Words: Ellie June Goodman
Featured Image: Catherine Mills
Harnaam Kaur and her lady beard are championing the beauty of female body hair.
Having Polycystic ovary syndrome is a challenge that many women face, with painful, uncomfortable and often embarrassing symptoms such as irregular or painful periods, or excess body hair. But, Harnaam Kaur (who was diagnosed with PCOS aged 12) doesn’t think body hair should be embarrassing, and so, she is working to help women both accept and celebrate their hair.
After years of painful, time-consuming, and ultimately futile hair removal to make others feel more comfortable with her appearance, at age 16, Kaur decided to let her natural hair grow. Now, at 27, she is a beacon of self-love; fighting against society’s standards of hairless women by unpending gender norms.
I find it negatively amazing how a woman’s body has politics attached to it. From our hair which is discriminated when naturally adorned, to our face and the make up we wear. From the clothes we buy which can’t show too much, just enough so we can be sexualised. Having the freedom to show more opens the doors to be slut shamed and being raped. To our breast, which we can’t feed our children with in public. To our vaginas and our taxed periods, down to our feet, where in some Work places we must wear heels and show ourselves to be womanly. Right now, we need rights just to be a woman. 😵 📸- @catalinababs
Kaur embraces the hair on her own body (something which we all have) and encourages all women to do the same by calling out beauty companies and the standards they set in their advertisements. In an essay for Refinery29, she says:
“I have so many questions about the beauty standards imposed on us by society. … Razor brands have on a number of occasions been called out for using hairless women in their hair-removing commercials. Hair on a woman’s body, we are told, is so unsightly that it can’t even be shown to sell a hair-removal product! How can the sight of hair put women OFF buying a razor? Can you even begin to imagine what this does to a woman’s self-esteem?”
Consistently open and honest about her struggles and experiences, she is a breath of fresh air in the world of body-positivity; not trying to change or “better” herself to fit into the expected image of femininity, nor constantly positive about her appearance: she has spoken frankly about the hinderance she has found her hair to be, but also of how she would never wish change.
I have such a love hate relationship with my beard! She has actually fucked my life up so bad, I can’t even tell you ! She’s fucked up chances to get into a relationship! She stopped me from having a social life! People distanced themselves from me! I had issues with my family because of the change in my appearance! My education suffered! I have been bullied to the point of self harm and suicide! I have received uncountable amounts of death threats! I suffered years of social anxiety and depression. …. BUT!! Having her has been so rewarding too! ….. I wouldn’t change her for the world! My tough times are fucking hard! I die everyday just to survive! Waking up everyday is a huge blessing! I’m surprised I haven’t been killed yet! I’m surprised I haven’t been shot or stabbed yet! Being different is a blessing, yes it’s amazing, but the shit you have to go through just to live will either make you or break you! Each and everyday you survive will make you stronger, it will make you resilient. Sure, you will have down days just as I do! I cry every single day just to release tension (I’d rather do it by sex by heyy we can’t have everything haha😈🙈) Cry,rejuvenate, let the emotions go and stand up stronger than before! Personal growth, self growth is key!! I promise 💯🙏🏽🌺🌺 📸- @kezcoo 💄- @norabelovai
Harmaan Kaur, is an inspiring figure bravely disturbing the accepted appearance of women in order to make room for new definitions of beauty. Already off to an impressive beginning acquiring an audience of almost 100 thousand, when asked what her next steps would be, Kaur replied: “collaborating with as many magazines and doing as many TV appearances as I can, to show women that you don’t have to look a certain way to be happy”.