I’m half Sikh, and I applaud the 23-year-old woman I’m about to tell you about for dealing with her situation in an amazing way.
Harnaam Kaur, from Berkshire, England, suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome, and she first started to notice a beard on her face when she was 11. The hair quickly spread to her arms and chest, and she had not only been made fun of at school and on the street, but she had also received death threats from strangers online.
During her early teen years she had been so ashamed of her beard that she had waxed it a couple of times a week, and she had also tried shaving and bleaching it. When her hair had become thicker and spread she didn’t want to leave her house, and at one point she had even considered suicide.
She said, “I got bullied badly – at school I was called a ‘beardo’ and things like ‘shemale’ and ‘sheman.’ 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 of the abuse I was getting. I’d talk to people with a hand over my face and I wore baggy, tomboy clothes to cover up the hair on my chest and my arms.”
Harnaam got baptized as a Sikh at the age of 16, which means she has to let her facial hair grow out. She now looks at her situation in a more positive light.
“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. “I feel more feminine, more sexy, and I think I look it, too. I’ve learned to love myself for who I am [and] nothing can shake me now.”
Her parents didn’t initially warm up to the idea of her keeping her facial hair because they thought she wouldn’t be able to have a normal life if she had a beard. They thought she might not be able to have a job or get married, but Harnaam took a stand and wanted to make her own decisions about her life. Her mom and dad have now come to terms with her decision, and her brother, Gurdeep Singh, 18, is her biggest supporter.
She is currently employed at a local Sikh primary school as a teaching assistant, and her confidence has gone through the roof.
“I still get shop assistants calling me ‘sir’ and strange looks from people – they see my beard first and realize I’ve actually got breasts, too,” she said. “It must be confusing for a lot of people. The funniest reactions I get are from the children at my school. Some ask me what my beard is and I joke it’s a Halloween costume … I can laugh about it now … ”
Harnaam hopes her story helps other women “find self-confidence,” and she has decided to continue sharing her story on YouTube despite receiving death threats. She hasn’t just received death threats, though. A lot of women who are in the same situation as her have sent her positive messages.
She hasn’t found a husband yet, but all that matters to her at the moment is that she loves herself.
“I want other women to find the strength that I have,” she said. “If I had any message it would be to live the way you want – it’s your journey and it’s your life.”