How many ways can a woman remove unwanted facial hair?
And how many of them actually work?
Unfortunately, many women with PCOS know the answer to these questions all too well.
Hirsutism is the medical term for excessive, unwanted hair in women. It’s a common symptom of PCOS, although not every woman with PCOS will have problems with unwanted hair growth. But for the ones unlucky enough to have this particular PCOS problem, it’s one of the most difficult symptoms because it is hard to resolve physically and painful to accept emotionally.
I was about 13 the first time I noticed hairs on my chin. I tried to hide them with make-up, and convinced myself that no one else could see what my eyes were seeing. However, it wasn’t long before my mother noticed the little black hairs as well. She called me into her bathroom one night, simply wanting to give me a quick lesson in tweezing them off. But it hurt … my feelings far more than my chin.
Shortly afterwards, I noticed dark hair growing along my arms. I tried covering it up with long-sleeve shirts and jackets. Unfortunately for me, I lived in Louisiana where the cold weather lasts about 6-8 weeks. Short sleeves, like shorts and flip-flops, are a way of life in the Deep South. As I dressed each morning I grimaced at the ever-present reminder that I didn’t fit the traditional description of pretty.
My problem grew … literally. Next I noticed coarse hair across my upper back. As much as I loved swimming, no swimsuit on the planet could hide all of that ugly hair. I was mortified by the ideas that anyone might see my back. If men with hairy backs were the butt of jokes, what would be said for a woman with the same problem?
More than any other PCOS symptom, all of the extra, unwanted hair covering my body made me feel unfeminine. The problem was overwhelming. Perhaps if it were just a few stray hairs on my chin, I could have tweezed them away. But it is impossible to tweeze away an entire beard or mustache, much less find a way to pluck the vast numbers of hair covering my arms and back.
The truth was undeniable. I was hairy. As hairy as a grown man. Thanks to all that extra hair, I felt completely unattractive and entirely worthless as a female.
Over the years, I’ve tried a myriad of methods to remove or even lessen the appearance of my unwanted hair. Initially, I tried to use creams to lighten and bleach the dark hair on my face. They were smelly and expensive, and didn’t really hide the fact that I had so much hair. It didn’t take long before I moved on to depilatory creams. Again, the effort to remove the hair was not worth the time it consumed or the expense, especially considering it was rare for all the coarse hair to be removed with just one application.
After the poor results with creams and bleaches, I tried laser hair removal. Not only did it feel like having thousands of rubber bands being popped against my skin, it didn’t completely resolve my hair problem either. While the dark, offending hairs on my chin and upper lip slowly fell out, I began to notice new hairs popping up in places there hadn’t been any before. I talked to the clinician about the problem and she informed that that probably all of the hairs would grew back just as soon as I stopped receiving the laser treatments due my PCOS hormonal imbalance. Laser treatment, it turned out, was only a temporary, painful and expensive solution.
Over the years, I have mostly suffered silently with my hairy problem. It wasn’t an issue that I felt like I could talk about with others. I didn’t know anyone I thought even might be able to relate. I became skilled at avoiding mirrors simply because I hated my hairy reflection. If I didn’t look at myself, I could forget, at least for a few hours, that I looked like a man.
From my early teens until well past my 30th birthday, it was my nightly ritual to pray, asking God to take away the hair I didn’t want. During that long season, I pleaded with Him, begging and crying for the undesirable hair to be gone. One desperate night I even suggested that He could give my hair to some unhappy bald person. After all, I figured I had enough extra hair to make several bald men grateful. What a delightful trade-off that might have been! I still laugh when I think about that.
More than anything, I wanted a miracle. I wanted to wake up to find smooth skin. But it’s not what happened. Each morning, I woke up to discover I was still the same hairy girl.
My unanswered prayer caused me to feel the pain of rejection. Somehow I assumed I wasn’t lovable, even by God who was supposed to love everyone. People said God didn’t make mistakes, but I sure felt like He made a mistake when He created me. Many nights I lay in my bed, wondering if perhaps I should have been born a boy. I didn’t feel like a boy, but why did I have lots of body hair like a boy? Other times I pondered what terrible, awful sin I committed. Maybe all the extra hair was my punishment.
All of those are horrible thoughts to think. Worse than thinking them is actually believing them to be true. For years and years, I did both, not only believing the lies. but allowing them to shape my perceptions of who I was and then using that framework to determine my sense of self-worth.
But over the last decade of my life, I’ve come to understand that not one of those awful ideas is based in truth. Each one is false and flies in the face of everything God said was true. I came to a crossroad. I either believed the Lord or I didn’t … but choosing to believe Him at His word would mean I could no longer embrace these terrible ideas I had accepted for so long.
I don’t know why God didn’t answer my prayers for less body hair, or why He allowed me to be so hairy in the first place. Chances are, I won’t ever know on this side of heaven. However, I’m learning to believe in my heart that God’s answer has nothing to do with how very much He loves me … and trust me, I am still learning to believe this because, even at the age of 43, my hirsutism problem hurts my heart just as much as that night so long ago when my mother taught me to tweeze away the hairs on my chin.
In my next post, I’m going to share the three basic mistakes I’ve made in my thinking when it comes to my PCOS Hair Problem and what Godly truths I am learning to replace those lies.
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Is hirsutism a PCOS problem for you? If so, how do you manage the unwanted hair?
**If my words have encouraged you today, would you consider following my blog, leaving a comment or sharing this post with another woman who has PCOS? If God can use my PCOS to bless someone else, then my PCOS is a blessing to me as well. **