The experience of learning how to make the bok choy from one of my close friends reminded me of an amazing piece I had read just that very day. I related to it from a very deep level--raised by a single mom just barely above poverty level and often relying on fast and instant foods for lack of time, and growing up in a fat body. It is so honest, so beautiful and I am so grateful to Blyth for allowing me to share it with you below. I think food justice and healing our relationships with food starts when we are very honest about our her/his/theirstories and come together to discuss them. And when we share our resources and knowledge base to enjoy new and different ways of eating.
My Austin-based friend Jessie Dress (oft-mentioned on the blog) has spent the last month growing out her mustache and chronicled the progress and her feelings on her Tumblr. I was impressed by her thoughtful interaction with it and pensive posts. I’ve been thinking a lot about Femmes and Body Hair for the past 13 months because I’ve been working on a FemmeCast episode about body hair. Someday soon I will get an intern and get more of my media projects finished!
Here is Jessie’s latest installment, but definitely check out the archives of a Femme Growing Facial Hair on her Tumblr!
I feel like you should have a name by now, but you don’t. So… the whole reason I set out to grow you out is that I realized I’d been removing you for HALF of my life. That’s 13 whole years! Thirteen years of being ashamed of hair on my face, of wondering if I’d remembered the hairs at the corners, of wondering if someone was going to comment about you when we kissed for the first time.
Thirteen years is a long mother-fucking time.
I was pretty sure I had this shit down when I started to grow you out. I made it easy for myself, committed to this one step at a time (I’m still shaving the rest of my lady-beard) but man, I was NOT prepared for all the feelings I was going to have about this.
Yes, yes, I hear you. I know that I’m going through KIND OF A DIFFICULT TIME (generally) in life right now. That’s true. But man.
After a lot of thought, this is what I have decided it comes down to:
Living in my body is really fucking radical.
Now, that might sound a little self-centered, or whatever. But if it is, good. Because I need practice at being self-centered. And really. There is privilege that comes with my body for sure. I’m acknowledging that. But I live in a really visibly fat body. I make choices about how I dress that body that I’m not ready to give up to make my body less confrontational for people. And now, I live in a fat body that comes with a mustache (in addition to many other socially-unacceptable forms of body hair*).
But damn, mustache. I LIKE YOU. You are REAL SOFT. I wish that this picture could show people how soft you are, but they will have to trust that I am smiling because you are so very soft.
Mustache, you’ve also been turning it out in the quantity department. I really didn’t think there were as many hairs as you’ve grown! I think this is one of the main reasons that I’m trying (one day at a time) to keep growing you. I’m trying despite the increasingly odd looks from coworkers, women in grocery stores, and teenage boys outside of gas stations. I want to know what my body is capable of.
I’m sorry for you, mustache, that I’m so (lady) femme. As I say that, I feel like I should delete it, but I’m going to leave it. Because I really do feel it. When I first started growing you out, someone told me, “don’t do that! all the fucking genderqueer kids are doing that these days. it’s so trendy.” Well, it isn’t trendy for me, because you’re not drawn on, and you’re not stuck on, you’re not held up on a stick. I grew you with my very own – VERY FEMME – abundance of VERY AWESOME androgens. I hate that it isn’t trendy for lady femmes to rock ‘staches. I get angry.
I know, mustache, we know some lady femmes who rock ‘staches. Well, pat those femmes on the back, they are doing hard, pioneering work! And their coworkers probably look at them funny.
I promise to keep taking it one day at a time. I promise to trust myself. I promise to actually tell Jennifer who waxes my eyebrows that I’m growing you out on purpose. I promise to keep talking about you. Just promise to be gentle with me, and to understand if/when I can’t do this anymore.
I love you more than I ever imagined I could,
PS – You look super-fine with glitter lips.
PPS – Thanks to my super awesome roommate Malcolm for the photos!
*let’s be realllll, most all body hair is unacceptable on women.