Challenging beauty ideals! Harnaam Kaur became the first woman to walk the runway with a full beard last week.
This year, Ashley Graham made history by becoming the first plus-size model to make the cover of Sports Illustrated. But while we’ve been busy applauding the strides size-positive models are making in the fashion industry, there’s another model who has quietly been breaking down beauty boundaries.
Last week, Harnaam Kaur became the first woman to walk a major runway with a full beard, stepping onto the catwalk for jewelry designer Marianna Haratunian as part of a celebration to mark Royal Fashion Day.
Taking to her Instagram to post a picture of her strutting her stuff, the inspirational model wrote about fulfilling her life’s dream to hit the runway:
“I grew up watching America’s next top model. I always wanted to be like the pretty models, so I remember copying the way they posed and walked.
“I grew up being told I was too fat, ugly, and disgusting to even model. I was told I’d never walk the runway.
“I used to look at models and tell myself that I will never ever be able to do what they are doing. I am not pretty enough or beautiful enough and I don’t have the ‘right’ body type. I was laughed at when I said I wanted to model. Jokes on my bullies.”
Harnaam has polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal condition that can cause excess hair growth. Having first started to grow facial hair when she was 11, Harnaam used hair removal treatments to take it off until she was 16. After years of feeling shame and battling bullies, she had a change of heart, deciding to accept her body as it was — facial hair and all.
“I love my beard, my stretch marks and my scars. These elements make me who I am, they make me whole, they make me complete,” Harnaam told the wedding blog Rock ‘N’ Roll Bride.
“My beard has 100 percent 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. I keep my hair to show the world a different, confident, diverse and strong image of a woman … I love my lady beard and I will forever cherish it.”
It’s not the first time Harnaam has flown the flag for the body-positive. Last November, she was asked to become a representative for fellow model Tess Holiday’s social media campaign #EffYourBeautyStandards, which encourages women to embrace their bodies no matter what.