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Eulogy for a Stray Dark Hair: The Coarse Whisker of Defiance

That single stray hair.

You know the one I’m talking about. Every woman has one. The long, coarse hair that springs from your chin, forehead or cheek overnight. I’ve heard so many names for this errant whisker: spider leg, mother-in-law hair, witch hair, kitty whisker, or facetiously, the beard. It is the harbinger of changes and a tangible signpost of age.

If you don’t have one yet … you will. It may show up during puberty, pregnancy, or if you are really lucky, during menopause. This is an homage to my bitter rival, the long strand of hair that grows dark and wild from the lovely peach fuzz of my face.


You are the James Dean of hairs.

Among the other well-behaved follicles, you are a rebel, protesting assimilation and conformity. Unlike your peers you defiantly grow past the normal stopping point, recklessly damaging the pristine landscape of my face. I detest you for your obstinacy.

You boldly demand attention and respect.

I seek you out like Herod searched for baby Jesus. I know you will arrive and when you do, I delightfully pluck you out, reveling in my shortsighted victory. You always return, despite my resolute attempt at extermination.  

You are the equalizer.

No one can escape the imperfection you bring. You belong to us all. Every woman rails against you, no matter her beauty, occupation, or the size of her bank account. Millions of women around the world stand before mirrors contorting their faces, desperately wielding tweezers in a unified front against your invasion. 

You are a magician.

You materialize out of thin air. How do you hide your arrogant form so meticulously? How do you suddenly appear three inches long and blowing in the breeze? Were you here on my date night? Did my husband touch you as he reached to kiss my face? Are you the reason my boss couldn’t look me in the eye yesterday? It is horrific to consider how many people saw you and were too nervous to call attention to your vulgarity.

You shout my ancestry to the world.

My brother could grow a full beard at 17. I don’t know my exact lineage, but it is clear that someone in my past was very hairy.  What ethnicity am I? Can I avoid the spit test and determine that I am Norse or Slavic or Italian based solely on your thickness and curl?

You are my frienemy.

I know you. We are more than acquaintances because I can’t get rid of you and you keep showing up at regular intervals. I have accepted your existence and know that we must travel this earth together until the day I die. I plead with you to shrivel up and never return. You sabotage my self-confidence with your constant need for attention.

You are a force to be reckoned with.

As the years’ march by, you have enlisted other follicles to your cause. You rally a troupe of hairs to rail against the indignity of existence. You are Mulan, singing “I’ll make a man out of you!” You are Hercules promising that you “can go the distance.” How can I fight against my fate?

You will inevitably win.

I will be an old woman standing over a simmering pot with an array of wild hairs jutting awkwardly from my chin. Perhaps I’ll throw in a cackle now and then for good measure.

Goodbye, Beard.

Goodbye, long dark whisker.

Goodbye, until we inevitably meet again…


My weapons against the monstrous stray hair.

And for the love of all that is holy, please, please, please tell me if I miss that little devil. I promise I will thank you. It’s the sisterly thing to do.

P.S. – It is completely normal to have an occasional whisker due to hormone fluctuations or ethnicity.  But if you have a large number of them appear where you did not have them previously, you should mention this to your doctor.

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