Since we all rove about the lanes of social media ever-so-often and even carry our passes for the same in our hands (our smartphones, duh), we have definitely seen this lady in our feed! Her name is Harnaam Kaur, and she is currently a resident of the United Kingdom. So what’s it about her that we are writing about?
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Well, the woman suffers from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a hormonal disorder that causes the body to produce male hormones, in excess of the female ones, causing an imbalance that leads to growth of excessive hair. As such, Harnaam was seeing a spurt of hair growth on her face since the age of eleven, a thing she was bullied about relentlessly.
Image source: Barcroft Media
As all her attempts to wax, tweeze, thread or remove the hair failed and the shame and ridicule from all quarters grew unbearably intense, she lost all hope and decided to end her life. ‘The pills were ready,’ she says but there was something within her that did not permit her to take that final step. And that became a defining moment in her life – an epiphany of sorts – when she decided to take charge of her life’s course, channel all the negative energy into a positive mold, and embrace her individuality.
Image source: Barcroft Media
Now 24, Harnaam is a happy woman who celebrates her beard-ly womanhood with pride and invites all women across the globe to celebrate their individuality. Hailed as a body confidence and anti-bullying activist, Harnaam is seriously recreating the lens through which we have, until now, been seeing and perceiving beauty, its contorted and tweaked ideals and not to forget, its limited scope. There is no need to contain ‘beauty’ in a conventional container and label every deviation as ‘unnatural.’ After all, who set down those ‘ideals’ of beauty and who defined the tenets of ‘femininity’ that all of us MUST conform to?
Harnaam says NO and so should the rest of us. Read her inspiring story in her own words:
“I am a British born female living in Slough. I am a little different from other women. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries from a really young age, around the time I hit puberty. PCOS is a condition in which there is an imbalance in hormones within the female body, this has led me to have more male hormones then female ones, and it is also the reason to why I have a beard. I used to have my face waxed 2 to 3 times a week, and on the days I couldn’t bare the pain I would simply shave.”
She further goes on to say,
“I had a great upbringing and a really happy family life but I was severely bullied all the way through school, starting from nursery right through to my late secondary school days. I even got beaten up a few times. I became very aggressively suicidal and I even resorted to self harm. At the age of 16 I hit my biggest low. I had been suicidal all year due to immense bullying from school and people in society. I hid away and did not want to venture out into the public. My bedroom was my only safe haven. I was hugely depressed. I remember sitting on my bed and thinking about taking my own life. But instead, as I sat ther, I started to counsel myself. I told myself ‘The energy you are putting into ending your life, put all that energy into turning your life around and doing something better’. At that point I decided I wanted to be me. I decided to keep my beard and step forward against society’s expectations of what a woman should look like.”
“Today I am not suicidal and I do not self harm. Today I am happy living as a young beautiful bearded woman. I have realised that this body is mine, I own it, I do not have any other body to live in so I may as well love it unconditionally. I stopped self harming and I have now fallen in love with the elements on my body that people may call ‘flaws’. I love my beard, my stretch marks and my scars. These elements make me who I am, they make me whole, they make me complete.”
Image source: Barcroft Media
“My beard has 100% become a part of my body. It is the source of my strength and confidence. People just see the beard as hair, but my beard for me is much more than that. I keep my hair to show the world a different, confident, diverse and strong image of a woman. I love my beard, it has become a part of my body. I look at it and is it a sign to me that we are all different and none of us are born the same. I love my lady beard and I will forever cherish it. We need to realise that every one of us is different”, she advises.
“We are all imperfectly perfect. I wanted to show society that beauty isn’t just about looking a certain way, we are all so different and we should all celebrate our individuality. I used to keep my beard for religious reasons, but now I keep my hair to show the world a different, confident, diverse and strong image of a woman. I love my beard, it has become a part of my body and I do not want to remove it. Love yourself, YOU are the only YOU that YOU have.”
Her body confidence and attitude towards beauty and life impressed British photographer Louisa Coulthurst, who had first seen Harnaam’s portrait at a Beard Exhibition in Somerset Hall in March.
“She was the only female in the exhibition. I then went online and Googled her and read up on her. I had always been intrigued by the thought of floral beards and a thought came to me of wouldn’t it be cool to have a floral beard on a woman,” Louisa told Urban Bridesmaid Photography. “I emailed Harnaam and she was excited and wanted to get involved.”
And that’s when this tangible token of celebrating one’s body, in all its uniqueness took place. Look at the stunning results:
Image source: Louisa Coulthurst via UrbanBridesmaid.com
Does it not make you look at yourself and others around in a whole new light?
Featured image source: Louisa Coulthurst via UrbanBridesmaid.com