The Laughing Lesbian has a pretty simple motto: “Empowered Women Empowering Women.” We are always on the look out for diverse and brave women who are willing to share their story with us. When I found Harnaam though Instagram I knew we had to interview her. This young woman is everything we hold sacred. She is beautiful, brave, inspiring and most of all she is empowering of others. Harnaam struggled throughout her life, dealing with bulling about her facial hair and self harm due to horrible depression. But like a Phoenix (check out her gorgeous phoenix tattoo!) she rose from the ashes and has become a woman we can all admire. Chrystal and I are so honored to get to speak with Harnaam and we are so excited to share her with you! Recently Harnaam did a photo shoot (just for fun, Harnaam isn’t getting married just yet!) with Urban Bridesmaid Photography to show the world just how beautiful she really is. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we enjoyed speaking with Harnaam.
-Emily and Chrystal
Don’t forget to follow Harnaam on:
Instagram: harnaamkaur and Facebook
Embracing your individuality and accepting your beard has obviously empowered you. Have you been able to overcome fears and inhibitions that you otherwise wouldn’t have had you not developed a sense of self-acceptance?
I am A British born Female living in Slough. I am a little different from the women in society, I have a Beard and anyone who knows me will tell you that I absolutely love my Lady Beard; I take great pride in her. I had a pretty great upbringing. I had loving parents who provided me with essentials as a growing young girl, and most of all I had the most amazing brother who now at the age of 20 years is still my best friend to whom I owe my whole heart to.
What was your defining moment of self-acceptance?
On the other side of happy families, I remember being severely bullied in primary school starting from nursery, and even getting beaten up as the bullying lasted until late secondary school days. Due to being bullied day in and day out I became very aggressively suicidal and I even resorted to self harm. I stopped as I realized that I was just causing myself more emotional pain and physical pain. Self harm and suicide is not an easy way out, I found it to just cause me more pain At the age of 16 I hit my biggest low. I had been suicidal all year due to immense bullying from school and people in society. I hid away and did not want to venture out into the public. My bedroom was my home, it was my heaven and it was my tomb; my safe haven. Due to being very suicidal I was hugely depressed. I remember sitting on my bed and thinking about my life. It takes a lot of guts and strength and energy for someone to actually want to end their life and think about it too. I sat on my bed and counseled myself. 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.” At that point I decided I wanted to be me, I decided to keep my beard and step forward against societies expectations of what a woman should look like. From experiencing self harm and being suicidal I have learned to live life resiliently. I do have to still go through dark times when I am battling to pick myself from my deepest lows, but the main thing is that we do pick ourselves up. I am a very resilient woman who has to put up with a lot of darkness, but I still somehow manage for find a flicker of light that I run towards with self empowerment. I have learned to live my purpose and not let the meaningless words of people who actually do not have an effect on my life put me down.
Today I am not suicidal and I do not self harm. Today I am happy living as a young beautiful bearded woman.
Are there days where you struggle with your image and if so how do you defeat that self-doubt?
I was diagnosed with Polycystic ovaries from a really young age, around the time I hit puberty. PCOS is a condition in which there is an imbalance in hormones within the female body, this has led me to have more male hormones then female hormones, and it is also the reason to why I have a beard. I used to remove my facial hair every other day by traveling to beauty salons. I had to have my face waxed 2 to 3 times a week, and on the days I couldn’t bare the pain I would simply shave.
I was tormented by bullies for having facial hair, and one day when I hit my lowest point in life due to suicidal thoughts and self harming incidents, I decided I wanted to become a happier person. So I fought back against society’s definition of what women should be and look like. I grew my beard out at the sensitive age of 16. We need to realize that every one of us is different. We are all imperfectly perfect. I wanted to show society that beauty isn’t just about looking a certain way, we are all so different and we should all celebrate out individuality. I used to keep my beard for religious reasons but I am more of a spiritual person now, and I feel that my life does not need to be lived in regards to religious rules and regulations. I keep my hair not for religious reasons but to show the world a different, confident, diverse and strong image of a woman. I love my beard, it has become a part of my body and I do not want to remove it.
It has been mentioned in previous interviews that you were bullied to the point of self-harm. As a survivor of bullying and self-harm what do you think has been the most important lesson you learned?
I went through a rough time with my body. I have always been a chubby child, and then my body was diagnosed with PCOS. Having this medical condition allowed me to put on a lot of weight. Losing weight with a hormonal imbalance is tough for me. I have realized that this body is mine, I own it, I do not have any other body to live in so I may as well love it unconditionally. I stopped self harming my body years ago, I have now fallen in love with the elements on my body that people may call “flaws.” I love my beard, my stretch marks, my scars, these elements make me who I am now, they make me whole, they make me complete. I am content with my body. My beard has 100% 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. My beard gives me comfort as a woman, I look at it and is it a sign to me that we are all different and none of us are born the same.
You have said you that you want to become an activist for diversity and body acceptance, how do you think your story and will shape the mind-set of people in how they view beauty?
I do admit that yes sometimes I may waver; this tends to happen when I read negative comments on the internet by people. I have to remind myself that I am living my purpose, my aim is to help inspire and empower people all over the world, and I will do this till my dying day. If I die doing what I love, then I will die happy. I have to remind myself daily that my life has changed for me personally and there is a reason for that, and that my words actually affect people who read my article. My journey is my own but I am doing it all for the people who need help and inspiration. I have real passion for people and I will forever try to my best of my ability to portray a diverse image in society. The days that I do feel bad about my body, I tend to take some time out for myself on my own and remind myself of my passions and aims in life. I then say good things to my body and help myself fall back in love with it. Without my body I am not able to accomplish my dreams.
I love my lady beard and I will forever cherish it.
How do people around you motivate you to continue on your journey of inspiring others?
As a body confidence activist I hope to help people change their minds on what beauty actually is, and what it means to be beautiful. How can we say that there is only one image of being beautiful when each and every one of us are actually amazingly different. Through my photo shoots and pictures I like to portray a more different and diverse image of what beauty is and can be. I am not afraid to show the world who I truly am as I celebrate my uniqueness, and with it I want to tell people to celebrate their own bodies and love them unconditionally. I hope and pray that through reading my story people will find power to pick themselves up from any dark places in their life, I hope it helps people to fall in love with their own bodies; I hope my story helps everyone who reads it to find peace with in themselves and step up against society and start to accept themselves for who they truly are meant to be. Don’t hide your true self; you have nothing to be ashamed of. The element of strength, empowerment and might is embedded within us all, unleash those emotions and live fearlessly.
What makes you feel beautiful and empowered?
I always say to both men and women to love themselves and accept any quirks that they may have. We all deserve to celebrate our bodies, we are all beautiful. Growing my beard has taught me that as humans we are all so different in our own wonderful ways. Our bodies are diverse, beautifully perfect and amazing in their own ways. Every person living on this earth right now is different from the next. I have learned that there is no such thing as being “normal” or “normality.” We have learned to accept our bodies for the way that it has grown and shaped, we have learned to love myself unconditionally. Life is so precious, we should live it the way we want to and happily.
What would your advice be to women everywhere who are struggling with self-acceptance
Love yourself, YOU are the only YOU that YOU have.
Interviewers: Emily Thomas and Chrystal Nelson
Venue: Severndroog Castle Woolwich, SE London
Model: Harnaam Kaur
Make up artist: Kam Sandhu
Stationery: Tayjal Mistry
Wedding Dress: Cutting Edge Brides, Bexley, Kent
Cakes: Milk Street Kitchen (Ellie)
Flowers, Floral Crowns and Beards: Wild Coco (Lucy Mooney)
Tablescape Design: Blessed Union Events (Jacqueline Mars)
Photographer: Urban Bridesmaid (Louisa Coulthurst)
2nd photographer(behind the scenes): Cassandra Watson http://www.cwatsonphotography.co.uk/