Lineage

                                                                                                                          

Lineage

By Nicolette Cherie

While on my journey of self-discovery, my goal was to discover my family and medical lineage. While on this journey, it became clear that I come from several ancestral groups. Knowing this piece of information raised the bar of my curiosity and propelled me to know more about these groups. To begin, I had to first come to a full understanding of the elements that create me. The most obvious and prevalent elements were that I am female, my ethnicity is African-American, and my bloodline is of African, American and West Indian descent. I learned thru my research that my bloodline began in Africa, journeyed thru the West Indies leaving seeds that would eventually create one part of me and landing in the United States where I would be born generations later.

As my research and journey continued, I also discovered that I come from a line of females that were survivors of life’s circumstances, hard-working, spiritual, possessed a lioness personality and were go getters. Indirectly, I come from famous, legendary, historical, African-American generations that fought and died for equality. These groups described above would give me a sense of connection, pride and existence.

Second part of my journey was to discover my medical lineage. I am a female who lives with a beard. My beard comes from a disorder called Hirsutism. This medical discovery would connect me to historical women who possess this same disorder. According to Wikipedia.org, there are documented historical cases of actual bearded females such as a fourteenth century Saint named Wilgefortis, eighteenth century circus performer and pioneer, Julia Pastrana and two American eighteenth century circus performers, Annie Jones and Jane Barnell. These women were from different lineages and bloodlines, financial backgrounds and lived in different corners of the world. Their fame came from being a human exhibition in a public entertainment arena than being famous related to a career or discovery. The only difference between me and my bearded ancestors was that I live and work in modern times, whereas, they lived and worked in circus arenas during their time of existence. Just like my other lineages, these women were powerful, fearful and courageous. They did not let their physical appearance or who the world “labeled” them as to stop them from achieving their goals.

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There are countless of other women in the world who are living with facial hair in the shadows that are not documented.

Each group described defines parts of my existence that makes me a full, functioning human being. No matter where I go, live or what activity I participate in, I am who I am because of these ancestral groups.

Knowing where you come from is the key to knowing your true existence and purpose in life!  

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Introducing ME

In December 2008 after experiencing a spiritual renewing of my mind, a rebirth of my spirit and a new awareness and outlook of my life, I began a spiritual journey of self-discovery. This came at a time when I was in a rut, my life was stagnant, bored with myself, my job and environment. There simply was no excitement or passion in my life. I needed a change. As I set out on my journey, I wanted to discover the following:

(1)   Everything there was to know about Hirsutism and PCOS

(2)   WHO I was as a Hirsutistic woman

(3)   HOW I contracted this disorder

(4)   What was my true purpose in life

During my journey, I realized that every day since my birth I have been building my story. As my life began to unfold on paper, I saw ME for the first time. This journey would not only reveal the battles in my mind and in my reality but it would force me to deal with the real battle I have been dealing with since childhood. My battle of becoming a modern-day bearded female.

It would take me until my thirties to begin the process of acceptance, building confidence and gaining inner strength. After my eyes and mind were open to the fact that I was not the only person on the planet with facial hair growth, my thinking and outlook began to change. One of those changes was not to stay hidden in the shadows anymore. Second  was to change my strategy with respect to making connection with other bearded females. So while on this journey I began searching for my story in bookstores, libraries, magazines and on the internet.  Well to no avail a personal story has not been written from the perspective of a female living with Hirsutism. So I sat down and began writing my story to one day be published.  I felt within myself that since I have discovered Hirsutism/PCOS as the disorder that causes my facial hair growth, I could not keep my discoveries and my life story quiet anymore. I also realized that if it took me this length of time to discover what was causing my facial hair growth. I imagined that there are many young girls and women like myself that are also living with this disorder in silence and ignorance.

I created this blog called “Silhouette” to share my life, triumphs, failures and overall life with those who are living with altered appearances. Below is an excerpt of my future memoir called “Memoir of a Bearded Female” by Nicolette Cherie

“Good Morning Baltimore, it’s Monday morning and it’s cold out there!” the announcer blares out as the alarm is going off.” The sound of the announcer and the alarm beeping awakes me out of my warm, comfy, slumber. As I rollover onto my side I reach over to my night stand and turn down the volume. I lie back down and contemplate the idea, “Do I want to go to work today, it’s bitterly cold outside?” I sit up and take a peek outside my window, it’s dark, gloomy and you can see people bundle up and wearing at least three layers of clothes. I shudder at the appearance of outside. I smile and instantly make the decision; I’m not going to work today! As I begin to slide down underneath the covers I catch a glimpse of a stack of papers and bills glaring at me. If you stood still and quiet you could hear a little voice coming from the stack, saying, “Girl, you better get up and go to work, you got bills to pay!” I glare back at the stack of bills and say, “Oh shut up, I’m getting up!” Groaning heavily, I sit up and begin my morning stretches, “God, I have got to lose some weight; I feel like a walrus. Not good!” I say as I feel my two halves: stomach and waist area folding into each other and my two water jug breasts swinging from side to side. After finishing my stretches, I walk to the bathroom thinking of what I am going to wear. The radio announcer blares out that the temperature is in the teens and blustering winds. Just hearing this news makes me not only shiver but tempts me to want to go back to the warmth and comfort of my bed. I shake off this idea, brush my teeth and go into the shower. After taking my therapeutic shower and standing at the bathroom sink, the radio announcer again blares out that today is December 30th and then goes on to report the news of the day.

“Wow, It’s my 35th birthday; Happy Birthday to me!” I say to myself.  As I lean into the mirror, I suddenly become sad. “I cannot hold on to 25 anymore!” “I’m getting old!” I say as I spot a couple of gray hairs saying “peek- a- boo, I see you!”  I shake my head and start my inspection of my upper lip, chin, side burns, neck and chest. “Yup, it’s time to shave”, I say while reaching for the shaving cream, razor and turning on the hot water. As the steam rises from the hot water filling up in the sink, I could feel the heat saturating my face and neck. “Gosh that feels good!” I say as I begin applying the shaving cream to my beard and chest. The creamy foam feels cool and soft on my skin. I grab the razor to begin the shaving process but stop.  I just realized that not only is it my birthday but I have been living with male pattern facial hair growth for over twenty years. I glare into the mirror, putting down the razor and wince. This face covered with white cream has been staring back at me since I was twelve years old. Sighing, I pick up the razor once more and begin to shave my side burns, chin, neck and my chest. As each stroke of the razor glides against my skin, my mind begins drifting back in time to when I was a child. How happy, carefree, playful, cautious and precocious I was. Where did the time go? Once finishing and feeling for left over stubble, I cleanse the shaved areas with warm water. As I splash the water on my face I close my eyes and begin to cry over the twenty plus years of using so many different shaving methods, bleeding episodes, scarring from shaving, left over stubble, the taunts, stares and name calling. Through the tears I remembered how much I missed being a normal female; how nice it felt to have smooth facial skin, how my skin felt against my hand, the sun, water and something soft. Boy! I miss those insignificant but mentally stimulating times of my young life. Life was wonderful!

After wiping my tears with the towel, cleansing my shaving devices and the bathroom sink, I make my way back to the bedroom. Standing in front of my closet, trying to figure out what to wear, I begin pondering on this notion, ‘What would my life be like if I were not born with what I have now discovered to be **Hirsutism (normally called **Androgen Disorder)’. A disorder I would discover later in life, that is not contagious but genetic or an effect from some other medical condition. It is treatable but not curable. Hirsutism only appears in females during the time of puberty. Inwardly, Hirsutism causes infertility, irregular periods, increase muscle mass, weight gain and leads to Type 2 Diabetes. Outwardly, Hirsutism causes facial hair growth and hair loss. Mentally, Hirsutism is an inconvenience, a presence that makes you feel ugly, undesirable and lack confidence. Hirsutism is what makes a female bearded. What would my life be like!

Getting back to the story….

 After dressing, grabbing my bags, purse, breakfast and lunch, I head out to start my work day. While stuck in traffic, I decide to turn off the radio and be alone with my thoughts. My mind drifted back to when I began showing the signs/symptoms of Hirsutism. At the age of twelve I began the second phase of puberty: beard development. Puberty began at eight years old with the “coming out” of my water jug breasts. I was never officially diagnosed with Hirsutism. Growing up in the 1980’s, medical information either did not exist or was not readily available to the public. I remember my mother taking me to every pertinent doctor seeking answers and none of them could give us a diagnosis or remedy. Each doctor sang the same tune, ♫There is no remedy or cure, just continue to use the regiment you have been using♫ The hope and expectation that my mother and I would carry with us into each doctor’s office would not only be shattered but would cause me despair. With no help from the medical world it forced my mother and I to develop for me a normal enough life and grooming regiment while living in total darkness.

As the traffic begins moving at normal pace, my mind still back in time, I remember the first time I began to shave after being taught how to use shaving cream. There I was 12 years old having full breast, facial hair sprouting on my chin, neck, sideburns, upper lip, chest and being taught by mother how to use adult products to correct an adult biological issue.

Take a moment and think back to when you were beginning puberty, what was it like? Where you growing gracefully or was it a nightmare? For me it was a roller coaster ride because my physical body was going haywire, my mental state was a state, grooming process was unorganized and my home environment was unstable.  Using women’s shaving products to gain a normal looking face was not only a thought but a weekly process. So every four days consistently I would use shaving cream, a wash cloth and/or razor and cleanser to remove the boy look and regain the true girl within. The shaving cream would become the key, crutch and source to gaining my girlish identity. What I or my mother did not know then but I would discover in my adult years, is that this same shaving cream was not created to be used on the face but only on the body. So at the age of twelve my beautiful, young, vibrant, skin began the descent to what my skin looks like today wounded, scarred and discolored.

Well I made into work and I am on time!”

To those who read my post, please comment below. Thank you for stopping by..