“If you have a mole located around your mouth area or chin, jaw, et cetera, and if there’s a whisker growing on it, it’s bad luck to pull the whisker out.”
My informant learned this folk belief when he was young, “in elementary school at least”. He had a great aunt who had a long hair growing out of a mole on her chin, and he asked why she didn’t just pluck the hair, and she responded by telling him about this belief. My informant believes this belief comes from Chinese culture due to learning it from his Chinese great aunt. Though he never learned exactly why it was bad luck to pluck the hair, he was satisfied enough with his aunt’s answer to stop asking about pulling her whisker out.
Thinking of similar beliefs, this folk belief reminds me of superstitions regarding grey hairs, which are not supposed to be pulled out or more will grow in their place. The belief straddles this strange liminal stage between admiration for old age and fear of aging. For admiration, one is supposed to respect the developments on their body with their beliefs, and not tamper with signs of old age, like the grey hair or the long mole hair. The fear shows through in the protective aspects of these beliefs, that tampering with these aspects of aging will bring on bad luck or unwanted consequences. In addition, one must think about why these kinds of beliefs come about – surely people have wanted to remove these signs of aging, which can often be thought of as ugly or undesirable. This belief could have come about as a reaction to these people, those who point out these “flaws” like my informant in his childhood, in order to make those showing their age proud instead of shamed. Belief in the significance of the mole hair subverts societal expectations, making it a mark of dignity that should not be removed, which would perhaps stymy one’s apprehension to their age.