A topic to sweep under the rug?
March 13, 2010 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Pretty serious taboo here - girlfriend hair, and bringing up certain subjects.

My girlfriend has great hair, and a lot of it. This extends in that she has more hair than is typical on her arms, and shaving her legs doesn't last more than a few days. But, it also means that she has quite a bit of moderately dark hair on her upper lip. While I really think that she's really, really beautiful, and know that completely, sometimes I feel like this hair is kind of noticable, and in certain light, it looks... a little offputting.

I know that the most obvious thing to do is to love my girlfriend and see that she's beautiful including this, and I'm going to stick to that plan. But, is this area so taboo that it should never be brought up? Are there ways that people bring this up? How do women feel about this kind of thing? I'm obviously not trying to be a jerk, but honestly it can occasionally look funky in a not-great kind of way.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (73 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If it bothers her, she will take care of it. If it doesn't bother her, don't ever, ever bring it up. Honestly don't. I can't think of any way that bringing it up would be good for your relationship.
posted by pecknpah at 5:45 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't mention it. Not to her, not to your mom, not to a total stranger sitting beside you at a bar.

Also, if she asks? You never noticed it.
posted by bilabial at 5:46 PM on March 13, 2010 [24 favorites]

This should be coming from her girl-friends - not from the man who thinks she's the most beautiful, flawless thing in the whole world. It's usually okay for girl friends to point out this kind of thing to each other because their relationship is not based on attraction but more like mutual aid.
posted by amethysts at 5:50 PM on March 13, 2010 [14 favorites]

What's the point of being with someone if they don't tell you that you have a mustache?! If she's self-conscious about her hairiness, you have to tell her. It's not the end of the world- it can be easily fixed by tweezing, waxing, or using a depilatory cream.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:51 PM on March 13, 2010 [10 favorites]

I should rewrite my answer to be gender-neutral in case you're both female. This should be coming from her close, platonic friends - not from the person who thinks she's the most beautiful person in the whole world. It's usually okay for platonic close friends to to point out this kind of thing because their relationship is not based on attraction but more like mutual aid.
posted by amethysts at 5:53 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

One final thing, shaving in the shower using her regular old ladies' razor and face-wash is quick, easy, painless, and effective. Not that I would know or anything.
posted by amethysts at 5:55 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

My husband will actually tell me, in a very nice way, that it might be time to depilate my upper lip. And I'm grateful because sometimes I might not have noticed or whatever so I appreciate the heads up. I mean, if my own partner can't let me know I have a mustache, then who will? But if you think this will crush her or horribly embarrass her, then I guess you should keep it to yourself.

I know he finds me beautiful, but both of us know I'm not flawless. And I don't expect him to think that, either. You know your gf better than any of us, but maybe she is not quite that fragile.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 5:56 PM on March 13, 2010 [8 favorites]

Don't do this. It's not for you to decide what's attractive in her or not, no matter what. I would be so upset if my partner told me something I was in all likelihood already sensitive about was grossing her out.
posted by smoke at 5:59 PM on March 13, 2010

What's the point of being with someone if they don't tell you that you have a mustache?!

This is my feeling too. Depends on how touchy she is about appearance and what your general relationship is like (eg how long have you been together). But to me, notifying me of this kind of thing -- along with "you have spinach in your teeth", "I'm thinking we might need to get more of that dandruff shampoo", "that shirt is more see-thru than you want" etc -- is one of the jobs of a longterm partner.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:01 PM on March 13, 2010 [19 favorites]

I would not say it looks "funky" or anything connoting bad. I would just say that in certain light it is "noticeable", just so that she knows, if she wants to do anything about it but that it doesn't bother you.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:03 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Well, this depends on the girlfriend, really, and is pretty relationship specific. But do know I quit a HAIRDRESSER because she told me I needed my upper lip waxed.

(Still don't think I do. Altho I do pluck the chin hairs, being Of A Certain Age.)

Having said that, if it turns into A Great Big Turnoff for you, you may have to risk telling her. But be aware it is a risk.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:04 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Shaving doesn't last more than a few days for anybody, unless you're blonde or Asian. Unless she is really hirsute, not just a brunette vs. a blonde in terms of appearing hairy, then I would leave it alone. If she is hirsute, then the problem might be hormones and she should go see a doctor.
posted by anniecat at 6:04 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have pale blond hair and I notice when the hair above my lip catches the light in a certain, unflattering way. Which is to say: she knows it's there and is choosing not to do anything about it.

I don't think it's absolutely unforgivable to bring it up with her. It depends on your relationship and her sensitivity about body hair. You might try to think about whether she's ever mentioned anything to do with her body hair--joking? embarrassed? anything? I don't know how you'd start this conversation, I'm just saying that it really, really depends on the people involved. I'd be a little embarrassed to know that my husband noticed my facial hair, but not mortified or upset that he said something--other women would be mortified and angry if their partners mentioned it. The safest route is certainly to trust that she's aware of it and leave it to her to decide if/when to do anything about this.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:05 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you decide to bring it up, based on your consideration of your relationship and how she'd handle a gently worded comment, please keep your remarks to the mustache, and not to the body hair. Don't say anything to the affect that the rest of it bothers you, too (unless of course it really does... which is a whole different issue).
posted by purpletangerine at 6:13 PM on March 13, 2010

While I would be mortified if my boyfriend felt I needed to be told I had a mustache, I would be equally mortified if he never said anything and yet was thinking my unacknowledged mustache was "off-putting" each time he looked at me even if he thought I was otherwise beautiful.

So if you can't find a way not to see it every time you look at her face, then I say you go with mortifying option #1 and gently say something knowing you are likely going to embarrass her and hurt her feelings.

And I agree that shaved legs don't stay that way for days. 48 hours before starting to notice the stubble is about it for me.
posted by cecic at 6:18 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are there ways that people bring this up?

"Gee honey, just the way the light is hitting you right now, it looks like you have a bit of a moustache." If she reacts negatively to that, follow up with "Notice that it didn't stop me from falling in love with you."

Yeah, or you could just not say anything at all. She knows she it's there.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:25 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I dated a girl in college that had an issue with body hair - in that, she had an issue with her own body hair. Specifically, it was on her lower back, so that it wasn't exactly noticeable to the general public but was if you saw her without her clothes on.

The first time I noticed it... I played with it. Massaged her back, held her with my hand on her lumbar, etc. The point was that I acknowledged that it was there, but also showed that it had no bearing on my attraction to her.

So there are ways to acknowledge that part of her without making a big deal out of it. In fact, (in experience with other girls that I don't want to go into) the direct route is often the worst - "Hey, did you ever notice your dark upper lip hair?" is not a good way to go about things.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:28 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I guess it all depends on the type of person she is. Can she take some advice? Does comedy enter your lives much [maybe you could use that to bring it up]?

Bottom line is I wouldn't want to be with someone that would allow me to walk out in public dressed terrible, looking terrible, or acting terrible. If you can't be attracted to the person you are with then bring it up. HOWEVER, be open to the fact that you may not be perfect. Do you have thinning hair? Flabby belly? Watch too much M*A*S*H* [as if?]?

An open and fair relationship is the best. So be open, but be ready to be fair.
posted by zombieApoc at 6:32 PM on March 13, 2010

Since when is beauty supposed to be flawless?

Since when is facial hair and its removal NOT the domain of the other person in the relationship?

If you don't respect your partner enough to share this, time to re-evaluate. If you think your partner is going to freak out by being reminded that they aren't perfect, time to re-evaluate.
posted by gjc at 6:32 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't bring it up. She knows it's there, and if it bothers her, she'll get rid of it. Women have all sorts of feelings about their body/facial hair, regardless of where it is--some women shave everything, others (myself included) think that hair's awesome. (Case in point: Fuck Yeah Bearded Ladies over on Tumblr. [No affiliation, I just like it.])

If the hair makes her less attractive to you, I'd argue that's your problem, not hers. If you're at a point where it's a dealbreaker in the relationship, maybe risk bringing it up, but like St. Alia said, it's a risk.
posted by MeghanC at 6:39 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Phew, am I glad I'm single, otherwise I'd be afraid that you were talking about me.

I am super hairy. I was mercilessly teased about arm hair, leg hair, back hair, mustache hair, etc.

Today I keep on top of it with multiple tactics. Obviously barring a fetish, I know that men would rather I had less body hair. But I assume that once a guy is with me, he is attracted to me despite the hair. (I've also learned it's best to date men that are hairier than I.)

I'm assuming that she's not one of these who-cares women's-lib hairy-armpits types of women, otherwise you wouldn't be asking us whether you should say anything.

If a guy I was with ever gave the slightest indication that he noticed my mustache, good-noticed or bad-noticed, I probably would break up with him. Not from being "mad," but from being so mortified that I could never face him and would constantly be thinking at all times that he was disgusted with me, etc etc.

And I hope to God that you haven't mentioned this to any of your or her friends. Because on the 1% chance that it got back to her through one of them...oh my God.

If it has no bearing on your attraction to her or love for her, why bring it up? Why risk making her want to crawl under a rock and die? Would you say to her "You know, darling, I love you and think you are the sexiest creature on earth, but sometimes your love handles are a little off-putting in certain shirts, and you'd be even sexier if you did a handful of crunches every morning." No, right? Because you love her and find her sexy the end, and it's not for you to pick and choose little improvements she could make for you. Yes, a mustache is absolutely a small thing and would be only slightly painful/uncomfortable/costly/time-consuming to deal with. But if it doesn't matter like you say it doesn't, I advise that you take it to your grave.
posted by thebazilist at 6:46 PM on March 13, 2010 [9 favorites]

She knows it's there, and if it bothers her, she'll get rid of it.

Well, maybe not. Making plans to get rid of it means facing it and figuring out what to do about it (egads who do you ask if you don't have AskMe) and this is all terribly embarrassing if you're not of a family or ethnicity where the upper-lip-bleaching/waxing is an acknowledged thing.

But yeah, this is a tip that needs to be suggested by a girlfriend or hairdresser, not a SO.

(Once married, I think that a little good-natured acknowledgement of such flaws is cute rather than humiliating.)
posted by desuetude at 6:49 PM on March 13, 2010

And I also want to say that this is not an area where my ability to laugh at myself would come into play. For me the facial/body hair gets into the territory of my femininity and womanliness and attractiveness at the deepest level. Do people in "open and honest" relationships tell their boyfriends that they love them to death but gosh, if only their penises were bigger? This would just be absolutely taboo and off limits for me.
posted by thebazilist at 6:50 PM on March 13, 2010 [17 favorites]

Buy her a spa day.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:20 PM on March 13, 2010 [15 favorites]

The other thing to keep in mind is that if she decides to do something about it, then she has a maintenance program to keep up. So, if it's only noticeable in a certain light, it's very much a threshold thing - it may be something where she's already noticed it and been like, "yeah, that doesn't look great, but mostly it looks okay and I'm willing to put up with that to avoid the hassle of changing it".
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:22 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I sympathize with you. I don't think that how you feel is jerky. And personally, on the one hand, I'd really want to know if something easily changeable about my appearance was turning my boyfriend off. But yet on the other hand, like a lot of people have already said-- it's not so much that it's a taboo per se, it's more just that I'd be kind of embarrassed/hurt that he he had been looking at this thing about me and getting grossed out by it. Maybe it's not always realistic to ask for, but I think deep down, those of us who feel this way just want to be blindly desired by the guys in our lives.

So if your girlfriend is one of those people who is really sensitive about being unattractive to you ... I can't think of a way to bring it up directly. The only possible solution I can come up with is to give her a gift certificate to a spa that does a lot of facials/waxing/other face stuff- if you can do that without it coming off as a hint. And if she does go and ends up getting the hair waxed, you could just let her know you think she looks great (in general).
posted by Ashley801 at 7:24 PM on March 13, 2010

I am also a hirsute kind of woman, and I notice it in other women. I am always interested to see the various choices they've made about it: shaving, not-shaving, bleaching, doing some other mysterious thing that makes it impossible to see.

I can tell you this: the few times in my life when someone has said something directly to me about my moustache have been extremely mortifying. Unless your girlfriend is much tougher-skinned than me (which is possible), I would say absolutely do not say anything to her.

Another personal anecdote in favor of not saying anything: for the longest time I never realized I had just a few longish hairs on my cheeks in front of my ears. I spent most of my adult life oblivious to them, had many lovers, etc. This state of complete unself-consciousness was bliss. And then somebody giving me a haircut just very casually trimmed them as she was working on me, and my Edenic bliss was shattered. If there is any chance that your girlfriend is blissfully unself-conscious about the apparently modest amount of upper-lip hair she has, please don't wreck that for her.
posted by not that girl at 7:30 PM on March 13, 2010 [10 favorites]

Do people in "open and honest" relationships tell their boyfriends that they love them to death but gosh, if only their penises were bigger?

Dick surgery is a substantially less certain and less convenient process than hair removal.

OP, I don't think this is a big deal either way: only you know your SO, so only you can predict her reaction.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:34 PM on March 13, 2010

is this area so taboo that it should never be brought up?

I am a Greek woman. I believe I speak for my hirsute sisters when I say OH GOD NO KEEP QUIET.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:40 PM on March 13, 2010 [7 favorites]

I came in to say what BitterOldPunk did.

I've had "extra" hair for most of my life, so I'm used to it and don't really notice it. It wasn't until I got a gift cert for a spa day and the esthetician asked me if I wanted my lip waxed that I realized that other people noticed it.
posted by dogmom at 7:44 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Unless you JUST started dating, tell her. Frakin' nag her about it. Tell her to shave that gross stuff off her face. On account of you hate it and it makes her less attractive to you, which should rank pretty high if she cared about such things.

For chrissakes, my GF does the same to me when I make my semi-annual "can I grow a goatee that looks good?" experiment. (So far, nope.) I don't resent it per se, I just hate when she's right so early on. Also, often. Then I shave, after holding out for like a week or so to maintain face (heh.)

So, yeah, depends upon your relationship. If you're not to the point where you can do that, don't. But then do you want to remain there? And how will you know if you've advanced to the 'honestly, that's not working' plateau? (It's all about achievement points.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:48 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you notice it, then, of couse she knows about it, too.

She's either ok with it, or she's not - but she isn't removing it, and that seems to be her way of dealing with her hair. Sorry.

A person can alter themselves for themselves, yes. But for another person? Why should they?

I knew a woman years ago who had a mustache. I mean a real mustache. And her husband seemed like a happy guy. It's about finding the right person. Not changing someone to fit what you "want".
posted by marimeko at 8:17 PM on March 13, 2010

when I make my semi-annual "can I grow a goatee that looks good?" experiment

It's really not the same thing. Whether or not you can grow a goatee that looks good is much more akin to choosing from several appropriate hairstyles. A noticeable quantity of dark upper lip hair for women is not a mainstream choice, to say the least.
posted by desuetude at 8:17 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

Think of it this way: imagine that the two of you each get one coupon for giving free advice. You're going to cash yours in to bring the mustache to her attention. (Rest assured she is already aware of her mustache.)

She will cash in her coupon to talk about that problem that you know about but are hoping she hasn't noticed and it would mortify you if she mentioned it aloud. You know, that thing you're really self-conscious about, and you're kind of hoping she hasn't noticed, but you totally know she has, because honestly how could she not?

If you're okay with that trade, then by all means, forge ahead!
posted by ErikaB at 8:18 PM on March 13, 2010 [9 favorites]

You have to weigh two things - how big of a deal is this moustache existing, and how big of a deal is removing it to your GF.

For example, if she tweezes her eyebrows and plucks hairs off her chin already, she might appreciate knowing if (and only if) her moustache is visible enough that it's bothering you / noticeable to acquaintances.

But if her daily routine consists of washing her face and running a comb through her hair, that's not just a lot of extra work but a lot of extra self-consciousness for someone who might be feeling pretty good about herself. So you shouldn't tell her unless it's at the point that you think strangers are going to make snide comments about the "bearded lady", or it's impacting your relationship.

If it's more like, only people who spend a lot of time with her studying her face are going to notice, and it doesn't impact your view of her attractiveness, then why bother?

(Also, Nthing that shaving only lasts a few days.)

I guess the analogy-adjustment I'm going for is, people are saying "I wouldn't want to be with anyone who would let me go out looking terrible", but for me, I wouldn't want to be with anyone who would consider that I "look terrible" just because I'm not all made-up and perfect.
posted by Lady Li at 8:18 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Unless she's blind, she knows she has facial and excessive body hair. And she is either a) completely at ease with her body and doesn't care or b) she obsesses over it constantly. Unless she brings it up, you do not ever mention it. If it bothers you so much that it comes between you and your attraction to her, then that's your issue. If it's an issue now, I have to assume that it will continue to be an issue for you.

This advice is coming from a girl who is, and has been from a young age, more hirsute than most girls. There are many reasons why a girl might have more noticeable, quickly growing hair. I have a congenital endocrine condition, and my hirsuitism is a symptom of that. Ever since elementary school, I have tried many different products and methods of hair removal all over my body with very very unsatisfactory results (Basically, I have to shave every single day.. that's the only thing that has been effective, but it makes me look extra awful, I'm sure). Maybe she has, too. College was especially tough because I was, of course, living on campus, and I would have to take care of my facial hair every day, I'd be stubbly by the end of the day, and my sensitive skin suffered from the amount of effort I put into it and the amount of make-up I wore to (attempt!) to offset the appearance. And I know people could still see the hair. Just being in normal social situations was tough, let alone considering an actual relationship with someone who would accept you for who are (the good and the bad). The last thing I ever would have wanted would have been someone pointing it out, especially someone that I trusted. I would have been devastated, mortified, crushed.. and I'm so sensitive about the issue that, if a (hypothetical) boyfriend mentioned it to me as a possible issue, the relationship would be over immediately. I don't know your girlfriend, I don't know what she's had to deal with, and I don't know how she would respond to your comments. Maybe she'd be completely okay with you talking to her about it, but.. this is just my input.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:31 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

You know, Frida Kahlo was so pretty and exotic-looking with her faint little mustache, and she made it into her trademark. Maybe you can learn to like it as an endearing little quirk of hers?

As for whether or not this is something it'd be ok to bring up, I think it would be a rare woman who would be ok with hearing this from a man. Having hair in places females don't normally have hair can make a woman feel unfeminine, unconfident and embarrassed.

And getting rid of it isn't always as easy as you'd think. Shaving leaves stubble, waxed hair needs to grow back in a little before it can be waxed again, depilatories can be very harsh on delicate skin, and even if a woman can afford laser it doesn't work on all hair and skin types. So even gently nudging her to "maybe get this taken care of" may put her on the oh-so-fun hair removal merry-go-round where nothing she tries works quite right and she's always worried about noticeable stubble and/or skin irritation.

As not that girl said above, if she's blissfully ignorant of this "flaw" it'd be awfully sweet of you to keep it to yourself and concentrate your attention on the things about her you do like.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:32 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

And as far as the "I wouldn't want to be with anyone who would let me go out looking terrible" mentality, to me, that only applies to things like having a bunch of toilet paper stuck to my shoe or having a lot of spinach stuck in my teeth. Or maybe bad breath or body odor.

Unless one would ask for your honest opinion on some aspect of their appearance, that doesn't apply to things like facial hair or weight. Once again, unless you've been unable to see yourself in a mirror for a significant amount of time, a person is usually aware of things like that and they don't usually need to be mentioned. This is just my opinion, of course.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:41 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

So, you dig most of the rest of her enough to be with her, but there's this one thing that's sub-optimal that you're focusing your energy on, and wondering if you should do something about it?

You've got high-class problems, my friend.

So, lemme ask you: what are the things about you that bother her, that she hasn't mentioned to you?

posted by armoir from antproof case at 8:45 PM on March 13, 2010

This, I think, is the kind of question that can only be answered by reflecting very carefully about your girlfriend's general approach to her appearance. I'm a woman who loves her hair, especially my armpit hair, which you couldn't pay me to shave. I have never plucked my eyebrows, and never would. If you were my boyfriend and this came up, I would honestly be pretty angry. Angry for a few reasons- one, that you had assumed that I did not know my own body well enough to notice my upper lip hair, and two, that you assumed that if I DID know about this, I had made the "wrong" decision not to pluck. I say this not to be judgey at ALL, promise, but to give you one perspective among many of how I would react to something like this. Other women who have different approaches to things like body hair, etc. would probably react differently.
posted by Polyhymnia at 8:47 PM on March 13, 2010 [5 favorites]

I would absolutely want to know.
posted by smalls at 8:48 PM on March 13, 2010

I'd want to know if it bothered my partner. But then I have bought partners those little whirly shave-y things, because rampant ear hair drives me nuts. So YMMV.
posted by anitanita at 9:00 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't know how he does it (sorry!), but my SO manages to be kind and loving in how he reminds me to take off my thick black boarbristles. I appreciate it, because I hate them so much I actually manage not to see them when I look in the mirror. So if we're going somewhere, he'll catch my face, look it over with every sense of pride & satisfaction, then give me a sweet smile & make a shaving-the-face gesture. I can ignore it or forget if I want to, but I have been told.

I do think, though, that how the overture is received is going to depend a lot on how secure your SO feels in your appreciation of the total package. Knowing he thinks you're The Bomb takes a lot of the sting out of these little reminders. It feels more like he's helping me look my best so he can show me off to his friends than criticism.

And personally? I'd LOVE a gift certificate for electrolysis. But then, I've already admitted I have a problem. Not so great a stocking-stuffer if she's in denial.
posted by Ys at 9:21 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, if she asks? You never noticed it.

WHAT. NO. If she asks, you should be honest. Ugh, I would END the man who lied to me about the relative visibility of my horrid little moustache. Sometimes it is hard to tell for yourself. The honest opinions of others are vital, and if she's comfortable enough to ask you about it, you should be comfortable enough to answer truthfully.
posted by elizardbits at 9:40 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Obviously barring a fetish, I know that men would rather I had less body hair.

It's not a fetish to be attracted to people with more or less body hair, it's a preference.

And, for what it's worth, I think you should tell her. If you don't have the correct emotional space in your LTR to tell your partner something potentially hurtful but necessary in a compassionate, safe way, then you need to do something about it.
posted by sid at 9:41 PM on March 13, 2010

Do people in "open and honest" relationships tell their boyfriends that they love them to death but gosh, if only their penises were bigger? This would just be absolutely taboo and off limits for me.

Except I don't think these things are at all alike. At first I, too, was all "OH GOD NO". But after thinking about it, I don't see how this is much different than telling your boyfriend that his haircut is kind of dumb so maybe he might want to get it cut a little differently? Or that you don't like his moustache.

So now I'm on the fence. Ideally, yeah, I think you should be able to tell her just like I'd hope you'd want to know if she thought your hairstyle was sub-optimal. But practically speaking it depends on your girlfriend. Clearly some women in this thread would want you to tell them and some would be absolutely mortified.
posted by Justinian at 9:44 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

ditto bitteroldpunk - buy her a spa day. make sure it's an all inclusive package so saying yes doesn't mean an extra charge.
posted by nadawi at 10:28 PM on March 13, 2010

When I realised I had a moustache, and likely had had it for some time, I was mortified. However, knowing/thinking that my husband had never noticed it made it somewhat less embarassing - like "phew, no one noticed my zipper was undone!" kind of thing.
So... if it were me? Say nothing, but get her a little spa gift certificate, including facial. They'll say something.
posted by Billegible at 11:02 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is how I will know I've met the woman I will spend of rest of my life with. When I can tell her it's time for a facial wax and she knows it ain't for any other reason than because I got her back. That's fucking teamwork.
posted by danny the boy at 3:04 AM on March 14, 2010 [7 favorites]

Since when were people meant to be flawless = leave it alone

Since when were people allowed to think they were flawless = tell her
posted by A189Nut at 3:24 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is pretty hard to miss, but it's not at all impossible. So she very probably knows, especially since she's generally pretty hairy, but there's a chance she doesn't. But only you know her, and whether or not she'd appreciate being told, and whether she's likely to see it as something that needs to be instantly corrected, or just accepted as a part of her.

If you do tell her, don't be cruel but for god's sake don't dance around it. My boyfriend recently tried to discuss something vaguely similar with me, and spent half an hour humming and hawing and saying "I don't know if I should tell you this" and "this may be normal, maybe I shouldn't tell you" and I was left utterly humiliated when he finally came out with it, even though I know he meant well. If he'd just said "Hey, this is a little awkward but I thought I should give you a head's up because I don't think you realise" then I'd have been a little embarrassed but we could have quickly moved on. Half an hour of dithering left me crying in the bathroom somewhat upset.
posted by badmoonrising at 5:06 AM on March 14, 2010

don't tell her. SPA DAY for sure.
posted by sdn at 5:57 AM on March 14, 2010

If you choose the spa day route, get ready for the possibility of her feeling self-conscious about the rest of her body for the rest of your relationship. She might be wondering next if you think she's not shaving her legs enough! Or maybe you think the dimples in her ass are ugly!

She might also have a couple of things on her mind that maybe you should take care of too?
posted by Wuggie Norple at 6:09 AM on March 14, 2010

Honestly, I think it depends on where you're at in your comfort level with one another. I've been in relationships with various men in various levels on the casual dating to commitment scale and I'm a hairy wench. If I'm in a relationship where things are still pretty new and I'm trying to be all cute and sexy, I would be mortified if the guy I was with told me I had a 'stache. Someone who I am trying to be cute and sexy with telling me that I, indeed, had something going on that wasn't cute and sexy would make me feel so self conscious. On the other hand, I've been in a couple of relationships where my partner would give me the nudge to do some...ummm...maintenance and it was totally cool because of our level of comfort with one another. I appreciated the heads up and took care of business.
posted by Hydrofiend at 6:13 AM on March 14, 2010

My boyfriend said about my leg hair: "Hrm, this is a little awkward but...erm...the leg hair, it just kind of turns me off."
Of course I wasn't happy about it. Of course it made me feel horrid and unattractive. But he pointed out that for him body hair isn't intrinsically attached to who people are, but externalities that can be changed - he does shave every day, after all. He said he was totally willing to go along with any suggestions I might have for him.

So all in all it came down to this: He'd be willing to tolerate my leg hair, but it would turn him off. I want to turn my boyfriend on, not off. Is it really a blow to my identity to shave my legs?

12 years later we're married and though I'm not a big fan of shaving my legs, it makes him happy, so I do it. Just like I'd wear high heels once in a while to make him happy. And like he weeded out a couple of things from his wardrobe that turn me off.

All this just to say, I don't think there's a way to say this that will make your girl happy about it, but you can explain it in a way that doesn't make it a blow to her ego.
posted by Omnomnom at 7:51 AM on March 14, 2010

I had this issue with my now-wife. When we first started hanging out, I noticed that she had a few dark hairs poking out of her chin. I particularly noticed it when we were being intimate, because we were so close and I had my glasses off in full near-sighted mode.

It really bothered me because it was unattractive and I just fixated on it. Of course I considered that bringing it up would hurt her feelings, but I also felt pretty confident that she wasn't at all aware of the hairs since she was otherwise pretty diligent about hair-removal and beauty stuff.

So while it was a bit embarrassing when I raised the topic, but it wasn't that big of a deal. She just had to pluck them out with some tweezers and stay on top of it.
posted by gabrielsamoza at 8:11 AM on March 14, 2010

This is how I will know I've met the woman I will spend of rest of my life with. When I can tell her it's time for a facial wax and she knows it ain't for any other reason than because I got her back. That's fucking teamwork.
posted by danny the boy

And she can tell you that you need to start wiping better. Or your artfully arranged comb-over just ain't working. ;)

If you have the kind of relationship where saying something like that is not a dealbreaker, then definitely tell her. If not, then you may be able to broach the subject by drawing attention to one of your embarrassing pet peeves about your own body and sincerely ask her advice. She might do the same, then you could mention it (in the nicest way possible).
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:13 AM on March 14, 2010

Do people in "open and honest" relationships tell their boyfriends that they love them to death but gosh, if only their penises were bigger?

That's kind of a mean-spirited comparison, not to mention not in the same league.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:25 AM on March 14, 2010

Wanted to add: Not that you'd do that, but I think the worst thing would be to insinuate that her lip hair turns *other people* off. Because it would sound like you're embarassed around her. And for me, that would be a deal breaker, and a breach in loyalty.
If you are going to say something, make it only about yourself and your preferences and whether she can imagine complying with them, and not about what it makes her look like or whether other people can see it or not.
posted by Omnomnom at 9:34 AM on March 14, 2010

Deciding to start waxing your upper lip is an enormous commitment. She's probably noticed it and she's probably waiting until she thinks it's bad enough. Or maybe she's said "fuck it, I'm tired of the 90 million things women have to fucking do in order for society to consider them acceptible". Maybe she doesn't want to start taking on the expense or finding someone decent to perform the service for her.

Maybe she cares a lot and loses sleep at night waiting for you to notice.

Maybe she doesn't know what to do.

Maybe she's talked about this with her girlfriends and the assessment has been, "You don't need to do it yet, we'll tell you when you do."

There are ways and there are ways of telling people things. And if you look hard enough at something you start to see it ALL THE TIME.

The first thing you should do is make sure she is seeing a doctor, because hirsuitism can mean she has PCOS or some other hormonal disorder like a pituitary adenoma. That is the most important thing.

Buying her a spa coupon means nothing. Because only low-class cheap ass places would dare to suggest a service like that to a client if she didn't come in for that. It's also ridiculously passive-aggressive.

If the discussion is, "Honey, I've noticed this and I'm worried about your health. Maybe you should go talk to your doctor about this?" and then see what she says. If she asks you how noticable it is then you can say that in certain light the hair on her upper lip can be noticeable. And then give her a big fat smooch so she knows it doesn't matter.

There are ways to have your partner's back. And there are times to do it. And there are ways to say it. And I'm not saying I'm always perfect but no-holds barred brutal honesty can scar even the best of relationships. Because being in a relationship means that you want to deliver the information in the best way, so it can be heard, when it can be useful, and not just vomitting every thought you might have the minute you have it with total disregard for your partner's feelings.
posted by micawber at 11:51 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm really amazed at these answers -- and I'm wondering if it has led to relationship difficulties in the past for me.

I *completely* agree with dannytheboy: "This is how I will know I've met the woman I will spend of rest of my life with. When I can tell her it's time for a facial wax and she knows it ain't for any other reason than because I got her back. That's fucking teamwork."

I would tell her, and, if I were her, I would take it as a sign of growing intimacy that he told me. And if I had a small penis (and that was an issue our sexual relationship), I'd want to know, and find ways to compensate (toys, different positions, etc.) Not to derail the post, but is this completely unrealistic?
posted by metametababe at 1:05 PM on March 14, 2010

Huh. I've been thinking about this for a bit, because I recently watched the episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon showed up with "Tom" (ie Tom Selleck - her mustache after not waxing for a few days) and Mr. Cestmoi laughed at it with me. So I know he knows, but he'd never say anything to me.

I had an issue with it, so I researched a magnifying mirror and now have a great one that is 7x mag, meaning there is not much I miss.

I have no idea how one could ever give this as an unrequested gift, so maybe get one for yourself, and once she uses it I'll doubt she'll ever go back to just a regular mirror.
posted by cestmoi15 at 1:54 PM on March 14, 2010

Maybe you could...

1) Wait until you're both eating some really messy dish, pretend to wipe something off of her upper lip (go against the grain), and say nothing more than "That's fuzzier than it looks. Cute! More wine?" then go back to your huge plate o spaghetti as if nothing bigger happened than you'd just noticed that she had an endearing mole on her face.


2) Slip a friend's kid (or the neighbor kid, or a relative) a fiver to be brutally honest for a moment in the way that only kids are (seriously babysitting is how I learned that puberty had hit in a hairier way than I'd hoped). Then you can be horrified with her together, tell her it's not that bad, but offer to get the depilatory to spare her the embarrassment. With certain kids, you wouldn't even have to clue them in.

I would want to know, but hearing it directly might sting more than I'd care to admit.
posted by inkytea at 1:57 PM on March 14, 2010


Slip a friend's kid (or the neighbor kid, or a relative) a fiver to be brutally honest for a moment

I'm seriously hoping you're kidding.
posted by liquado at 6:37 PM on March 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

casting a very big, emphatic vote for leave. her. alone.

women get enough flack for their bodies every single day. you really think no one's given her a hard time before? and she's still sticking to her guns/follicles? THAT is hot.

if she's decided she's happy the way she is, you don't get to fuck with that. you don't get to pretend that giving her something else to feel self-conscious about is "having her back."

in my mind, "having her back" would be telling other people to eff off if they gave her a hard time about it.
posted by crawfo at 7:32 PM on March 14, 2010 [7 favorites]

liquado: yeah, that's terrible advice. I mostly wanted to let the OP know that that's how I was clued in: a bratty, chatty 8-year old. (which actually was a lot more inoffensive than an actual human being telling me). Please don't actually follow that one, OP.

by saying "actual human being," I also don't really mean that children aren't ... nevermind. Is mercury in retrograde today?
posted by inkytea at 7:43 PM on March 14, 2010

i cast my vote solidly in the 'fuck no, never ever say anything about it' camp.
posted by jennyhead at 8:47 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some women scrutinize their appearance and some don't. If she does, it means she's aware of the hair and thinks it isn't enough of a problem to act on. If she doesn't scrutinize her appearance, she hasn't noticed the hair - but women who don't scrutinize their appearance tend not to care about details like this anyway. So either way, I wouldn't bring it up unless it's seriously affecting your attraction to her.
posted by whitelily at 9:33 PM on March 14, 2010

Dude, Romanian, French, German, Italian. I'm well versed and clued in that I'm not an Anglo Blonde. I don't need to be reminded and neither does she. She knows that she slips on some days and is a little more in the realm of a shadow on her lip. It sucks.

Think of it this way, if you have a physical fault that makes you self conscious, would you want her to point it out?

If she turns you off, then move on. It's something you can't get over. But I would keep quiet about it. Not only will you offend her but you'll come off as superficial.

Sorry. It's a rough post to answer gently.
posted by stormpooper at 7:16 AM on March 15, 2010

Your gf has one mildly off-putting physical attribute, and is otherwise very pretty. Assess your own physical attributes. How would you feel about a comment about your imperfections? Women are judged on their looks far more than men, and pointing out a mild imperfection would probably be pretty hurtful.

The hair on my upper lip has gotten darker since menopause. I never noticed until I was at a hotel with a lighted 15x makeup mirror. You could get a magnified mirror with suction cups for the mirror in your bathroom. You'll notice your own blackheads, and she might have the opportunity to notice her mild imperfection.

I think you also have the opportunity to evolve past your focus on looks.
posted by theora55 at 7:22 AM on March 15, 2010

I would tell her....and i would encourage you to start learning how to communicate with her on that level. If she is the type of person who gets offended by these type of things (like a lot of women here) its up to you to decide whether it is worth the trouble....for me? I like to be able to say these things if I have to and I expect the honesty in return, in fact if my girlfriend gets turned off by me telling her then maybe she is not the person for me.....once again....this is just ME, thats just my type of personality and the type of relationship I am looking for....if its not that big of a deal to you and if she is really sensitive then it truly might not be worth the fight...
posted by The1andonly at 8:04 AM on March 15, 2010

How do women feel about this kind of thing?

I feel so alone... I would want to be told.
And I'd hope my BF would feel so confident in our relationship that he wouldn't even think twice about being able to freely speak his mind.
posted by goml at 2:57 PM on March 15, 2010

NO, from the way you describe the situation, it appear she does wax/nair/whatever and you are just describing the inevitable time between waxes. If her hair is dark, coarse and grows quickly there is not much she can do (other than expensive and painful electrolysis) to ensure she is always 100% hair free ALL of the time. It just isn't going to happen. You can only wax/nair/shave so often without really irritating your skin, so doing it daily (especially on her face!) it pretty much out.

Honestly, I'm sure she knows on those off days and is hoping it just isn't TOO obvious before she can get in for her next appointment. Life if busy and hair keeps growing regardless of your schedule. Only models can devote the majority of their day to keeping themselves flawlessly groomed and maintained.

I'm not going to tell you to see the hair above her lip as some beautiful extension of her soul, but I'm sure every now and then you are a little funky yourself in one way or another, so yeah let it go... lay back and think of England if you have to and don't say anything.
posted by whoaali at 9:46 PM on March 15, 2010

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