"You are absolutely amazing just as you are. Never let the words and taunts of others break you or put you down."
24-year-old Harnaam Kaur from Slough, Berkshire, is an inspiration for many, with her words of wisdom and her role in redefining what it means to be beautiful. Diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder which causes excessive hair growth, Harnaam started growing a beard at the age of 16. The teaching assistant initially spent much time, effort and thousands of pounds trying to get rid of it, but to no avail. After converting to Sikhism, though, a religion which prohibits the cutting of hair, Harnaam decided to embrace her appearance for what it was.
"When I first started growing my beard it was for religious reasons but as the years have gone by, I’ve kept it for more personal reasons," she said in an interview conducted after her photo was included in an exhibition celebrating the world's best facial hair. "It makes me feel like a brave, confident woman who isn't afraid to break society’s norms."
It hasn't always been smooth sailing for Harnaam, though, and as she struggled to deal with her sprouting beard coupled with the bullying jibes of her insensitive peers, she began to self-harm. "Going through primary and secondary school with the facial hair, kids can be nasty. It led me to self harm and wanting to take my own life," she told Mirror.co.uk.
"I remember sitting on my bed and thinking about taking my own life," she told Rock n Roll Bride. "But instead, as I sat there, I started to counsel myself. I told myself ‘The energy you are putting into ending your life, put all that energy into turning your life around and doing something better’."
"Today I am happy living as a young, beautiful, bearded woman," she revealed. "I have realised that this body is mine. I own it. I do not have any other body to live in so I may as well love it unconditionally.”
Harnaam Kaur is an inspiration to every woman who's ever been made to feel self-conscious due to her appearance, which is quite possibly every single one of us. A living example of one who is truly walking the talk. And after looking at these photos, we're sure you'll agree: it is her happiness, and the sense of how comfortable she is in her skin, that makes her truly beautiful, and beatific.
Words: Aditi Dharmadhikari