I am pretty sure many of you have read the cyberbullying case of Balpreet Kaur, an Ohio State University student with some visibly thick facial hair who, without her consent, had her picture taken and plastered on Reddit. If the link does not work for you, here is the pic:
If you have not read the articles about her photo, here is the Yahoo article.
In response to the tacky actions of Reddit user “european_douchebag” and numerous negative postings, Ms. Kaur said the following:
“Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn’t know about this until one of my friends told on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled 🙂 However, I’m not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] that this picture is getting because, it’s who I am. Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. Just as a child doesn’t reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying ‘mine, mine’ and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are. 🙂 So, if anyone sees me at OSU, please come up and say hello. I appreciate all of the comments here, both positive and less positive because I’ve gotten a better understanding of myself and others from this. Also, the yoga pants are quite comfortable and the Better Together tshirt is actually from Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that focuses on storytelling and engagement between different faiths. 🙂 I hope this explains everything a bit more, and I apologize for causing such confusion and uttering anything that hurt anyone.”
….And that was just a portion of her response to the nasty attacks!
Never, and I mean NEVER, in my life as a hirsute woman as well, have I responded to people’s ignorant and hurtful comments about a hormonal condition I simply thought I could not control with such eloquence and grace.
This woman said nothing harsh or counter-insulting about the people who attempted to put her down. Me? I would have wished holy hell to them…
I believe she is more courageous than me and frankly, she is a pretty girl! I can see her loveliness through the facial hair. And has a woman who has hair all over my damn body, hers looks rather minimum!
But the most attractive thing this woman said about herself and her facial features was how deeply rooted she was in her Skih faith. As she explains it, the Sikh faith strongly encourages a Sikh follower to channel their lives on their character and values, not manipulating their bodies, even clipping a few facial hairs, for ego or vanity or acceptance. According to the Yahoo article I posted, ego, anger, greed, attachment, and lust are the 5 evils of the Sikh faith.
In reading this woman’s courageous response to the what most women would deem as humiliation, I see her as a personal hero! I only wish I were so brave to live my life without giving not even the smallest once of a damn about my hirsutism. While I love my blog and sharing my journey and struggles with other hirsute women, it makes me even more encouraged to help women who may not have the faithful commitment to her choice of religion like Ms. Kaur to management their hirsutism and simply need a way to tackle this condition.
I don’t believe hirsutism or any health problem should consume everything about your life. But sometimes, as Ms, Kaur pointed out, the pressure, even internal pressure, to look “normal” is so fiercely stamped in TV and magazines and catalogs, that it’s deemed normal for women to spend millions on cosmetics to look acceptable. I say acceptable because I have seen some before and after photos of cosmetic enhancements and many were not improvements!
So yes I am going to continue my journey to manage my hirsutism, a condition that affects nearly 10% of all women. But reading Balpreet Kaur’s story helps me realize how beautiful we are as women, flaws and all, and how dearly it pays to be bigger than your haters!
You go Balpreet! I pray you read this and contact me!!! I would love to be pen pals!! :):):):)