This is me by Harnaam Kaur
"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are,” wrote American poet e. e. cummings. Any of the unique and special contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK could tell you that!
Courage is something that Harnaam Kaur also knows a lot about. Harnaam is a social activist, campaigner and motivational speaker. She helps people cope, deal with and heal from body shaming and bullying. Harnaam is a proud Bearded Lady who learned to celebrate her difference in the most beautiful way. Here she writes about what it takes and why it’s worth it.
I have been living my life as a Bearded Lady since I was 16 years old. At the age of 12, I was diagnosed with a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which alters the way ovaries function. It left me with hormonal imbalances which ultimately allow me to grow a glorious beard. However, I only allowed my beard to grow after years of bullying and abuse from my peers in school and strangers on the street.
What's normal anyway?
I struggled a lot during my teenage years with body confidence and self-esteem because of how my body looked. I didn’t see anyone in the magazines, or on TV, that looked anything even close to me. I thought my body was wrong. I felt alienated in school because of how I looked. I was a young girl with a beard when all I really wanted to do was look ‘normal.’
I soon realised that my power came from being truly and wholeheartedly myself.
I had to fall 9 times and pick myself up the 10th time for me to realise that it’s society that needs to change certain beauty stereotypes about what it means to be a man, woman or person. I soon realised that my power came from being truly and wholeheartedly myself. This society needs me to be open and honest about who I am for it to flourish and to be diverse.
So, I grew my beard out and fiercely confronted the world. It was the hardest thing that I have done. With every passing day, I told myself to hold my head up high, to smile, to laugh, to embrace, and to be kind. My body allows me to live and help people; I don’t have strength in myself to hate my body and the person that I am.
The secret to self-love
We put too much pressure on ourselves to attain self-love when all we really need to do is be kind to ourselves and to others. Your body is yours to cherish and celebrate. Get rid of profiles on your social media that make you feel unworthy of the life that you have. Get rid of people on your social media, and in real life that make you feel like you need to change from being truly you. You have one life and you deserve all the happiness that you can attain from it.
We live in a very diverse world and people are different. Instead of mocking each other, let’s learn to live in harmony and learn about each other.
People are interesting once we take the time to embrace one another!
Let me leave you with this last thought: If the words you told yourself appeared on your skin after thinking or saying them, what words would you use to describe yourself?
For information on RuPaul's Drag Race UK, visit here.
Where to find support
If you have been affected by anything in this article, visit Young Minds for more information about mental health and how to get support.
It is always good to speak to someone you trust about the issues you might be facing, no matter how big or small. Although it can be hard talking about body image issues and mental health, they're something that affect us all. If you are experiencing difficulties, don’t feel ashamed or different, and don’t feel you have to hide away from it.
Speaking to your GP or health professional can put you in contact with the right people who can help, and the support can be life changing.