Woman who randomly starting growing facial hair is now embracing it
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A woman who started growing facial hair has decided to embrace it after spending years trying to cover it up.
Gennevieve Vaillancourt, 34 from Ontario, Canada, began growing hair around her chin and upper lip when she was a teenager.
She was later diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) - a condition affecting a woman's hormone levels, in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens.
"I was so ashamed of my beard," says Gennevieve.
"I was bullied through school because of it and kids would tell me to shave or asked if I knew how to.
"When I received my PCOS diagnosis, I felt relieved to have something to research and to know there was a reason why these things were happening to me.
"I also felt the loss of hope at the thought of not being able to be a mum in the future because it is one of the top causes of infertility in women.
"Another symptom was weight gain and of course, the growth of facial hair. PCOS made me want to hide and I felt robbed of my femininity."
When lockdown hit, Gennevieve decided to try letting her facial hair grow. Having also welcomed her son Duncan, she wanted to start embracing herself to set an example.
Following an encounter with one family member who was 'ashamed' over Gennevieve's facial hair, the mum decided to take the leap and embrace her looks in public.
"I wanted to lead by example. I couldn’t teach him to love every part of himself if I wasn’t doing the same," she adds.
"As soon as my facial hair started to grow when I was 16, I knew that it would eventually become a full beard and I knew that I wanted to get to a place where I was brave enough to grow it out and wear it in public.
"I just needed to learn some tools to be able to do that. The main turning point for me was when I ran into one of my aunts while I was waiting in the car outside of the supermarket.
"I hadn’t shaved in probably about three days and I gave her a warning that I had my beard and she told my uncle not to come over because he 'didn’t need to see this'.
"I saw my aunt’s shame, but it also made me realise that I deserve to be seen!"
Now, Gennevieve says she can walk around with her beard and feel more confident than ever.
‘Surprisingly, since fully growing out my beard I haven’t faced any backlash or bullying," she says.
"It’s obvious that I am a woman, so I could see the confusion on people’s faces. I was watching them go through a whole process of trying to understand.
"I feel more confident than I have ever felt with my beard. When I wasn’t able to be my true self and I was hiding away, I was filled with so much anxiety. Showing off my beard has been liberating."