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Thursday, 05 February 2009

Age and Human Hairiness

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Two people so far have responded to the call on Monday for photos for Where Elders Blog. You will find Peter Tibbles here and NancyB here. Many elderbloggers are missing and we would all like to see where you carry on at your keyboard. Even if you don't keep a blog, you're welcome to show us your workspace, so get out your cameras. Instructions are here.]

category_bug_journal2.gif Following Crabby Old Lady’s whine about going bald a couple of day ago, Marian Van Eyk McCain of The Elderwoman Website left this comment:

“Notice how all this “going bald in old age” conversation has so far focused exclusively on heads? How prim we all are!”

Prim, indeed. Today, that omission will be rectified since we have hair (or not, at our ages) in all kinds of other places on our bodies.

FACE
Crabby might well have complained, in that previous post, about facial hair. The more I lose from my head, the more I gain, it appears, on my face as though gravity is pulling it downward. I have always had a dusting of fine, transparent hair along my jaw and above my upper lip, but it was so unnoticeable that I ignored it all my life - until recent years.

Now it grows longer, sometimes curling into my lip so that it’s an irritation impossible to ignore until I can get to the tweezers to remove it. It’s damned painful to pull out hairs from around a lip, and no less so from my chin which regularly sprouts a longer, courser hair or two. If anyone knows a better solution than tweezing, please don’t keep it to yourself.

Men, of course, have a long history of facial hair and can choose to shave it or let it grow. If there are changes in later life – annoying or otherwise – it would be interesting to know about that.

LEGS
God, what a tedious task it is shaving legs. I never bought the Sixties women’s movement admonition to just let it grow. And for whatever reason, I never tried chemical removers like Nair. I just wept from boredom twice a week.

For the past decade or so, leg hair seems to grow much more slowly. An alternative explanation is that I’m not so concerned about it now that I’m not jumping into bed with a man with anywhere near the frequency of my young adult and mid years. But habit or some measure of daintiness keeps me shaving, just not as often.

UNDERARMS
As with my legs, underarm hair growth seems to have slowed. I don’t have an opinion about it; it’s easy enough to take a razor to it in the shower when needed.

BACK AND CHEST
Some consider it an affliction for men to have a lot of hair on their backs, but I had a boyfriend in my twenties whose upper back was nearly as furry as my cat. I found it quite cozy, although a lot of people stared at him when we were at the beach or a swimming party.

I hear tell that some men, these days, shave or wax their chests and come to think of it, I can’t remember seeing chest hair in photos of male models in recent years. I wonder what cultural change I’m ignorant of has brought this trend upon us.

PUBIC HAIR
I’ve left the body part Marian was undoubtedly referring to for last, discussion of which is even more taboo than female baldness.

My, my - how attitudes about women’s pubic hair have changed in my lifetime. Women now shave or wax regularly and it is, apparently, a social faux pas of some major magnitude for any stray pubic hair to peek out of a swim suit. There are even fashions now in regard to how much to remove or not. Fortunately, I’m way too old to care (bikinis are long in my past), although it does occur to me to wonder if there is such a thing as pubic hair fashion for men.

I remember a question turning up occasionally in my youth for which we had no answer: does pubic hair go gray like head hair? I have no idea if there has been any research into this and can report only that mine has not. It is and always was more red than the brown of the hair on my head until it began graying in my thirties.

I don’t know if I’m typical in that regard and I don’t know either if people – men or women – go bald in their pubic region as we age. In re-reading this, it is obvious that there is a great deal I don’t know about human hairiness. Perhaps readers can enlighten us all on this vitally important topic.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place, Sheila Halet remembers her father in My Daddy.]


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:35 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Interesting post...never thought of it that way, yes pubic hair turns gray :)

Harold

Had to laugh; I noticed this change in hair growth over the years and seriously looked at myself one morning. Honestly had to admit that while I believe the underarm and leg hair is just not what it used to be, neither is my eyesight! I think I'm shaving in the shower just out of habit.

Below is the title of a book I found awhile ago that will answer every one of those questions...and more! (check your library)

"The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead"
by David Shields

Well, since I am the one who started this, I had better reveal the fact that baldness has indeed staked its claim, albeit not on my head. Not much hair left anywhere else now. Haven't shaved or waxed anything in more than twenty years. (Whis is just as well, as the skin on my legs is so thin nowadays that even the thought of a razor or a waxing would set it bleeding.) Yet my bearded, furry-all-over partner who used to resemble a reddish-brown hearthrug, has simply become a gray hearthrug.
By the time my Mother was 89, the hair on her head was a beautiful white but she had lost every single body hair she'd ever owned. I guess that made her fashionable for once in her life, since totally waxing one's pubes is now trendy, apparently. Which means I, too, am getting trendier by the minute.

Marian, my first gray hair was found, you guessed it, right down there. It and its sisters have long since fallen out forever.

I shudder to admit that I am following in your footsteps, Marian.

Chin hairs? The day I turned 40, my tweezers became my best friends.

I looked in the mirror. Suddenly there was a wheat field growing on my chin.

What happened? New hair growing everywhere, except on my head!

If this were the army, I could command like a drill sarge: "All hair report to the head," but then I'd have armpit, pubic, leg, chin, butt on my noggin.

Couple days ago I was feeling around my neck. Lo and behold, I discovered a thin, but long hair. Long, as in 3 inches.

What was it doing there? I didn't need tweezers for that one. Yanked it out with my bare hands. Make my day.

Some of these chin hairs (which only showed up in my 40's) are tough like beard hairs. Could probably use em to tow my car in winter, or lasso a cute guy. Oh, I forgot, I'm married.

Daily, I examine my face like an air traffic controller checks a screen. All rogue hair, big or small, are plucked faster than Thanksgiving turkeys.

My 5 pairs of expensive tweezers are beside me as I type. Sharp and ready to do their job.

Better than airport sniffing dogs, they lie, one eye open....

I got my first chinny chin chin hair in my 30s and a girl in the 4-H group I was leading asked me about it. I found them easy to remove over the years and if I stroke my chin, I'd just feel one there and pull it out with my fingers-- whenever I'd remember. Other facial hair is about the same along I did have a stray near my lips the other day that required tweezers. I doubt anybody but me would have seen it.

For body hair, mine was always very light, barely noticeable and has stayed about the same with minor change. I think the pubic hair is thinned and there are a few white ones down there but I sure don't pluck them.

I do pluck the stray whites that show up in my eyebrows. That's what made me wonder whether people eventually get all white eyebrows. Mine have been only a few and easily removed as I don't want to have to color brows. Those are usually longer than the usual brow hair also which is another reason to pull them out.

I have about 2 hairs on my legs, none in underarms and don't miss any of those. I have chin hairs and facial hair. All of this is "normal" part of aging and usually gets more noticeable after menopause with loss of female hormones. I use one of thos facial hair removers on my face, for sensitive skin. The chin hair comes in too quickly for that so the tweezers are always with me.

Just a note that sometimes problems with your thyroid can also cause similiar problems.

Ah, the nurse in me roars her med speak yet again.

Oh, I'll join in on this sensitive subject.

Men: Mine reports that his mother had Alopecia, and when he was a kid she wore a wig for many years. When I knew her, she had very thin, very receded hair. He now thinks that Alopecia is genetic. He's had a beard since the army years......and ended up shaving it off because of Alopecia. Now he is getting giant holes in his head hair.

Me: At almost 70, I have lost my eyebrows....as my mother did, have skimpy underarm and leg hair, receding but brownish head hair, but white and skimpy pubic hair. Then again, there's that mustache. I pluck.

This is hysterical! Who knew we are all members of this 'hair club'.

My head hair is thinner; though not going gray as I hoped. Facial hair is as reported above by several. The cheek/jowl fuzz reminds me of my grandmother; I don't mind it. The rest I pluck with tweezers. Haven't shaved pits or legs in about 20 years. that hair is very fine, pale, & practically invisible, and I don't care anyway. Pubic hair is still there and reddish.

The (missing) hair that bothers me most are eyebrows & lashes. I basically have none and the few that remain are pale and fine. On the few occasions when I dress up enough to wear some makeup, I simply don't know what to do with my eyes. And on most days, I just avoid looking at myself in mirrors.

I'm wondering if any have seen the new ads about those little pads that 'sand off' the hairs. If I decide to try them, I'll report back.

I can't believe that my story is on the same page as chin and pubic hair...you gotta love it and it so well goes with my life. I would expect nothing better to have fame among the hairs...oh my God!!! Thanks Ronni - I can't stop laughing...

Is there a law that says women can't shave their chinny chin chin? It takes less time than plucking and gets rid of those pesky hairs all at once.

I share with you the woes of hair loss and the growth in unwanted areas. The chin area is sometimes a challenge to grasp but I have scissor shape tweezers so I just poke around until I grasp it.

The eyebrows are a real problem. It is true that the white/gray grow longer and coarser. I find when I tweeze - I am creating space because of the length of these brow strands. So, the most expedient solution is bangs. Yes bangs, forgiving and hiding and even these are almost too thin to "hide" very well.

Perhaps readers can enlighten us all on this vitally important topic

Bwahahahaha!

Let it fly in the breeze
And get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair
A home for fleas
A hive for bees
A nest for birds
There ain't no words
For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
Of my...

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as I can grow it
My hair

Pfffttt, wonder what that Tribe sings now????

Mammals have fur -- get used to it. ;^)

Shaving it off underarms and legs is a waste of time and effort.

And waxing? Good god, no. Way too painful.

I do tweeze the chin hairs. Mostly because I have a habit of stroking my chin at times and they bother me, and I'll sit and play with them if I don't yank them out. ;^)

I'm growing a forehead. My hair is so thin U can see thru it on the sides. My g-mother had very thin hair,U could see her scalp. I'm only 59 yrs old. I have to comb my hair forward to cover up my f/head.The L side has less hair. I still have br.hair,only few grey hairs.DH & I have a bet to see who goes bald 1st!!
Thryoid prob. can reduce body hair else where. menopause also effect it. Eyebrows been sparse for yrs.

When I was young, I had noticeably long hair on my arms. My mother thought that it was very "unladylike," so she would have me hold each arm over a low fire on the stove and singe the tips. She did the same thing with the fresh chickens she bought. My singed hair smelled just like the singed pinfeathers. It was amazing that I never burned myself.

These days, the hair on my arms seems to be dissolving like the hair everywhere else. I don't shave my legs all winter because I live in jeans. And it doesn't take much to shave off what's left in the summer.

My chin hairs bother me, and it seems that, no matter how hard I look, I never see them until I get into my car and look in the mirror. I keep a pair of tweezers in my car.

I miss my eyelashes and eyebrows as well, but I'm not adverse to using a little makeup if I'm going out. I'm still vain.

oh, this topic is soooo American. take a look at many of the good German ladies visiting NYC sometime. They have no fixation on getting rid of body/facial hair.

but being a good Yankee (and I'm with darlene...I shave it off), I have a Norelco tripleheader that keeps my upper lip and chin nice and hairless. if i forget to shave, i can always amuse myself while blogging by pulling out the sturdy hairs on my chin with my bare hands (fingernails).

the hair on my legs stopped growing years ago, and so has my underarm and public hair. it's still there, but it doesn't need mowing.

I had "five o'clock shadow" on my legs and lots of armpit and public hair when I was young. My head hair was thick and straight. Now the body hair is much lighter and sparser. My head hair is not as thick as it was; it has turned curly and is still dark.
But do I have chin hairs. And a mustache. And nose hairs! Have to be after them all the time.
It's just hair, folks.

Because of the chemo I finished in July all my hair on my head is healthy Grey black and some white..I frankly love it and will never color my hair again however, would you believe the one hair on my chin came back strong as ever I was wishing with all my heart it wouldn't..that and lots of saggy here and there..oh well I'm alive plucking cutting and twee zing wherever necessary..the post was a riot..we all feel much the same......as old age creeps in on us.

Dorothy from grammology
grammology.com

hugs Dorothy

My mother, who died young, had this theory that if you plucked or shaved, five fresh hairs grew to replace the one that had vanished.
I've always believed this and it was validated one day about 8 years ago when I had my eyebrows plucked for the first time and low and behold ever since then my eyebrows grew this stiff snow-fence that I keep hacking with a scissors.
and speaking of scissors I use them on my chin, with a magnifying glass and glasses. I'm always amazed that when I seek and destroy these bandits they are like an inch long which means I've been running around with them bristling at all and sundry for a while.
Also in the dim history of time they shaved my pubes off for first baby delivery and they never grew back like before, always this sparse soft growth now nearly vanished completely.
And I am so so so glad I missed out on the age of pubic grooming and sculpting. And yeah the men do it too.
I shave pits and legs about once a month, mainly because they get itchy and I don't want to add incessant public scratching to the long list of my elder aberrations.

I had to come back to read all the other comments - and it has been such fun!

My hair is white and thinning on my head. I have white hairs on my chin which I shave. My pubic region has been bald for years and I have very little on my legs and armpits. The peculiar thing is I still have dark brown eyebrows that seem to be as thick as ever.
My grandmother who went gray in her 20's like I did still had dark eyebrows in her 80's.

Hair all accounted for in all the normal places, including the chin and upper lip. I'm a plucker. They drive me nuts. I've told a friend that if I'm ever incapacitated that she please needs to pluck my chin. Although if I ever get to that stage I may not care.

I'm younger than most of you, 47, but battle a few amazingly strong and stubborn chin hairs.

Shaving, except for under the armpits makes me angry. I do it now and then, and feel stupid every single time, especially if I get one of those fun razor nicks that bleed all over my bathroom.

My head still produces a very thick lot of dark blonde hair and I have yet to see a gray one. I do think about Ronni's post about coloring gray...(Its why I come here, preparation HA )
I don't think I like the idea of the chemicals or expense.

Bring on the gray, I say. I care more whether I can touch my toes or hop on a horse bareback. (I can still manage those!)

Head Hair: nice. wavy. silvery with a Jay Leno spot in front. It's thinning
Facial Hair: I get those suckers with tweezers
Downthere Hair: they have thinned. I have 2 hairs left.
Eyebrows: What are those? I have 1 long hair over my right eye. Do you suppose used to be an eyebrow?
Legs: I quit shaving 30 years ago. Figured, what's the use? They don't grow anyway...at least not very fast.
Armpits: Puleeze! They all fell out 27 years ago.

Pubic hair - I haven't noticed that area in 35 years....the rest of the hair on my body is also kind of disappearing and the hair on my head is nice and short since it was all buzzed off and in the growing back seems "a bit" thicker or is it my imagination....Syd is growing his bald hair long in the back so he can push it up and cover the top of his head - tee hee tee hee...no he is waiting for spring. Ronni this is too funny a post...your gang rocks!!!

Oh, I love this! Some of you people are hilarious! You too, Ronni.

Eyebrows: Having nearly invisible eyebrows is irritating. It really changes the whole look of my face.

Eyelashes: Pitiful. Barely enough to hold mascara.

Pubes: Still there as always, incl. some grays.

Armpits: I shave maybe once a week.

Legs: I love the feel of freshly shaved legs, especially in summer.

Chin & mustache: I pluck. I know my mom uses a hair removal cream that seems easy enough. I doubt I could find that here in Sweden.

This is so interesting to me because here in Sweden, most all of the Swedish women I meet who are my age or so (60’s) obviously do nothing with wild hairs. Nothing at all. In fact, they would find this whole conversation incredibly odd and wholly American. It might be different with the younger women here; not sure.

But I'll keep plucking as long as I can SEE the hairs!

By the way, on Dr. Phil the other day he said 70% of men would rather amputate a body part than go bald!! WOW!

As a first time visitor, I'm hooked! I turned 73 yesterday, but have only a few gray hairs on my head and little elsewhere. Hair stories: 1) I envied my younger brother his hair for years, but now, his thick, dark curlies are grey and falling out, while I still have my usual mouse brown, thin, fine crowning glory. 2) My husband has "furry" arms, with thick white hair. Sitting next to him on an airplane was a Chinese gentleman who found the sight of my hairy hubby's arms too fascinating to resist "feeling him up", armwise ! They both had a congenial laugh, recognizing the racial differences in hirsutitude. (sp?) Which brings up the question, are there any comments from non-caucasians out there?

Well, I'm only 4 years late answering...but, I guess you know how I got here...yep, a google search..because...I've noticed all my hair is slowly going AWOL...except those "stray eyebrows" that now live on my chin...I remember once in my twenties, a fellow once told me he'd "NEVER seen a woman THAT hairy" down there...I was embarrassed every time I took off my clothing...(and it would grow to 6-7 inches in length!!) now, what little is left, is barely 2 inches long...and half white...(if it had only done so 30 years ago, it would have saved me a great deal of embarrassment!!). My son informs me that the men his age do "MANscaping", because, he says, "if you mow the lawn, the tree looks bigger!" Well, ok...if genetics is true, he won't be MANscaping in 25 years...

Age 56, slowly all leg, arm and armpit hair is gone. Eyebrows/lashes and pubic hair sparse. Do have lots of head hair.

What does this mean?

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