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Harnaam Kaur was bullied for having excess body hair as a child, which was due to PCOS. However, she rose above it and today advocates body positivity.
Bullying is pervasive – at schools, in neighbourhoods, at workplaces and even in the families. It is, however, most commonly associated with school-going students, and its after-effects are profound and often life-shattering. Children or youngsters are bullied for various reasons – their race or ethnicity, their skin colour, their appearance, their clothes, their size, or even for wearing glasses.
Harnaam Kaur, 26, was bullied, too. This British Sikh girl had been at the receiving end of cruel taunts and jokes for excessive body hair. As a very young kid she was ridiculed for her size and skin colour and as she grew up, she was being taunted for excess hair on her body and face.
She began to grow a beard when she turned 11. She tried every method to get rid of it – shaving, waxing, threading, you name it. But the hair always grew back with fervour and she continued to be the butt of jokes in her school. The hair removal methods she employed were painful leaving her skin damaged and bleeding, but nothing she did made any difference to her treatment at school. She suffers from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – a hormonal disorder causing excessive hair growth and weight gain. It has no cure.
She was being abused and tormented each day for something she had no control over. She even contemplated suicide to end it all.
Cut to present day, Harnaam Kaur – a model – dons winged eyeliner with a dash of lipstick. A picture of strength and confidence, this amazingly beautiful woman dons her lush black beard with same élan as she sports her beautifully manicured nails.
Last year, she earned a place in Guinness Book of World Records for being the youngest woman to have a beard. Once tormented for being different, she is now an anti-bullying advocate and a body-positivity campaigner.
It was she and she alone who made this transformation possible. As Harnaam Kaur turned 16, she decided to accept and embrace herself the way she was. She let her beard grow, remaining unapologetic for doing so. She also started to wear the traditional Sikh turban.
But the treatment at her school didn’t get any better. In fact, now, even elders and strangers started taunting her for her appearance. But the teenager learnt to ignore and move forward. She drew on her inner strength and willpower and transformed herself from a self-loather to a self-lover.
Harnaam Kaur has come long way since then. She has strutted down the runway at London Fashion Week and posed for fashion shoots with flowers adorning her beard as she inspires youngsters and adults alike to stand up against bullying and accept and embrace themselves the way they are.
“I hope those who read or see my record can take away positivity, inspiration and realise that no matter who you are or what you look like, you are officially amazing,” said the incredibly inspiring woman in an Instagram post after being announced a world record holder.
More power to you, girl!
Published here earlier.
Image Source: Flickr