They're not willing to hide or feel bad about their bodies—and really, why should they?
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal imbalance that affects 10% of women of childbearing age and usually starts after puberty. Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgens, or male hormones, and many experience hirsutism, or abnormal hair growth that follows a male pattern.
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To treat this symptom, many women with PCOS rely on hormonal contraceptives and hair removal with electrolysis, lasers or shaving. The eight women below, however, have chosen to forgo the side effects and potential pain and skin damage from these treatments and instead embrace their hair growth. Read on to hear what they have to say about their diagnosis and how they learned to love their bodies.
Little Bear Schwarz
“Yes, I have a beard due to my Polycystic [Ovarian] Syndrome,” Schwarz tells Health. “But it’s not in and of itself deleterious to my health, nor is it a ‘mistake,’ a ‘joke,’ a ‘tragedy’ or a subversion TO or a detraction FROM my womanhood. On the contrary it is beautiful, natural, and the crowning glory OF my womanhood.”
“Someone recently asked me why I am trying to normalize body hair when my amount of body hair isn’t ‘normal',” Jorgensen captioned one Instagram post. “My reply was...who says it isn’t?! … I am tired of this being kept in the dark. I want this to be seen and I want this to be talked about.”
“Women shouldn’t have to shave if they choose not to, but what about those of us who have way more hair than what is considered socially acceptable?” Galaxia wrote in blog post for Graceless. “What about us women with dark, thick tummy and chest hair? What about us women who are fully capable of growing a big, bushy beard?”
“I like my beard because I feel more comfortable,” Torres told Marie Claire. “I don’t have to hide behind all the piercings, I don’t have to hide behind the crazy colors in my hair. I can actually feel like me.”
“Sometimes the way hair grows blows my mind!” Nodine wrote on Instagram. “Like that little empty patch from my chest to my shoulders! Lol. It’s so cute! My body is not your concern.”
“I like having my beard because it makes me unique,” Hackleman told Marie Claire. “I think it gives me a talking point to people, to educate them or teach them about PCOS. They think that if a woman can grow a beard, she must have crazy body hair, she must be a werewolf. And that’s just not true.”
"I definitely feel womanly, sexy, and sensuous," Geil said in an interview with Barcroft TV. "I feel more feminine, and it has very little to do with my appearance. It comes from my attitude and giving myself the freedom to be who I am.”
Kaur told People: “I feel that my appearance empowers and strengthens me to walk into the world, knowing that I stand up for a diverse look in beauty. . . . I believe that we cannot label what is perfect in society these days, as people are different from each other. It is beautiful to see people accept who they are regardless of what they look like.”