Harnaam Kaur loves being a girl. She wears dresses, makeup and paints her nails. But the 24-year-old British woman also has a full, luscious beard and has affectionately donned herself the “Bearded Dame.”
“I love my beard. I say it with pride. I am fist pumping the air right now … I can’t describe to you how much strength she has given me, just to be who I am,” the woman, a teacher’s aide and anti-bullying activist, told ABC.
Harnaam didn’t used to feel this way. At 16, she decided to kill herself after years of vicious taunts from classmates who “made my life a living hell every day,” she said in an interview with People. That she’s fully bearded isn’t her fault – Kaur was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome at 11, and the cysts on her ovaries release male hormones, the Daily Mail added.
For years, the woman didn’t want to be bearded – she shaved it, used creams, threading and waxing regularly. But all she got was a face full of scabs and still, she was bullied.
With the pills in her hand, Harnaam realized a lot of energy went towards thoughts of suicide. And that energy was better used elsewhere – even if she was still going to be bullied every day.
“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.”
But religion also dictated that she embrace her bearded appearance. Harnaam is Sikh, and her faith actually forbids the removal of bodily hair. Keeping it not only allowed her to enjoy her uniqueness, but became an expression of her spirituality, ABC added.
These days, the bearded woman now embraces the facial hair that makes her unique, that to her demonstrates how beauty can be diverse and not perfect. And it’s a message that people who are bullied need to hear.
To that end, she is part of an anti-bullying campaign called Labels and was the only bearded woman – or woman period – featured in melanoma-awareness photograph series called Project 60; the other models were bearded men.
With her painted nails and makeup, the Bearded Dame is the picture of what beauty can be, outside social norms that cause so many people who don’t meet those expectations to be bullied. And the bearded woman, or Dame, hopes she can be an example for others.
“I stand up for a diverse look in beauty. I believe that we cannot label what is perfect in society these days, as people are different from each other. I pray that my followers become body confident and strong. I trust that they will see that beauty is not just about what a person looks like from the outside, but all about the gems that they hold inside, too.”
[Photo Courtesy Harnaam Kaur Instagram]