I remember being a pre-pubescent girl and wishing fervently to “become a woman.” At the time, I thought that meant getting my period, and, well, that was about it.
I read “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” for the first time in third grade at the insistence of two much-older neighbors who rode the bus with me. We were the only 3 kids from our part of town who went to the Catholic school and due to the different start/end times of our school vs. the public school, the three of us were the only kids on the bus for a large portion of the time. I got quite an education on that bus.
I willed myself into puberty, threw myself headlong into it, thoughtlessly leaving my childhood behind. At age 10, I stole a pink Daisy razor from Mom and started shaving my legs. I had seen her do it, and she was a woman, so in order to become a woman myself, I needed to shave. So I shaved my legs. And then my armpits. And then, what the hell, my arms. All without any kind of shaving cream or soap, by the way. I must have been one big razor burn. And then I hid the razor in my bottom dresser drawer, where I hid all of my secret stuff so that no one would find it.
In 4th grade, I begged for a bra. I plotted and schemed for weeks–possibly even months– about how to convince her that I needed it, you know, since I didn’t have any boobage anything to put in it at the time. I eventually came up with an indesputible rationale. My school uniform was a white button-down shirt with a Peter Pan collar and a plaid jumper (with knee socks and saddle shoes, of course. It’s no wonder that to this day I have absolutely zero fashion sense). I told my mother that because my shirts were so thin and worn, the boys could see too much through them and I needed a bra. Basically her options were to buy me new higher-quality dress shirts (“like the Lacoste shirts that the rich ALL the other girls are wearing,” I suggested), or to buy me a bra. So off we went to JC Penney’s to get me my AAA-sized training bra.
Years later I look back at my desire to shave and to wear a bra and wonder what the hell I was thinking. Shaving my legs and armpits and other unmentionable regions and stuffing myself into a bra each day are almost a chore. Did I really look forward to doing–DREAM about–this twenty-some years ago?
The one part of my body that I’ve never had to pay much attention to–until now–was my eyebrows. I have fair skin. I usually call my skintone “pale”, but “fair” seems much more complimentary, so let’s go with that. I have dyed blonde light brown hair with blonde highlights, and my eyebrows were even lighter than my *ahem* chemically-enhanced hair color. They were thin in shape and fine in texture. For years they were almost invisible, or at least barely noticeable. In my world, you don’t fix what ain’t broke, so I never touched my eyebrows. Not once. No plucking, tweezing, waxing, shaving. Nothing.
A few years ago, I felt that even though you couldn’t see them, maybe they needed more shape to them. Knowing that I have extremely sensitive skin where even the smallest pimple is a huge glaring red blemish, I didn’t even consider waxing. Instead, I opted for a small battery-powered Avon trimmer, and every few months I would zip-zip around the edges, use one of the tools to cut the remaining hair shorter, and that was it.
In March, on a whim, I asked the girl who cuts my hair (she’s 10 years younger than me, so yes, she’s still a “girl”) to do my eyebrows. She had been cutting my hair for 6 months at the time, so I trusted her. I warned her about my sensitive skin. I also made it a condition of my “procedure” that she not do anything drastic–the last thing I wanted was to have to pencil my eyebrows back on until they grew in. She did a great job, I was red for about an hour or so, and life went on.
In the time since then, my eyebrows morphed into two woolly bear caterpillars trying to meet in the middle. If they were any indcation of how severe this winter is going to be, boy, we’re in for a doozy. They got thicker. And darker. And BIGGER. My little Avon trimmer choked on them and eventually died. Plus, I would shake so much just looking at them that trimming was a sketchy process. I decided to leave it to the professionals.
So last night I was getting my hair did and I asked if she’d have time to do my eyebrows. This time I didn’t preface it with a 500-word essay on just how sensitive my skin is and how I didn’t want much taken off. After the first rrr–iiiiippppp, I realized my error but it was too late to turn back. Once the swelling goes down and the redness goes away, I’m sure they’ll look nice. But so far it’s been 16 hours and I still look like a Neanderthal with my (red) forehead jutting out–minus the hair, of course.
Where did that hair come from? Why did it wait until now to sprout? Will my brows come back in full force again, or was that some kind of one-time hormonal aberration? Will I have to get this done every three months? Every six weeks? EVERY MONTH? Will I have to schedule my brow waxing on a Friday night, go home immediately, and stay in my house with an icepack on my forehead for 2 days until I’m not embarrassed to be out in public? And where will hair start to sprout next? Maybe I’ll end up looking like the Neanderthal after all.
If only I would have known 25 years ago what “womanhood” REALLY was . . . .