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Beauty and The Beard

It’s amazing what you can do when you’re authentic and true to yourself.

The lovely Harnaam Kaur is the poster child for self-acceptance and self-love. “This is the way God made me and I’m happy with it,” she states. Kaur, who is also known as “The Bearded Dame,” has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal endocrine disorder that affects approximately 5 million women in the US and can cause weight gain, hair loss or thinning at the scalp, testosterone-induced excessive bodily hair growth (also called hirsutism), and infertility.

Photo Credit: Times of India

The disorder is characterized by an overproduction of male hormones which ultimately creates cysts on, or enlarges, the ovaries. Symptoms typically begin in puberty – for Kaur, her battle began at age 11. “I would hide it by talking to people with my hands over my face,” she says. She is accustomed to hearing names like “beardo” and “she-man” to describe her appearance.

Today at age 26, Kaur proudly sports her unique asset. As an anti-bullying activist and model, Kaur is helping to change common perceptions of beauty and gives and receives messages of support and encouragement to other women learning to be at peace with their body hair. “This is who I am – it’s my inner beauty and my outer beauty.” At the age of 16, she decided to grow the beard out and “see how you like her and see how she forms on your face. I think men look at me because my beard’s better than theirs. All the negativity I went through I turned it into something positive and made a career out of it.”

Rose Geil too is embracing her bearded beauty. “It seems like a natural thing, it’s who I am. There’s no fighting it, there’s no changing it.” With hair covering her face, chest, and arms, Rose now proudly professes that she “feels feminine,” noting that “it’s all about my attitude. Giving myself the freedom to be who I am – because of that I feel womanly, sexy and sensuous. It’s way better than my husband’s beard!”

While not availed to a complete diagnosis for her excessive body hair, Rose believes her hirsutism may be caused by a combination of PCOS and genetics. She began noticing symptoms at age 13, and realized after the initial shave she would likely have to shave every day. “It was exhausting trying to keep it hidden and removing it.” She tried plucking and laser removal, but “got to the point where my skin could not take shaving another day. I was emotionally drained from trying to hide it every day.”

These days, Rose is a proud member of the "bearded community." She receives messages of encouragement from “women living their lives as normal as they want to be,” and is inspired to embrace “the beauty of self-acceptance.” Rose is also an inspiration for other women learning to embrace themselves fully. Says Rose’s best friend, “my daughters and I use Rose as a jumping off point for the conversation on body positivity.”

More information on managing PCOS can be found at pcosaa.org.

Source: Great Big Story, Barcroft TV

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