Kids can be cruel. This was certainly the case for Harnaam Kaur who started growing facial hair at the young age of 11.
“I got bullied badly,” she recalled. “At school I was called a ‘beardo’ and things like ‘shemale’ and ‘sheman.’”
Harnaam Kaur has polycystic ovary syndrome which causes thick hair growth. In a desperate effort to look more like the other girls at school, Kaur would try waxing, bleaching and shaving, but her efforts proved only temporary. The hair would grow back quickly and in some cases, more thicker.
Unable to stop the hair growth, Kaur was forced to face cruel taunts and even online death threats from people who didn’t accept her.
“I can laugh about it now,” Kaur admits, “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. 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 arms. I didn’t want to go outside my house because I couldn’t take the stares from strangers so I’d lock myself in my room. It got so bad that I just didn’t want to live any more.”
Her outlook on life suddenly changed when she decided to be baptised as a Sikh – a religion where it is forbidden to cut body hair. Her parents were originally opposed to the idea. They believed that she would not be able to get a job or a husband with her beard, but Kaur was determined to turn a new leaf. She knew she needed a new outlook on life and she needed a way to end the suicidal thoughts.
Her decision has helped her embrace her physical appearance.
“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 says. “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.”
With her new-found confidence, Kaur has no problem doing the things that made her uncomfortable before: wearing dresses, putting on jewelry and getting her nails done. She even shares her story to the public despite death threats.
“All that matters to me at the moment is that I love myself,” Kaur explains. “I love my beard and all my other little quirks – my tattoos, my scars, stretch marks and blemishes. I want other women to find the strength that I have. If I had any message it would be to live the way you want – it’s your journey and it’s your life.”