Harnaam Kaur has polycystic ovary syndrome, 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. She fully embraces her unique look and hopes to encourage others to do the same.
I absolutely love weddings. I grew up attending Sikh, Hindu and western weddings and although each event was very different from the next, each time I would look at the bride in awe, transfixed by her beauty and elegance. Each and every one of them looked like a goddess, and I remember feeling excited about dressing up and being a bride myself one day.
Wearing the most gorgeous dress, carrying the prettiest floral bridal bouquet and marrying the man or woman of your dreams – there is so much to look forward to at a wedding! However I would imagine that for most of you, making preparations for your big day can be quite stressful, not only because you’re concerned about how it will turn out, but because of anxieties about your body or appearance.
Although there are pressures for woman to look a certain way whatever their race, in talking to my friends I have found that Asian women are put under a very particular kind of pressure to look perfect when they walk down the aisle. One of my friends who got married recently spent so much time in the morning worrying about if her make up was perfect (and if her skin looked light enough), whether she looked bloated from breakfast, and if all her body hair was removed properly that she was almost two hours late. I had another friend who told me that her future husband said he would only marry her if she had laser treatment all over her body to remove her excess hair. I’m pleased to say that she didn’t marry him in the end!
Now, I understand that most brides want to look perfect on their wedding day, but it’s a fine line between wanting to feel happy and confident, and making yourself look a certain way because friends, family or society tells you that you should! Why do so many women feel the need to conform and fit into what other people say is beautiful?
Another added pressure I’ve noticed in Asian culture is the desire for brides to not only please her future husband, but his family as well. Too many times to mention I have overheard Indian mothers saying certain girls were too short/ too fat/ too tall/ too hairy to marry their sons. Every time I am absolutely horrified. I have always been shocked by how much women are judged for the way that they look, and although it happens to men too, it certainly doesn’t to the same extent.
I started growing thick hair on my body and face when I hit puberty. At 11 years old I was diagnosed PCOS which is a condition where there is an imbalance in hormones within the female body. This led me to have more male hormones then female ones which meant my hair grew like a man’s and I developed beard. I used to shave and wax my face but at the age of 16, after years of being bullied, self-harming and feeling suicidal, I thought enough was enough and I let it grow out. Since then, I have never felt more content, happy, and in love with my body.