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Decisions, Decisions

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I wonder if the romantic relationships I’ve had are directly related to who might be ok with my beard. I wonder if I’ve limited my options and/or lowered my expectations because of my beard. Sort of like, “Well, I’ll just overlook [insert thing I should probably not put up with here], because he’s cool with me having a beard.”

Maybe if I’m asking these questions, I already know the answer.

Craig and I are getting a divorce. That has nothing to do with the beard, obviously, but it’s making me reflect on many complicated things. One of which is my hair.

I want to be able to open myself up to all opportunities at some point. With the hair, I don’t think I can fully do that. I’ve tried over the years, and I think I’ve gotten to a great place of mostly self-acceptance.

The fact is, though, that I don’t see myself as someone with a beard. Even though I am.

I shave it off. When I don’t shave and it grows out a bit, I don’t like how it looks or feels. I’ve never felt comfortable with my significant other touching my face, which is sad, because I like that sensation. I don’t like being in direct sunlight unless I’ve recently shaved. I get razor burn (less so now than I used to – I have a finely honed system these days). I occasionally cut myself, which is embarrassing. Also shaving is a temporary, 12-hour-at-most, solution. Tweezing hurts like a motherfucker. Vaniqa is expensive and not covered by insurance (or, at least that was the case when I briefly used it). Waxing scares me. Laser removal stimulated new growth for me, and doesn’t work anyway on red or blonde hair (sure wish the person who did it knew that at the time…). It’s also painful.

So guys. I’m considering electrolysis. Which makes me feel… guilty. Guilty because, while there would be several complex emotions involved in the process, I think I would feel an enormous sense of relief.

It’s a pretty big deal. I’ve made it a life goal to just be ok with what’s going on with me in the moment, beard and all. Because whatever, right? It’s just hair.

It’s just hair.

It’s just hair…

But as you already know, it’s just a lot of other stuff too.

I wrote this back in January, 2012:

I identify myself as a heterosexual, cisgender female. The larger culture, and the community that I consider myself to be a part of, is heteronormative. With that comes tremendous privilege in ways that I know I don’t fully understand, because I’m a part of it.

A trend that I’ve noticed through talking to you lovelies over time (and certainly this is not true for everyone – just a general trend I’ve picked up on in my limited experience) is that those who consider themselves part of the hetero community (such as myself) tend to remove. Those who consider themselves part of the LGBTQ community tend to feel more comfortable NOT removing. Or, maybe a better way to put it is that I have not talked to any hetero females who grow and consistently wear their beards, but I have talked to LGBTQ females who do. There seems to be more tolerance for bearded females and more freedom to explore what the beard means and looks like. I understand that my identity comes with privilege in a lot of ways that don’t just include the beard. I also wish there was more freedom within my identity to explore difference. I mean that in both an internal way and an external way.

So. Do I not let the hair grow because I’m afraid to lose that privilege? What would it mean for me to grow it? Because, unfortunately for now, it would mean so much more than just, “Ok, now I have a beard. Moving on.”

I still think that. Whether I like it or not, it DOES mean more than just hair to have a beard and identify the way I identify.

But then, what does it say about me that I’m considering this option? Am I just giving into The Man? Does it even matter?

Maybe what matters is that I’m content, and have one less thing to worry about during a truly shitty time, and from here on.

Hm.

Short Hair with a Ladybeard

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I’ve had long or long-ish hair for most of my life. The shortest I’ve ever had it was above my shoulders, but still below my ears.

Well, friends.

Last week, I took a huge risk and cut it off!

Image

Yup.

It brought up a few things for me about the beard.

First, I usually get a bit hypervigilant about shaving my face/neck when I get a haircut. God forbid the person cutting my hair will brush against my face or see the hair. This actually happened to me once about six years ago. I forgot to shave before a hair appointment and didn’t have time to go home, and I was VERY aware of it. The stylist was messing with my hair before cutting it, and her hand brushed against my face, which was pretty stubbly. There was a pause – mine mortified and hers confused – then she got this really ‘oh-honey-I-feel-so-sorry-for-you’ expression and said, in a sappy sort of tone, “By the way, I think you’re just beautiful, no matter what.” I know she meant that to be nice, and I don’t fault her for saying it. It could have been so much worse. Yet, it still left me embarrassed, and I felt weird around her after that. The way she was looking at me kinda gave me the sads. The whole exchange was so awkward, and I had no idea what to say or do.

Also, with long hair, I would alternate shaving days with hair-washing days (I have curly hair and can’t wash my hair every day, or it gets really dry). So, I would shave on days that I didn’t wash my hair, and take a break from shaving on days that I washed my hair. It wasn’t to save time. It was so that when my hair was down, I could hide my face more, or at least distract from my beard. On non-hair-washing days, I would wear it in a ponytail, thus needing to shave because there was nothing to hide behind or distract.

With short hair, hiding won’t be an option. In my more rational moments, I think, “Ok whatever. It’s not like my hair was really doing THAT much so that people wouldn’t notice that I have a beard. I mean, for godsake.” But I’m still alternating days of shaving and not shaving, otherwise my skin gets really red and irritated. So… that means stubble. Noticeable stubble.

Today happens to be a non-shaving day. I had a moment of panic on my way to work this morning. “I see clients all day! What if someone notices!? What if they say something to me about it????????!!!!!”

That feeling lasted for a while. And has come up throughout the day. Nothing to hide behind. Nothing to distract. It’s a totally new, scary feeling.

But then…

I don’t exist so that other people can be pleased by my appearance. I happen to be a woman. I happen to have a beard. If someone is offended by that, it’s seriously not my problem. If someone asked me about it, I hope I would say something like, “Yep, I have some extra hair. Many women do. So, back to what we were talking about…” Just sticking to the facts with a neutral tone. It means nothing about me, other than it means I have a beard. The end.

Aside from my angst about the beard, I LOVE THIS HAIRCUT. It’s so much easier for me to manage! And it also looks cute in a Rosie the Riveter-style bandana tied in it, so there’s that too. Yay short hair!

 

 

I Heart NDT

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Are you watching Cosmos?

http://www.hulu.com/cosmos-a-spacetime-odyssey

I’ve only seen the first episode so far, and IT IS FASCINATING. Aside from the fact that Neil deGrasse Tyson seems like The Coolest (and I would have totally had a crush on him had the timing and circumstances been right),

a young ndt

(…Just sayin’)

it’s awesome and a good reminder of just how small we really are.

But not like in a depressing way. In an oddly comforting way. Hear me out.

Part of the first episode goes through the Cosmic Calendar, which is a way to illustrate the expanse of time so that we can get our heads around it. I couldn’t find a clip of the whole thing, but here is the beginning of the segment:

So, each day represents 40 million years, and each month represents over a billion years. Yikes.

From this article:

“In this scale, humans didn’t arise until the last day of the year, and modern civilization makes up about the last 14 seconds of the year. Everyone we have ever heard of lived in those 14 seconds, deGrasse Tyson says:

Every person you’ve ever heard of lies right in there. All those kings and battles, migrations and inventions, wars and loves, every thing in the history books happened here in the last seconds of the cosmic calendar.”

That’s mind-blowing, right?

Here’s what I find comforting about it:

Lifetimes have been lived before I was even thought about. An entire universe has been unfolding for billions and billions of years. In the very, very, very grand scheme of things, I am incredibly small.

The fact that I’m alive at all is statistically improbable and lucky. I am here. I get to be here. For whatever reasons and whatever brought life to this point, I get to experience this. The fact that I’m tiny doesn’t mean my life doesn’t matter. I think it actually means it matters quite a bit, in that I should probably try to do the best I can and enjoy. I exist on this planet, in this universe, and have every right to live and enjoy and love and be loved and everything else.

Why spend the short time I have worrying about my beard? Or much of anything else? And, if others are worried about those things about me, it ultimately doesn’t matter.

Thinking about this has felt really freeing!

Ladies: How to Tell Someone About Your Facial Hair

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For the first, oh, 10-ish years after I started growing a ladybeard, I had no desire for anyone to know about it. In fact, as I’ve talked about in other posts, I did pretty much everything possible to get rid of it. I felt completely disconnected from it and wished so hard that it would go away. “This isn’t me,” I thought. “This isn’t how I see myself, and it’s not really a part of me, and if I act like it’s not there then maybe it will disappear.”

Of course, it never did. And I decided that I didn’t want to be in denial about it anymore. Didn’t want to feel so ashamed of it. I wasn’t ready to grow it out (and am still not… though having an infant has made shaving less convenient!), but I was ready to talk about it.

The problem was that I felt scared to death of what would happen when I did. I imagine some of you might feel the same way? So this is for the folks out there who are thinking about starting to talk about your hair, but aren’t quite sure how or where to begin. Keep in mind that this is based on my experiences and might not work for you in your situation. There are so many cultural/social/personal/etc. factors that could change things.

1. Are you ready?
Are you ready to share this part of your life with others? Are you doing it for yourself and not because you feel like you should or because you think others “deserve” to know? For me, it was about getting to a point where I felt so sick of hiding it that the only logical option was to start telling people. I couldn’t keep it in anymore, and it was a purely selfish decision to talk about it. Being hirsute is such a personal thing, and your feelings about it can be so complex. Be gentle and honest with yourself. If you’re not quite ready, that’s ok!

2. Make sure it’s someone you trust.
Not everyone needs to know your business. Until you feel more comfortable talking about your hair, stick to the people in your life you can count on. Close family members, close friends, trustworthy, open-minded significant others… In other words, stick to talking about it with the people in your life who pose the least amount of risk. The ones who are almost guaranteed to react with love and support. What’s your gut instinct about the person (or people) you want to tell? How have they reacted to things you’ve told them in the past? Are they open to difference?

3. Prepare for possible outcomes.
Whenever I’ve felt afraid to do or say something throughout my life and have talked to my mom about it, she always asks, “What’s the worst possible thing that can happen?” And once I start really thinking about the WORST THING, it’s never as bad as I originally thought. Partly because I can prepare for the worst possibility ahead of time. When you think about telling someone about your hair, think about the worst thing that might happen, and then think about how realistic that is. For example, do you think a friend of yours will start screaming and run away from you, never to call you or hang out with you again? That might be the worst thing, but how realistic is that (especially if you trust that person and know generally how he/she handles things)? What are some other, likelier outcomes? Once you have an idea of how the conversation could go, you can mentally prepare.

4. Approach it in as matter-of-fact a way as possible.
People will react to your news based on how you present it to them. So if you approach with an attitude like, “This is horrible, awful news I have to tell you about myself,” then they will probably react in kind. I totally get that you might feel like it’s horrible and awful – I really do! – but try to remain as calm and matter-of-fact as you can. Give the facts about your situation. It’s completely fine to show emotion, to cry, to say how difficult it is to discuss. And at the same time, it’s not something that is going to kill you. It’s not going to get in the way of your relationships with other people (unless you let it). It is really difficult to deal with, and it’s also ok. You’re still you and will always be you, hair or no hair. Remember that.

4. Do it in a way that feels comfortable.
Can’t quite bring yourself to have a face-to-face conversation about your hair? That’s ok – do it over the phone. Can’t quite say the words out loud? I get that. Write a letter or an email. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and safe. Sometimes, when I have something sensitive to talk about and want to make sure I say everything I need to say, I will write it down and then refer to my notes while talking. Totally nerdy, but effective. This is your show. There are no rules other than to do it the way you want.

5. Repeat.
Once you talk about it with someone and they react positively, it gets so much easier to tell others. I encourage you to discuss it with as many people as you want. The more practice you have talking about it, the easier it gets. I promise!

I hope that’s helpful! I’d love to hear about your experiences if you’ve told people in your life.

It’s a Girl! And a Thank You.

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I had the baby!!

Her name is Lior, and she was born last week on July 25th at 8:33am. 8 pounds, 19 inches long, and she is perfect.

Craig and I have decided to limit the pictures posted of her (especially in more public places), so I’m sorry I don’t have anything to show you. You’ll just have to trust me that she’s beautiful.

We’re getting used to our new normal, and once things settle down I’ll write more. For now, it’s a whirlwind of feeding, diapers, trying to sleep when we can, and a whole new chapter.

Also, I wanted to say thank you to two amazing women who recently mentioned this site in blog posts. Britta Gregor wrote about her experience as a bearded lady here, and Jes Baker wrote about hers here. I loved reading both of them, and I highly recommend you check them out!

Hope you’re having a great Thursday. :-)

How I’m Doing

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Thinking about posting in an honest, authentic way has been difficult for me lately, and I think it’s best if I just dive right in and tell you what’s up.

I have Gestational Diabetes (GD).

Lame.

Here is a bit of information about GD. This part was particularly interesting to me:

“Your body digests the food you eat to produce sugar (glucose) that enters your bloodstream. In response, your pancreas — a large gland behind your stomach — produces insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose move from your bloodstream into your body’s cells, where it’s used as energy.

During pregnancy, the placenta that connects your growing baby to your blood supply produces high levels of various other hormones. Almost all of them impair the action of insulin in your cells, raising your blood sugar. Modest elevation of blood sugar after meals is normal during pregnancy.

As your baby grows, the placenta produces more and more insulin-blocking hormones. In gestational diabetes, the placental hormones provoke a rise in blood sugar to a level that can affect the growth and welfare of your baby.”

Before that, they say that researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes it, but I think it’s interesting that it may have something to do with the placenta.

So, backing up a bit, the pregnancy has been an intense, sometimes awful experience for me. I spent the first and most of the second trimesters vomiting and often unable to eat. I was put on Zofran, and it helped stop me from actually throwing up. I still felt nauseated most of the time, but I was able to keep some food down and drink water.

Then, I was tested a little earlier than usual for GD, because I have PCOS (which is associated with insulin resistance) and a strong family history of Diabetes.

About the test: They had me drink a super-sugary solution, then tested my blood sugar one hour later to see how I fared. My sugar level remained higher than they wanted (I have no idea what the values were – everything was kind of a whirlwind), so I had to come back a few days later to take a three-hour test. Again, a super-sugary drink – mine was orange and tasted kind of like Hi-C Orange, but less fun – and they checked my blood sugar after one hour, after two hours, and after three hours. My first level was within normal range, but the last two were elevated.

If you’re interested in more detail about what the testing is like, this gives a good personal account with lots of information.

At first, I found my blood sugar pretty easy to manage. They had me testing my levels four times a day – once fasting in the morning, and then two hours after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m not taking insulin or other medications, just managing with diet and exercise changes. I did have to attend the high-risk clinic for a while, and have been attending appointments every two weeks to monitor my sugar (usually, people only go about once a month until later on in the pregnancy). I no longer need to go to high-risk, because my levels are usually pretty good, and they let me check three times a day instead of four. At the health system I’m attending, it’s standard procedure for women with GD to have weekly non-stress tests starting at 28 weeks, so I’ve been doing that as well. I’m at 34 weeks and change now.

As the pregnancy has progressed, it’s become a little more difficult to keep my blood sugar under control. It’s never wildly high, but it’s definitely been higher in the third trimester than it had been. It seems to go in spurts… My theory is that it coincides with periods of more growth in the baby, but no one really knows. The days when it’s harder to control are tough for me. I try to stay calm about it, and sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes I cry.

I worry that I’m doing something wrong, that I’m hurting the baby, that I’m hurting myself somehow. Making it more likely that I’ll have problems later. Making it more likely that my child will have problems later. It’s terrifying.

Another, less important piece is that I’m pretty committed to having a birth attended by a midwife and without meds. I also want to add that I’ve never done this before and am flexible about using meds. I don’t know what will happen at the time! I’ve been seeing this wonderful group of midwives at the hospital where I’ll deliver. One of them told me that if I end up needing insulin or something else, then they would have to transfer my care to one of the OB/GYNs, and I would no longer be able to have one of the midwives at the birth. Makes sense – midwives usually attend “normal” pregnancies and births (though of course, anything can happen), and mine would be considered higher risk if I needed medication.

So, that’s always in the back of my mind too.

But mostly, guys?

I feel so sad that my body isn’t doing what it’s “supposed” to do. And it hasn’t for as far back as I can remember. I so badly want to be a person who can trust her body to just take care of things and do what it’s “meant” to do. What it “should” do. But my body and I have a long and complicated history, and it’s hard for me to let go and trust.

There are things I can do to heal. Things I can do to help prevent the likelihood of GD in the future, improve my PCOS symptoms, and help with insulin resistance. It’s just that I can’t do any of these things while pregnant, other than manage my blood sugar as best as I can.

I’ve been so hesitant to write about this because I fear that people will think I resent the baby or am upset with the baby or something. But the baby is the one awesome part of all of this. When I get to hear the baby’s heartbeat or feel him/her moving around, it’s incredible. Actually, as I type, the baby has the hiccups and is making my belly jump around all over the place. That’s the stuff that makes me smile. That’s the stuff I’m loving. And I’m very lucky to have a supportive, calm, understanding, and very caring husband in Craig. He has been there to comfort me when I’m freaking out, and always has something reassuring to say.

He also sings to the baby at night before bed, which is, like, the sweetest thing ever. (Baby kicks around in response!)

So that’s what’s been going on around here. Thanks for this space to write about this kind of stuff – if you weren’t as fantastic as you are, it wouldn’t be possible :-)

A couple of pictures:

28.5 weeks:
picture001

34 weeks:
34 weeks

Manly Razor!

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How come no one told me that men’s razors do a better job on the face than women’s?

Now that I’ve typed that question, it seems pretty obvious. I mean, of course they do a better job. That’s what they’re made for!

So. I’m here to tell any of you out there using “women’s” razors (really, just razors that tend to be pink and are designed to shave legs) that the “men’s” ones (really, just razors that tend to be blue/grey/orange and are designed for faces) do a MUCH better job.

I figured this out by accident one day, when I was in the shower and realized that my Quattro was pretty dull. I didn’t have more blades, and Craig’s razor happened to be right there, so one thing led to another…

I used my regular routine.

The difference was pretty dramatic, in my opinion. First, I didn’t have to go over the same spot several times as I had been, which naturally cut down on razor burn. I got a much smoother shave much faster, and on more sensitive areas (my neck, for example), the razor was like, “I got this.”

I’ve decided to ditch the Schick Quattro that I’ve been using for YEARS in favor of the Gillette Fusion Proglide, and will definitely use face razors from now on. Why use leg razors for the face? Doesn’t make sense.

Gillette-Fusion-ProGlide-Power-Beauty
Source

Check out all those blades!

This whole lady-product vs. MANLY product debate makes me think of this from Hyperbole and a Half. Read more stuff on that site if you haven’t already. You won’t be sorry! You’ll be laughing too hard!

Unexpectedly, I found myself nervous to buy the new razor for the first time. I’m so used to hiding my hair and am so sensitive to anyone finding out… So I’m walking around in Target, sneaking into the “men’s” section of the shaving aisle, terrified that someone will think, “OMG. That lady is totally buying a guy’s razor for her face. She totally has a beard. She is going to take that razor home and shave her face with it. I’m going to take pictures of her on my phone and send them to all my friends and find out who she is and tell EVERYONE!!!”

Ridiculous, right?

But if you’ve spent years hiding, as I have, then you can probably relate. In reality, there was another woman in that aisle. She glanced at me as anyone else would glance at another human in Target: quickly. She had her own errands to run, for godsake.

No one cared that I was buying a face razor.

And now I’m reaping the benefits.

Have a good Monday!

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