Bearded Ladies and Whiskerinas: Empowerment through Facial Hair

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Most girls go gaga for a good beard. The longer, and bushier the better. Hey – I even admit that most of my Tinder swipe lefts are of the furry faced persuasion. Guys love having them, because they can hide behind them (or hide stuff in them). Ron Burgundy and Tom Selleck give a great mustached face, but there is something less pervy uncle and more burly lumberjack about a well groomed beard. Men gain instant sex appeal and credibility once the whiskers and 5’o clock shadows become a full blown beard. But, only the scruffiest manliest men have beards, right? Wrong. Most hipsters, who can grow them, have them these days – along with tattoos and the coolest bicycles. It’s practically a right of passage. Another group of even less manlier men are rocking beards these days – WOMEN!

Bearded ladies have been sideshow attractions in freakshows for years, such as the infamous Josephine Clofullia, Jane Barnell, and Annie Jones of the early 19th century circus circuit. Women who grow natural facial hair often suffer from a hormonal imbalance, usually an androgen excess, poly cystic ovarian syndrome, or a rare genetic disorder called hypertrichosis. Many women are saying fuck electrolysis and waxing, and are now embracing their real beards – face beards and bearded clams alike! By doing this, they challenge beauty standards and societal expectations of what a proper woman should look like. I remember reading about a girl who had a beard by age 11. She was tormented by her peers and even had death threats. She eventually embraced her body hair, and couldn’t be happier, feeling more feminine with it! She will find love because she loves herself. Follow this link to read the full inspirational story of Harnaam Kaur, a young woman who embraces her facial hair.

Then there are the fakers. We wear our whiskers proud, and support charities and women’s rights by becoming beardos. A whiskerina is a female who wears a faux beard. Fake beards are usually crazy and handcrafted monstrosities, made of everything from real human hair or yarn, to moss and flowers or even rubber snakes. Whiskerina competitions started, so that women can have their own voice in the beard competition world, and not just be a side attraction in the male beard world. Watch the story of the First Annual Whiskerina Competition for Breast Cancer Awareness – it’s awesome.

On stage I have done drag for years, and iconic facial hair is a must. I often sport a moustache and 5’oclock shadow, which looks like everybody’s dad. Some other styles I have rocked are the strap on beard (fake hair molded like a beard with a convenient strap that goes around your head that I used for Boobs Ross, my Bob Ross burlesque skit), the sunglasses with dangling mustache, the pencil on (used for the Walter Sobchek chin strap in The Big Lezbowski show I was in), and the most effectively real looking mustache and crepe hair glued to the face with spirit gum. I was even in a music video with my burlesque troupe, The Stripteasers, dedicated to women with moustaches! Check it out here:

I will be competing in an annual beard competition on St. Patrick’s Day at the Essex St Pub in Buffalo, NY. Last year, my friend Melissa Campbell and I arrived at the competition – faces full of fur – and we looked damn fine. We caused a stir just by being there, people didn’t quite know how to handle us. It felt wonderfully empowering. The “real” beards were all very supportive, and gave us great beard stories and advice. It felt like we were allowed into a secret society. Neither of us won, but we were inspired. Because of that fateful day, I now know a little bit more about being a true whiskerina. So, GAME ON BOYS! This year I predict a win for all womankind.

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