There were ten minutes left in the class. We’d completed the lesson for the day so my English teacher decided we could use the time to talk. My friends and I were seated in the back as usual in a circle that didn’t always stay a circle because of bouts of laughter and bathroom trips. We were talking about kissing. One of the guys pointed to my friend and I and said our faces were perfect because of its round shape. He then proceeded to demonstrate. He reached out and gently cupped her face the way he would if he were to kiss her. He then made the motion toward me. I froze immediately. If he touched my face, he would feel the stubble of my beard from not shaving for four days. It was a stretch but I hadn’t restocked on razors. I smacked his hand and told him he’d have to buy me dinner first. I was able to avoid another incident like the one that happened earlier that week when a friend told me my face felt like his dad’s. I came across this memory after reading a Refinery29 article about Harnaam Kaur, a body image activist who landed herself in the book of Guinness World Records for 2017 for her luscious beard.
I wish I could say I was inspired to grow out my own beard and embrace my insecurities for what they were, but I couldn’t. I thought back to my days in middle school of staring at my stubble in the mirror after someone called me sir or the countless days in high school of holding my face because two days was too soon to shave. I remembered thinking to myself how I would never be pretty enough for any boy and no matter my parts that made me inherently female, I would never be considered a [real] woman.
It isn’t easy being a bearded lady. Although I have hair everywhere from my knuckles to my lower back, my facial hair will always be the most humiliating. Not many people can think past the idea of a woman with a beard essentially faced with forces outside of her control. When I tried to explain that I have Hirsutism, a condition of unwanted, male-pattern hair growth due to an excess of testosterone, no one wanted to hear my excuse about hormone irregularities. They also didn’t care that this it is also a symptom of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which will make me and the other five to ten percent of women of childbearing age affected by PCOS unable to have children.
I did not, however, let this cripple my way of living. After years of razors bumps and shadows, I’ve learned to live with my imperfections. I decided my insecurities were nothing more than irrational fears that are the result of unrealistic societal standards. I no longer see myself as less than a woman for something as natural as fur on an animal. As a unique and truly beautiful human being, I am what I am. In the words of Harnaam Kaur, “My body, my rules.”
Photo By: Delia Curtis