Balpeet Kaur was ridiculed for her looks after a photo of her was posted online. She has noticeable facial hair but has chosen to follow the tenets of her Sikh faith, one of which is to leave body hair uncut. Her religion considers the body to be a sacred gift from God and therefore should not be altered.
After learning of the taunts to shave, wax or otherwise remove the facial hair, Kaur chose to use the opportunity to educate the taunters.
“Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture,” she wrote. “I’m not embarrassed or even humiliated by the attention (negative and positive) that this picture is getting, because it’s who I am.”
“. . . Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women,” wrote Kaur, who is the president of the Ohio State University’s Sikh Student Association. “My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body… by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can . . .”
Her words inspired people to reevalute, leading to an outpouring of support and discussions of tolerance (6,750 likes and more than 850 comments on Facebook), including an apology from the person who posted her photo and instigated the taunting:
“I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture,” the poster wrote. “Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post.”
Kaur doesn’t mind explaining her appearance and religion to people.
“I do not think explaining myself and the way I am is a waste of energy because storytelling in itself is a way to fight the apathy in this world,” she explained. “By simple interactions like this, we can better understand each other and make this world more open and loving even if it is just one person or many.”
This is an inspiring example of how we change the world one day at a time. Balpreet responded with warm-heartedness (as the Dalai Lama would say), which encouraged the person who posted the photo to look inside themselves, change their mind, take responsibility, and apologize, Mistakes get made – it’s how we respond that’s most important.
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Read Kaur’s full response and the resulting discussion.
Visit Kaur’s Facebook page for more discussion.