Body Image Activist Harnaam Kaur Becomes The First Bearded Woman To Make History On The Runway

harnaam-kaur

We love Harnaam Kaur! In case you have not yet heard about this badass confident woman, she is a British-Sikh body image activist who has just made history by becoming the first bearded lady to walk in a major runway show at London Fashion Week.

Aside from now adding history-maker to her resume, Harnaam is also an anti-bullying activist and plus size model. Ever since being open about her struggle with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), she has appeared on a number of TV shows, Youtube videos and even appeared in various fashion campaigns. With her bravery in deciding not to remove the hair that grows due to a side effect of PCOS, she has become one of the most visible representations of living with a condition than many people may not know about.

Harnaam strutted her stuff down the LFW catwalk for jewelry designer Marianna Harutunian and posted some fierce images on her Instagram account. Her appearance was yet another solid chip away at the narrow beauty standards that still dominate on many of the world’s biggest fashion stages, including LFW.

“I grew up being told i was to fat, ugly, and disgusting to even model. I was told I’d never walk the runway. I used to look at models and tell myself that I will never ever be able to do what they are doing. I am not pretty enough or beautiful enough and I don’t have the ‘right’ body type. I was laughed at when i said i wanted to model. Jokes on my bullies. I was lucky enough to walk for @mariannaharutunian as the first bearded lady to walk for a celebrity jewellery designer. I was humbled to be the first model to walk and open the show for #royalfashionday…Every path is my runway! Walk with your head up high and ooze confidence always!” she wrote on one of the images she posted.

harnaam-kaur-runway

Harnaam first started to notice excessive facial hair growth at age 11 and until 16 years old she would remove it by waxing every 2-3 days, and shaving her beard on the days she couldn’t stand the pain of wax. But in a change of heart, partly due to her spirituality in her Sikh faith, she decided to accept her body for the way it is and stop removing the hair.

“My beard has 100 percent 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 lady beard and I will forever cherish it,” she said in an interview with Rock N Roll Bride, who she also modeled bridal wear for in June 2015.

“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,” she added.

It wasn’t such an easy transition to growing her beard. Harnaam was bullied a lot growing up, to the point where she made the decision to commit suicide. As she sat on her bed thinking about ending her life one day, she started counseling herself to change her perspective.

harnaam-kaur-runway

“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’,” she said.

Today that decision is having a profound effect on the world, and clearly it is something we needed to see.

It makes me feel like a brave, confident woman who isn’t afraid to break society’s norms,” she told the Daily Mail about her decision to be such a public spokesperson for anti-bullying.

She also joined the #EffYourBodyStandards movement, started by model Tess Holliday, to raise awareness about bullying and body shaming that happens in society.

“I am passionate about helping both men and women find self love and body confidence with in themselves. As a Bearded Lady, I love portraying a diverse image in the media and society, to show that being different is OK,” she said.

We can’t wait for the day when this attitude is the norm…

harnaam-kaur

In an interview with British morning show ‘This Morning’, she emphasized that it took a lot to turn her depression and near-suicide into an act of bravery of accepting herself. Let’s be clear here, we’re saying the act of bravery is acceptance, not the fact that she has a beard. There are so many of us who look at our bodies and think the exact same depressive thoughts as Harnaam did growing up. The act of bravery is choosing to stand against everything the media and society tells us we need to look like and love ourselves for who we are.

“I don’t feel that women need to look a certain way to be labeled as a ‘woman’. I feel that you can look however you want,” she said on the British TV show.

Harnaam is an inspiration to us and many women who are struggling to see the beauty in who we are. Of course, it’s not just about feeling “beautiful” either, because acceptance means understanding our value isn’t determined on what we look like. If she can continue to disrupt the mainstream beauty standards and challenge people to rethink the way we make fun of each other, she has already accomplished her mission.

Watch her interview with Britain’s ‘This Morning’ below:

One Comment

  1. Pingback: FEMINIST FRIDAY: Jewelry Brand George Jensen & The NCAA Take Female Empowerment To The Next Level - GirlTalkHQ

Leave a Reply