Society has told you everything you need to know about your body, beauty and life generally.
They told you boys wear blue and girls wear pink and that the right kind of body is shapely but not to fleshy if you are female; and lean and muscular, if you are a boy.
Maybe you are woke; you educated your mind and unlearnt the stereotypes. You believe in the perfection of every skin tone – even those that are multi: layered, coloured, or toned. You don’t see weight of anyone as a determiner of their confidence and you have even come to love your love handles, tommy rolls, thigh gap (or the lack of it) and even your hip dip.
You are #Goals just as you are.
But have you met Harnaam Kaur?
Harnaam was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries at an early age – the condition causes her to have a lot of facial hair. She was “horrendously bullied” in school as a teenager and so she “tried every possible method to remove [my] facial hair… used to bleach, tweeze, wax, shave, use hair removal creams, thread… [I] was waxing every two days. But the hair grew back darker, longer and thicker, and the growth spread too.”
Here is my #beforeandafterbeardseason picture. It may not be exactly before beard season, but the before picture is when i was 13 years old. I had actually just had my whole face threaded..ouuccchhh!! It was painful. We work tooo hard to look beautiful, we go through tooooo much pain to look normal, when as a matter of fact, we are already pretty amazingly beautiful. You can tell how unconfident i was without the facial hair, compared to how i look and feel in my #project60 portrait. I nominate any bearded woman or man for their before and after beard picture. And hashtag and tag the links below xx #beforeandafterbeardseason @the_beardproject @beardseason #harnaamkaur #beardedwoman #beardedlady #effyourstandards #effyourbeautystandards #loveyourbeard #loveyourbody #bodyconfidence #feminism
So at 16, Harnaam decided: “if the hair wants to be on my face, I’m going to turn all the negative energy into positive energy, and let it come.” She has grown her beard since.
Now, she also has vitiligo on her stomach and has learnt that there isn’t just one thing to accept about one’s body but that the journey to self love is one that “that happens over months and years.”
I’m still evolving as a person, still growing, and with every day that comes, I try to find something new to love about myself.
Just 4 days ago, Harnaam addressed the House of Parliament in the UK during the #YouthSelect Committee on issues of body image, and the impact that media has on our self-worth and confidence. According to her, the problem is not the body – “regardless of what it look like, or what shape it is in. The issue, she said, “arises when campaigns, TV adverts, social media and big platforms portray one body a “the” body to have, or as “the” body to form into. It’s not wrong having that body, but it’s not the only body that’s out there in the world…”
And Harnaam just wants the world to promote positive body image and the consequent positive mental health whether we are black, yellow, white, pale, bearded women/men, turbaned, able, disabled, amputated or whatever we look like.