Harnaam Kaur has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which meant she started growing a beard from aged 11. Battling to remove her hair every day, and bullied at school, she started to self harm and considered suicide. Harnaam is now a body-confidence and anti-bullying activist and she fully embraces her unique look and hopes to encourage others to do the same. So when this bridal shoot using Harnaam as the model was submitted to me I nearly jumped out of my skin with excitement!
“I am a British born female living in Slough”, Harnaam told me. “I am a little different from other women. “I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries from a really young age, around the time I hit puberty. PCOS is a condition in which there is an imbalance in hormones within the female body, this has led me to have more male hormones then female ones, and it is also the reason to why I have a beard. I used to have my face waxed 2 to 3 times a week, and on the days I couldn’t bare the pain I would simply shave.”
“I had a great upbringing and a really happy family life but I was severely bullied all the way through school, starting from nursery right through to my late secondary school days. I even got beaten up a few times. I became very aggressively suicidal and I even resorted to self harm.”
“At the age of 16 I hit my biggest low. I had been suicidal all year due to immense bullying from school and people in society. I hid away and did not want to venture out into the public. My bedroom was my only safe haven. I was hugely depressed. I remember sitting on my bed and thinking about taking my own life. 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’.”
“At that point I decided I wanted to be me. I decided to keep my beard and step forward against society’s expectations of what a woman should look like. Today I am not suicidal and I do not self harm. Today I am happy living as a young beautiful bearded woman. 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.”
“I stopped self harming and I have now fallen in love with the elements on my body that people may call ‘flaws’. I love my beard, my stretch marks and my scars. These elements make me who I am, they make me whole, they make me complete. My beard has 100% become a part of my body. It is the source of my strength and confidence. People just see the beard as hair, but my beard for me is much more than that. I keep my hair to show the world a different, confident, diverse and strong image of a woman. I love my beard, it has become a part of my body. I look at it and is it a sign to me that we are all different and none of us are born the same. I love my lady beard and I will forever cherish it.”
“We need to realise that every one of us is different”, she advises. “We are all imperfectly perfect. I wanted to show society that beauty isn’t just about looking a certain way, we are all so different and we should all celebrate our individuality. I used to keep my beard for religious reasons, but now I keep my hair to show the world a different, confident, diverse and strong image of a woman. I love my beard, it has become a part of my body and I do not want to remove it. Love yourself, YOU are the only YOU that YOU have.”
This bridal shoot was put together to show that being beautiful is about is way more than just being a size 8, supermodel.
“I first saw Harnaam’s portrait in the Beard Exhibition held at Somerset House in March,” photographer Louisa of Urban Bridesmaid Photography told me. “She was the only female in the exhibition. I then went online and Googled her and read up on her. I had always been intrigued by the thought of floral beards and a thought came to me of wouldn’t it be cool to have a floral beard on a woman. I emailed Harnaam and she was excited and wanted to get involved.”
For more inspirational alternative wedding ideas, you can pre-order the next issue of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine right now. On sale September 3rd, it costs £4.99 (including free postage if you’re in the UK) and we ship worldwide.