The Hairy Boundaries of My Womanhood

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    Textual content by Donna Marcus

    Casting: Biogal_ @biogal_

    Typically a website of competition, female facial hair is put below an immense quantity of scrutiny by the male gaze, for each cis and trans femmes alike. To attain ‘correct’ womanhood, one should maintain their lips, cheeks and chins as easy as comfortable butter, and so we should undergo every day rituals to maintain our hair away, from shaving and plucking, to laser hair elimination and waxing. As we buckle below the strain of the societal requirements of males, we pressure our our bodies to form into their moulds of need.

    In fact for some this may conversely be empowering, with the elimination of hair comparable to the concord between physique and id. However what if there was one other means? A bushy womanhood accessible to us all? Historical past has seen quite a lot of ladies, particularly ladies of color, create this area over time: from Hatshepsut the total bearded historical Pharaoh queen of Egypt, to dyke actions and ladies with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). Following this lineage comes the trans ladies and non-binary femmes who’re discovering new methods to precise their genders by facial hair.

    As a non-binary femme with facial hair myself, I recognise that everybody has their very own relationship to their physique and their gender. For me, my facial hair is a bodily useful resource that I can minimize, snip and mildew to assist form the route of my id. And so, the whiskers on the aspect of my lips grow to be a private reminder of the management and autonomy I’ve over my physique when gender norms make me really feel in any other case. There may be additionally one thing indeterminately sassy about the way in which they flick, and I get pleasure from twiddling them once I’m considering, as I’m proper now.

    On a joyful sunlit day in spring, an all trans crew, together with stylist Eddie Langham, artist and florist Puer Deorum, photographer Ivie Bartlett and make-up artist Umber Ghauri, got here collectively to work with photographer Antonio Perricone and a gaggle of gorgeous fashions to reimagine femme facial hair inside a world impressed by historic depictions of arcadia and femininity in portray. I spoke to those fashions, my fellow fuzzy trans ladies and non-binary femmes, to listen to about their very own complicated relationships with facial hair:

    How does your facial hair have an effect on the way you exist on the planet?

    Sundi: As a non-binary femme, it is essential to state that gender is deeply private, and so is the way in which we talk it to the skin world. The very fact facial hair exists on me similtaneously me being extra female presenting helps talk the non-binary nature of my femininity. It paints a clearer image of my very own gender. It is a very fascinating a part of the fem-mosaic that constructs my id.

    Tom: In honesty, there’s additionally a component of security to having facial hair. That is in fact a falsity in fact, as I’m typically in unsafe conditions and my facial hair sadly would not work as a protect in opposition to fists within the face — one thing I’ve discovered in actuality a number of instances. However in moments the place I wish to, it permits me to vanish: to dissolve into the anticipated, even when my gender internally is so willfully and wildly sudden.

    BioGal_: As face masks have grow to be a necessity, I’ve seen that having a moustache offers me the selection of how you can navigate the world — do I wish to be radical or do I wish to be safeish? (I say ‘ish’ as a result of actually the streets are by no means secure for girls). When overlaying my moustache, I expertise safety from the notion of passing however take care of the hazards of catcalling. After I select to not cowl up, I sign to the world my radical place on gender and resistance to the male gaze. It tells straight cis males that I’m not an object of their need and refuse their fetishisation, however this all comes on the danger of transphobic abuse.

    Pedro: Fairly just lately, just a few individuals at my office had been confused by my presentation and couldn’t match me into a particular class. I don’t usually have an issue with this, however two hours into my shift I began to really feel very insecure about my bodily look. Regardless that I used to be sporting a masks, I felt the intense want to instantly shave my facial hair to current as extra femme, so when the subsequent particular person walked in I would not need to face one other awkward second. I do not even know this was a dysphoric episode, however who is aware of, gender is all the time extra complicated than one thinks.

    Radam: Facial hair has been many issues to me. A security blanket, a mortal enemy, a holy revelation. As I proceed to discover my gender expression, naturally how I really feel in regards to the little hairs that develop on my face shifts additionally. Right this moment, I discover energy in my moustache. Tomorrow, it might imply one thing solely totally different, and that’s okay. I’m typically in a battle with the strands of hair on my physique. Typically I understand them as an extension of my deepest self. Different instances they’re enemies to be plucked, shaved, ripped out of me. In my present manifestation of self, I’m having fun with reclaiming part of my physique that has all the time been used in opposition to us – to implement a false gender binary.

    Bolly: My facial hair helps me navigate my work as a drag performer. I like that it confuses cis-straight individuals, as they solely see drag as a person dressing up as a girl. In actuality, drag is a lot greater than that. Just lately, I went clear shaven for a drag efficiency — which I cherished — however I realised {that a} beard on a queen makes an much more impression for it  helps present that I’m a gender non-conforming soul. Nobody can take that away from me.

    How does facial hair enable you have interaction with masculinity and femininity?

    Sundi: The truth that facial hair fits my face while I current in a extra female means makes me be ok with embracing the few masculine elements of myself. Having a beard and moustache permits me to take possession of the consequences testosterone has on my physique. It’s actually helped me really feel accountable for gender id.

    BioGal_: Though common shaving is a dysphoric expertise for me, revealing my moustache and face every time I do is so relieving. Now, I shave off the inside elements of my moustache and brows to curate my face form and create traces that make my femininity really feel commanding. The tending strategy of rising and modifying jogs my memory that my womanhood shouldn’t be a vacation spot however a lifelong dedication to private expression outdoors the binary.

    Bolly: I’m naturally a female, flamboyant, fabulous human, however being non-binary, my facial hair helps me specific my masculine vitality. It helps individuals know that I even have a masculine aspect to my fem vitality, particularly within the South Asian neighborhood. Hair holds lots of energy, and for me, the expansion and the thickness reveals the world how sturdy I’m. I am not afraid to embrace hair on my physique and to fall outdoors society norms. My facial hair helps me break that.

    Tom: I’ve actually come to think about being non-binary as unfixed, versus mounted within the centre between female and male, which was maybe my preliminary and naive creativeness of it, of myself. In drag, my facial hair permits me to inhabit one thing that is not mounted – I do not grow to be lady, nor feminine impersonator, for that is not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for to ask questions of my very own gender and presentation. A part of me, I feel, enjoys complicating the anticipated aesthetic of ‘drag queen’, or ‘non-binary femme’.

    Pedro: My facial hair is only one of many parts that belongs and completes “Pedro” as a complete. I do not see it related to something, it simply grows like a pimple would. Like a pores and skin mark, like a nail, like a lash. So within the phrases of Kate Bornstein, “it is extra possible an unlucky metaphor that conveniently  conforms to cultural expectations, quite than an sincere reflection of our transgender emotions.” Having a fluid id, I can see myself as who I’m, with or with out facial hair, and there’s safety in realizing it would not outline my masculinity nor my femininity: gender goes past facial and physique hair.

    Radam: We’re advised that so as to specific femininity, we should be hairless, completely easy. Nevertheless, I’m on a journey to unlearn these restrictive guidelines and misguided messages. Hair has no gender, and our particular person expression of gender is just ours to say. Irrespective of how I current (facial hair or not), I’m what I select to be – an instance of female magnificence. I hope to succeed in a degree the place I can separate the inner and exterior notion of superficial options comparable to facial hair and uncover what I really get pleasure from about myself. Till then, I’ll search power in realizing it should be solely me who will get to determine what to do with my physique.

    How does your relationship together with your facial hair intersect with different elements of your id?

    Tom: As a fats particular person, it has allowed me to work out how I am snug framing and shaping my face. I feel it makes my jawline look good. I feel it makes me really feel sturdy. I feel, very like an outrageous accent with rather less glitz, it makes me really feel embellished. I typically rub my fingers throughout it like a clever thinker — actually it simply feels pretty.

    BioGal_: My moustache deeply connects me to my Dyke id and genderqueer womanhood. It indicators to different dykes, who in my expertise are extremely trans-inclusive, that I’m one in every of them. I really began rising my moustache on the similar time my trans masculine girlfriend grew his. While they had been exploring their masculinity I used to be exploring the bushy boundaries of my womanhood. So in a means my hair connects me to him and my gratitude for that symbiotic journey we took collectively.

    Radam: As somebody from South East Asian origins, facial hair has confirmed much more sophisticated. The damaging stereotypes unfairly attributed to brown individuals with facial hair have impacted how I view myself. After I don facial hair, I’m labelled a terrorist, detained on the airport, and customarily thought of a menace in public areas. This concern of being recognised as harmful mixed with the concern of being attacked due to my trans femininity has saved me from doing a complete lot of issues in my life. However I refuse to let concern forestall me from being my genuine self a minute longer.


    Photographer: Antonio Perricone (He/Him) @antonioperricone

    Producer and Author: Donna Marcus (They/Them) @donna.the.first

    Stylist: Eddie Langham (They/Them) @fashion_enema

    Assistant Stylist and Floristry: Puer Deorum (They/Them) @puer_deorum

    Make Up, Hair and Nails: Umber Ghauri (They/Them) @umberghauri

    Manufacturing Assistant: Tilly Kaye (She/Her) @tillysaysokaye

    Images Assistant: Ivie Bartlett (They/Them) @iviebartlett

    Fashions: Biogal (she/they) @biogal_, Bolly Phantasm (they/he) @bolly_illusion, Tom Rasmussen (they/them) @tomglitter, Miss Sundi (she/they),  Miz Vaseline (he/they/she) @mizvaseline, Radam Ridwan (they/them) @radamridwan


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