Woman says she's 'more confident than ever' after embracing her facial hair
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A mum says she's more confident than ever after embracing her facial hair and growing out her beard.
Anissa Bennett, from Canada, was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 12 after visiting her doctor over irregular periods.
PCOS is a condition which affects a woman's hormone levels and can impact how the ovaries work.
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Shortly after her diagnosis, Anissa began developing hirsutism - a condition which can be associated with PCOS - which causes excessive hair growth.
As a result, the mum-of-one was relentlessly bullied during her school years, with classmates calling her cruel names. And when Anissa reached the age of 22 and started working, she felt pressure to shave her facial hair.
"As soon as puberty hit, I started getting a little female moustache," says Anissa.
"It was always a problem going through school as it's the last thing you want. People teased and bullied me because I had it and it was 'thicker than their father's' or something.
"I've always tried to live a solitary life and never really went out a lot or went to all the outings that friends would have. I never had very many friends - I had like one or two.
"When I finished school and got into the workforce, that's when I really felt like it was an issue and I started to shave because it was easier to take it off."
The mum explains that while she used to shave her face daily, she stopped when she started working from home 12 years ago.
And on 25 August this year, Anissa started growing her facial hair out, in a bid to raise awareness of female body hair.
"I'd seen videos of other bearded ladies and thought 'you know what, I'm done. I'm tired of shaving and trying to conform with societal images of what women should look like'," she says.
"I thought 'let's try it for PCOS awareness month, at least a month' and then I decide if I want to keep going.
"I'm not sure I'm going to let it grow 10ft long or anything like that, I might have to trim it and style it.
"The response has been overwhelmingly positive on TikTok. If I have to give you a percentage of negative comments, it might have been like one per cent. I had somebody say 'hello Mr', that's not awful but it was a dig.
"But most of it has been tremendously supportive from both men and women."
Anissa also feels confident when heading out in public, explaining: "All I've received so far is smiling faces.
"I had this one woman who was two or three people ahead of me in line and kept looking back at me but that wasn't really bad, I don't mind people looking.
"And if people have questions, I don't mind them coming up to me to ask 'hey, why do you have a lady beard?'
"If you have facial hair, it's just hair. Love yourself no matter what."
If you’re worried about having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, speak to your GP who can check whether you have the condition. If you have PCOS and are in any type of crisis, text PCOS to Crisis Text Line on 741741 from anywhere in the United States or UK for 24/7 support and information.