My story is based around 1835 in Missouri & New Orleans.
My MC is a very light skinned free 'woman of color' in New Orleans when the story starts. She is not FTM, but a butch woman who cannot live under her current circumstances. She escapes from an arranged 'protection agreement' with a wealthy white man, disguised as a white boy.
Eleven years or so later later, she has learned that she cannot survive under the constraints current society puts on women. So she continues to live as a man, and is now the leader of a gang of bank robbers.
Due to a series of circumstances, she finds herself suddenly having to live amongst townspeople 'disguised' as a woman.
So – here's my problem...
Facial hair –
When she's living as a man, the other men would get suspicious of her if she doesn't start shaving eventually. For a while, she could get away with being youthful. (She is around 27 for the main portion of the story) But also remember that she is a leader – their leader, so she can't depend too much on youthfulness. They must respect her.
BUT – if she starts shaving, then when she has to do her term 'disguised' as a woman, won't she have some facial stubble? I know that once women start shaving their legs, the hair grows back in a different consistency. I do not want her to appear to be a man in drag.
***Some have suggested that some women do have darker hair on their upper lips and such. And I realize that is true – but she is supposed to have an attractive face when living as a woman. I personally don't find that overly attractive and would prefer to not go that route.
***Another thought was to have her say she is part Indian, as there are certain Indian tribes where men don't grow facial hair. But then I run into the prejudicial problem of how would the men (in those times) accept the leadership of what is in their eyes a 'half-breed?'
***Some have suggested that, since bathing wasn't necessarily a big issue for people in those times, especially men on the run...that she use ashes or some such thing to sort of dye the hairs on her face to make them look darker. (I've also read of cranberry juice being used this way as well.)
Thanks for any help you can provide on this matter. I'm not planning on going into it in any great detail – but for the sake of realism, I believe it needs to be addressed.
And not to give away too much of the storyline - she will only have to endure the 'female disguise' for a few months at most.