Balpreet Kaur probably had a pretty awkward start to her week. She was photographed recently, not to her knowledge, while waiting in line at her college library–and then the photo was posted in Reddit’s “Funny” section with the backhanded caption, “I’m not sure what to conclude from this.” Ouch!
Balpreet didn’t even know about any of it until a pal on Facebook told her that, “Well, hey! You’re on Reddit!” She received a lot of ignorant and mean-spirited comments, both about her outfit (with which we don’t see a problem whatsoever–who hasn’t worn yoga pants and a tee around campus?), her turban, and, most of all, her facial hair.
While we’re not that used to seeing that much facial hair on women and girls in Western society, where we’re pretty much urged to pluck, bleach, wax, buff, and shave every inch of our bodies and faces, Balpreet Kaur is au naturale–and honestly, it’s a pretty refreshing statement not only about the vanity of society, but also of her own faith.
Balpreet is a baptized Sikh, and when she found out that her photo was posted on Reddit, she actually replied to it and gracefully, tactfully, and respectfully slayed all of her naysayers. “I’m not embarrassed or even humiliated by the attention (negative and positive) that this picture is getting because it’s who I am,” she said simply. “Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being (which is genderless, actually) and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will.” Bam!
She explains further why it’s pointless to point out her differences–because, well, she has better things to do than tweeze. She’s just happy her body works. “Just as a child doesn’t reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying ‘mine, mine’ and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a separateness between ourselves and the divinity within us,” she explained. “By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain, and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are.”
She even told everyone about why she–and a lot of others–wears a turban, writing, “Wearing turbans for women is a sign of inner strength and empowerment because we, too, are equal to Sikh men. Sikhism advocates total equality for both genders (the only difference between them are the last names) and therefore, it is okay, however rare the occurrence, for a woman to adorn herself with the turban just like her male counterparts.”
Alright haters, how about some aloe for that burn?
Balpreet Kaur’s maturity and spiritual steadfastness are so freakin’ awesome, and a lot of people took to Reddit to respond to her and give her the props she was most definitely due. Anyone who’s spent even a minute on any sort of commenting forum (except Gurl, obviously, because you guys are smart, lovely, classy and amazing) knows that a lot of bottom feeders and jerks come out and bully strangers because they feel invincible with a screen and keyboard between themselves and the world. To not only not be intimidated by that, but also to not stoop to its level in response, shows that Balpreet Kaur may look different from our ideal–but her inner beauty is one standard we should all strive for. You go, girl!
Have you ever struggled with facial hair? Do you look different from your peers and get picked on for it? What would you do if you found yourself going viral? Tell us in the comments!