Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.
At 13, Rose Geil noticed something that most girls her age wouldn’t: she was growing facial hair, as well as hair on her chest and on other areas of her body.
Naturally, she became self-conscious. She started a strict shaving regimen, waking up early before school to remove any trace of facial hair. Not even her closest friends knew about it and she would avoid things like sleepovers, lest someone spot her stubble in the morning.
This went on for years, with Rose undergoing painful laser hair removal procedures, which were ineffective, and wore long pants and sleeves, even in the warm weather to hide her body hair. She was miserable.
But she was hardly alone. So many people, especially women, feel that they have to look a certain way in order to be accepted. This can lead to depression, eating disorders, and other unhealthy behaviors.
Although she hasn’t been officially diagnosed, Geil suspects that her thick body hair stems from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which sees elevated levels of male hormones in women and can result in hirsutism, or excess facial and body hair.
She tried laser hair removal, hormone treatments, and countless razors, but nothing seemed to work. And nothing made her feel better either.
“My friends did not know,” she said. “I hid it very well. It was exhausting trying to keep it hidden.”