Bearded Sikh woman teaches Reddit a lesson in tolerance
When a photo of Sikh university student Balpreet Kaur attracted hundreds of mocking comments on Reddit, she defended herself and her religion with maturity and grace. She's since earned a heartfelt apology and the respect of many.
- A young Sikh woman -- whose photo was taken at an airport, posted online, and then ridiculed by hundreds -- is being hailed across the web today after defending herself so eloquently that her original tormenter felt compelled to apologize to all Sikhs everywhere.
- In the widely-shared photo, Balpreet Kaur, an Ohio State University student, is shown waiting in line at an airport. She glances down at her iPhone, unaware that her picture is being taken.
“I’m not sure what to conclude from this,” wrote a person with the handle European_douchebag when he posted the photo to Reddit’s /funny section.
- It is clear from the thread that user is referring to the hair on Kaur’s face, but commenters also took digs at the young woman’s turban and looks in general.
Kaur, a neuroscience major, was unaware that her image was starting to go viral until a classmate mentioned it on Facebook.
“I'm not embarrassed or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positive] that this picture is getting because, it's who I am,” she wrote.
“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. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body - it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will.”
Kaur continued on to explain why she ignores societal views of physical beauty in favour of action and inner virtue.
- Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn't know about this until one of my friends told on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled :) However, I'm not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] 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. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body - it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. Just as a child doesn't reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying 'mine, mine' and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, 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. So, to me, my face isn't important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are. :-) So, if anyone sees me at OSU, please come up and say hello. I appreciate all of the comments here, both positive and less positive because I've gotten a better understanding of myself and others from this. Also, the yoga pants are quite comfortable and the Better Together tshirt is actually from Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that focuses on storytelling and engagement between different faiths. :) I hope this explains everything a bit more, and I apologize for causing such confusion and uttering anything that hurt anyone.
- Kaur’s short essay shot up the thread immediately, earning her the “best comment” spot and soliciting a flurry of supportive words.
By Tuesday, the original poster, came forward with an apology:
“I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. 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.” He wrote.
“I've read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.”
- News of Kaur's eloquent retort and its ability to solicit a heartfelt apology from a person who only four days earlier felt it was okay to mock photos of unsuspecting women online, started spreading out from feminist and web culture blogs this morning.
Soon, thousands were praising the young Sikh woman who refused to get rid of her facial hair – and proudly so.
Did you find this story interesting? like or comment as 21 already did!
- Alex DaleShe is great.2013-08-22T09:56:33.984Z
- Land MashAnd what are you people doing? Blindly praising her body feature which denigrate her beauty!!?!2012-12-18T10:48:15.488Z
- Land MashThis is totally stupidity. Instead of finding a cure for that abnormal problem,she is getting proud of having it because this is how her god made her,she claims...This is totally stupidity. Instead of finding a cure for that abnormal problem,she is getting proud of having it because this is how her god made her,she claims it a "blessing" wtf? Wait,would any god bless anyone with such a denegrate feature? NO! Its caused because of "Genetics" People should work as the world works. Why she is proud is because she has nothing to defend herself from people's laughter except saying or "being/showing others that she is proud of having facial,so in this way she defend herself,BUT here she is doing the worse mistake. Balpreet you may be really proud of it in the depths of your soul and i understand if it makes you happy,But Think again whether if it really you are meant to HAVE?more2012-12-18T10:33:46.754Z
- jerry dobyI am proud of this human being...she is a strong and beautiful person. I wish the rest of us were so aware.2012-09-28T07:50:13.799Z
- RaeI'm so glad to see another proud bearded woman out there in the world. I'm a woman with a beard, and I've found that people almost always respond positively, if...I'm so glad to see another proud bearded woman out there in the world. I'm a woman with a beard, and I've found that people almost always respond positively, if they respond at all. I've been recording my stories here, for those who are curious what it's like to be a bearded woman in the US. http://beardstories.wordpress.com/ and on twitter at @beard_storiesmore2012-09-27T22:41:36.832Z