One of the concessions I make to the current standard of feminine beauty is that, every two or three months, when my eyebrows become so bushy that I start seeing my dad when I look in the mirror, I have my face threaded. For the uninitiated, threading is a highly uncomfortable procedure wherein a beautician holds one end of a piece of thread in her teeth and the other end in her fingers, and with the thread in some modified cat’s cradle formation, she then rips out the client’s unwanted hair. I go for threading because my pain tolerance is just not high enough for me to pluck the entirety of my own moustache, and because the times I’ve tried to lose my stray eyebrow hairs, I’ve ended up pinching the delicate eyelid skin with the tweezers, which both hurts and leaves little red marks. I’m sure practice makes perfect, but I would rather just spend fifteen minutes letting someone else inflict pain, knowing that afterwards I would not need to worry too much about facial hair for several weeks.
My system has worked for the last year or so, but the last time I went for threading, as the beautician dusted my face, she remarked, “I’ve been watching your blackheads. You want a facial?”
I have been offered a facial from the threading establishment before, and I have always declined, for two reasons: firstly, I have no desire to spend the time or money on a facial, and secondly, while I have succumbed to societal pressure to minimize facial hair, I have been under the apparent illusion that my skin could actually pass for acceptable. Oh, how wrong I was, if my blackheads had been noticeable enough to hold this beautician’s interest for fifteen minutes!
I turned down the facial yet again, but when I went home, I dug out a trial pack of exfoliating cream, scrubbed my nose, and applied a ten-minute mud mask from a tube that hadn’t been used for over a year. Result? My nose ended up looking like Sneezy’s for a couple of days, and the blackheads reappeared as soon as the redness left.
My eyebrows are getting bushy again. I’m on the fence about whether or not to return to the threading salon. Perhaps I could teach my blackheads some tricks, so that the beautician would be entertained while she looks at them? Maybe they could just jump out of my pores, do a little jig, and then pop back in at the end of the threading? I could go to another salon, but then I would need to pay more, and I may not be able to call twenty minutes before I want the threading to begin. I could attempt to become accustomed to what I consider the excruciating torture of plucking my own philtrum, and I could work on improving my tweezer skills to avoid accidental skin mishaps in the eye region, but somehow those options hold little appeal. Rather than constantly assessing my reflection for excess hair, I would much prefer to carry on threading so that I can greet my mirror image with a pleasant nod of recognition, the way I did before the blackhead comment made the sight of my nose fill me with a vague sense of shame.
A very easy way to eliminate the problem would be to coat my nose in make-up. But for the past fifteen years or so I have reserved make-up for special occasions, because both my gut and my feminist-leaning brain tell me that in an ideal world, women would be considered beautiful without it. During the course of those years without foundation, I have grown fond of my bare face, and I believe that the beautician’s comment, while a setback, will not incur long-lasting damage on my relationship to my unadorned skin. So after my brief enlistment in the war on skin, I am holding up a white flag— I will not be having routine facials, and I will work my way back towards acceptance of my facial skin: blackheads, wrinkles, and all.
When I become evolved enough, my plan is to also surrender in the war on facial hair. When I have laid down my tweezers, and stopped frequenting threading professionals, I will instead embrace my unibrow and enter a Frida Kahlo look-alike contest; a quick Google search listed events in Texas, California, and New York. Perhaps eventually there will even be a female version of Movember that I could sign up for, giving me a good excuse to let my moustache grow and raise money for charity at the same time. But until I reach that level of self-confidence, I think I’ll look for another salon.