the toe hair story

I was eleven. I was at a slumber party. Remember those? It was for my friend Amy’s birthday. She’d invited a bunch of girls over, and there were going to be games and punch and cookies and sleeping bags.

She lived in the biggest house of anyone I knew—with bricks on the front and fancy things like porcelain figurines and sculptures of horses inside. I thought her mom was fancy, too. She was very, very thin, with an air of sadness about her, and she always had her hair up, with a few wisps escaping. She had a long, elegant neck, and she wore slim, matching clothes. Amy’s dad had left her mom for one of his college students. I thought the student would be terrible—an empty-eyed girl with round breasts popping out of her pink lacey shirt. I imagined her as a sort of ill-intentioned Barbie. But once they dropped Amy off at my house together and she was confusingly earthy and friendly, wearing cargo pants and Birkenstocks, with a gap-toothed smile. And Amy’s dad was chubby and bashful. I thought he looked ashamed, standing in front of my parents with his girl, who was only nineteen.

I was already nervous in Amy’s house, because I had seen her dad with the girl. And because I felt sorry for her elegant mother, who I imagined was British, even though she didn’t have a British accent, just because I thought that British people were all elegant and liked sculptures of horses. I felt awkward, feeling sorry for someone’s mom. I knew it wasn’t my place.



I didn’t want to be alone in any of the rooms of the cavernous house, because I felt like an intruder. I didn’t want to touch anything, because everything was so clean and in its place. Not like in my house, where there were toys everywhere—makeshift guns, rigged from paper towel rolls and tape and rubber bands, that my brothers were always trying to shoot at each other with. Mom had a “no guns” policy that had never stopped them.

The other girls at Amy’s party seemed really cool. I could tell they were the girls at school who people wanted to hang out with. There was something faintly vicious about the way they clustered and then turned their heads swiftly, like birds of prey. I was homeschooled, of course, and I knew Amy from 4-H, where we grew plants together and I entered the art contests and she entered the riding contests. Her best friend, another girl in 4-H, was one of my best friends, too, and I was relieved that she was at the party. She was nice and got along with everyone.

It’s taking me a long time to tell this story, because I’m remembering so much about that house, and how it felt to be inside it, and all of the drama that family was enduring as the other families stood silently around, helpless and fascinated, watching. But the story is not about infidelity or professors who sleep with their students or elegant houses. It’s about toe hair. Because something happened at that party that changed the way I thought about my body forever. And it started with my toes.

Amy’s mom brought us snacks and hovered for a while in the background of the expansive carpeted living room while we set up our pink and purple sleeping bags (mine was olive green, hearty, and grownup-sized—it looked like it had been in the military before arriving at my parents’ house. They had gone camping a bunch before I was born). The girls giggled about some boys they knew from school and I put in a giggle or two. I was worried that it would be a long night. But within an hour, everyone was getting along, the way you still can when you’re eleven and then can’t for some reason, a little later, when you’re fourteen or so. I was the outsider, but the girls were being nice enough, and Amy was a gracious hostess.

And then we got to the games. We played Ouija board. We asked it if there was a ghost in the house and it confirmed that there was. Her name was Gertrude. We asked it if various boys liked us, and they mostly did.


There were presents, and ice cream cake, and as we all snuggled into our sleeping bags, we played a game with lots of little square cards. I can’t remember how it went, but the basic idea is that whoever stood out from the group in some way, according to what the card said, would have to do something.

“Whichever of you is the tallest, run around the table three times.”

There was more to it, I’m sure.

“Whoever has eaten pizza today, yell your name five times.”

Sometimes it was a bunch of people. We’d all eaten cake, of course!

Everyone thought the game was great, and we kept playing for a while.

Then Amy was reading the card, “Whoever has the hairiest big toe…”

And everyone burst out laughing. “No one even HAS hair on their big toe!” cried one of the girls. “They’re making that up!”

“We should check,” said someone else.

“I don’t have any,” said someone, looking. “That would be so gross!”

You can probably sense where this is going.

Furtively, I pulled a foot out of the sleeping bag and glanced down, shielding it under the glass-topped coffee table. Oh my god. There was a tuft of hair. I froze. My heart was pounding. How had I never  known that I had hair on my toes before?! How was this happening? I looked quickly around. Everyone was busy inspecting their toes. Terror rose in my throat. Soon they would begin inspecting one another’s toes, and then they would discover that mine were the hairiest, and I’d have to stand up in front of the group and do something ridiculous, as punishment for my disgusting flaw. I felt as though my body had betrayed me. Had secretly sprouted toe hair just to shame me and make other girls laugh at me.

“This one’s weird,” I said in a choked voice.  “Let’s just do another one instead. This one is so gross. No one even has toe hair.” I was taking a desperate gamble. What if someone called my bluff? I swallowed hard. Everyone looked at me, and I could feel my face heating up. Could they tell from my face that there was hair on my toes?

“Yeah, whatever,” said one of the girls suddenly. “Let’s do the next one!”

And we moved on. I kept my feet inside the sleeping bag for the rest of the evening, and in the morning, I quickly pulled my socks on. No one could know. No one could ever know.

(these would be off-limits for a while)

I don’t know what happened to Amy’s mother and her father who left for the gap-toothed girl in the Birkenstocks. I don’t even know what happened to Amy. She and my other friend stayed close, I know that much. But about a year later, my family moved to a town about an hour away, and I didn’t go to 4-H (which had been kind of lame anyway) anymore. We talked on the phone a few times, but we didn’t have Facebook yet, and soon I had new friends, and that was that.

But something changed for me that night, in Amy’s high-ceilinged living room with the grand fireplace. I learned that my body could be gross to other people. To me, even. I learned that it could have things that were wrong with it. That weren’t supposed to be there. That were a mistake. I learned that I would have to do something about those mistakes, if I wanted to make friends and be cool and pretty and not be laughed at. I’d have to start shaving the hair off my toes, maybe.  (OK, it’s true. I’ve done that.)

That was the first time. There would be many other times. Like when I learned that my nose was too big, at another slumber party, actually, when a girl told me she could tell I was Jewish from my nose, because it was big. And then again, when a girl told me I should get a nose job. When I learned that my breasts were small. And much, much, later, when I learned that I had too much pubic hair. And during the process of being fitted for a wedding gown, it seemed like there was something wrong with my weight, and that my waist was perhaps not tiny enough. Those lessons are learned everywhere, all the time.

I try to pay attention these days, because I am also always learning other lessons. Lessons about how good I look, how naturally my body does its own beauty, how successful it is, and how few mistakes have actually been made. Sometimes I don’t even mind the toe hair. Most times, actually, now.  But it’s been a long road from that birthday party. Because once things fall apart and break, whether a porcelain figurine, a marriage, or a sense of one’s own inherent loveliness, they can be complicated to rebuild.


*  *  *

When did you realize you stood out in a bad way? What happened next?

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in a clingy maxi skirt because I finally found one and bought it and I am so, so ridiculously excited about that.

Reader cake pic! She says I inspired her to shave her head. She looks amazing and I am just about bursting with pride right now :-)

Here’s her unroast: Today I love how my curvy and petite body looks in the jeans I’m “not supposed” to wear – skinnies!

Feel free to share yours any time!



50 Responses to “the toe hair story”

  1. Melanie responded on 08 May 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    First of all, that cake lady is one of the most beautiful shaved head women I’ve ever seen. Rock it woman!

    I too, have toe hair. I’ve been shaving them since I noticed they had hair on them. I’m half Greek, and it seems my hair follicles do not respect the boundaries that most other women’s do. I had laser hair removal for my lip and chin hairs, which were devastating. Best decision I ever made. I have to wax my brows twice a month or they get unruly. My lady bits get done once a month, but would also be twice if I could afford it. Sometimes I wish I had the guts to just let the hair grow. But I have extreme obsessive issues with hair removal and soft skin. I don’t think that’s going anywhere any time soon.

    As with the being different and having “gross” bits, even if you have a perfect body and everything is the way it “is supposed to” be, people who are cruel will always find something to make fun of. It’s just the nature of the bullies and the bullied.

  2. Erin responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Oh gosh, toe hair. I have that too! But mine is blonde and no one ever pointed it out, so I didn’t think about it much. If only we could go back and give our little-selves a firm elbow in the ribs and explain how much the things they say will affect other little girls for years to come. I would have been more careful with my words.

    For me, the moment I realized something was wrong was the first time someone called me “Freckle Face” as an insult. It was early, probably first grade or kindergarten, and it went on through middle school. I had always been surrounded by my family, who thought my freckle face was beautiful. I had no idea that some people thought they were ugly! That was a real slap in the face.

    Thankfully I am fully over that noise and now consider them one of my best assets ;)

  3. Kate responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    You’re right about bullying– there’s always something there to pick on.

    And I love it when people compliment the women/girls who share their cake eating photos! Thank you for doing that.

  4. Kate responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    I used to WISH I had freckles… :-) I once had a crush on a boy just because he had so many freckles. Wow. I just remembered that.

  5. Hannah responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    I walk around barefoot a lot, and so I probably spend more time looking at my toes than other people. I also have a tuft of toe hair which I shave every once in a while (because most of the time I forget about it when I’m in the shower anyways).

    You are not the only one! And think how lucky we are to live in a time where we can choose to shave our elf-like toes and complain about it on the internet.

    And that girl who agreed with you at the party? Betcha her toes were hairy too.

  6. Kate responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Yay for complaining on the internet! :-)
    And actually, I had that thought, about the girl who agreed, as I was writing this today. Maybe there were more hairy-toed girls in that room than I thought….

  7. Raia responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    I realized I stood out in a bad way in the second or third grade. At recess a group of girls and I were huddling in a pile of stacked tires (a big tractor tire on bottom, and smaller and smaller tires to form a pyramid until the smallest one we could just squeeze through the center – it was MN in the winter and really cold outside so this was a way to stay warm). One girl pointed out Sally’s long finger nails and how “gross” it was to have long finger nails. I kept my mittens on in shame hiding mine. I really disliked cutting my fingernails but after that comment I understood that it was not OK so I really tried to keep my nails short.

    It breaks my heart to think of little girls feeling like their bodies, who they are, is not OK.

    I also have toe hair. It’s long and black and occasionaly I shave it off. But not all the time. It must be there for a reason, right? : )

  8. rowdygirl responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Be proud of your toe hair ! I used to have my feet and legs checked by my doctor when I was diabetic and my doctor told me that it’s a sign of good circulation.


  9. Life [Comma] Etc responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    I had the same experience as a 10 year old in gym where someone poked my leg and said “Ew, you don’t shave?”

    I didn’t even know what shaving was!

  10. Patricia responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    I alas do not have toe hair, and did not realize I lacked it until I just looked lol. I do have masses of hair pretty much everywhere else on my body though, including my chin and upper lip. Thank you Dad and hormonal imbalance.
    I too wanted freckles my whole life. My Mom’s whole family have curly, bright red hair and head to toe freckles. I take after my Dad with straight dirty blonde hair and pale skin.
    I don’t remember having body issues until I was a teen. I have a bibs memory of seeing a photo of myself on the uneven bars in a leotard, when I was about 14 and thinking ‘look at those thighs!’ I thought I looked so fat. I was 5’4 and a size 7, maybe 115lbs. Now I look at that photo and think ‘Look at those thighs’ and wonder at how athletic and healthy and slender I look in the photo.
    33 years later, 3 kids and a granddaughter, great sisters and friends, have helped me realize they Love ME, that the fact that I am pushing 200lbs and am covered in a silvery spider’s web of stretch marks, makes no difference to them, so why should it to me.

  11. Deb responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    It was brought to my attention when I was 15 & by the boy I was dating, that I had hairy toes & feet. I had never noticed, probably due to the fact that my hair is blond. But ever since then, I’m 34 now, I have shaved my feet & toes every time I shave my legs. It’s crazy how one persons comment can effect the way you see yourself for the rest of your life.

  12. Maja H responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    I have toe hair! I use this fact as proof that I must be half hobbit. That and my love for “second breakfast”. The fact that I am 5’11″ does in no way undermine my claim of hobbit heritage.

    Speaking of, the first flaw I was ever made aware of was my height. I was always at least a head taller than everybody else, and I was often informed about how terrible it was to be that tall – no boys would ever like me, because boys don’t like tall girls, they only ever like itsy bitsy petite girls. Oh, and I would never ever get to wear heels and I would probably end up looking like a man too, because only men are tall, right? As I grew older I realized that boys do like tall girls, and that I can wear heels as often as I damn well please. I have never been mistaken for a man either! I wish I had figured this whole thing out sooner though, as it would have saved me from years of slouching and feeling bad about something that I couldn’t in any way change.

    In closing: cake eating, head-shaving reader is a gorgeous bad-ass!

  13. Just Me responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    When I was in 5th grade, while I was sitting on the radiator at the edge of the classroom on a rainy day, Beth looked down at my feet in their gaudy red, white, and blue sandals. And she announced, “You have funny feet.” It’s true… the second toe on my right foot (and ONLY on my right foot) is almost obscenely long. It is pretty ridiculous looking, to be honest. My brothers used to threaten to even out my toes with a machete. (I think they were just kidding but I took no chances.)

    After Beth’s announcement, I quit wearing open toed shoes. Until my freshman year of college, I almost totally avoided sandals or any peep toe shoes because of the toe.

    But eventually I decided to stop being embarrassed by my toe, and to instead use it in a more positive way – to torture my brothers. So I put a toe ring on my very long toe and began wearing toenail polish and proudly flaunting the toe that was clearly a sign of immense intelligence.

    I still don’t really *like* my toe. But I have accepted it as uniquely me, and I think that’s the important thing.

  14. Heather responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    I was so hard on myself growing up. I come from a family of nitpickers. They love you but they will point out your every flaw to your face and behind your back. So I was hyper aware of anything that could be perceived as weird.

    I decided one day that my arm hair was ugly and started borrowing my mom’s razor in the shower to shave it. I didn’t tell anyone and got the worst cuts on my elbows that i wasn’t able to explain to my family. But for several months, I shaved my arm hair from wrist to upper arm.

    Then one day I looked at my mom and her arms. They were HAIRY, hairier than mine had been. I thought about how I loved my mom and had never noticed her arm hair until I was cuddling into her arm one day. I thought my mom was beautiful and so that meant her arm hair was beautiful too. I never shaved my arms again.

    It taught me to actually think about the logic behind worries and fears and insults. If the insult doesn’t make sense, then it’s not worth noticing.

  15. Hannah responded on 08 May 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    @Maja: Hobbit, not elf! That’s what I meant. Thanks for making sure my mythological references to my own body are correct.

  16. Joy responded on 08 May 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    I have quite hairy toes also, and started shaving them at the same time I started shaving my legs, I think. Since my skin is quite light, and my hair is pretty dark, it stands out if I don’t. My husband sort of teases me about it every now and then, but between my big callousy feet (lots of barefoot time and distance running hasn’t helped), and propensity for eating, we joke about being Hobbits in our family anyway. I’m okay with that, my feet do the job I need them to do (though I’m not going to stop shaving). :) If only I could be as accepting of the rest of my body. lol

  17. Sarah responded on 08 May 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    In kindergarten another girl told me I had “hairy arms like a man.” I was self-conscious about it from then on, to the point that I used a depilatory on them at least once a week in my early thirties (coincided with my re-emergence into the dating pool). At thirty-six I can proudly say “eff-it.” I have hairy arms. So what? Sure beats stubble and chemical burns! :)

    I have a general question for those out there as well:
    Is anyone else bothered by this “war on obesity?” Shouldn’t it be called something to emphasize a healthy lifestyle (I firmly believe cake fits into that), rather than sending the blatant, damaging message that “thinner is better?”

    I’m a healthy size now, but I battled an eating disorder for some time, and I can feel that familiar voice trying to surface as I read the onslaught of headlines about Americans’ weight.

    Kate, you are brilliant, by the way. I look forward to your posts as often as you can create them! :)

  18. Diana D responded on 08 May 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    I had chest pains, so I went to a cardio doctor for a check-up. As I took off my bra, the nurse examined my breasts and placed sticky discs on my neck and chest area and hooked me up to a machine for the exam.

    She commented, “D Longs, I see. Ever thought of having them hiked up? I did. It was easy. They cut off your nipples, pull them up, even them out and sew your nipples back on. Now I have the chest I had when I was 25. I’m 48. How old are you?”

    I was mortified. I thought my breasts were beautiful. D Longs? I never imagined. My husband never made a comment. I had breastfed, and they weren’t completely as round and full as they used to be, but old granny boobs? Me? Really? I never knew.

    I had to bolster my self-confidence after that one. Reassure myself I wasn’t ugly. And learned the hard way not to completely believe what others thought of me.

    Does your toe hair area itch like crazy when you shave them? Mine does!

  19. morgaine responded on 08 May 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    My front teeth have a gap, and not the dainty Lauren Hutton kind, either – a huge honking gap. (This is me: I’m more or less indifferent to it, and I love certain abilities it gives me – namely, the ability to drink through a straw with my mouth closed.

    But I’ll never forget the day my high-school boyfriend’s mother looked me up and down, wrinkled her nose, and said, totally unsolicited, “you know, they’re doing wonderful things with braces nowadays.”

  20. Vassiliki responded on 08 May 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    Hi Kate! I just want to say I’ve been reading your blog for quite a long time and it’s so amazing! Definitely no 1 on my favorite blogs list! :D I get so excited whenever I get an e-mail that you have a new post up! :)

    As for this post, I just loved the way you described everything about Amy’s family and her elegant house, I didn’t want it to end! And as for toe hair, it never really bothered me because I was more focused on my ugly toenails. lol I recently got over that though, thank God! xD

    Vassiliki from Greece (yep, you have readers here as well! :) )

  21. Suzy Marie responded on 08 May 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Wow, this post just took me right back to those scary five years of high school where every bodily function is a potential area for criticism. Horrible! I am also light skinned with really dark hair, and have been given a rather generous amount of hair which is something I’ve been self-conscious about for a long time. And still am! It got pointed out to me in school, and you kind of don’t realise how much it affects you really! We should leave each other alone and give each other a break haha. I loved this post thanks :) And all the comments are brilliant!

  22. Jen responded on 08 May 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    It seems to me that recently more than ever I have realized that stand out in a way other people (women mostly) view as weird. I’m 6ft and dating a guy who is 5’8. I have had friends tell me straight out “ewwwww that’s just weird”. Of course, being self-conscious of my height my whole life, I let those comments bother me. But I am determined to live into it and embrace the oddity. This blog has helped me gain some confidence. I’m sick of allowing the standards of society to fit me into their mold! I’m tall, skinny, long and awkward, but my 5”8 boyfriend makes every inch of me happy! So, I’m going to date short men, eat lots of cake, and I’m even going to let my hairy toes hang out! haha :) I LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog!

  23. Melanie responded on 08 May 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    As a health at every size advocate, the “war on obesity” is just as offensive to me as every other war. I call bullocks to you have to be thin to be healthy.

  24. Birdy responded on 08 May 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    I used to want freckles too! lol And I have also shaved my toes and arms. I still do my toes if I remember, hairless arms felt very weird and vulnerable to me so they can be hairy if they want. lol

    I don’t remember a specific event that made me self concious, but I know I worried about my teeth a lot for a LONG time. The adult teeth came in behind and on top of my baby teeth, and they were very crooked. I went to a couple orthodontists, but they all suggested complicated procedures and I never had the nerve to go through that and the heart to make my parents go to the expense. When I was 21 I decided I would probably do what I had to go to get them fixed, and the night before I was supposed to get my wisdom teeth pulled (the first step) I was in a really bad car wreck that knocked all the front ones out! So now I have a partial, which isn’t ideal but I actually get compliments on my “teeth” now. Sometimes I let them know they’re fake and sometimes I just enjoy it. I’m just really glad I didn’t go through all that pain of orthodontics to end up with fake teeth after all. Of course now I have some fancy scars to go with them and sometimes that’s hard to accept, but I guess thats just how it goes!

    Oh, and I agree, this whole thin-thin-thin thing is ridiculous. Be healthy and enjoy your life, and tell the “Your BMI should be such and such and remember, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels!” people to go, um, do something painful and rude to themselves. lol

  25. G responded on 08 May 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    I have hair on my big toes, too, but it’s blonde, and I didn’t think much about it until a guy I was dating told me it was “cute.” I don’t think toe hair is “cute,” but I’m not going to shave it, either.

    As far as “flaws” other people attributed to my body – pale skin has to be one of the biggest. I remember other girls calling me “Ghost” in middle school, and making ghost noises when I passed them in the halls. I used to think pale skin wasn’t attractive and wanted a tan, but I have since then changed my mind about that. I think many different shades of skin can be beautiful, and I’m happy with mine.

    I also have a larger nose and small breasts, Kate, and while I’m still not a huge fan of my nose, I am very happy I have small breasts. I don’t have to wear a bra, which is fine by me!

  26. Dinner at Christina's responded on 08 May 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    I had a similar experience on the bus in elementary school. I got goosebumps so all the hair on my arms raised up. Everybody was talking about how I had “man hair” on my arms, and girls weren’t supposed to have arm hair- you were supposed to shave it. Poor, little 2nd grade me would take my Fiskars and desperately try to “trim” the hair down to a socially acceptable length. Eventually I realized it wasn’t worth my time or effort and I’m fine with it now. I’ve never had anybody else point out that my arms are hairy. I have dark, curly hair and am Italian, so obviously my body hair is going to be darker.
    I also have toe hair. I remember when I discovered it I thought it was wrong and mannish. Every once in a blue moon I’ll shave it if I remember in the shower, but otherwise it just gets left au natural. haha
    Every once in awhile I’ll get “mustache” comments (usually from women in my family) if I go too long between waxing. But really- who cares? I’m the one that has to live with my body and my husband doesn’t care about arm, toe, or a few mustache hairs. haha

  27. Steph responded on 08 May 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    I have hair on my toes…it’s a family trait. I like to refer to mine as toe mustaches…toestaches, if you will. I shave mine off because when I wear birkenstocks they get caught and it’s painful to have toe hair being pulled when you walk. As far as pubic hair, I love mine just the way it is, but I rarely get naked in public so I don’t get self-conscious. whatever floats your boat, but I’d much rather spend my money on something else.

  28. contrary kiwi responded on 08 May 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    Yay! Thank you for the kind words Kate and commenters about my cake picture :)

    I don’t remember getting bullied or teased for my appearance in primary school, except for having glasses because back then few people had them so I was a four eyes for getting them at age 10. Mostly I was bullied about my personality and behaviour.

    When I was in high school though, many people tried to bully me for how I looked. I say tried, because my dressing and appearance were outrageous enough for my rural school that people focused on my hair being dyed red and that I wore black on mufti days (we usually wore a school uniform). Since they were both choices I made, when someone would yell “ew, you have red hair!” I would often make fun of them and act as though it had happened without my knowledge, pretending to freak out and then suddenly rolling my eyes at them.

    I figured back then, as I still do, that unless your life is exceptional, you’re going to get bullied for something. Far preferable for me to get bullied over something as trivial as my appearance – something I was born with – compared to being bullied for my personality/character (having experienced both, appearance is definitely easier to deal with!).

    Now that I have a shaved head, a rat’s tail, unshaven legs and unshaven armpits and hairy toes, I get uncomplimentary comments on my appearance all the time. But I also get wonderful comments by people like you, and they mean a whole lot more to me!

  29. Rapunzel responded on 08 May 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    Ah, toe hair. I’ve got it. My twin has it and my older sister has it too. Don’t even get me started on the “happy trail” my twin and I both have on our stomachs. If I wasn’t such a wuss I think I’d actually wax my body….but…it hurts!

    My older sister is the one who “taught” me (per say) to shave my toe. And the top of the foot. When needed, of course. Usually the hair is so light that I don’t notice it. And truly, you’d have to look really close to notice such a thing. But sometimes I get paranoid and, well….I’m shaving anyway, what’s one extra swipe?

  30. bethagrace responded on 09 May 2012 at 8:42 am #

    I first realized that toe hair was a “bad thing” when I was reading a romance novel in junior high. They’re getting all lusty in a tent and then the guy (who’s already a little awkward) pulls off his socks to reveal hairy toes… and the girl laughs. So not only was my body gross, but it was gross in an awkward GUY sort of way. I began inspecting other girls’ toes, and sure enough, mine seemed to be the hairiest ever! How shameful of me!

    I didn’t get over the insecurity until my senior year of college, when I was hanging out with a group and the prettiest girl admitted that she had certain friends she shaved her toes around. It was natural! It was normal! I’ve never shaved my toes since. :)

  31. Deanna responded on 09 May 2012 at 9:34 am #

    The good news is to all you young and maybe a bit ‘hairy’ women is that there is so much you can do now to have it removed. I am going through laser treatment now for my upper lip and I wax just about everywhere else but when I was 18…there was none of this. There was waxing but only in big cities and it cost so much no one ever did it. Also, there was no Kate and no blogging and no one ever talked about too much body hair so I went through my very young life thinking I was the only one. It’s nice to know now that I am not alone and this is a very common problem.

    Laser is super cheap with Groupons and the like. I once looked into bikini and leg hair removal and it was well over $2000 in 1999 but now it can be done for a few hundred.

  32. San D responded on 09 May 2012 at 10:10 am #

    I was out to dinner the other day celebrating my sister’s 60th birthday. As is our want we become giggling sibblings when we are together. We reminded each other of how, when growing up, having moved every 22 months, we were always the odd ducks in the community, the new ones, the ones that didn’t fit in. Even now, in a crowd you can pick us out. The New York crowd might be dressed in all black, and then you see me in a bright green and black polka dotted raincoat going upstream against the crowd. You know why? We have learned to OWN our “otherness”. I can’t remember really taking any one’s comments about my body seriously to heart. When I first started dating my husband he thought my feet looked odd. I thought they looked like my mother’s feet, so they weren’t odd to me. And recently when I had my physical, my doctor thought I had the best looking feet around. So, like an actor who has learned to take drama critic’s reviews with a grain of salt, I shrug off the negatives, embrace the positives, and add my own spin on top of it all.

  33. Marisa responded on 09 May 2012 at 11:11 am #

    @ Deanna: I think what you call good news is sad. To me, good news would be if everyone stopped thinking body hair was gross. There’s nothing wrong with the hair on your head, so why do we go to such lengths to shave off or rip out hair elsewhere? If everybody has it, why is it a “problem”?
    I am so grateful to live in an atmosphere where I can have leg hair and armpit hair (and toe hair!) and extra pubic hair and not get negative comments or feel that my body is offending people. It’s my body, and it’s beautiful; if I choose to enjoy it the way it is, that should be OK. It’s a shock sometimes to realize how much of the country (and the world?) thinks differently.
    I wish we as a society didn’t think that so many things about our bodies need to be fixed in order to make them beautiful, or even acceptable.

  34. Mandy responded on 09 May 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Diana D@

    First off, I’m hoping your chest pains were nothing serious.

    As a massgae therapist, I am very much aware of how deeply wounding comments on physical appearance can be–and I am very careful what I say to people on my table. So I was truly appalled a what that alleged nurse said to you!
    Her comments were unprofessional, highly inapporpriate to say the least, and I am utterly infuriated on your behalf!
    May I congratualate you on your self-control? I’d have been tempted to metaphorically bite her overly inquisitive nose off, toss her out of the room on her butt, and refuse to let her touch me again. And then, I would have complained to the doctor.
    If she couldn’t keep her mind on her job (and your chest pains) instead of her boob job, she had no business being in that room with you. Nor was she qualified to offer you what was basically unsolicited medical advice.

    Lastly, that woman was obviously projecting her own insecurities onto you. According to you, everyone else in your life seems to think they’re pretty, so who the hell cares if SHE isn’t happy with your breasts?

  35. Kate responded on 09 May 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    @Mandy and Diana D
    Mandy– thank you for this comment. I meant to respond to Diana earlier and then got sidetracked.
    Diana: I am so sorry about this. I want to yell, “Your breasts are perfect!” I’ve never seen them, but I’m pretty sure they are. As I said in this post, someone once told me I needed a nose job. Until then, I thought my nose was just a nose, if a big, bold one. Afterwards, I wondered if there was something wrong with it. It turned out, there wasn’t. Noses don’t need to be pert and little. Breasts don’t need to be perfectly round and perky. Usually, they aren’t. And that’s completely fine.

  36. Mandy responded on 09 May 2012 at 2:26 pm #


    You’re welcome! My only problem was keeping my comment short and to the point. I’ve very rarely been so temped to “yell” on a blog post–for some reason, that nurse’s behavior REALLY pissed me off! To the point I had trouble typing…

    Unroast: Today, I like the fact that I can use my temper when I’m tempted to lose it.

  37. Sheryl responded on 09 May 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    The first time my body became gross to me was with hair too. Hair on my fingers, actually, during my grade 11 biology.

    Apparently mid-digit hair had something to do with how far “evolved” your genes were. I felt like a caveman.

  38. Lucy responded on 09 May 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    I had two so called body issues pointed out to me in elementary school. The first and the one I still struggle with to this day is I have dark hair on my arms. I refused to wear short sleeved shirts and would suffer through the summer so as not to have it show. I used to dream that one day I would wake up and it would all fall off and never grow back. I was galled wolf girl, hairy larry…all that stuff. Now I am ok with it. Some days it bothers me more than others.

    The other issue is that I have dimples on both cheeks and they are rather prominent which I love. One day in the playground kids started poking their fingers in my face and making fun of me for having “holes” in my face. They used to chase me around yelling, “When are you going to let us swim in the pools in your face?” I stopped smiling for a while so as to not draw attention to my face.

    Soon I realized, *eff those kids that did that. I love my dimples and they make my smile sparkle!

  39. Kate responded on 09 May 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    Dimples! YES!

  40. Kate responded on 10 May 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Thank for these incredibly sweet compliments! And thank you for mentioning the descriptions of Amy’s family and house– I was sort of proud of that part of the post, and I’m glad you noticed :-)
    Also, I’d really, really love to visit Greece one day! Which part are you in?

  41. Eat the Damn Cake » black women and fat and a photo of a girl wearing someone else’s face responded on 10 May 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    [...] it’s true, I feel like another escape route has been blocked off. A reader named Sarah mentioned the “war on obesity” in the comments the other day, and I keep hearing those words, too.  And while of course I want children to grow [...]

  42. Vassiliki responded on 10 May 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    @Kate Thanks for the reply, it made my day! :D
    You should visit Greece if you get the chance, it’s a beautiful country, especially the islands. I live in a city called Patras but I doubt you’ve heard of it since it’s not a tourist attraction! xD

  43. Jeannine responded on 11 May 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Your post brought back a powerful memory. 7th grade gym class. We were all being weight for some reason and everyone of course saw everyones weight. I remember I weighed 124 lbs and a girl I had known since 3rd grade when I moved into the neighborhood said “124 lbs! Wow! You weigh THAT much?”. I became self conscious of my weight from then on. Looking bad I wasn’t fat. I was probably a size 8/10 (I’m short) but I was by no means overweight and I’d kill to be that weight and size now. But I let that one moment define me. So sad.

  44. em responded on 12 May 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Wow, I can’t really imagine a life NOT having toe hair. I do, all women in my family, I think actually most of my personal friends do too. They get the epilator treatment weekly along with everything else.

    What I really hate, and I am so bad with this, is how these things cause divisions between us as women & girls. The ones society defines as “okay” get to act all superior and horrified by us who are different, and some of us who are different then feel uglified and hate ourselves and bleach their hair and get surgeries, and others of us uglies just start to hate the guts of the hairless blonde chicks, and decide to believe they look like bald freakish albino hairless rats compared to REAL beauty. Then hate ourselves anyway for being so nasty and judgemental.

  45. Wendy responded on 14 May 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    When I was 11, I had a unibrow. I was a natural brunette, and my hair was dark brown, so you can imagine the caterpillar I had growing on my face. Some of the girls in school decided to start calling me ‘Eyebrows’. It seemed like a tired name, and just something they could use to set me apart from others. It didn’t help that I was the tallest in class (I’m 5’10 now), and now they had something additional to pick on. My mom showed me how to use tweezers, and also took me for a professional eyebrow shaping at the hairdresser. Over the years, my brows went through several looks, and now I’m pretty much at the overtweezed-yet-still-nicely-shaped phase. I guess in a way, I can credit those mean girls for helping me motivate to a nicely groomed look. I tweeze daily, and once a week, out comes the mag mirror. Thank you for sharing your story. Amazing how one moment in time can change your life and how you look at yourself.

  46. Wendy responded on 14 May 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Oh and P.S. – I too have toe hair and hair on the top of my foot that I shave when I remember to.

  47. Eat the Damn Cake » the girl someone should write a book about responded on 03 Jul 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    [...] I used to think I was effortlessly beautiful. And then it turned out I was just a teenager. [...]

  48. Eat the Damn Cake » putting down the gun responded on 09 Jul 2012 at 2:47 am #

    [...] We are supposed to compete with each other. Biology. Magazine sales. Makeup sales. Those skin firming/age-defying magic potion lotions. Their sales. More biology. I don’t know. I don’t honestly care very much. I just know I learned relatively early on, like everyone else, that when you look at another girl, you immediately line your little mental image of your little self up next to her, and you figure out who wins. Sometimes it’s relatively even, which is great. It’s like “Oh, her hair is better, but my legs are longer, but her lips are fuller, but my boobs, but her arms, but my waist, but her toes are definitely less hairy.” [...]

  49. Eat the Damn Cake » being friends with other people’s moms responded on 21 Aug 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    [...] of course I didn’t want to go. I know people like parties. I know parties are supposed to be fun. But I dread them. I force myself to go to them sometimes, when it’s someone who is a close friend, or because [...]

  50. Eat the Damn Cake » electrolysis responded on 29 Aug 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    [...] I know how important it feels for women to have less body hair. For women to not have any body hair. This is a thing in our culture. I understand that it is supposed to be embarrassing if your arms are hairy. That it is supposed to be mortifying if there are tiny hairs above your upper lip. That you should feel ashamed if a few hairs poke out from around your bikini bottom, or if you miss a patch on your leg. I know that I should care about the fact that my knees are impossible to shave, so they always have hairs sticking out of them. I should probably die a little inside over the fact that my knees are able to sprout hair in the first place. Mutant knees. After all, I already know how damaging toe hair is. [...]