Beauty Costs: Pain is the price of looking beautiful

One of the worst things about my transition is that I can’t take HRT.  I tried for a while but had to stop.  I ended up on heart medication for eight months (valsartan), but I’m fine now.

One of the positive effects of estrogen or other female HRT is loss of body hair, something I was aiming for.  Yes, yes, yes, I know that people should accept transgender women as we are, even with body and facial hair.  I don’t wax to live up to others’ beauty expectations, I’m doing this for myself, TYVM.

On Saturday, I went to a salon for my bimonthly waxing session.  I asked for the full body as per usual, but this time I booked waxing of the face and neck.  Yes, I had my facial hair waxed.

Painful does not even begin to describe it. This was, without argument, the second most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced.  Only my experience with bulging discs in the spine hurt more.

Forget Steve Carrell in “the 40 year old virgin”, he’s a wimp.  This was worse than dental pain, worse than my broken collarbone (from a hit and run in South Korea, circa 2004).  Not even (excuse me for the TMI moment) the most painful BDSM session I’ve played in nor my tattoos compared to this.  It came with eyes watering, openly crying, gasping for air, becoming dizzy at one point, sweating more than I do on airplanes (I’m a white knuckle flyer), and forcing my self not to run for the door.

On the bright side, now that it’s done (and once the bruising goes away), I can wear makeup without needing orange coverup to hide the hair or caked on foundation to hide the coverup.  That was the goal, after all.

I also know from experience that the more you wax the same area, the weaker the hair grows and tolerance for pain increases.  I used to gasp when my chest and stomach hair were done; now it’s like my back and legs, I barely notice it anymore.


  1. says

    Painful does not even begin to describe it.

    I can’t imagine.

    One time I had a longish nose-hair and it had gone white and was glowing like something so I grabbed it with tweezers and ripped it out. That was one facial hair and I was dripping tears and snivelling. You waxed your face? Damn, that’s hardcore. But you gotta do what you gotta do, so congratulations!

    • says

      Some people get waxing for the nostrils. A stick with warm softened wax goes in, then when it cools and hardens, it’s pulled out.

      Waxing is always done quickly. Pulling a single hair out slowly and extending the skin will hurt like mad, but if you grab and rip quickly, nowhere near as much.

  2. says

    Reading this blog post, I couldn’t stop wondering why women even do this. Before I decided to live as a man, I refused to endure pain for the sake of beauty on principle. I refused to wax my legs, I never even learned to walk on heels. I never understood women who did this to themselves.

    But look at me now, I’m wearing a binder and flattening my chest even though it’s uncomfortable (not really painful, but definitely uncomfortable). And if I had the cash, I’d also get the top surgery (where I live neither the state nor the insurance cover any of the medical expenses for trans people). So yeah, I’m finally starting to understand why people choose to endure pain for the sake of looking in some specific way. The idea of enduring pain for the sake of looking more feminine seemed repulsive for me, but doing the same for looking more masculine makes perfect sense. In past it was the society who demanded me to look feminine, hence the idea of waxing my legs seemed so disgusting for me, it was never something I wanted for my own sake. Nowadays it’s no longer about how the society wants me to look, instead it’s about how I want to look.

    I figured out that I want to live as a man only when I was already 23. Before then body hair was a huge pain for me. I simultaneously wanted to just stay hairy and struggled with all that social pressure telling me that I must remove body hair. Thus I mostly just wore pants year round and shaved my legs only on those rare occasions when I was forced to wear a dress. I wrote about that here — I’m glad that this period of my life is over, nowadays I’m happy to be hairy.

    Anyway, it’s great that you are now doing what you want in order to look the way you want. Good luck.

  3. says

    I just added a small pic of my chin from Saturday. The skin looks rough, but the bruises hadn’t developed yet.

    But the worst part? The pimples. The body is reacting to all those damaged pores, so I’m constantly washing and scraping to keep them from building up.

  4. Allison says

    I’ve been getting electrolysis on my facial hair. One hour a week for four years now, and I figure I have at least 2 more to go.

    It does hurt, even though I use an anaesthetic cream. I feel it when she sticks the needle in, I feel it when she’s burning out the follicle, and I feel it when she yanks the hair out. But after she has been working on an area for a while, it doesn’t hurt quite so bad, partly because I get used to it, but partly because after a while they’re mostly new hairs which don’t hurt so much to yank out.

    The good thing is that it’s permanent. Once it’s done, it’s done (except for the odd hair that’s been dormant for years and then wakes up.)

    After each session, I put paper towels soaked in witch hazel on my face for a while, and once it stops hurting, I put on some lotion with aloe.