OSU Sikh Student Transforms Internet Ridicule
Balpreet Kaur was unknowingly photographed while on Ohio State's campus. The photo was posted on Reddit, with the title "I'm not sure what to conclude from this." Comments were posted questioning her gender and physical appearance, and Kaur responded by explaining her religion, Sikhism.
This is Balpreet Kaur. She is a baptized Sikh woman and sophomore at The Ohio State University. She is the president of the school’s Sikh Student Association. She looks different from many girls on campus. She is devoted to her faith even though certain doctrines, such as not removing facial hair, conflict with today’s social norms.
Another person, under the pseudonym “european_douchebag,” took a picture of Kaur while she was in line at the Berry Cafe in Thompson Library. This person then posted the picture Sept. 22, on Reddit in the “Funny” section with the title: “I’m not sure what to conclude from this.”
Comments were posted in response questioning her gender and physical appearance. Kaur replied to the post by explaining her personal choices in relation to her religion. Afterward, the response and photo went viral.
- "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."
- A glimpse of Balpreet's Facebook page after the Reddit post began to spread. Her status does not refer to any of the posts on her own wall commending her actions.
- Huffington Post, CNN, Jezebel, Guardian, and other news outlets discussed the Reddit post, Sikhism and Kaur's reaction.
- Random individuals began to post on her wall and even created an Internet meme about her.
- Eventually, CNN's Belief Blog picked up the story.
- The Reddit poster apologized not only to the Internet, but also to Kaur personally. Other Sikhs and members of Interfaith Youth Core are still posting about her viral comment and devotion to her beliefs.
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