I’ve heard the term “bitch face” batted about quite a bit lately. This typically refers to the fact that the speaker, by default, has an angry, unwelcoming face. Often, it’s a title that’s announced with pride: “Resting bitch face, that’s what I have”. I’ve heard women in particular refer to themselves this way. I have no idea where this began, but it’s definitely out there. Collective unconscious, I suppose. Many of those who claim this attribute do not, in fact, have bitch face, but the polite thing to do when they announce this is to smile and nod along. It’s important to them that they be seen as tough. It’s best not to tell them how average their resting face really is. This statement would probably yield active bitch face.
I have resting bunny face, myself. I say this because it’s impossible to tell if a bunny is angry or sad or happy or horny. Their face just is what it is. Some people find a bunny’s face cute. Others shoot it on site. The important thing to glean from my claim is that you can’t tell what I’m feeling by my face. For this, I blame my eyebrows.
I’ve always had light eyebrows. In fact, I’ve always had light hair everywhere. Blame it on my norweigan heritage – the hair is plentiful and lacking in pigment. But there’s still enough german in my genes to ensure that I don’t have the flaxen-white hair that typically graces the heads and bodies of the nordic. Catch my hair in the right light and blammo – you suspect you’ve just caught site of a sasquatch in its natural habitat. I live to inject magic and mystery in the lives of others.
My mom – who, by the way, IS graced with flaxen-white hair on her head and body – approaches hair maintenance and upkeep the same way she approached politics: it’s best not to deal with it until someone complains. Thus it happened that, as an awkward, 13 year-old girl who rocked shorts over un-shaven legs in gym class, I was approached by one Thor Jensen on the bus. Thor first questioned whether or not I was in a cult and, when I refused to speak to him because I was still terrified of boys, he promptly hit me on the knee with a spoon and called me a lesbian. Upon returning home, I asked my mother what a lesbian was, and she responded with a razor and a lesson on how to shave my legs. To this day I have no confirmation that my mom knows what a lesbian is, but my legs have been smooth ever since.
The purpose of this story is to highlight that hair maintenance is something that’s rarely talked about, and yet is noticed by fucking everybody. It’s one of the first things about a person that makes an immediate first impression. That’s why I wish there was a course in high school on the “how-to”s of hair removal. I think it would just make everyone’s life that much easier, and we could all stop pretending this isn’t a struggle that a civilized society demands of us. I remember a girl coming into English class with half of her right eyebrow wiped clear off, leaving her in a permanent state of anticipated expression. We had all known for a long time that she penciled on her eyebrows, and yet no one ever bothered to tell her how ridiculous she looked. Therefore, it seemed even more ridiculous to point out that half of her eyebrow was missing. And that’s how she will forever live in my memory – the girl with half an eyebrow. This is not my fault. We should all be able to talk about these things.
We judge, and hair is a thing that is just so fucking easy to judge. It’s the first thing we notice on anybody. If I want to make a male coworker feel insecure for a day, I’ll say “Hey, hair cut!”. Why? Because I’ve found that men are especially insecure after they get haircuts, and I think it’s important for them to feel physically-judged in the office every now and again. If you want to insult a woman, you stare at her upper lip, as if to insinuate that you can see the hint of a moustache. Middle aged men and women (and twenty-something girls who write blogs) have weird nose hair. Bad days aren’t just bad days – they’re bad hair days. It’s all very insulting.
Hair removal is a serious and expensive business. I honestly believe that it’s an entire industry just banking on the fact that kids are going to test it out get it wrong for years and years until they finally give up (and by kids, I mean everybody, well into their twenties). Okay, not everybody gets it wrong. I’m sure lots of guys and gals know exactly what they’re doing (or have parents or siblings who know exactly what they’re doing) and get that shit under control at an early age. But most of us didn’t have that. Most of us had shit like this:
- Bunny-face origin-story. My older sister, having long-navigated the world of razors and wax and tweezers, noticed one morning just how unruly my eyebrows were. So thick. So lush. So ripe for the pluckening. It was then that she announced that she would bestow the great favour of tweezing my eyebrows. Above the brow line. Throughout this procedure, any bleeding was halted through the liberal application of hydrogen peroxide. Never mind the fact that peroxide bleaches. Never mind the fact that the natural shape of the eyebrow is not meant to emulate scattered hay. My sister was an artist and my face was her canvas. Having never heard of Picasso and all the implications her actions might have for my long-term face, I sat there in complete trust, ignoring the weird burning feeling every time she dabbed my face with a cotton ball full of peroxide. Later, when the tears and pretty well all of the hair had subsided, I proudly walked downstairs, only to be met by my younger sister’s exclamation, “What happened to your eyebrows!?”, followed by a fit of uproarious laughter. My parents joined in. IT’S NOT LIKE ANYONE ELSE HAD VOLUNTEERED TO ASSIST MY EXPRESSIONLESS FACE. The eyebrows grew back sometime after my ninth grade commencement dance but before the writing of this blog, and they were never quite the same. To this day, I am abnormally fascinated with the eyebrows of others. I’ve been known to date men with interesting eyebrows. So expressive. So lush. So…there.
- Let the sun (read: acid) in. My mom would always say “a woman’s hair is her crowning glory”, quoting either the bible or Marilyn Monroe (two sources my mom finds interchangeable). At the time, I had no idea how offensive this remark was, but I knew that I hated it and refused on a daily basis to brush my hair. My family used to call me Einstein, not to infer intelligence but to point out that I would scratch my head and leave my hair sticking out every which way. Again, I must re-iterate that I do not have the white nordic hair that my mom has, and neither do either of my sisters. My dad has black hair and I’m told his genetics get a say in the final outcome of the children. I would have been cool with black hair, but instead I got this weird-ass dirty-blonde colour. This simply would not do for my mother, who took a bottle of hydrogen peroxide to my head to rectify the matter (DID WE LEARN NOTHING FROM MY EYEBROWS, PEOPLE). When I asked my mother what I should tell people at school about my hair being suddenly, magically lighter, she said “just tell them you were out in the sun” (an excuse, by the way, that no one would buy unless I had mistaken the sun for the microwave). I think that human beings should be free to do whatever they want to their bodies. There’s nothing wrong with women revising and revamping their look as they see fit. But there’s something strange about having your hair colour sprayed away with acid. Even if it’s a slight change (which, over time, this wasn’t) – you lose a bit of identity. Suddenly, all of your barely-there emotions become even further buried in a haze of beige. In a quest to figure out what I was feeling, I went on a hair dying spree for a period of a little less than a decade. Browns faded to blondes, blondes became reds – to know me was to know someone who would try to frequently re-invent herself with a box of hair dye, but never commit to any one colour. I never ended up looking like Alexis Bledel, or Catherine Zeta Jones, or Jenny Lewis and, worst of all, I didn’t look like me either. I now abstain from hair dye and, of course, staying out in the sun too long. I feel that either action will adversely-affect my grasp on reality.
- The Vagina Effigy. THIS is where the woman’s-crowning-glory-hair-thing should come into effect. Seriously, I don’t understand why women spend hundreds of dollars getting their hair done, but won’t spring for a bikini wax. Prioritize, people. Same goes for men, but I don’t have a penis so I won’t pass judgement on yours. I’m not talking about aesthetics – I’m talking about how uncomfortable it is if you don’t sort yourself out down there. In my house, this area was never discussed (read: religious household). Three girls and a mom and no one was remotely addressing this issue – we were all just uncomfortable and not talking about it. When I moved out, it took multiple visits and a brief foray into the painful world of strip-waxing before I figured out my situation down there. At first, it was a weird and humiliating experience to have someone manicuring my lady bits. Now it feels normal. Last time I was at the waxer, we nonchalantly discussed how great suspenseful action movies were in the 90s (this is a FACT – watch Along Came a Spider or Double Jeopardy and try to disagree with me…suspense just isn’t what it used to be) whilst she ripped strips of rubber wax from my nethers with the lightening-quicks hands of god. During one visit, the technician got pretty fucking confident and just put all of the wax all over the damn thing. Seriously – it was like The Cask of Amontillado down there. Nothing was getting in or out. I had come to terms with a future filled with celibacy (whilst chatting about what has happened to the cast of Friends, mind you) when she ripped the whole thing off in one quick movement. As I reasoned that it would have been better if she’s just left it on, I heard a giggle, and then she held up what looked to be an exact replica of my vagina. Seeing the horrified expression on my face, she quickly threw my vagina effigy in the garbage. If only life were always this simple.
See? Natural brow formations, frequency of waxing, how to chat with an waxing aesthetician without dying of humiliation – these are all things that could be covered in the aforementioned course. The absolute worst is the fact that my obsession with and quest for basic hair maintenance routines has monopolized quite a bit of brain power throughout my adult life. Had it been something I’d learned earlier, I don’t think the road would have been as laden with ingrown hairs, cuts, and rubber replicas of my vagina. But that’s all in the past now – I’m a grown-ass woman with a smooth-ass ass. I do not derive grief from these situations. They are funny. Laugh with me, good people. Why, just the other month I was texting with a friend whilst traveling to a bridal shower.
Me: I’ll be there in five minutes. Also I may or may not have missed a section on my leg when I shaved.
Friend: You should probably kill yourself.
Me: I would, but I need the razors.
A woman’s crowning glory is actually located in the brain underneath the layers of patchy, mis-coloured, un-brushed hair. So advice in this area would be more than welcomed, that way we can occupy our brain-glory-crowns with more important things. Computer Science 201 I could have done without – none of that shit is even relevant anymore, and technology is pretty self explanatory. Stop treating us like we’re stupid, and just teach us how to pluck and peel. It’s a matter of the utmost efficiency.
Also, it’s worth pointing out that nobody finds bunnies sexy.
Well, Hugh Hefner. But those aren’t real.
Neither are the bunnies. *rimshot*.
And now all I can think about is Hugh Hefner fucking a bunny. Thanks a lot.