A Guinness World Record breaking woman has spoken out about how she has found new confidence, now that she has grown a full beard.
Harnaam Kaur, 23, from Slough in Berkshire has become the youngest woman to grow a full beard and, when speaking to BBC Asian Network, has declared: “I’m confident and I love myself.”
She has been growing facial hair since she was 14, due to polycystic ovary syndrome.
This means that she has been letting her hair grow for the past seven years.
Harnaam now embraces the beard and says: “I don’t want to look like a typical woman.”
She may be confident in her body now but it hasn’t always been that way.
When Harnaam was 11, she started to have facial hair, which spread to other areas of the body.
She became an instant target for secondary school bullies.
Harnaam recalls: “All through secondary school I was bullied by I would say the whole school.
“It was absolutely horrible. I hated waking up. I was imprisoned.”
Harnaam would wax twice a week and tried bleaching and shaving to combat the hair growth.
This led to the hair growing back thicker and stronger.
By the age of 14, Harnaam had started to self-harm, as she refused to leave the house. She then thought about taking her own life.
Harnaam revealed: “I would say I was imprisoned in my bedroom where I kept myself.
“It was about a year on when I thought to myself ‘Right, this is not helping me in any sort of way’.
“It [self-harming] caused me a lot more emotional harm than it did good.
“I think unless someone actually steps into your shoes they’re not going to realise what you’re going through.”
Harnaam continued: “As a teenager I would look at magazines I would see beautiful women on TV and I would want to look like them.
“It was horrible to see my friends having boyfriends and having no-one who was attracted to me.
“I walked around thinking ‘Wow, you are one ugly ducking’.”
She stopped using a razor for good when she was 16. This was when she was baptised as a Sikh and it is seen as a symbol of respect to God’s creation to grow it naturallu.
She now feels she’s “blossomed” because of this decision.
Harnaam continued: “I battled so much with the concept of keeping my hair.
“Even after I still used to remove, but that was only for about a month or so afterwards.
“I realised the deep meaning of not removing facial hair.
“It was probably from that moment that I thought to myself ‘I’m going to stop, I’m going to throw away this razor’.”
She now feels comfortable in her own skin and has embraced her Guinness World Record.
“I think I had finally found myself in my natural form.
“As my self-confidence has soared I’m more open to talking to new people. I think I’ve blossomed in a way.”