In the past few years, there has been a significant development within the body confidence movement, and many women have decided to push back against the stigma surrounding facial hair.
Beauty standards and fashion trends change over time- but there is one thing that never goes out of style-being yourself. Psychologists keep reminding us that there is one relationship that needs to be developed and nurtured all the time- the one we have with ourselves.
Therefore, being able to accept and love yourself is something that could be learned, and more people are becoming aware of its importance. Recently, women with visible facial hair have decided to raise their voices and stand up for themselves!
Throughout history, these women were seen as sideshow attractions. Society has taught the masses that all women are hairless and smooth, but in reality, female body hair is very common, as around 40% of women grow facial hair.
Yet, the stigma surrounding this issue has numerous negative consequences, and one survey of 1,000 women showed that 30 % of women with unwanted facial hair suffer from clinical depression.
Moreover, 25 percent of them believe it has held them back from a promotion, and over 40% of them claim that it has affected their ability to form relationships. As a result of this, an increasing number of women are struggling to push back against this stigma, by embracing the hair that grows naturally on their bodies.
Harnaam Kaur: The Bearded Lady
If you haven’t already, meet Harnaam Kaur, a model, Instagram celebrity, and life coach. This 27-year-old girl suffers from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and one of her symptoms is known as hirsutism, which causes excessive facial hair growth.
Back in school, Harnaam was bullied by other kids. Nowadays, she is a successful young woman, and the first bearded woman to walk in London Fashion Week in March 2016.
She was also featured in the Guinness Book of Records for being the youngest woman to have a full-grown beard.
She is open and proud about her life. She has become a spokesperson and representative for the “Eff Your Beauty Standards” campaign, which advocates greater acceptance of diverse body types, launched by plus-sized model Tess Holliday.
“My diverse body has shaped me as a person. Most importantly, with or without my beard, I am still powerful. I love my body and the way that she has formed, now I am here to help show others that they can love and cherish their bodies too.”
Yet, she also explains that the stigma around female facial hair is being affected by the media industry, advertising, and porn. She adds that we will consider right the thing that we continuously see.
Plus, the more this image differs from us, the more we will try to change ourselves.
She says that things have started to change in the last few years:
“I believe that more and more women are beginning to realize and understand their worth. There has been such a great development within the body confidence movement which is allowing women to become more and more confident and comfortable within their own body; and so they should.”
Harnaam adds that she will never shame one body against another, as everyone should feel included in society.
She also adds that living with facial hair can be very hard due to the imposed beauty standards, so one has to be mentally strong to embrace it and be proud of their true self.
“I am pro-choice. The issue comes when one body shape and size is being put on a pedestal and is being portrayed as the norm. I would personally never force anyone to keep or remove anything in their body. I live by one rule ‘my body my rules’ and I hope everyone does too.”
Harnaam is not the only woman who has decided to speak out and challenge societal expectations.
Sophia Hadjipanteli and Scarlett Costello also support the #unibrowmovement, and Nova Galaxia, Shelly Riner, Little Bear Schwarz, J.D. Samson, and Femina Flower all sport facial and body hair proudly.
Nova Galaxia wrote:
“Women shouldn’t have to shave if they choose not to, but what about those of us who have way more hair than what is considered socially acceptable? What about us women with dark, thick tummy and chest hair? What about us women who are fully capable of growing a big, bushy beard?”
Hirsutism affects between 5 and 10% of women. The hair in women with this condition grows coarse and dark, and usually appears on the face, back, and chest.
In some cases, it is a result of a process called virilization, which is also characterized by balding, acne, deepening voice, increased muscle mass, reduced breast size, and enlargement of the clitoris.
Yet, the main cause of hirsutism remains hyperandrogenism, which is when a woman has excessive levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) accounts for three out of every four cases of hirsutism. This is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age and leads to prolonged menstrual periods or excess levels of male hormones.
It can also be a result of obesity, the use of certain medications, and diseases of the ovaries, adrenal glands, or the pituitary gland.