Follow for more talkers

Fashion & Beauty

Mom who shaved her facial hair for almost 30 years ditches razor

"Don't let anybody tell you that you have to shave it - it's your hair, your body and your choice."

Published

on

By Nia Price via SWNS

A mom who shaved her facial hair for almost 30 years after being branded an ape by cruel school bullies has ditched the razor and is more confident than ever after growing a BEARD.

Anissa Bennett was diagnosed with hormonal disorder polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) when she was 12 after visiting the doctor due to having irregular periods.

Around the same time her PCOS started, it caused her to develop hirsutism - a condition causing the excessive growth of dark or coarse hair, and a "little female mustache" began to form.

As a result, the mom-of-one was relentlessly bullied during her school years with classmates calling her a monkey and an ape - claiming her bleached upper lip was "thicker than their fathers'."

However, it wasn't until the age of 22 when the bookkeeper entered the workforce that she felt societal pressure to shave it off as she felt it was deemed unacceptable.

But after seeing other women with lady beards online, Anissa felt inspired to let hers grow and has been sharing her journey on TikTok hoping to raise awareness of female facial hair.

Now on day 18 [Sept 12th], Anissa feels confident showing off her beard and is urging other women with hirsutism to do whatever they feel most comfortable - as it's "your hair, your body and your choice."

@bearded.newfie.peach DAY 16 #pcos #awareness #hirsutism #bodyhair #acceptance #itsonlyhair #itsme #selflove #authentic #beardedlady #beard #insomnia #fatigue #natural #fyp ♬ original sound - Grow with me - Newfie Peach

"I have the confidence to go out and not care what other people are thinking,:said Anissa, of Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada.

"Before it would hurt me to know that people were either bullying me, avoiding me or looking down at my stubble, it hurt me. But now I'm stronger.

"I'm at the point in my life where I'm secure with who I am and don't need other people to approve the way I look.

"Their opinions really don't matter in that regard. I do value other people's opinions but when it comes to judging me and my facial hair, I'm over that and don't need that.

"I'm feeling very confident - I've been out and about shopping and had a meeting with the board last night, which was their first time seeing it face to face and they were totally understanding and accepting."

Along with hirsutism, Anissa's other PCOS symptoms include weight gain, fatigue and insomnia.

During her early teens Anissa's mum used to bleach her mustache and a few hairs growing underneath her chin but as she got older more developed.

She now has hair on her arms, chest, stomach and legs.

"As soon as puberty hit, I started getting a little female mustache," Anissa said.

"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 can remember one incident where three boys handed me this letter that took them a long time to make.

"They cut up letters from magazines and pasted it on a piece of paper with a lot of hurtful and hateful comments and one of the worst ones was that 'I was as ugly as a used abortion.'

"I walked down the stairs, they called my name and threw the paper at me and then laughed as I walked away reading it, crying my heart out of course.

"Then you have your standard name calling like 'fatty', 'piggy' or 'oh, she's got a mustache.'

"I got called a 'hairy ape' or 'monkey' - anything that they could think of really. It made me very self-conscious.

@bearded.newfie.peach Naming my Lady Beard #pcos #awareness #beardedlady #growbeard #hair #hirsutism #aurora #myson #she #her #authentic #fun #newfoundland #fyp ♬ original sound - Grow with me - Newfie Peach

"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."

From around the age of 16, Anissa tried electrolysis for almost two years but stopped as it was very painful and her hair grew back.

She was around 22 when she started shaving her face with a razor blade and swapped to an electric shaver around two years ago.

"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," Anissa said.

"In society in general women with facial hair are looked down on, even if they bleach it.

"Even if I bleached it, you'd still see all that facial hair. I really did it because of societal pressure, not mostly because I felt the need to do it.

"I felt pressured to do it because it wasn't acceptable. Sometimes I avoid going out.

"If a friend from work said 'hey, we're going to go out tonight' and I'd be like 'no, I can't go out, I've got eight o'clock stubble here' and I don't shave my face twice [in a day].

The mom used to shave her face daily but stopped ever since she started working from home 12 years ago.

Up until she started growing it out on August 25th this year, Anissa wouldn't go longer than three days without doing so.

"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,'"Anissa said.

"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 1%. 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."

The TikToker shares regular updates on her profile hoping to raise awareness of PCOS and women with facial hair and has amassed more than 4,000 followers and likes from doing so.

She now also feels confident when heading out in public.

"All I've received so far is smiling faces," she said.

"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.

"Don't let anybody tell you that you have to shave it - it's your hair, your body and your choice.

"You do whatever makes you feel comfortable - if you feel the need to wax or shave, by all means do it.

"But if you ever get to the point where you're feeling you're tired of doing it then let your hair grow and be proud of who you are.

"Your hair does not define who you are. Who you are is how you treat other people and yourself - be respectful, love yourself."

Hirsutism Facts (from the NHS):

  • Hirsutism is where women have thick, dark hair on their face, neck, chest, tummy, lower back, buttocks or thighs.
  • Hirsutism is linked to hormones called androgens. It can happen if the level of these hormones increases or if your body becomes more sensitive to them.
  • The most common cause is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This is a condition affecting the ovaries that can also cause symptoms such as acne and irregular periods.
  • Sometimes there's no obvious cause. Rarely, hirsutism can be caused by certain medicines, using anabolic steroids, other hormonal conditions like Cushing's syndrome and acromegaly or a tumor affecting your hormone levels.

Stories and infographics by ‘Talker Research’ are available to download & ready to use. Stories and videos by ‘Talker News’ are managed by SWNS. To license content for editorial or commercial use and to see the full scope of SWNS content, please email licensing@swns.com or submit an inquiry via our contact form.

Top Talkers