“I decided to keep my beard and step forward against society’s expectations of what a woman should look,” said 29year old Harnaan Kaur. She is a Motivational speaker, anti bullying activist and a model.
At age 12 she was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) condition. One of the symptoms of PCOS is hirsutism, an ability to grow excessive facial and body hair.
Harnaan suffered intense bully in school, and her parents tried helping by taking her to the beauty parlour for beard shaving and waxing. “I did that every other day because my hair grew so fast – and shaved in between. They waxed it until my skin burned, going over the same patch again because some hairs were hard to get out. Then they would thread the raw skin, then pluck it.”
All this did nothing to stop the bullying. “They called me everything under the sun, threatened me with knives and stabbed me with pens,” she says. By 15 she was skipping school, contemplating suicide, and self-harming. “I wanted to punish my body for looking this way. I wanted to hurt it.” One day, she emptied a bottle of pills into her hand. “It was my turning point,” she says simply. “I thought, ‘Fuck this shit!’ If the bullies are allowed to live, why shouldn’t I?”
In 2016, she was included in the world’s records as the youngest female with a full beard.
Despite it all, Kaur has decided to love her body the way it is. And that was a turning point.
In an interview with Rock N Roll Bride, Kaur reflects on her decision to keep her beard: “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.”
Kaur uses her social media profiles to contribute to numerous body positive campaigns. She frequently posts content to promote awareness of body shaming, cyberbullying, and mental illness.