Harnaam Kaur is a 23 year old woman who has been featured in the news recently. She appeared on This Morning on the 20th February 2014, which I watched, and I can honestly say that it’s been a long time since I watched something so refreshing.
Harnaam suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome, which has altered her hormones and therefore caused excessive hair growth. After years of taunts from strangers and school bullies, desperately trying to rid herself of the extra hair with waxes or creams, Harnaam was baptised as a Sikh. As a Sikh, she was entered into the belief that the body should remain intact, and as such, natural hair should not be cut.
As a result of no longer removing the hair, Harnaam has grown a full beard on her face – yet says she feels more feminine than ever. I have to say, I have the utmost respect for her for doing this. Personally, it’s not something that I would ever even consider, so I really do admire her courage.
I think that it is so beautiful to see an individual so bravely smash their way through the social image of the ‘perfect woman’ that so many young girls and women strive to be like. In a world where the ideal woman is presented as a real-life Barbie doll, with a tiny waist, slim body and yet somehow voluptuous curves, cascading blonde hair and tanned skin with perfect teeth, it’s so inspiring to see that Harnaam is happy with herself exactly as she is.
Harnaam’s beard was a target for bullies when she was younger and therefore something that she would have every right to associate with negativity, but she has courageously accepted that it is part of her, part of her as a person and part of her natural beauty. She encompasses the very self-confidence that I wish I had myself – that she is happy with her physical appearance and is resisting the pressure to change, not for herself, but for the acceptance of others.
She also built up my ever-growing admiration for her by appearance in newspapers and on national television to speak about her experience. Revealing such a personal battle with self-image to the general public is something that again requires such a strong sense of confidence that I wish I had myself. To me, Harnaam has proven herself to be a ray of sunshine in a society that is so quick to criticise the superficial. In her interview on This Morning she said that she works with children, who are unsurprisingly curious about her condition and appearance, but that she is happy to explain and joke with them about it rather than feeling judged or mocked. Personally I think this is a real reflection of how young children have no set perception of beauty until they’re unfortunately introduced to it by our overly critical media later on, but I digress. Harnaam is a beautiful girl and a beautiful person and a real inspiration to women.
If Harnaam can embrace her femininity through a medical condition and the resulting beard, then I can certainly find it in me to have bad hair days or overcome insecurities about my figure. I won’t be leaving the house without make-up any time soon, but let’s take it one step at a time, shall we?