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After Fighting It For Years, UK Woman Grows Out Beard Resulting From Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Avatar • Jul 31, 2015

*Editor’s note: This article has been updated to make mention of Harnaam’s religious beliefs.

This takes strength. Harnaam Kaur has opted to say ‘to hell’ with prevailing beauty and gender standards and keep her beard, which is a result of polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal imbalance which leads to, among other things, excessive levels of androgen that produce male pattern hair growth. The decision to keep her beard isn’t just personal, it’s religious. Since being baptized Sikh Harnaam has not cut her hair and beard because it is forbidden. But before this the 24-year-old tried many hair removal methods, but they led to skin damage;

I started to wax my facial hair, tweeze it off, thread it off,” she says. “I shaved every day and I even used hair removing creams. My skin became very rough, I was left with scabs, and parts of my skin were torn off when I was waxing.” 

Bullying was a daily reality for Harnaam, at one point leading her to seriously contemplate suicide;

One day I decided to actually go ahead with ending my life,” she says. “I had the pills there ready.”

But she instead opted to move forward, living life on her own terms and becoming an anti-bullying and body positive activist.

I thought about all the negative energy and strength that it actually takes to want to end your own life,” says the Berkshire, England, native. “I decided to turn all that negative energy into positive energy, and grasp hold of life. I wanted to live a happy life, and I made the decision to keep my beard and accept my body for the way it was formed.” 

Harnaam’s Instagram account currently has 21,000 followers and she regularly posts pictures that juxtapose her feminine style with her full beard.

https://instagram.com/p/5pkWBuBsSr/?taken-by=harnaamkaur

https://instagram.com/p/4nGLF7BsTs/?taken-by=harnaamkaur

In an Instagram post from earlier this year, Harnaam reflected on what she went through to look ‘normal’;

https://instagram.com/p/x9cJr9hsbz/?taken-by=harnaamkaur

Here is my #beforeandafterbeardseason picture. It may not be exactly before beard season, but the before picture is when i was 13 years old. I had actually just had my whole face threaded..ouuccchhh!! It was painful. We work tooo hard to look beautiful, we go through tooooo much pain to look normal, when as a matter of fact, we are already pretty amazingly beautiful. You can tell how unconfident i was without the facial hair, compared to how i look and feel in my #project60 portrait. 

Wow. If I’m speaking honestly, I don’t know if I would have the guts to do what Harnaam has done if faced with the choice. I salute her for living life on her own terms and defining beauty for herself.

Ladies, what are your thoughts?

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Yurilyte
Yurilyte
5 years ago

I wonder if she will consider electrolysis later on. It’s more permanent than laser hair removal and is actually not horribly expensive…

Mahogany
Mahogany
5 years ago
Reply to  Yurilyte

Laser hair removal is usually not as painful as electrolysis and is definitely permanent. I’m doing it on my body now.

Julia
Julia
5 years ago
Reply to  Mahogany

Laser hair removal isn’t always permanent. Hormonal changes or time could stimulate the hair growth again.

Chi83
Chi83
5 years ago
Reply to  Julia

Also it is expensive.

Lita
Lita
5 years ago
Reply to  Yurilyte

Missing the point…

brianna
brianna
5 years ago

I applaud her bravery, but I’m really not looking forward to the negative comments that’ll show up in a few hours…

chalabrooks
chalabrooks
5 years ago

I wish her the best in whatever she decides to do. Her strength and courage is inspiring.

Elle
Elle
5 years ago

Keep YOUR hair. You look great.

There are people being murdered every day, please don’t let a bunch of nobodies put you in the grave by your own hand. Stay strong, it’s hard I know, but hiding and fitting in is a bore and has a terrible price.

Ghost of Bruce Lee Roy
Ghost of Bruce Lee Roy
5 years ago

lets not forget that woman aren’t suppose to have beards she has a illness and she would be absolutely insane to not cure it. I appreciate her act and everything but lets get real. Facial hair and woman don’t mix. I mean,I had a art teacher with a little hair above her lip and I said to myself,“maybe she is just a slob who doesnt shave.” Well,6 months later she comes out as gay. Moral of the story is,woman and facial hair don’t mix.

2791
2791
5 years ago

Wow I love when a site to empower black women ends up bringing out the homophobes and transphobia. That sucks.

Dirtnap1986
Dirtnap1986
5 years ago

You my friend is a dumb ass!!!

Dee
Dee
5 years ago

I’m so glad I was along when I read this and no one could see my face.
I would have to shave that crap off.

Afrikaans
Afrikaans
5 years ago

i mean.….nair has products for the face.

brianna
brianna
5 years ago
Reply to  Afrikaans

and she probably understands that, so you mentioning that wouldn’t really make a difference would it?

Afrikaans
Afrikaans
5 years ago
Reply to  brianna

and you telling me that does what exactly?
Nothing…go away.

maralondon
maralondon
5 years ago

I have to applaud her for her bravery and guts as it couldn’t have been easy for her to go with the decision not to remove the hair. On a last note she is not a native to England. That’s like saying Whites who are born in Africa are natives to the Continent.

HisMercy
HisMercy
5 years ago

She’s gorgeous and I feel for her because of all that she has had to endure with her condition. I get that she’s brave and all and that she’s trying to change conventional beauty standards, but…there has to be an easier way to remove the hair. There just has to be…Come on. You thought the same thing too.

I wish her the best!

lovely
lovely
5 years ago

She is beautiful

Ksays
Ksays
5 years ago

True, they can help some, but not all. There’s no magic pill for this condition and its many devastating symptoms.

DrSelina
DrSelina
5 years ago
Reply to  Ksays

As a physician who treats this daily, I disagree. Once you are on the correct dose of metformin, you will start to ovulate again. The harmful effects of PCOS are mostly the issues surrounding insulin metabolism. Obesity, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, hypertension.
Spironolactone, or Yaz, an cop with a progesterone that is a spironolactone derivative, drastically decrease the hair growth and can also positively effect acanthosis nigricans. If you are concerned about Yaz, metformin, spironolactone, and a Mirena IUD, offer uterine protection while also helping insulin sensitization.

Dirtnap1986
Dirtnap1986
5 years ago

Metformin? That shit don’t work!! I should know since I have PCOS and still shave daily!!

DrSelina
DrSelina
5 years ago
Reply to  Dirtnap1986

You are right, metformin does not help the hair growth. The spironolactone is what helps the hair. Even then, it takes about a year to see significant decrease in growth. I also recommend Yaz to some of my PCOS patients. The progesterone in it is a spironolactone derivative. The birth control aspect help ladies to stay compliant.

leah
leah
5 years ago

Be exactly who you were born to be, no apologies or explanations, ever. Beautiful, unshaven and natural.

DrSelina
DrSelina
5 years ago

Spironolactone and metformin are two medications that will help to stop the hair growth and make it fall out without her needing to shave. It will also improve her health overall by fighting the insulin resistance that is the factor behind PCOS

Lindsay Snyder Hurley
Lindsay Snyder Hurley
5 years ago

Some of you people are truly disgusting. She has an illness. She is not disgusting or a slob. She is a person! This world makes me sick. I’m sure you would get offended if someone poked fun at your flaws.

Elle P.
Elle P.
5 years ago

Honestly, I am a bit shocked by some of the comments! I think there are a few of us that is missing the point of this piece! Now I understand the different views on this isssue BUT she has a condition that seems untreatable by ! To top it off she was bullied for being ‘different.’ She is bravely sharing her testimony of accepting your own kind of beauty, flaws and all. The moral of this comment: Ignorance+ fear of the ‘unusual’= bullying!

JJ802
JJ802
5 years ago

She’s brave. I respect that, she’s still beautiful

Mistress of the Mid-Afternoon
Mistress of the Mid-Afternoon
5 years ago

Even with a beard she’s rather pretty.

Unsocial Gatherings
Unsocial Gatherings
5 years ago

Amazing. She’s very beautiful.

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