01 June 2008

This big weird world

I was sitting in my car at an intersection yesterday when a guy who looked like this walked by in the crosswalk:

At first, I thought he had badly done blackface on. As he got closer, I saw that he was just covered with facial hair.

As someone who guards the appearance of each little chin hair with the vigilance of a doberman waiting for a prowler, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around that.

How awful, I thought. This guy has to go through life with this unusual problem. I am sure people stare at him all day long. I know I did.

No matter who he is, no matter what he knows, no matter what he does, he will always be the Wolfman guy to most people. I wonder who would fall in love with him. I hate to admit it, but I couldn't.

The awful thing is not that he is covered in a large amount of hair. I mean, people survive having hairy heads, chests, legs...hair is not that big a deal.

The awful thing is that people can't get over him having hair all over his face, that they recoil. (I am including me in "people.")

I have to admit it totally freaked me out.

I wish the world could be a little kinder, starting with me.


whall said...

I notice A) him smiling and B) nice suit!

I've gotta think that if that were me, I'd try to do as many birthday parties as I could. RAWR!

Carolie said...

At first, all I thought was "ha ha, Suebob, those aren't chin hairs, those are just stray eyebrow hairs!" (and I do insist upon that as I track each one down and obliterate it!)

Then I started to think about the content of what you wrote, and it really did make me pause. I agree, I wish we were all kinder. We all have such strong prejudices about what is disgusting and what is beautiful, and I wish we at least made more of an effort to overcome those prejudices.

I remember a woman who transferred to my small, private, southern college. She was stunning, with red-gold curls and green eyes, a rapier wit, skin like cream and roses...and she did not shave her legs. The hair on her legs was very fine, and pale gold. It was barely noticeable, but it was there...and EVERYONE reacted with very vocal disgust the first time she wore shorts. I remember at the time thinking "she's so gross...why doesn't she just SHAVE so they will leave her alone?"

Now, when I look back, I am in awe of her quiet bravery and the fact that she didn't immediately start shaving the minute the first of many disposable razors was taped to her dorm room door. Men have hairy legs and we swooned over them. Children of both sexes have hair on their legs (and in many cases, not any less than this woman had) and we don't even notice it.

Why did we all judge her on this one facet of her appearance (or on any facet of her appearance)? Why couldn't she be "the girl with the red-gold curls" or "the student who is destined to be our valedictorian" or "the woman with the amazing singing voie" instead of, for the entire time she attended that school, being known as "that girl who doesn't shave her legs."

As for the photo you posted, my first thought was "oh, he looks like a puppy!" I know, not exactly the same as comparing someone to a movie star, but at least my visceral reaction was "how adorable!" and not "ewww, gross!"

The really sad thing is that we make judgements about people based on appearance constantly, assuming someone with bad teeth is probably not particularly well educated, assuming that seriously overweight people are lazy and/or stupid, etc.

Kindness. You're so right. Something for me to aim for, remembering the woman from my college, and your post, and try for more kindness.

Carolie said...

Ack, sorry...didn't realize my comment would be so long!

Sister Wolf said...

It's scary for one thing.
But you're right, we should be more tolerant.

Also, we become used to a certain aesthetic, and in our culture, excess hair is repulsive.

When I spent every day in a gym, those muscle-bound freaks looked normal.

Know what I mean?

Traceytreasure said...

You obviously don't have a big nose either. People stare! I'm not having it fixed! I'm just not!
I would shave my face if I was him though! I think that's sad...Hugs!

Suzanne said...

I think it is hard to resist the boundaries of cultural acceptability. The fact that you reacted and then felt guilty for being judgmental is a big step forward. Most people just condemn, ya know? One of my semi-irrational fears is that I'll be a bearded lady, so I hear you on the plucking. Hair is just such a weird taboo in Western culture.

Carolie - I'm that woman with the hairy legs (except that it's dark hair) and also pits. Sometimes it's not bravery as much as sheer laziness and/or a lack of concern for what other people think. (I'm the former, although I wish I were the latter.)

g said...

I dunno. I am very not-hairy, and I don't shave very frequently, but sometimes I look and realize that even tho I'm totally not hairy, there are a few hairs here and there.....

SueBob, is that a picture of the guy you saw? or someone else?

There are endocrine-related disorders and hormone-related disorders than cause people to grow more hair. The funny thing is, other than the fact that it freaks other people out, it's probably perfectly healthy.

wow. odd. Makes you think!

btw - carolie - loved your comment. Not too long at all.

g said...

Another comment - as a person who has the occasional facial hair, especially on the upper lip - I like to go to Indian beauty parlors where they thread the hairs off! I know a great place in Culver City. email me if you want their number.

SUEB0B said...

g - No, it is a different guy but looking very similar. I have heard there was a group of native Mexican people who had this genetic mutation, and I think the guy I saw may be one of those people.

Threading...no, but thanks. I don't think I could handle it.

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