Dude, where’s my hair?

I’m a little late to this discussion, but it’s been playing on my mind, so felt I should write about it.

Some of you may have seen Veet’s new Dudeness ad campaign, if you haven’ t then the basic theme is that woman wakes up hairy due to not removing hair, cue boyfriend/random strangers being horrified by the fact she has now transformed into a hairy man. I obviously have issues with it, like a lot of people, this article is a good summary. But I have issues beyond those.Amongst my many body quirks I suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), the main features of which are multiple cysts on the ovaries, not always releasing an egg every month, and an imbalance of hormones – specifically higher levels of androgens (male hormones).

The symptoms are irregular periods/no periods, difficulty conceiving, weight gain, thinning hair/hair loss, oily skin/acne and hirsutism (excess body hair). So a real desirable bunch of symptoms there, especially if you set them against the standards women are held to.

For PCOS sufferers not only do our bodies struggle to do the most basic of female functions (ovulation/menstruation), but we also have our bodies working directly against the majority of today’s beauty standards for women. One of these in particular Veet has now made clear makes us more of a “dude”.

Here’s the thing, I can take or leave having hair free genitals. Though I personally find I’m more sensitive hair free, I don’t feel I have to be.

I can take or leave leg hair. Again my preference is for hair free due to the feel of it, and I feel a little bit of pressure to be seen as hair free, but can ignore it.

Same goes for armpit hair.

But facial hair? I just cannot leave the hair there, I cannot bear the thought of people’s reactions to it. I have the inner confidence to defy societies expectations for my legs, my armpits and my genitals, but my face? Hell no. To the point where I find hair growth there quite upsetting. And what I find most upsetting is that it compounds the feelings I already have, due to the PCOS, that I am less of a woman. My body doesn’t ovulate or menstruate like it should, and to rub salt in the wound I look like less of a woman by societies standards.

So when I heard about the Veet commercials I wasn’t just annoyed at the principal behind it, I was hurt because it felt very personal.

I have little control over the hair on my face, I shave it constantly, but risk ingrowing hairs, cuts and stubble rash. Waxing means letting it grow out enough for the wax to grab the hair. Pretty much all other options are well out of my price range. I shave more often than my husband.

Some people might be reading this and thinking that PCOS doesn’t affect enough people that Veet should have to care about our feelings, but in actual fact it affect 5-10% of the female UK population. Not all with have the hirsutism, but I imagine there are more of us than you’d think. Because I imagine that most, like me, will do everything they can to hide it.

Thing is, removing this one ad campaign (as they’ve now agreed to do in a spectacular non-apology) won’t make it any easier for us to live with the hair, because society still views us as circus freaks – the bearded ladies.

So no Veet, I don’t get your sense of humour. The butt of the joke never does.


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