A bearded British Sikh woman has spoken movingly about her battle to overcome an embarrassing illness and the bullies that left her “feeling suicidal”.
Harnaam Kaur, 24, suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome which causes an imbalance of the female sex hormone estrogen.
The condition led her to growing thick facial hair from when she was as young as eleven.
After years of desperately trying different methods to get rid of her facial hair – including waxing and bleaching – she embraced the condition by being turning to Sikkism which forbids the cutting of body hair.
Harnaam told ITV’s This Morning: “At the end of the day, I love myself and the way that I’m formed”.
She said that she had attempted to take her own life after suffering cruel taunts from bullies in school.
“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.”
“It take a lot of strength to say, ‘I want to kill myself’”.
That moment, she says, “empowered” her to take stock of her life and to carry on.
“I live my life the way I see fit. I stand for what I am. To be labelled as a woman you can look however you want. 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.
“It makes me feel like a brave, confident woman who isn’t afraid to break society’s norms.”
Photograph by Brock Elbank
In 2014, Harnaam was featured as part of a charity photography exhibition celebrating the world’s best beards.
Project 60 by photographer Brock Elbank raised funds for skin cancer awareness.
Harnaam’s new-found confidence has also led the teaching assistant to campaign against bullying.
She is working on a project to show the impact of bullying, especially on children, with the anti-bullying charity Fixers.