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7 Feb

Why Harnaam Kaur is creating wellness spaces for individuals

The activist and model is hosting a retreat to bring together individuals with PCOS, share expertise on manage life with the condition and help them reconnect with their bodies

When Harnaam Kaur was first diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) as a youngster, she anxious she was dying of a rare disease. Despite impacting around one in ten women within the UK, the condition was so rarely discussed within the media that it took a faculty nurse for Kaur to listen to those 4 letters for the primary time.

The foremost symptoms of PCOS, which affects the ovaries, are irregular periods and high levels of ‘male hormones’ (androgens) which may cause excessive facial or body hair, in addition to pimples. In consequence of PCOS, Harnaam is capable of grow a full beard. “Growing up, most of the South Asian women in my family had facial hair, baby hairs, upper lip hairs, sideburns, hair on their arms and their throat areas and stuff like that,” Kaur says, “so for me, it was the norm. I wasn’t aware that I had a problem until I used to be bullied for it.” 

After years of relentless bullying and painful experiences attempting to remove her facial hair, at 16 Kaur decided to grow her beard out. Since then, she’s gone on to model, advocate for embracing every kind of beauty – especially female facial hair – and lift awareness of PCOS and its symptoms. “There’s going to be young girls on the market, ten years old, who’re going to have PCOS and so they have to be taught in regards to the condition,” she says. “This is the reason I’m so open to speaking about it.”

As a part of her mission to boost awareness and help others with their PCOS, this March Kaur is hosting her first PCOS wellness retreat. Going down in London, the one-day event will offer guests the prospect to listen to Kaur’s story first-hand and learn more in regards to the condition from the experts, in addition to participate in reiki, crystal healing and yoga sessions. Kaur is hoping it can also allow guests to find a community of individuals with a shared experience through PCOS. The retreat is being funded by razor brand Estrid’s The HumanKind initiative, a project launched last 12 months which provided grant money to people within the LGBTQ+ community, including Pxssy Palace’s Nadine Noor and Kaur.

We spoke to the motivational speaker, model and activist about living with PCOS and her upcoming event.

What made you choose to stop shaving and embrace your facial hair?

Harnaam Kaur: I hit puberty very young and commenced my period in 12 months six. I had this moustache and commenced sprouting underarm hair. I remember considered one of my teachers at school and noticing she had no underarm hair and considering, ‘what is that this sorcery?’ It was only then that I realised that folks remove it, and I began going to the salons to get my facial hair removed.

I attempted waxing, threading, tweezing, shaving, using buffer pads which you can remove hair with and even hair removal cream that I don’t think you’re meant to make use of in your face. I used to be in a whole lot of pain because sometimes the beautician wouldn’t hold my skin taut, so with waxing when the strip got here off, my skin got here off too. I had scabs from where it made me bleed. The hair got here back so quickly and so fast; it was unbearable to undergo that pain over and all over again. It went on for years and I can only imagine what number of other young women undergo this because within the UK greater than 50 per cent of South Asians and just over 20 per cent of white women have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

How do you manage your symptoms?

Harnaam Kaur: I haven’t spoken about it much, but I placed on a lot weight as a consequence of PCOS. I was once so scared about talking about weight because I don’t want people saying I’m fat shaming but that is real shit which is going on to people, and I ended up getting Type 2 Diabetes [something that people with PCOS have an increased risk of]. So now I’m taking care of my health higher. I actually have a clean food plan, I work out on daily basis, doing weights and cardio and I’ve got two dogs that keep me lively. I’m on medication too.

After I lost weight, my sugar levels went back right down to normal and I used to be capable of regulate my periods. I used to have two periods a 12 months, just spotting, but I’d be in a lot pain around my midsection and ovaries. I used to be on painkillers. I used to be bedridden. I used to spoon my hot water bottle. But as soon as I dropped that weight so many things just balanced themselves out. I’m very mindful of the indisputable fact that it is rather difficult to shed weight when you will have a certain medical condition, however it just isn’t something that’s out of hand, it may occur, and you’ll be able to manage your weight.

“I need people to feel good. I don’t want people to think PCOS is all doom and gloom. Yeah, it is tough and horrible and there’s a whole lot of pain you undergo, but hey, there’s a approach to deal with it, there’s a approach to embrace it.”

The PCOS retreat is a combination of activities designed for spiritual, mental and physical well-being, in addition to PCOS awareness and academic sessions. How did you design the programme?

Harnaam Kaur: Mind, body and soul are connected. We are able to’t take care of our minds and disrespect our bodies. Yoga will protect you from injuries, makes you so far more flexible and will help your metabolism. It also improves your respiration and your energy levels – women who’ve PCOS are inclined to have very low energy and suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness. Reiki helps with any emotional distress by allowing healing energy to flow freely and it helps aid rest and lower anxiety. I didn’t want the event to be about taking a few pills to sort out your physical health, since it’s so vital to take care of your mental health as well.

What do you wish those that attend the event to remove with them?

Harnaam Kaur: Firstly, I need them to walk away feeling like they’re not alone. And secondly, realising there are some hairy people like me around! I need people to feel good. I don’t want people to think PCOS is all doom and gloom. Yeah, it is tough and horrible and there’s a whole lot of pain you undergo, but hey, there’s a approach to deal with it and embrace it. An element of that comes with understanding what the condition is, how the condition works on your body, after which with the ability to find ways through which to take care of that. This is the reason I really like the indisputable fact that we’ve got such a widely known PCOS specialist there because she’s going to include no BS, just pure facts. I’m really attempting to help people.

Can we expect more events in the longer term?

Harnaam Kaur: I pray so. I really like hosting events. It’s definitely not going to be a one-off, I need to do more. Since posting in regards to the event on Instagram I’ve had people from America, Australia, France, Spain, Brazil, and throughout, hitting me as much as ask after I am hosting one of their country.

What would you tell someone who has just been diagnosed with PCOS?

Harnaam Kaur: Don’t feel ashamed. Reach out to the doctors and see where your health is at. Every body could have different symptoms, where I actually have facial hair another person won’t. Have a look at the symptoms you will have and prioritise those you should tackle and find support in people who find themselves outspoken about it because there are a whole lot of people on the market who’ve experienced the identical thing as you and we’ve all found ways of coping with it mindfully and healthily. We are able to all help one another.

Harnaam Kaur’s PCOS Retreat can be held on March 12, 2023 from 10am-5pm. Tickets can be found here.

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