We Bite Back

Wise words from a young woman who has no ED
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Author:  Spender [ Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Wise words from a young woman who has no ED

"...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..."

Read her full response and the discussion here

I found it here

Try to think about her wisdom when next you look in the mirror.

Author:  wickedrache [ Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: These are very wise words from someone who is not...

such beautiful words. when i read them it made my heart flutter.

Author:  Kaz [ Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: These are very wise words from someone who is not...

That was so beautiful to read! Thank you so much for posting it!

Author:  faustinchen [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: These are very wise words from someone who is not...

Okay, I'm going to be the voice of dissent here.

First off, of course it's awesome that she stands up to the bully and doesn't bow to society's - or simply some random dude's expectations about how she should look.
Of course it's admirable she accepts herself the way she is. Of course it's awesome she's confident enough not to be swayed by unwarranted criticism.
Of course she is allright just the way she is and needn't change a thing. Unless, which leads me to my objections, *she* wants to.

The reasons she gives rub me the wrong way.
It's not because her body is her own, but rather already the property of some other entity.
She sees no choice in how to relate to her body and herself. In what to do with her body.
She follows a divine commandment.

At least for me personally, I see no way to seperate self-acceptance from re-claiming my autonomy.
For me, being self-defined is too crucial.
And I simply don't see that here.

Sure, it's not *your* place to tell me to shave my legs or wear or not wear x or why. But if I want to shave or get a haircut or a piercing that's my choice, completely mine and completely okay.

Author:  katemaree [ Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: These are very wise words from someone who is not...

I really like this thread, I like what she had to say along with the responses. Even through questioning what she has said, as Julia has done. I think the beauty in it is choosing to have a voice. She feels comfortable with who she is and has said so, and Julia you are right to with how you view autonomy and the decisions you make for yourself.

We do live in a world that glorifies size 0 but we also live in a world that for most of us gives us an opportunity to have a voice and to be who we want to be. Yes we have laws/rules etc but that's part of living within a society. We can choose to be who we want to be, say what we want, wear what we want (I'm aware not all parts of the world are like this) and we live in such a technological era that we have so many ways to have a voice and to be who we want to be, to be perceived however. This forum connects us from all over the globe and gives us an opportunity to have a voice.

I see the beauty in her words, not so much in literally what she is saying, although good on her, but just for the fact that she is raising her voice and saying this is who I am and its ok. We can believe in whatever we want, I can wear whatever I want tomorrow etc I'd love to feel so strongly at ease about myself, to be able to defend myself with such conviction and such self love.

Author:  Spender [ Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: These are very wise words from someone who is not...

I think I can kinda feel your sense of discomfort with this one, Julia; I get a similar sense in discussions about women who "choose" to wear burkas. But this woman struck me differently: she was talking about a god who tells her that her body is beautiful and sacred just the way she is, and if I were to be religious, that would be my kind of god. She has a voice in her head that is stronger than all the magazines, Hollywood, television, beauty industries and everything else put together, and she is happy! Would that we all could make that state of mind, with or without a god involved.

Author:  Kayla [ Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: These are very wise words from someone who is not...

Thank you for this, Sally. I read her story and I agree with all of what you have all said. Interestingly to me when I looked at her picture the first time I did NOT see her facial hair. I saw her bare feet! I had to go back and take a second look. I realize that had I seen her face on, in person I would have probably noticed her face first. I have no deep thoughts on what this means to me, just describing what I first saw. I think that her words and her self confidence are beautiful. I do hope that she truly does believe that she is well and perfectly made just the way that she is. And yes, Sally, I agree that her god sounds pretty awesome. I think it takes a whole lot of moxie to be able to be comfortable in a body that does not conform to society's standards. Good for her.

Of course the medical part of me has to wonder about why there are so many women of this particular sect(?) that have facial hair. What is it genetically that they have going on. But that is a whole different discussion that probably doesn't need to be pursued.

Author:  Spender [ Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Wise words from a young woman who has no ED

I found another post by this woman, and while, like Julia, I struggle with the "faith" aspect, I respect that she follows a faith that supports her body acceptance, no matter how difficult. Sure, I'd like us all to accept our bodies just because they are our bodies, and yes, there is a voice at the back of my head wondering why it is any different to starve because society says it is the right body image versus being ok because your religion says so.

But I think it comes down to mental illness, to be frank. We do not abuse our bodies through self-imposed starvation because society tells us to; in fact, to me society tells me that I am undeserving and worthless because I don't naturally come in that shape and can never achieve it. But religion and faith are not mental illnesses, and one that promotes body love would be the kind of religion I have a lot of respect for.

Anyway, again, it's a difficult read, but I found a lot of wisdom in it, and think about the parallels with body image (for example, the difference between being bullied because you are fat versus having facial hair as a woman is...what, exactly? Emphasis added by me):

Dear Kaur,

A year ago, when I began to realize the depth of love Guru Sahib had to offer, I wrote to an older sister. I was muddled as to why people didn’t accept me, hurt because I had loved everyone around me and now they made fun of me, sad because I felt like Guru would never embrace me.

She responded, “keep going; this is the way of life – our struggles and victories will become inspirations for another Kaur on the same path, and the cycle will continue.”

And, today, her words ring true: the cycle has continued. And, I hope it never ends.

My story is long and tedious.

My journey as a Kaur begins with a camp, a gurmat camp in Cleveland. Never previously exposed to gurmat, I was hesitant to leave my comfort-zone and experience Sikhi. But, there I saw Gursikh Kaurs, adorning themselves with dastaars and keeping their hair. They were filled with love and acceptance of others and their Guru. I could see their eyes burning with pyaar and humility — I felt at peace. There, I knew that I wanted to be like them. By mere coincidence, a Kaur tied my first dastaar and I fell in love. I had found that resting place that I was looking for in a place I never would have guessed. The seeds of love had been planted, but it took two years for them to grow out of the soil and into the open.

The journey was a long one: filled with thinly veiled insults, waterfall of tears, thorns upon thorns of pain, and anguish at the world. But, within those moments of sadness, there were gems of love to be found. Keertan, glimpses of sangat, the steady discipline of nitneym had kept going. Eight months after camp, I had started wearing my kakaars most of the time. But, my rehit was lacking. I still removed my hair, first out of necessity. Then, out of helplessness and fear. Not because of my own battles, but my family’s struggle as well. I had forgotten that they too were traveling on a journey with me. My mom had certain expectations of me as her only daughter: beautiful, girly-girl who loved to decorate herself, wear the best suits, and of course, mother-daughter bonding time over makeup and hair styles. She had envisioned a girl who people would see and say ‘look, she’s so beautiful’. And, to an extent, I had destroyed that dream of hers. Instead, I adopted a dastaar, discarded my capris, and banished my collection of earrings.

As this dilemma continued, Guru ji sent a reminder my way. We had travelled to San Francisco the summer before college. Sitting in the Fresno gurdwara, I remember looking around, seeing bibian with dastaars all around me. Never before had I seen so many Kaurs! Then, during divan a Kaur walked in, whose name I still don’t know, but whose memory I have not forgotten: yellow suit, white cardigan, tan skin, and a full beard. I watched her matha-tek and sit down, smiling at the little kid next to her. I looked back to my mom, and noticed that she had seen her too; my mom chose to cringe slightly. I chose to look back and just watch her from afar. I was in awe of her, not because she was different, but because I felt her pyaar for Guru and Hukam. I didn’t see her beard or physical beauty – to me, she was simply beautiful for wearing Guru’s baanaa. I saw her love. I saw her acceptance and contentment with who she was. In her, I saw Guru Sahib and the power of Gurmat.

California passed by, and I found myself on the steps of college – Ohio State University, home to 60,000 Buckeyes, only a handful of Sikhs, and one dastaar-vaali bibi — me. Back home, the sangat had seen me grow and were supportive; they knew who I was. Here, I was a stranger and I was confronted with another reality: Balpreet Kaur was the ‘turbaned girl with a moustache and unibrow’. All I got were stares, and awkward glances. Only a few people were courageous enough to come up and talk to me. Even then, I felt like a coward, hiding away in my room, looking over my shoulder to see if the boy that just passed was giggling at me or someone else. But, Guru Sahib made me walk on, constantly reminding me that if the Sahibzaadey could stand up to an army of 40,000, why can’t I? What’s stopping me from being confident in who I am? That answer came in the form of my interfaith work; I was stopping myself from being confident. I was placing my self-respect at the mercy of others instead of taking control of it myself.

It was time to take control. I decided to give my head, body, soul and life to Guru Sahib – I made the promise to walk this path with Shabad as my support, and Gurmat as my guide. Whether that promise is kept, that is Hukam. But, that day, something changed.

The image in the mirror started to change; instead of seeing ugly, I saw Mata Sahib Kaur’s daughter – the hair that I had found accursed before were jewels, and the discipline that seemed like a mountain became a mole hill. Then, the stares and the looks started to become clear – they weren’t out of hatred or ill-intentions. In those wandering eyes, I began to see flashes of ignorance and genuine curiosity; who wouldn’t stare at a shiny car or a unique flower?

The shabad, Teree Bhagat Naa Chhodo, Bhaavai Lok Hasae, rang true – truer than anything else I had heard. It gave me determination — the determination to keep going, to fall down, get up and keep walking in hopes of one day reaching my destination. Coupled with love for our Creator, so much so that I don’t want to let go of Vaahiguru’s hand, even in my wildest dreams – it awoke me.

But, this girl is still stumbling her way through the mud, just like the rest of her brothers and sisters. Sometimes, I still wonder ‘why me?’ and ponder ‘it is easier to just fit in’ but then, I realize how much love I feel when I’m singing keertan or at the gurdwara, or just walking around campus, watching the leaves fall to the ground – falling wherever the wind takes them; those moments are priceless compared to my momentary doubts and insecurities.

So, dearest Kaur: keep going, keep trying your best, and Guru Sahib will take care of the rest. This discipline is hard – no wonder Gurbaanee says its sharper than a sword and thinner than a hair. But, the Guru is amazing – with GurShabad as our support, we can all realize that this path is easier than breathing – it is about Love. By loving AkalPurakh through Gurmat, we lose ourselves in it and there is no difference between our soul and the Creator. Wherever you look, you will see your Beloved – even beyond this mask we have been given.

Love so much that it resonates with every single hair, every single breath, in every single moment, with every single action.

Your sister,

Balpreet Kaur


Author:  Spender [ Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wise words from a young woman who has no ED

Another young woman with a lot to teach most of us.

Sikh Woman Harnaam Kaur Embraces Facial Hair Despite Bullying That Left Her Suicidal

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A 23-year-old girl who was driven to self-harm by bullies who teased her mercilessly about her excessive facial hair has embraced her condition and now sports a full beard.

Harnaam Kaur has polycystic ovary syndrome which causes thick hair growth, despite her lengthy attempts to shave, wax and bleach it.

But now the primary school teaching assistant is so confident and content with her appearance she has even been baptised as a Sikh – a religion where it is forbidden to cut body hair.

Kaur, of Slough, Berkshire, said: “I would never ever go back now and remove my facial hair because it’s the way God made me and I’m happy with the way I am.

“I feel more feminine, more sexy and I think I look it too.

“I’ve learned to love myself for who I am nothing can shake me now.”

Thick hair began to sprout on her face, chest and arms when she was just 11-years-old and Kaur endured a childhood of cruel taunts and even online death threats.

The bullying became so bad Kaur even considered taking her own life when schoolmates began calling her “beardo”, “shemale” and “sheman”.

She said: “I can laugh about it now but back then it affected me so badly that I began to self harm because it felt better than all the abuse I was getting.

“I’d talk to people with a hand over my face and I wore baggy, tomboy clothes to cover up the hair on my chest and arms.

“I didn’t want to go outside my house because I couldn’t take the stares from strangers so I’d lock myself in my room.

“It got so bad that I just didn’t want to live any more.”

Kaur was 16 when she made became baptised – a decision which proved controversial with her own family.

“My mum and dad didn’t want me to do it – they didn’t think I’d be able to have a normal life if I had a beard,” she explained.

“They worried I wouldn’t be able to get married and that I’d never get a job.

“But I wanted to make my own decisions and live for myself – not anyone else.

“I’d had enough of hiding. I’d had enough of the bullying and the self-harming and the suicidal thoughts.

“I wanted to change my whole outlook on life and I thought I thought it was time to stop locking myself away – I had to do something about it.”

Baptised Sikhs follow the so-called "5 Ks," or five physical symbols that date back to the creation of the faith by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699, according to the BBC.

Kaur slipped once and shaved off her beard at the age of 17 after pressure from her extended family, but revealed: “All I could do was cry because I didn’t feel like myself without my beard.

“My brother was actually the one person who was completely shocked by what I had done – he hugged me and said I had looked so beautiful with my beard, he didn’t understand why I had done it.”

She added: “It was from that point that I thought I’m never going to remove it ever again.”

Since then Kaur’s confidence has soared.

She said: “I still get shop assistants calling me ‘sir’ and strange looks from people – they see my beard first and realise I’ve actually got breasts too. It must be confusing for a lot of people.

“The funniest reactions I get are from the children at my school. Some ask me what my beard is and I joke it’s a Halloween costume. Some even ask me where I buy it and I just say ‘Asda’.

“I can laugh about it now – sometimes I say I’m a man and I put on a deep voice to scare other people because it’s quite funny to see their reaction.”

Though she is often mistaken for a man, Harnaam says she feels more feminine than ever – choosing girly tops over baggy, high-necked jumpers.

She said: “I’m able to go out and shop in the women’s section without feeling I shouldn’t be there.

“I wear skirts, dresses and jewellery and I like to get my nails done like every other girl.”

In an attempt to help other women find self-confidence, Kaur has shared her story on YouTube and continues to upload videos despite receiving death threats.

She said: “I’ve had people telling me they’re going to burn me and throw a brick at me – all sorts of things like that.

“But I’ve also had a lot of positive messages from women in the same situation as me.

“I’ve also had loads of nice comments from men all over the world. One even asked me to marry him.

“I haven’t found a potential husband yet. I still get some grief from the men in my community and it does still seem to be a barrier to marriage.

“But I’m young and there’s still plenty of time for that.

“All that matters to me at the moment is that I love myself. I love my beard and all my other little quirks – my tattoos, my scars, stretch marks and blemishes.

“I want other women to find the strength that I have.

“If I had any message it would be to live the way you want – it’s your journey and it’s your life.”

Huffington Post - UK

Author:  Spender [ Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wise words from a young woman who has no ED

And perhaps, most importantly, what do we have to learn?

7 Body Image Lessons From The Bearded Lady

Meet our new body image hero. We could all learn a lot from Harnaam Kaur, a 23-year-old woman who is growing out her beard and feeling great about it. Kaur has been growing facial hair since adolescence due to polycystic ovary syndrome. Though she’s been through hell due to her condition, Kaur will no longer be shaving her facial her for religious reasons. Having facial hair may be atypical for a woman, but accepting it and growing it out is making this chick feel better about her appearance. We could all learn a lot about confidence, acceptance and our own perceived flaws from Harnaam Kaur.

Here are 8 body image lessons from this interview with the Bearded Lady:

  • Confidence glows. “If you feel great about yourself, you’ll probably look great too.“I feel more feminine, more sexy and I think I look it too.”
  • Accept yourself.“I’ve learned to love myself for who I am nothing can shake me now.”
  • You can overcome taunts and barbs from closed minded people. “I got bullied badly – at school I was called a ‘beardo’ and things like ‘shemale’ and ‘sheman.”
  • Closed-minded people will be huge assholes and violent maniacs over anything even slightly different. Screw them. “I’ve had people telling me they’re going to burn me and throw a brick at me – all sorts of things like that…”
  • Some people are really cool and they matter way more than the jerks. “But I’ve also had a lot of positive messages from women in the same situation as me.”
  • Adorn yourself however you like. Wear what you want to wear. “I wear skirts, dresses and jewellery and I like to get my nails done like every other girl.”
  • People find all sorts of stuff attractive. What makes you feel like a freak, might be beautiful to someone. “I’ve also had loads of nice comments from men all over the world – one even asked me to marry him!”
  • Do your thing. “I want other women to find the strength that I have. If I had any message it would be to live the way you want – it’s your journey and it’s your life.”


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