February 21, 2010

Menopause: A Hair-Raising Experience

When I was younger I remember hearing jokes about Great Aunt Millie who could have joined the circus as the bearded woman, or saw some unfortunate female on the street sporting what looked like a teenage boy's pathetic attempt at a moustache. I always felt a vague kind of pity for such women, being the butt of cruel and unjust jokes, and sighing with relief that I wasn't similarly afflicted.

As I grew older, I heard the occasional menopausal woman mention things like facial hairs, and just assumed, like the millions of women that have gone before me, that it was just an unlucky few who suffered those affects during middle age. It never dawned on me that rather than being a rarity, extra facial hair is a common factor once a woman reaches that “certain age”. It is in fact rare that a woman going through 'The Change', doesn't have some kind of facial hair issue.

As a teenager I was blessed with fair hair and was never like those poor girls in my school who had to utilise sheep shears to keep their legs and armpits groomed. A friend of mine said that she used a vacuum cleaner to brush her legs in the morning, before her mother allowed her to start shaving. I think she singly kept the Gillette company going during the 1980s.
In my 20s and into my 30s, whenever a male friend started growing a moustache or forgot to shave, I would jokingly comment that I had been trying for several years to grow a moustache of my own, and I would laugh out loud. Regrettably, now I'm in my 40s, I think am at last making some progress in this area.

The whole menopausal thing didn't really hit home with me until I looked in the mirror one night about the time I turned 41. I stared in horrified fascination at the black hair sprouting merrily from my chin. My mind refused to accept what it was seeing. About 2cm in length, the strand stuck out like a thumb trying to hitch a lift. I plucked it from my face and drowned it in the sink. Three weeks later it came back, looking none the worse for its excursion. So once again I pulled it out, vowing to keep a more vigilant look-out for the hairy stray and three weeks later it returned. That next time though, it brought a friend.

Those little chin hairs are a mystery. They seem to spring up overnight as if someone had sprinkled hair fertiliser on my chin during my sleep. Now that I come to think of it, perhaps that's why it's called “fur”tiliser. 

While I have been lucky so far in avoiding the monobrow, I think someone is sprinkling special fertiliser on my eyebrows too. Recently I started to notice what I like to lovingly call, a demented mongrel brow hair springing out at attention above my eyes. These evil looking things are long, thick and crinkly, and they grow straight out from my face as if reaching for the sun. While all of my other eyebrow hairs are laying flat like good little eyebrows are supposed to, this diabolical hair sticks out as if I'm trying to get better reception by installing my own personal antennae.

But alas, I fear worse is yet to develop. I have a slightly turned-up kind of nose, and in the last few years have started becoming quite paranoid about the possibility of one day having to use one of those nifty little nose-hair trimmers thingees. I can just imagine receiving one of those little tools of torture some Christmas in the future from a well-meaning middle-aged friend who will think she is doing me some great favour, as she hands it to me with a wink and a nudge. It seems that I have joined some secret women's society without even knowing that I'd sent in an application form.

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