I’m just about to post, but my finger is hovering over the post button as I wonder whether I’ve revealed and exposed too much of myself.  I mean teeth, old ladies skin, but excess hair?  Yet, on the other hand, we should talk about these things, especially so for the young.  I mean, maybe it’s more out there than when I had the problem as a youngster. But I’m also writing for the older woman who might be finding a bit more hair in places you don’t expect.  Ironic isn’t it as this is often accompanied by thinning hair on the head!  No, it’s a subject that needs to be discussed, so here goes!

Caitlin Moran has written a new book, Moranifesto and I’ve just read an extract. It’s a clarion call to teenagers to not loathe their selves and their bodies, but to love them. Yes, I’d go with that.

She argues that the panic and anxiety that so many young girls feel is not the truth. Do the calm thing, she says, and protect your body as you would a baby. Your body, she says, wants to live, so let it do that, protect it, that skin and heart of yours.

Oh wow, I wish I’d had someone like Caitlin Moran saying that to me when I was a teenager. Because, as well as having quite thick hair on my head, which was, and continues to be, a great thing, I’ve also been blessed with an abundance of hair everywhere else. And I’ve been removing that other hair for decades and, it all started when I was a spotty, insecure and self-loathing teenager.

And the question is did I create the problem of excess hair or, was it a problem anyway?

1976-03-21-01-webActually there are hormonal and medical reasons for excess hair, and it can be genetic. I’ve got the ginger gene and with that gene comes not only the colour, but also masses of hair. The ginger or red hair shaft is the thickest hair you can get, and approaching 70 I’ve still got a very thick head of hair, and that’s all down to my Scottish ancestry.

David W Campbell -2 1870'sApparently my great grandfather Campbell (see right) was the hairiest of hairy men, as was my grandfather.

And my mother had thick auburn hair and, like me, had hair everywhere else. My face is a bit like a peach, as I have loads of small hairs all over my face. My mother’s facial hair was longer – over her cheeks it was like a powder puff made of swansdown.

Edith Lillian Campbell, 1935

Edith Lillian Campbell, 1935

Anyway, as a teenager I became more and more sensitive to this hair that was all over my face and legs. Gosh, the legs. At school when I put on the stockings (no tights in those days) the hair kind of flattened out but was still very visible – and the teasing from my so-called chums was never-ending.

Of course, my mother said, ‘don’t shave your legs, dear.’ But, one day I did – and, oh, the bliss of it all. To not see any hair – it was just wonderful. But I think my mother was on to something as, the hair grew back. So I shaved again, and again and again, until I was shaving my legs every day, because by the time I was in my early 30s the hair on my legs wasn’t hair, but thick black stubble. At some point in my late 30s, I decided this shaving had to stop and so I began the cycle of waxing, which was absolute agony to begin with because the hairs were so strong, but eventually it worked.

However, even at my advanced age (almost 70) I still get the much softer, less black hair on my legs waxed. It’s about every 3 months now, but I have to watch it as I have been known to catch sight of myself in the mirror, and with the sun shining on my legs, it looks as though my legs are covered in a pelt of fur. Oops, I’ve left it too long, so off I go to my beauticians to have all that ripped out!

Now here, for the teenage person that I was, comes the really sad part. My face had a peachy look with fine hairs all over it. One or two were just a bit longer and my mother said, ‘don’t pluck them, dear’. This is where I think, while the hair on my legs was excessive, I did create a hairy chin problem because, I did pluck those hairs, and by my early 20s was doing it every day because these chin hairs got really strong and changed colour from fair to black.

Did I have any boyfriends at that age?   Nope, because I hated myself, and my chin, until that is, I came across an amazing place (near Harrods in Knightsbridge, actually) called the Tao Clinic where excess hair was removed by this new process called electrolysis.   It worked, although for a year the clinic insisted that the hairs be left to grow so they could get at them. Oh, the agony of having a chin full of black hair – seriously difficult for someone aged 21 or 22, I can tell you!!!

It all sorted itself out, but I still have electrolysis every now and then. And I’ve had long conversations with beauticians about new processes like lasers. But they wouldn’t, apparently, deal with my tough ginger hair so hair removal has been and continues to be a life-long practice.

Thanks, mum, for the thick hair on my head, but the other stuff, ah well, thanks mum!

Thank you, also, Caitlin Moran, for aiming to boost the confidence of young women. Life is hard and yes, with so much going on today, it’s a very 1st world problem to worry about excess hair.  But I just want to say to any woman with excess hair, be it a young woman, or an older woman, for that matter, who’s just beginning to find more hair where it shouldn’t be: i) you are not alone in this; ii) there’s loads of help out there for you get rid of it, if that’s what you want and iii) take courage, because, however young or old you are, we should love our bodies and take care of ourselves. This body is all we have and you are beautiful.

And btw, it really did turn out OK as yes, I didn’t start having boyfriends and dating until my mid-20s, but look at the dish I found when I was 27 –  just go back a post and scroll to the end to see what I mean!

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper

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10 thoughts on “Hair Part II What’s not to like? When there’s too much of it, that’s when!

  • 25th March 2016 at 10:23 am

    Thanks for the honesty, Penny. I’m sure one could write an entire thesis on hair ‘issues’ (probably been done actually) and I, too am finding hair in places I would rather not whilst my head hair is thinning which tends not to do much for one’s self-confidence. However, I do think that at whatever stage and age we are at, looking after our bodies and being the best we can be at that moment is important and we owe it to ourselves, our families and friends and even wider society to do that with all the stress our beloved NHS is under. Caitlin Moran seems to have it spot-on and frankly, I do think it’s even harder now for youngsters when there appears to be so much in the media regarding looks and bodies with all that photoshopping and airbrushing going on.
    I’ll close now before this becomes a rant by wishing you and everyone reading your blog a very happy Easter.

    • 26th March 2016 at 9:49 am

      Thanks so much Caryll. And isn’t Caitlin Moran great – I aim to read the whole book when it’s published shortly. Happy Easter to you – albeit apparently it’s going to be a bit stormy, still good here though x

  • 25th March 2016 at 10:45 am

    How fantastic to have someone be so upfront about this issue. Very brave of you but you will have done so many of us so much good. We are not alone!
    Hopefully, there will be plenty of hints and tips, especially for dealing with those pesky white chin hairs that I am now finding are sprouting alarmingly!
    Keep up the good work. I applaud you for your honesty and courage.

    • 26th March 2016 at 9:52 am

      Yes, I think we should be upfront about this issue and although I hesitated when I was just about to publish it’s been such a life-long practice that I will share some tips in a quick post in the next few days and thank you for suggesting it. Happy Easter and have a good weekend.

  • 25th March 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Dear Penny,
    Adding to this post on hair, I honestly dont think it is as big an issue these days with young women, at least here in Western Canada. The sun is hot enough to bleach it in summer, and in winter, pants or jeans cover the legs for the most part. In MY day, though, it was a BIG worry, fed by magazine articles…(as were the agonies of small breasts)! I see young college aged girls now and know they just dont give a hoot. But as for us Zoomers, who were made conscious of body hair, I have one tip. Do, please, for your own sake, get your eyebrows attended to…it is amazing how that one task will lighten up your expression…your entire face… and (added bonus) make you look 5 years younger!
    Happy Easter to all, Margaret

    • 26th March 2016 at 9:57 am

      I do agree with you re: the eyebrows as they seem to disappear as we age! However, I can’t quite agree with you about the young not being so worried about excess hair – maybe these are 20-year-olds and over you are seeing that are not worrying but here in the UK I think the teenagers still obsess about their appearance, which has to be perfect – and social media has much to answer for in this respect. Caitlin Moran is doing a lot to counter this – good for her!

  • 25th March 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Oh Penny! Thank you so much for this post. You definitely are not alone! When I was 13 I was convinced I was the missing link. I had a unibrow, dark fuss on my upper lip, a couple of dark hairs on my chin and full-grown mutton chops inside my thighs! Thighed burns if you will! I started out bleaching my girly mustache and graduated to waxing, which I still do. Some day I’ll have to tell you about my humiliating experience when I was 19 and did a bikini was at home. The heat from my body wouldn’t harden the wax and my mother had to place ice cubes on my lady parts so the wax would harden. I’m still traumatized. My poor mother, rest her soul! I have tweezers everywhere! Thanks for posting this. You opened up a conversation for women who may be a bit timid to discuss this!

    • 26th March 2016 at 10:01 am

      Honestly, this is so good to hear another saying they had loads of hair in other places, including the top of the thighs – thighed burns – oh my, laughed so much when I read that phrase!!!! Could not wear short shorts ever when I was young. Might just do a very short quick post on tips for removal. We are all in it together! xxxxxxxx

  • 29th March 2016 at 8:33 pm

    My daughter, when 14, was asked by a boy from kindergarten if she was a boy. ‘No, I’m a girl,’ she said. ‘Then why do you have a moustache?’

    She thought it was funny and is still blissfully unconcerned. I think she’s gorgeous and men don’t seem to mind.

    • 30th March 2016 at 8:24 am

      How wonderful – you’ve been such a good mother, Umi! Actually yes that slight Frida Khalo look is attractive – the most important thing for a teenager is to have confidence. Without a doubt I helped to create that chin full of hairs because I started using the tweezers. I also lacked knowledge of what you could do with said hairs once the problem was created. Hopefully today teenagers can find solutions and boost their confidence through feminist writers of which there were none in my day. But so good your daughter thinks the way she does – yay and big cheer for her!

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