“Mommy, did you know that you have a mustache?” quizzed my little girl at the breakfast table.
“No, I don’t!” I exclaimed, not really noticing that both of my children had donned milk mustaches for effect.
“Yes, you do! Everyone has mustaches….” My daughter’s voice trailed off. I had already stopped listening to her nightmarish declaration as I dashed up the stairs in search of my magnifying mirror. I had to be sure. I had to see this mustache for myself.
I grabbed my handheld mirror, used only for eyebrow plucking, pore gazing, and checking out my hair from the back.
Whew! I was safe. No mustache.
And then I saw IT.
At first I thought that it was a loose eyelash that had made its way to my chin. I was already figuring out my “finger or thumb” wish for the day. But no. It was attached. To my chin. A gangly, jet black, coarse hair was protruding from my chin.
And it was long. Well, long in the realm of chin hairs on a woman. In reality it was stubble, but in my mind I was that crazy lady at the grocery store with the 5 o’clock shadow. Or the bearded lady at the circus.
Frantic thoughts coursed through my mind as I rapidly plucked the intruder from my face:
I swear it wasn’t there yesterday.
I hope it wasn’t there yesterday.
Oh my goodness, was it there yesterday?
Why didn’t someone tell me? Do I now need to apply my makeup with my glasses on?
ARE THERE OTHERS??
As I peered at the unwanted quill, now clutched by my tweezers, I chuckled a bit in reflection.
I was now a bristle-toting member of the “Chin Hair Club”.
Karma had found my chin.
Two days prior to this harsh revelation I had been gathered in front of this very same bathroom mirror applying makeup with my mother. We discussed the joys of middle age, as mothers and daughters are inclined to do, and the very subject of unwanted follicular growth came up. My beautiful mother confessed to me that she had a few stray hairs that would occasionally pop up on her chin from time to time. I smugly boasted that fortunately (up to this point) I had dodged the shaggy chin, aside from the nearly invisible peach fuzz that I occasionally wax or tweeze. There was no manly hair growth on my face! I was so very confident that it would never happen to me.
I can boast no longer.
Unwanted facial hair has been a fear of mine and has been since the day I was asked to pluck my great-grandmother’s chin hairs one fateful afternoon. Out of love and devotion, this chore was accomplished while sitting around her kitchen table and I was guided by three generations of encouraging chin-pluckers. My sweet grandmother sat still for me as my inexperienced hands removed the wooly intruders from her mandible.
Unbeknownst to me, my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were providing me with a life skill which would lie dormant for 30 years.
But what they taught me would stay with me from that point on. The stark revelation that women, beautiful women like the matriarchs of my family HAD FACIAL HAIR. I was scarred for life. A piece of my childhood innocence was gone.
I now step boldly towards my sealed fate as yet another woman stricken by unwanted and undeserved follicular growth.
I am apparently now a member of an elite club. As my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and generations before me, I now have the responsibility of daily facial inspections, routine plucking, and the deep-seated fear that I missed yet another hair growing from my chin.
I have a new mantra, one that I will teach my daughter as the matriarchs of my family taught me years ago about women and facial hair: You can’t help where it grows, but you can help where it stays.
And to my dear friends and family, if you see an unsightly hair protruding from my chin, I won’t be offended if you let me know.
I’ll be mortified if you don’t.