That’ll Put Hair on Your Chest

Written by on 07/25/2013 in Humor

Hirsutism“It’s enough to put hair on your chest,” women say about strong liquors and stout beers. Sometimes when they say this I think they are talking about me. I’ve smoked cigars, hunted, eaten haggis, travelled alone, chugged forties with frat boys, and slept with dudes from Milan who put their finger in my butt. Maybe that’s why I have hair on my chest?

I hear Hirsutism is more or less normal. I am hirsute, I say to myself, thinking it rhymes with astute, which is a word I like very much, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about the brown strands that stand out against my pinkish skin like someone tried to put eyeliner pencil on while they were completely blazed.

I used to pluck these hairs. Then I found out that that makes them grow back fast and thick–little vengeful follicles. So I started clipping them with a nail clipper, which was really awkward since if anyone walked in on me in the bathroom clumsily holding the thick clipper trying to remove the dark hairs as close to the root as possible without getting any of the light hairs, so as not to stimulate their growth that would require spending a longer time every other week engaged in new growth’s stealthy removal, I would be embarrassed for at least four months. It was an ugly scene.

I Googled possible ways to deal with the hair once I admitted to myself that my clipper ritual was dumb and probably unhelpful. I discovered electrolysis as a method of permanent hair removal. Take that, shame and self-loathing, I thought when I scheduled the first appointment.

I decided to go to a beauty school. This was for two reasons. Reason one: I’m cheap. Reason two: If I ran into anyone I knew on the street while walking into the beauty school, I could say I was getting a facial or manicure rather than saying I’m having chest hair removed.

I’ve never told anyone about my electrolysis nor about my chest hair. I sometimes wonder if they’ve noticed the smoothness on my chest or the little bumps after electrolysis. It’s easier to talk about pubic hair than chest hair. Even upper thigh hair is easier to bring up. There should be a phrase for lesser sins that goes, “It’s not enough to put hair on your chest, but it might cause pubic hair creep.”

Or not.

Electrolysis blends an electrical current through the body with a chemical substance to kill the follicle. The electrologist combines these for different parts of the body as one would portion bananas and strawberries in a smoothie. It hurt a little less than a bee sting. They go at your chest with a needle, shock the hair to kill and loosen it, and then it falls out or is gently tweezed off. The hair grows back finer and finer with each session until it goes away completely–freedom from hirsutism and upkeep! But I’m not there yet.

The first time I got electrolysis, at the beauty school, it took an hour and a half. Multiple instructors came into the room with bug-eyed glasses to examine my coarse hairs. I lay on the table, one hand holding the other end of the battery to complete the electrical current that moves from my chest to my hand, the other pulling my shirt down below my cleavage to reveal the line of hair (it probably would have been easier to remove my shirt altogether but hey, it was winter and cold in the room.) I listened to the teachers classify my hair in terms of coarseness using numbers 1-5. I heard some 5s and was in no small portion ashamed.

Five sessions later, I started seeing Lacey, an electrologist with her own business. It only took 15 minutes, she didn’t classify my coarseness aloud, and I don’t have to listen to the process of electrolysis explained or try to understand. All I want to know is whether my chest is becoming less hairy so I can proudly va-va-voom my cleavage. And it is.

But I still don’t talk about it. It makes me feel too coarse.

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