This is not an attack on body image, it’s an answer to a question that comes up too often, even now when we should know better.
If you could change ONE thing about your body, what would it be?
I would have my nose hairs altered.
Why nose hairs?
On a biological level, I understand them. They filter things out so we don’t inhale rocks into our lungs. They are like little fur coats, helping to keep our mucous linings warm so we don’t freeze our brains while sucking in cold air (that is not a scientific explanation, by the way; don’t quote that on a test) Yet, I wonder why we have not evolved beyond such rudimentary protection methods. I know my life would be a lot better without the need for these dark strands of evil.
I loathe my nose hairs to such a degree that they represent the ultimate agitation in life, they are the the symbol of all things miserable. I can tell how stressed I am based on my dreams; when I begin to dream of nose hair, I know it is time to go to the hospital.
Here’s what I mean:
Mild Stress Indicator Dream: The standard going to class naked, forgetting the locker combo, getting lost in school and being late fare. This dream shows me I am under some stress but it’s generally superfluous and my brain will work it out on its own.
Medium Stress Indicator Dream: The ex-boyfriend who should have cancer based solely on the amount of ill-will I bear him starts showing up and trying to get my attention or assumes nothing has changed between us an can’t figure out why I won’t talk to him. This dream lets me know that my stress level is now noticeable and is something I should keep an eye on.
Strong Stress Indicator Dream: I find myself needing to poop but there’s some reason I can’t use the toilet or I’ll find a toilet in the middle of a giant, empty room and just as I start stinkin’ up the joint, all these people come in and want to talk to me and I’m pretending nothing is happening but I’m desperate to finish my business and I really want them to leave but they mill around and ask me to do stuff and I need to discreetly wipe before I stand up and there is panic. You can imagine my horror at the Poo-pourri commercial. Sometimes the toilet isn’t even a working toilet; it is there as a piece of art or because it needs to be installed in another room and then I have to figure out how to get rid of my horribly smelly evidence once I sneakily clean myself, pull up trow, and make it look like I was never evacuating wastes there in the first place. Now we are in serious dream territory. My stress levels are high and I need to manage them or else there will be problems. At the very least, I will get sick. At the worst, I will turn into Godzilla and kill the entire city of Tokyo.
Maximum Stress Indicator Dream: I feel a tickle on my upper lip. I am usually talking to someone important like my boss or the president of a country who could make war on us or sometimes even to Jenny Lawson. The tickle worsens and I stealthily brush it away with the back of my hand. The tickle continues and as it grows stronger, I begin to sweat, to worry, to freak out. There’s something on or hanging out of my nose and I need to rectify this immediately but can’t think of a graceful way to break from the person to whom I am speaking. Also, I can no longer let that terribly important person see my face so I am trying to have a conversation while averting everything under my eyes from their gaze. Things get awkward as I surreptitiously attempt to assess the damage. As I lightly, quickly brush the nostril area with curious fingers, I feel fur. Like a mouse. I think there is a mouse hanging out of my nose. On the next swipe, I search for a tail. I find none. As my stress levels rise and I continue to find a way to disengage from the conversation in the hopes of finding a private bathroom with good lighting and a clean mirror, I become more neurotic in my ninja-like fumblings around my nose holes and finally, horrifically, it becomes clear: I have an entire handlebar mustachio emerging from both nostrils made entirely of tickling nose hairs. I cover my nose and mouth and run away crying in shame. My life is terrible, bad things are happening, and I’m probably five seconds away from a heart attack. This is the end. It’s time to take down Tokyo.
Yes. Nose hairs are the pinnacle of awful personal worries, worse than showing up to class sans vestments, worse than being hounded by a hated ex, worse than pooping smellily in front of a crowd. No worry tops the worry of nose hair.
The most terrible part is that my Maximum Stress dream all too often borders on reality. I’ll be driving to work, breathing, like people do, and I’ll feel a tickle just on the inside of my nostril. I always have reason to believe that I’ve inhaled a cat hair since I tend to smoosh my face into my cats’ bellies or backs, breathing deeply, on a regular basis. I often find cat hair on my person, in my billfold, in my underwear…it’s everywhere, including up my nose. So I’ll lightly pinch my nostrils together and gently pull downward, hoping to catch the tip of a feline fur and guide it to freedom. I would guess that 1 time out of 10, there really is a cat hair and it’s usually one that has wormed so far up that the other end is wrapped around my eyeball and pulling it free is a terrible and strange sensation, resulting in watering eyes and squeaky shrieks of something like pain that’s not actually pain.
Those other 9 times? It’s a nose hair. It’s an errant nose hair that has grown its way to sunlight and is blowing in the breeze of my breath, softly bouncing against the skin around my nostril. Why is this allowed to happen? Why don’t they just stop growing at .1 cm? WHY?
I try to ignore it. I try so hard. But I can feel it, wafting in and out on the tide of breath. Before long, it’s all I feel. There is no autumn sunset on my face, there are no fingertips thawing from scraping winter ice from the windshield, there is no wind in my hair on a beautiful summer morning. There is only the exquisite torture of a nose hair licking my tender skin with every intake and exhalation of oxygen through my nasal passages. Even breathing through my mouth sets the follicle a-quiver.
I lose all sense of sanity and decorum; I attack my face…in the car where other motorists can see me. Making tweezers of my thumbnail and the pad of my forefinger, I attempt to locate and dislodge the offending piece of hair. Often, I find it but lose it after my swift tug yields no result. I drive down the road, pecking at face with my own fingers, shrieking like a banshee as I fly at 75 MPH. There is nothing in the world but this battle.
Inevitably, I win, but success comes with a price. My fingerpad is sore and throbbing from having my pointy little thumbnail jammed into it for minutes on end. And when the root of the hair finally pulls free, it hurts. It’s always a deep root, one that goes straight to the bone of my nose, a bone most people don’t have but I know I do because I can feel the hair coming from there. It is such a sharp, swift pain, worse than a needle, worse than a burn. The pain brings tears. And yet, these minor miseries are nothing in comparison to the hair, itself. I roll it between my swollen fingerpad and thumb, relishing my victory. Then I look upon it with triumph and see that the little bastard is half an inch long.
HOW THE HELL WAS THAT IN MY NOSE?
If you are not alarmed, go get a ruler and look at the length of half an inch. Nothing that long should be up inside anyone’s nose.
I scream. I scream for minutes, in pain, in terror, in horrified fascination, and in complete disappointment that my body would let this happen. Again.
My fellow road-passengers hurry to pass me, wondering if I am an escapee from some asylum who will undoubtedly be on the news tonight, in the center of a multi-vehicle pile-up.
It doesn’t end there.
When I get home that night, I wage war. Me, the tweezers, and the bathroom mirror, we are the Allies. I pull out every damned hair in my nostrils, every single one I can see, feel, or whose presence I merely suspect. They all come out. I do not care that it hurts, I do not care if I make my nose bleed. I do not care that this results in minutes-long sneezing fits. Furthermore, I do not care if I start inhaling boulders into my lungs or if the air I breathe turns to ice when it passes my brain resulting in permanent neurological damage.
I. Do. Not. CARE.
The nose hairs have to go.
Do you know what my brother told me recently? He told me that he had this blemish on his nose that hurt like nothing he’d ever felt before. It lasted for weeks and would never come to a head. It was just a big, red, sore spot that persisted despite all his attempts to rid himself of said blight. The pain became unbearable and he was left with only one option: dig at the spot until something happened.
It runs in the family, ok? We’re all still alive, so just shut up.
Anyway, do you know what he found?
An ingrown nose hair. A nostril hair that he’d pulled months before had grown back on the inside of his nose, all curled up and evil. He said it was a good half inch long when he straightened it but that it would’t stay straight and kept springing back to its mutant form.
When he told me this, I passed out.
The only thing worse than a half-inch nose hair is the half inch nose hair you pulled out but that returned INGROWN.
Now that I know this, I suspect my Maximum Stress dreams are about to become that much more horrifying.
I hate nose hairs.
And that is the one thing I would change about my body if I could.
**This post is lovingly dedicated to Sam from Normal For Norfolk as she is my sister in nose-hair hatred.