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A woman has opened up about how her decision to grow out her natural beard has transformed her mental health.
Morgan Coleman, 26, first realised that she was different from most girls before she was even a teenager when hairs grew on her chin at the age of 11.
However, as most women typically don't have facial hair, she tried to hide her beard by shaving it in a bid to avoid being bullied.
But Coleman has now come to terms with the condition, which is known as hirsutism.
According to the NHS, it can cause women to experience the growth of thick hair on their 'face, neck, chest, tummy, lower back, buttocks or thighs'.
She explained: "I struggled everyday for 15 years with hirsutism, and after spending a lot of time in hospital recently, I decided it’s time.
"It's time to embrace my natural face and, surprisingly, people aren't as judgmental as you'd think!
"Of course some people are, and they do say some awful things, but for the most part, more often than not, people are becoming more understanding.
"I do struggle with self-confidence - after many years of bullying, it does have an impact on your self-confidence, but I am definitely feeling much more confident since I’ve decided to embrace my natural face.
"I am really at peace with it now. It's difficult to explain, but I feel free - I wake up and that's now the last thing I think about, it's wonderful!"
Coleman currently lives in Australia and is unemployed as a result of ill health.
Reflecting on how people reacted to her condition as a child, she said that she went to extreme lengths to hide it.
"It was horrible and isolating," she explained. "Both kids and young adults were very cruel. I was bullied severely for many years. I don’t have many fond memories from my school years.
"I used to get a lot of horrible comments from nasty people saying I was ugly, I'm a freak, I'm a man, I'm transgender.
"I used to get a lot of comments about my sideburns in particular - there was a stage that every second person that walked past me would comment on them, tell me to shave my face, laugh at me and make fun of me."
One of the more extreme tactics Coleman resorted to was the use of electrolysis in 2011, which involves using a laser to kill hair follicles.
However, it didn't work.
While she had also sought help from doctors, the cause of her condition wasn't investigated until she experienced menstrual problems in 2019.
She was subsequently diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in January 2021, which can be a cause of hirsutism for many women.
Once she got her answer, Coleman said that she was given time to reflect on her life after she was hospitalised with Covid-19 in April of this year.
She said: "I decided it was time to prioritise my physical and mental health and part of doing that for me was to accept the things I can not change. We are all unique. There is nothing wrong with looking different."
She's now had her beard for two months, and while not everyone has been kind about it, she said she is free despite the occasional 'disgusted looks.'
"I enjoy spreading awareness where possible - I am a believer of creating acceptance and normalising facial hair on women is best done by spreading awareness, answering questions and sharing information. PCOS is such a common syndrome.
"I am really at peace with it now. It’s difficult to explain, but I feel free - I wake up and that's now the last thing I think about, it’s wonderful!"
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