I totally have a beard. Seriously, I do. That feel’s weird to say, let alone type. It’s caused by Hirsutism. Sound unfamiliar? It’s new to me too. UCLA states, “Hirsutism in women is defined as excessive coarse hair appearing in a male-type pattern. It represents exposure of hair follicles.” It can be caused by other conditions such as Insulin Resistance, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Cushing’s Disease and much more. According to WebMD, 5% of women have hirsutism. However, I’ve encountered a lot of women that suffer from facial hair or excess body hair in general. For a condition that made me feel so alone, I was shocked and relieved to find comrades with the same issue.
One similarities I’ve noticed amongst women with hirsutism is the struggle of self-esteem. Most women don’t have to wake up to stubble or worry about their excessive body hair growth. I’m telling you, it’s not easy to manage. Like, dates for example. It sends me on an anxiety fueled hair removal frenzy. Armed with a razor, I’m like Conan the Barbarian preparing for battle. Nothing horrified me more than the thought of a date brushing against my stubble by accident. It’s a giant ordeal. According to Monash University, “Undesirable hairiness for a girl or woman can be a substantial cause of anxiety leading to low self-esteem and restrictions in lifestyle. For most women, unwanted facial hair generates the greatest anxiety.”
According to The Guardian, 40% of women have hair on their faces. Sure, some is more course or thick than others. But that is a rather large number. The reactions I’ve gotten have generally been good. Some women confide that they have the same issue, or they know someone with it. Other women are just fascinated. I will admit, one or two people have been uncomfortable. But when raising awareness, you may not win them all.
Here’s the thing: Bodies are all so different. Any anyone worth keeping around, isn’t going to judge you or look at you any different. I forced myself to be more open about it because I was tired of being embarrassed. Slow but surely I started talking about it. And one day someone asked if they could feel my stubble. And you know what? The world didn’t end when I let them. They didn’t flinch or cringe. Without awareness, there isn’t much acceptance. Tina-Marie Beznec shared a photo of herself shaving to create awareness about Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Hirsutism is often a symptom of this syndrome. In the caption she states, “Do you know how UNFEMININE this can make a woman feel?!? I’ve always been super self-conscious about it, but really just have to put this out there because I want create more awareness.”
Now, I’m not saying every sufferer has to post a photo or shout of from the rooftops. However, we owe it to ourselves to drop the shame. And we owe ourselves self-acceptance. S. E. Smith of XOjane states, “Women come in a lot of different flavors, and all of them are pretty great.” Next time you look in the mirror inspecting stray hairs or stubble, I hope you remember that you are beautiful, strong and wonderful. With or without the beard.