When you're a woman, dealing with facial hair can be embarrassing and a little demoralizing; we're taught from a young age that beautiful women are not hairy. But it's one thing to stand frustrated in front of a mirror, tweezers in hand, trying to pluck a few stray hairs from your chin, and it's another to have to lather up and shave your entire face. This is a daily reality for many women who deal with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.
That's why Tina-Marie Beznec felt compelled to share her own PCOS story on the Facebook page of Australian blogger Constance Hall, Cosmopolitan UK reports. Beznac, 26, a fitness blogger herself, has received an overwhelmingly positive response to her photo and her message:
"Hi my name is Tina and I have Polycystic ovary syndrome," the Australian wrote. "As well as depression, anxiety, infertility, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, bloating, abdominal pains, acne, cysts, increased risk of cancer and everything else, a lot of woman including myself have to deal with facial hair! Do you know how UNFEMININE this can make a woman feel?!?"
Later in her post, Beznec wrote that she hoped sharing her shaving photos would raise awareness for PCOS, a medical condition that affects between 1 and 10 and 1 and 20 women, according to the Office on Women's Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
A woman with PCOS has high levels of androgens (male hormones) and fluid-filled sacs (cysts) on her ovaries. Hirsutism—unwanted male-pattern hair growth on the face, like Beznec's, or on the neck, chest, fingers, or toes—is one symptom. Symptoms vary from person to person, and can also include thinning hair on the head, weight gain, irregular periods, infertility, pelvic pain, anxiety, and depression.
Beznec joins the army of women taking to the Internet in an effort to normalize conditions seen as strange or ugly and to challenge traditional conceptions of femininity. Earlier this year, 39-year-old Rose Geil discussed her PCOS-related facial hair on the British talk show This Morning. The Portland, Ore. woman shaved her face for 26 years before letting the hair grow into a full beard, which she said inspired confidence and a sense of freedom.