One 23-year-old female has grown a full beard, and has accepted it as a feature that makes her feel more feminine.
Harnaam Kaur, who lives in Slough, England, has a hormonal condition called polycystic ovary syndrome, which causes excessive hair growth and leaves her with a thick beard and mustache. The beard began sprouting up when she was only 11, paired with chest and arm hair, and her childhood was plagued with bullying, embarrassment, low self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, for no reason at all, Kaur would receive death threats from people online.
For years, Kaur suffered by trying to wax her hair, hide her face, or avoid people. “I got bullied badly — at school I was called a ‘beardo’ and thinks like ‘she-male’ and ‘she-man,’” she said. “I can laugh about it now, but back then it affected me so badly that I began to self-harm because it felt better than all the abuse I was getting.”
Recently, however, she has chosen to stop shaving and let her beard grow in full: after being baptized as a Sikh, she has learned to accept her body as it was and speak out about the negative stereotypes associated with her unusual image. “I would never ever go back now and remove my facial hair because it’s the way God made me and I’m happy with the way I am,” she said, according to the Daily Mail. “I feel more feminine, more sexy, and I think I look it too. I’ve learned to love myself for who I am. Nothing can shake me now.”
Since she was 16, Kaur hasn’t shaved her beard — except for once, After receiving pressure from her family, who were worried that she may not live a normal life with a typical job or get married. But it felt unnatural for her to shave it, and she hasn’t done it since. “My brother was actually the one person who was completely shocked by what I had done — he hugged me and said I had looked so beautiful with my beard, he didn’t understand why I had done it,” she said. She has been letting it grow out since, and currently works as a teaching assistant at a local Sikh primary school.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects a woman’s hormones, blood vessels, heart, and menstrual cycle, and typically causes women to have high levels of male hormones, or androgens. Researchers still don’t understand what causes PCOS, though it usually has something to do with genetics. It’s characterized by a hormonal imbalance, where the ovaries produce more androgens than normal, which leads to excessive hair growth, weight gain, acne, and ovulation problems.
There are actually plenty of treatments that can assist women in dealing with the disorder, such as medication to reduce hair growth or extra male hormones. Anti-androgens can be combined with birth control pills to help manage menstrual cycles, reduce male hormones, and clear acne as well. Women with PCOS often lack ovulation as well, and fertility medications can help stimulate ovulation.
Despite possible treatments for her condition, Kaur has chosen to accept her body as is — and in the meantime has inspired others around the world to find beauty in their own image. “I’m looking for someone to accept me truly,” Kaur told This Morning in an interview. “I understand certain people won’t be attracted to me, but there are so many people in the world and I hope there’s someone out there who will accept me.”