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Monday 24th September 2018

Woman bullied for years over excess body hair reveals why she's finally learnt to love her looks

Leah Jorgensen appeared on today's This Morning

A woman who used to be ashamed of her body because it's covered in excess hair has revealed why she's finally proud of her appearance.

Leah Jorgensen, from Wisconsin in the USA, has hirsutism due to a medical condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Leah shared her story via video link with Holly and Phil on today's This Morning (Credit: ITV)

One of the side effects of the problem is excess body hair, which Leah discovered when she turned 13 and started to notice dark, black hair growing on her chest, back, arms and legs.

"It was terrifying. I didn't know how to handle it as wasn't what I was expecting to happen to my body," she told Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby via video link on today's This Morning.

"I was aware at that age of society's expectation to be a hairless young woman."

My anxiety over my body held me back.

Leah admitted she was "terrified" when excess hair started growing on her body due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (Credit: ITV)

Leah said she became a "sensitive and insecure teenager" and "school was very difficult as hair started to spread everywhere."

She would shave for four hours a day and try to hide her body as much as possible but she was still bullied.

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She added that a doctor she saw about her problem also "traumatised her" as she pulled a disgusted face when Leah revealed her body, and told her she had "never seen such an extreme case".

"I felt awful about myself," Leah said. "For the next 15 years my daily goal was to get through the day without anyone seeing how hairy I was. It took a toll on my mental health."

The 33-year-old was ashamed of her body for years but now has the confidence to wear a bikini (Credit: ITV)

Now aged 33, Leah's life changed as a result of a car crash.

She explained: "Two years ago I was hit by a car and my leg was badly injured. Paramedics came to look at my body and had to cut my clothes off. That was the first time in a long time someone saw my body for what it was.

"They treated me with respect and kindness and it was a big shift for me."

Her experience made her realise she didn't have to hide away for fear of being judged and ridiculed.

She said: "It has changed my life. There's a lot of things I didn't pursue and my anxiety over my body held me back.

Leah has started an Instagram account where she shares pictures of her figure as she wants to show the world "bodies like mine exist" (Credit: ITV)

"Now I am much closer to my friends and family. It was harmful for me to keep this secret and feel ashamed."

Leah now wants to help others feel more body confident and she's started an Instagram account where she shares selfies with her followers.

She was delighted to flaunt her figure in a bikini for the first time over the summer.

Leah is now proud rather than ashamed to share this picture of her back hair taken in a mirror (Credit: ITV)

"When I posted on Instagram it resonated with people," she said. "Women all over the world found it and it made me realise there is a place and it needs to be talked about that bodies like mine exist."

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She added that she feels so happy and confident now, she wishes she "could go back and tell teenage Leah what's to come."

You can follow Leah's on Instagram @happyandhairy