Even though the Western beauty ideal for the female body is smooth and nearly hairless, the truth is that women’s facial and body hair is natural and normal. The amount of hair a woman might have is determined by hormones and genetics, dermatologist Hal Weitzbuch told the blog Fatherly, though certain medical conditions, like polycystic ovarian syndrome and Cushing’s syndrome, can lead to an actual excess of facial hair on women.
But, really, any sort of facial hair is broadly perceived as “unfeminine” and an embarrassing problem to be solved, not just an excess caused by an underlying medical condition. And despite the broad prevalence of some minor facial hair in women, we devote a lot of time, money and mental space getting rid of the shadows on our lips, the perceived bushiness in our brows and the peach fuzz on our jaws.
Girls learn from the mass media, peers and even their own families that this sort of hair needs to be groomed upon arrival (which usually happens in puberty, whether it’s on their upper lips, chins, filling in their eyebrows or at the edges of their hairlines). I was no different: as a 10-year-old, I thought my eyebrows looked like thick, black caterpillars, so I cut them off with scissors, which turned out not to be the look I was going for.