My five o’clock shadow

In one of my favorite 30 Rock episodes, “Black Light Attack”, the lead character Liz Lemon talks about her friend “Tom” who would be visiting the next day to urge Jenna to come clean about her real age to the staff at TGS. “Tom” short for “Tom Selleck” is what Liz’s affectionately calls her mustache. We get to meet this “Tom” the following day as she comes to TGS with a rather impressive dark mustache atop her lips!

Let me introduce you to my own “Tom”, formerly known as my five o’clock shadow. As most Middle Easter, Mediterranean or other dark-haired women (I don’t know about Liz but Tina Fay is Greek), I have been blessed in the facial hair department, be it the unibrow or as Liz so eloquently called it, “Tom”! My Tom visits every two weeks or so and doesn’t leave unless attacked by hot wax! Why am I talking about my Tom? It is because my Tom showed up a week ago, but since I have started blogging continuously and I’ve been off work I haven’t made time for a wax-attack. The unibrow though not as impressive as in my teens, has also made an appearance. Having been with my husband for 13 years, he seldom notices subtle changes in my appearance. Today he noticed Tom!

While making an appointment for a wax-attack, I was reminiscing about my teenage years in Iran. In our culture, it was customary that young girls do not wax, pluck or pull their facial hair until the day of their marriage. In those days, having a teenage girl with trimmed brows or plucked/waxed mustache was not only frowned upon, but could also get her into trouble. Family would criticize her, boys would assume she was loose and she would even get into trouble in school.

That being said, those traditions were slowly becoming flexible and many unwed older girls did in fact get rid of their facial hair but typically after high school. It was during the winter break in my last year of high school when I was invited to a very upscale wedding and after seeking my mother’s approval; I had my face threaded. Let me tell you it was a liberating experience!

I got a bit of tongue lashing in school but that wasn’t the funniest part. The funny part was when shortly after this wedding I hung out with one of my best friends and her new boyfriend. We went out for ice cream and for reasons unknown to me, he noticed my plucked eyebrows. He started a heated argument about how girls shouldn’t touch their facial hair and save the site of their freshly groomed and plucked face for the eyes of their some-day-to-be husband on a who-knows-when wedding day! I was outraged. I used to think this old-fashioned and archaic opinion belonged to the older generations, not a modern 18-year-old boy. But I was wrong. To my surprise my best friend agreed with her boyfriend saying she would wait to pluck her face on their wedding day, which they did have no too long after this meeting.

In my defense I said, “but I don’t intend to get married anytime soon, or perhaps ever” then he gave me a you-should-know-better sarcastic answer, “perhaps you never would”. Glad to report that I did get married, albeit to a German who was and still is completely oblivious to Persian customs regarding female facial hair. In your face Omid! I am still good friends with both of them who now live in San Diego and have a teenage daughter who has her beautiful face waxed/plucked or what ever else they do these days) clear of any unsightly facial hair and she is 13 years old.

Interesting how times change, people change, even customs change, but stories remain with us. I look back fondly as I reminisce about those times. I had started this talking about my “Tom,” but since I’ll be saying goodbye-for-now to him, I want to pay this tribute to my “Tom” and the “Tom’s” of all other dark haired women and also to the great Tina Fay for the amazingly hilarious 30 Rock and Liz Lemon character.

Thanks for reading

Jan 12, 2013


5 thoughts on “My five o’clock shadow

  1. This is funny. I hope it was meant to be funny.;-) “Tom”. Perhaps I should name the little beard I’m gradually growing as I get older. Also informative. I had no idea about the facial hair customs.

    1. I’m glad to meet other “Tom”s here 😉 I find seeing humor in unpleasant aspects of life, be it the Tom or oppressive and misogynistic customs of some cultures, to be both therapeutic and liberating. And yes this was meant to be funny, I though of it because Tina Fay was on TV!

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