SINGING sensation Adele shocked fans – by revealing she has a beard. The mum-of-one confessed to gig-goers in Glasgow that she started growing facial hair while pregnant, according to The Sun.
Adele, 27, said: “I actually have a beard, but I’m proud of it. I only cropped it last night. I call it Larry.” Her confession – reported by us on Monday, has been applauded by others who have had struggles with their stubble.
Here, DIANA APPLEYARD speaks to three women who sport impressive beards.
‘I feel more sexy and womanly now’
MARIAM MITBART, from Bath, writes a blog that celebrates female facial hair and has appeared as a bearded lady in a circus. She is single and has a 31-year-old son. Mariam, 51, says:
‘Like Adele, my facial hair began growing after the birth of my son because of the hormones released in pregnancy. My doctor at the time told me that it happens to a lot of women and that my facial hair would stop growing — but it hasn’t.
At first, I was horrified and I used to pluck the hairs on my chin every day. But after nearly 20 years of doing that my chin was very red and some of the hairs had become in-grown.
I looked as if I had fallen over and landed on my chin. I tried electrolysis three times, but each time the hairs grew back. So eight years ago I decided I’d had enough of continually plucking and let the beard grow.
I started a blog telling other women about my condition. At first, I was scared that no one would talk to me any more, and my mother said to me, “Do you have to shock people like this?” It was a brave decision and I did attract the vilest internet trolls. I would get messages saying that I should be shot.
Society has such a knee-jerk reaction to women with facial hair. But then I also had so many messages from women saying that my decision was very courageous and inspiring.
It’s surprising, but I feel more sexy and more of a woman since I let my beard grow. I have even joined a circus as the bearded lady act. I am very happy to talk about it and the effect it has had on my life.
I don’t try to style my beard — it naturally grows in a goatee shape, so I just trim it. Having a beard is nothing to be ashamed of and does not make you any less of a woman.’
‘I feel like half-man, half-woman, it’s hard’
ADMIN assistant Sarah Taylor has struggled with facial hair issues since she was 18. She lives in Aylesbury, Bucks, with her fiancé Tom, 26, a builder. Sarah, 24, says: ‘Having facial hair is so difficult as a woman — so thank goodness Adele has approached the subject with such openness.
It may seem like a joke to some, but having a superstar speak about having a beard will make a big difference to so many women who beat themselves up about their facial hair. I started growing stubble when I was 18 and it has had a massive impact on my life.
My fiancé is extremely supportive but I always carry a razor in my handbag and, if I feel I look a bit stubbly, I will quickly shave. I normally shave every two or three days, and I have also tried waxing. I’d like to try laser hair removal but I think it would be very expensive.
Like many women with facial hair I have polycystic ovary syndrome, which will also make becoming pregnant difficult if not impossible. Coming to terms with that was hard enough, but growing facial hair made it ten times worse.
At first I had faint stubble, then the problem escalated. Growing a beard made me feel terrible. My friends were very supportive, but I felt so self-conscious about people staring in the street. My little brother, who was only four at the time, said: “Why do you have hair on your face?”
My GP prescribed me Metformin tablets, which are commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes. It controlled my blood sugar levels, as the condition affects my weight, too. But nothing has helped with the facial hair.
I feel as if I’m half-man, half-woman, which is hard. I smother my top lip and chin with make-up, but still feel people can see the hair. I could bleach it, but it wouldn’t affect the hair growth.
I’m determined not to let this defeat me, but it can sometimes be tough.’
‘The joke is now on those cruel bullies’
HARNAAM KAUR is a body positivity campaigner from Slough, Berkshire. She had facial hair as a child and was bullied. Single Harnaam, 25, says:
‘I was just 11 years old when my beard started to grow and the hair quickly spread to my chest and arms. My condition made me the victim of bullies at school and on the streets — I’d be called “beardo”, “shemale” or “sheman”.
The taunts were so bad I didn’t want to go out and I used to lock myself away in my bedroom. I was so depressed about my facial hair I started to self-harm, and there were times when I felt that I could not go on living.
I used to try to shave, wax or bleach the hair but that just made it worse. I used to talk to people with my hand over my chin, and I wore baggy clothes to cover up my arms. But when I was 16 I was baptised as a Sikh and, at that point, I decided that I was going to embrace my beard and let it grow with pride.
I had been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, which basically means your hormones go haywire and I had too much testosterone. I feel I have never looked back since that point — and the joke is now on the bullies who were so cruel to me, because my beard has given me opportunities I would not otherwise have had.
This is the way that God has made me and I am so glad that Adele has treated this issue so openly, with honesty and humour. I feel more feminine and sexy now that I have let my beard grow.
At first my parents were worried for me, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to get a job or ever get married, but now they and my brother are fully supportive. If people stare at me in the street, I just smile right back at them and if anyone shouts, “Oi, where did you get that beard?” I reply, “Asda.”
I’ve recently taken part in a fashion show and I was so proud on the catwalk. I love fashion, dressing up and getting my nails done.’
A growing concern
By Dr CAROL COOPER
HIRSUTISM, or excess body hair, is an embarrassment for many women. It’s estimated one woman in ten has the condition. The hair is usually thick and dark, even in fair women, and grows in a male pattern. Typically it’s on the upper lip, beard area, chest and belly.
In the majority of cases, there’s no medical problem. But for some, excess hair is a symptom of other conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). There’s more likely to be an underlying cause if hirsutism begins before puberty, or there are irregular periods, weight gain, or diabetes. For most women with the condition, the challenge is to keep hair growth down with waxing and shaving.
Electrolysis and laser treatment are more expensive and can be permanent. There’s also a prescribable cream called eflornithine which slows hair growth, and several oral drugs, including some types of contraceptive Pill.
But not everyone responds to the same extent.