Harnaam Kaur – More than just Brave
As interesting as a human-interest feature story can get, the tale of Harnaam Kaur has spread wide and far over the last few days.
And so should the story become so big! For here we have a woman not just coping with a rare medical condition that makes her an obvious target for trolls and bullies, but thriving with it. The smile on her face and the glint in her eye speak for themselves.
The story itself has mainly been interpreted in the manner of ‘woman learns to live with rare medical condition’. Although this is in no way incorrect, it does possibly overshadow the message her very appearance sends out. The response of most (but sadly not all) has been encouragement in the form of admiring the spirit of someone who is brave enough to be different.
The “live free” aspect of Harnaam’s story is definitely a huge positive but this is not the full story. It is not just a case of “woman learns to live with medical condition”. It is more a case of “woman chooses to not fight medical condition in order to pursue her chosen way of life”.
It is this passion and drive that should be applauded, even more so than the ability to walk around with a smile despite being constantly stared at. When it came down to the crunch, Harnaam chose to dedicate herself to her religion (baptised Sikhs take an oath not to cut their hair), even though there would be obvious repercussions. How hard it was to choose this path, and how hard it will be to stay on it, cannot be underestimated. In fact, for many it can probably not even be fathomed.
One thing that is a big debating point nowadays is the sexualisation of society. Whether it is sex-talk on daytime TV, an innuendo filled pop song, or sexy underwear aimed at pre-teens, sex is literally inescapable, making it easy to overemphasise the importance of adhering to public perceptions of attractiveness. A recent survey by NetMums showed 75% of parents felt modern day pop stars were enforcing a stereotype that girls will be “judged on their looks” ahead of anything else. The importance of being good-looking seems to have risen all-round, with the rise of the social-networking picture-taking lifestyle also correlating with a rise in gym memberships too. You only need to take a look through instagram to see how keen people are to show themselves off at their best.
Harnaam Kaur should be applauded for not falling into this trap and more girls should be encouraged to follow her example. She has put-aside notions of societal attractiveness in order to pursue her own lifestyle choice (as a baptised Sikh). By not letting public perception about her appearance affect her beliefs, Harnaam has shown that there are more important things than how you look. Harnaam has shown that public validation is not needed to live a happy life.
Another aspect of Harnaam Kaur’s tale that is being overlooked is her true gratitude for her lot. Whether through religion or not, most fortunate people have moments where they learn to be appreciative of all they have. These moments are usually washed away the second we see someone with more than we perceive we have.
Harnaam Kaur has proven she is happy with herself. Yes, she has a condition that makes her standout, but it is not a life threatening disease. It is not something that is a real physical disability. Harnaam has chosen to live with this condition – one which most women admit they would not be able to handle – and not let it affect her day-to-day life. In fact, as Sikh, she uses it to show the extent of her faith. Even though she suffers from a rare medical condition, Harnaam remains happy with everything she was given, showing an admirable level of humility.
Harnaam Kaur has dealt with her condition by putting vanity and thoughts of public perception behind her whilst she focuses on her love for Sikhi, while remaining appreciative of her life.
In conclusion, we are right to call Harnaam brave. But we should not forget that here is a lady that carries an air of dignity and grace that most will never attain, and does so whilst sporting a beard.
Based on Harnaam, the world would be a better place if we had more bearded ladies.