Hirsutism

Woman opens up about her struggle with extreme facial hair — and how she learned to embrace it

Alma Torres. (YouTube / Marie Claire)

Marie Claire has published a fascinating story and accompanying video profiling three women who have struggled with extreme facial hair, but have been able to overcome societal beauty standards and their own hangups to now embrace the hair on their face.

Alma Torres, 24, from the Bronx, New York, has come to love and be proud of her beard, which is noticeably quite thick. But, for a long time, accepting her facial hair was a major hurdle in her life.

She began shaving when she was in the eighth grade. “I shaved my sideburns — they were thick and long. It was a bad idea. They grew back thicker,” she recalled. “After that, everything went downhill. It was like everybody was talking about it. It was so bad that I stopped going to school. I dropped out.” She said she shaved for 8 years, as many as four or five times a day, got facial piercings to help draw people’s eyes to something else besides her scruff. Her preoccupation with removing her facial hair was so intense that she would carry razors around with her everywhere she went so she could stop to shave if he five-o’clock shadow began growing in. “I was very self-conscious. I had very low self-esteem,” she told Marie Claire.

Hirsutism, as the condition is known, affects as many as 17 percent of women, Marie Claire reports, but only a tiny fraction of that amount openly wears facial hair. The condition is a symptom of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, which results in enlarged ovaries and weight gain, in addition to the excessive facial hair, though not all cases are caused by it. Torres said she was diagnosed with PCOS at age 16.

Torres, a photographer, made peace with her facial hair last year. In August, she decided to stop shaving her face and posted on Facebook about her struggles with PCOS to raise awareness about the condition.

She’s also chronicled the look of her face as her beard has grown in over the last 15 months. She said she’s often asked by other women how it’s easy for her to not care about what other people might think of her facial hair. “I tell them, it wasn’t done overnight. You just have to embrace yourself and who you are,” Torres said.

Marie Claire spoke two to other women, one of whom proudly wears a mustache. The other, also diagnosed with PCOS, wears a beard similar to what Torres sports.

Watch about their experiences in the video below.

Read the full story at Marie Claire.

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