Harnaam Kaur on life as a bearded lady

Harnaam Kaur

Harnaam Kaur is the ultimate walking minority but she doesn’t care.

The 24-year old Indian woman who lives in England cops criticism almost daily for many factors in her life.

One being her ability to grow a beard better than most men; something caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which results in thick hair growing on her chest, face and arms.

Another is caused by her religious practises. Harnaam proudly identifies with the Sikh religion, which forbids the trimming of body hair (why she grows the beard).

However Sikhism also shuns body modifications, something Harnaam has plenty of.

I realise that having tattoos is not something Sikhs do,” she said.

“I am not a religious person, I am a spiritual person who believes that we are all free to live the way we deem fit. We should be able to speak to god and experience him in our own ways.”

But instead of adapting to pressure of negativity, Harnaam marches to the beat of her own drum, thriving off hateful comments as motivation for spreading awareness.

At 24, she’s admirably made a name for herself while inviting the world to join her as she learnt to love her beard.

But her road to a positive mindset about her appearance wasn’t travelled easily.

As a teen she juggled puberty (her facial hair started at 11) while submitted to cruel taunts from peers, ignorant to her condition or the toll the bullying was taking on her.

At the age of 16 I hit my biggest low. I had been suicidal due to immense bullying from school and people in society. I hid away and did not want to venture out into the public,” she said.

“I was hugely depressed. I remember sitting on my bed and thinking about my life. I sat and counselled myself. At that point I decided I wanted to be me, I decided to keep my beard and step forward against societies expectations of what a woman should look like.”

Despite her ability to grow the beard many men would be envious of, Harnaam says she has never doubted her sexuality and always identified as female.

“I do get the odd looks from people young and old, but I am used to them by now. I mean it has been 7.5 years of me being a bearded lady, if I am not used to it now when will I ever be.”

“I am a woman so I obviously have womanly attributes such as breasts. I love my eyes; I feel that the beard actually brings out my eyes, so I tend to celebrate them with thick eyeliner and other eye makeup. I think my lips make me look feminine too. I have big cushiony lips which I love to dress with lipstick or lip gloss.”

“I can’t exactly pin point everything that makes me feel feminine because I will just end up naming all the parts of my body, but I feel my face is very feminine even with a luscious beard.”

She recalled the first time she went in public with a beard as a teen:

“Going out into the public was a horrifying experience. I remember going out to tour London with a group of friends. It seemed as if the whole world had come out to just stare and point at me. I remember being very miserable during the trip but my friends were there to help me along the way and keep me happy as much as they could,” she said.

But things improved for Harnaam from there as she gained the confidence to go out and enjoy herself.

“I do get the odd looks from people young and old, but I am used to them by now. I mean it has been 7.5 years of me being a bearded lady, if I am not used to it now when will I ever be.”

While Harnaam has become used to negative comments and taunts surrounding her appearance

She said she uses them as a motivator to educate the world about multiculturalism, religion and PCOS.

“I do not get angry any more. The rude comments motivate me to carry on keeping my beard and to educate the world. We are all so beautifully different in our own perfect way. Opinions of people does not waver me from keeping this beard.”

But it hasn’t all been negative, the beard has opened doors for Harnaam; something she’s well aware of.

“It has been mind-blowing to see what my beard has done for me. I have met such amazing people who are both bearded and not bearded.” She said.

And while she’d be open to the idea of finding love and starting a family in the future, Harnaam’s focus now is on improving her health and continuing to spread her body love message.

“We need to start celebrating our beautifully perfect bodies. If I could, I would tell each and every person on this earth just how precious and beautiful they really are,” she said.

For more on Harnaam Kaur follow her Instagram @HarnaamKaur.

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Written by Natasha Christian

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Natasha Christian is a news producer for Yahoo7 and editor for Beardspo.com. She also runs mental health project Anxiety Exists and has a never ending Lego collection. She currently lives in Perth, Australia.

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