards, bleaching, botox, and all that other self-glorifying oppressive crap. I am a beautiful woman regardless of all of that.

But a single hair on my upper lip? Good god, someone get me a thread. King Kong is in the house.

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