Shaving my legs isn’t a huge deal for me. When I hear people talking about what hassle it is, I wince, knowing I do something even more ridiculous in the name of looking normal for the world. Threading is the bane of my existence – and judging by the amount of women who have it done twice a month in Britain, I am not the only one.
When I was twelve I got taken to a threading
parlour for the first time. If you’re lucky enough to have never heard of it threading
, it’s a process whereby a where thread
is scraped over your face to remove all the hair and reshape the eyebrows. It originated in India around 6000 years ago and spread throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe. And it fucking hurts.
Threading is also a sort of rite of passage. I remember my older cousins being taken to get it done and flinching like they were being tortured, then begging to go when they got older. When they first saw me, the ladies clucked sympathetically. “Thick hair!” they said – and it began.
I have huge eyebrows. I didn’t think anything of them when I was twelve; they were MY eyebrows, so whatever. The threading took what seemed like forever and I think I cried like I was being murdered. I had a furry face. “Beauty is pain!” was the motto of the day but when I was twelve I didn’t care about that. Never again, I vowed. I’ll stick to being hairy.
Of course it only took one year of secondary school to change my mind. My eyebrows stood out. It was not considered normal for a 12 year old girl to be sporting a moustache
(no matter how dashing I thought it looked.) Eventually, I begged to go back to threading
, and after ten years of having the hair torn off my face, it seems to have learnt to not grow hair so enthusiastically. Except for the eyebrows. If I let them, they would grow as bushy and overbearing as ever before.
I still dread going and yet I can’t bear to let even my family see me with my furry face. If I’m honest, I hate even looking at myself that way, totally unthreaded; it feels unnatural. Obviously the irony isn’t lost upon me about how completely natural my ‘wild and free’ look actually is. Thousands of women like me think it’s normal and necessary to continuously remove facial hair because it’s ingrained in us that we look like hairy beasts in our natural glory.
When I was young, we had to go to places like Rusholme or Asian beauty parlours to get threading done. Now they do it in Selfridges. On the one hand, I feel chuffed that the weird thing I had done that none of my friends had heard of is now pretty mainstream – but on the other, I feel concerned for the growing number of people who now see procedures like threading as ‘normality’, rather than even ‘beauty’.
I was looking at Frida Kahlo portraits yesterday and I suddenly realised that that’s what my eyebrows would look like. But she looks beautiful! In the face of such proof, I wavered – but, of course, still ended up at the threading salon. It’s been twelve long years now and I’ve been summarily conditioned into the idea that this is my natural face. That’s the real danger; I wouldn’t recognise myself without the upkeep.
My own mother shrieked with laughter when I mentioned I might grow my eyebrows out (thanks, Mum) and I don’t have the courage to saunter outside with facial hair. I’ve learnt to put up with the excruciating pain and hassle of threading. It’s too late for the hirsute gal in me to break free.
Nevertheless, I often do that wish society would appreciate a woman’s moustache.-AC