Harnaam Kaur

lwilson-illustration.co.uk

lwilson-illustration.co.uk

Today’s inspirational woman: Harnaam Kaur. Kaur is a 24 year old British woman with Polycystic ovary syndrome, which causes her to grow facial hair. Kaur spent many years of her life battling her facial hair, constantly removing it to better fit in with our society’s ideas about what women should look like. But when she converted to Sikhism, which forbids the cutting of it’s followers’ hair, she decided to let it grow out and to embrace her natural self.

Kaur is now a proud bearded woman and body positivity activist. Her Instagram account shows her rocking her beard and her tattoos; living her life unapologetically and beautifully. A portrait of her has even been hung in the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia, and the portrait is currently one of the finalists for their National Portrait Prize 2015 – you can see the image and cast your vote here.

Polycystic ovary syndrome affects millions of women – it’s estimated that around 1 in 5 women in the UK have it, although half of these won’t get any symptoms. For those who do get symptoms, it normally manifests itself as irregular periods, weight gain, acne, excessive hair growth or, hair loss & thinning. My mother has Polycystic ovary syndrome, and although I haven’t been diagnosed with it, I’m pretty sure I have it, too .  Hello irregular periods, bad skin and spiky dark hairs on my chin!

Considering that it is so common, I’m surprised that we don’t talk about it more. Even without POS, facial hair on women is incredibly common. I would guess that around 80-90% of my female friends occasionally have to deal with more facial hair than they’d like to have. But we keep it hushed up, we don’t talk about it openly because we’re embarrassed; we’ve all grown up hearing that facial hair is for guys. So when we get it, we all assume that we’re alone in our experiences and that we are weird and there’s something wrong with us. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see Kaur looking absolutely stunning in a full beard, and actively choosing not to care about society’s rules for what women should look like.

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