September 27th, 2012
02:53 PM ET
Photo of woman with facial hair leads to conversation, understanding
By Stephanie Gallman, CNN
(CNN) - A picture of a woman with facial hair wearing a turban posted to the social media site Reddit has garnered a firestorm of Internet reaction and has taught at least two Ohio college students lessons in graciousness, humanities and religious studies.
The picture was posted five days ago with the caption, "I'm not sure what to conclude from this."
A 20-year old college student, who asked to remain anonymous, says one of his friends took the photo at a library at The Ohio State University.
He's "not really sure why," but after he and his friends shared the picture amongst themselves, he posted it to Reddit.
"It was out of the ordinary," he said. "It's not something that you see everyday. I was thinking about it more as a picture, not about the people in the pictures."
For several days after it was posted, the picture elicited responses from those who teased to those who were disgusted with the post.
Some blasted the person who posted it online, defending the unnamed woman.
"This post is in poor taste," one commenter said.
"What you should conclude from this is that it's not ok to take photos of strangers and post them on the internet without permission," said another.
"Don't do this. Don't take pictures of people you think look weird and post them online," another chimed in.
Some commenters chose to joke with posts like, "Beards on women are now in!!! yes!!!"
"So is this a transgendered Sikh? Explains why they haven't shaved and the Turban. One of those things has got to go," commented one Reddit user.
One person said, "It's Pat," referring to the Saturday Night Live character whose gender was always a mystery.
The woman in the photo is Balpreet Kaur, a neuroscience and psychology student at Ohio State. After a friend contacted her on Facebook and told her about the picture, she responded to the post on Reddit.
"If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled," she wrote.
"Yes, I'm a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair," she wrote. "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."
Kaur said her religion believes in focusing on actions instead of the physical beauty.
"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.
She encourages anyone who sees her on campus to "come up and say hello," and notes that it's not her face that's important, but the smile and happiness that lie behind it.
"My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognized that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it?"
Her response led to more discussion on Reddit.
"Just want to thank Balpreet Kaur for serving as an example to me of the best way to deal with hostility and ignorance. Thank you, Balpreet, you are beautiful."
"I wish I could hug this woman. She makes my heart happy."
"As a hirsute woman, I one day hope to have the peace and acceptance of my body that you do. You are a true inspiration, and I thank you for replying to this thread."
The original poster returned to Reddit to apologize to Kaur and anyone he might have offended.
"I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, to Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture," he wrote.
He said he has reached out to Kaur and calls her an "incredible person." The next time he is in Columbus, the two plan to meet.
"I've read more about the Sikh faith, and it was actually really interesting," he said. "It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like.
Kaur, who works closely with Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that empowers college students to be interfaith leaders, released a statement through the organization saying she accepts the original poster's "sincere apology."
"I'm glad this situation has been positive and inspiring for many people," she said, "We need to cherish those moments that allow us to feel bigger than our own bodies," she said.
Interfaith Core President Eboo Patel said, "By responding to a moment of religious prejudice with grace, Balpreet taught hundreds of thousands of people about her Sikh tradition and showed them that religion can be a source of strength and bridge of cooperation."
Perhaps no one learned more than the original poster of the photograph.
"I hate using clichés, but I've definitely learned to not judge a book by its cover," he said. "Some of the people who may not be the most beautiful on the outside are beautiful on the inside."
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
As stated on her shirt, her beard and the boobies go well together XD
sorry but thats straight up nasty!
Newsflash: she doesn't care what you think and she's a better person than you are.
I agree Bill! Thats the truth.
Hairy is scary.
This just in: CNN.com editor replaced by reddit bureau chief.
In all seriousness, there is no point in coming to CNN.com anymore when it consists of 20% Apple articles *cough*ads*cough*, 78% reddit front page from 2 days ago where everything has already been discussed to death, and 2% exclusive content.
The 24 hour news cycle can't even keep up with the 24 hour news cycle anymore.
Seems to be a nice looking girl. But people don't seem to understand that, religion is just a hoax.
It is just man made. There is no GOD any where. Some people get so convinced by the rule
of their religion that, they are ready to mess up their looks for some religious rule set down by
some guru hundreds of year back. It is such a waste of one's life. She should go ahead and shave
all those facial hair and enjoy her life like a normal girl, instead of living this way.
Shaving is not the answer. Laser or electrology is.
humans r born with hair, i think cutting your hair is messing up with ur body , isnt it ?
I reserve the right to stop using deodorant! After all, it's all about MY freedom of expression. Forget about the other 300 million people in this country.
Dude has nice t i t s.
Imagine what the hair on her hoohah must look like. Granny panties for this dude.
You are pretty much the biggest troll here. Congratulations on showing that you are an ignorant idiot, who doesn't know anything about religion, people or anything past grade 3 reading comprehension.
I was thinking...chest hair, back hair, leg hair, buttcheek hair...funky if nothing else...YUCK!
Inspirational in every possible respect. Good, kind people relating to each other.
Am I the only one who can see that she is obviously a butch lesbian hiding behind religion?? Jeesh, wake up.
@24 Hour Crisis Center...no you are not!
hmm...i didn't know sikh women were required to wear turbans. this seems really strange. perhaps she is doing it gain attention?
Hey, guess what? She doesn't care what you think.
I too, am confused by the turban on a woman.
Sikh women are not required to wear a turban. They are not prevented from wearing one either.
Baptized do, search for amritdhari.
Also Sikhs are the last people of earth to seek attention, I am not one but I know about all religions
This woman is guarrenteeing herself a disrupted life by her facial hair, based on a religiong...she can't eve hope to prove and has to have "faith" to beleive in. All that trouble for nothing. I'm glad I'm an athiest...and not her huband or boyfriend. This is the equivalent of a guy having breasts...any women want that guy?
I can virtually guarantee that she does not have a boyfriend.
I adore her response! She outclassed everyone, including the creep who first posted the photo. Rampant cell phone photography is the reason I stopped using the locker room at my gym. There is no private area to change clothes, and I constantly saw people using their homes in there (even though it is prohibited). I don't want to turn up starkers on the Internet.
...should be : using their phones in there...
Would hit lol!
Eboo Patel of the Interfaith Core (a facade to hide the fanatacism of Islam behind and distract people) and his fellow muslims could also learn a lot from this Sikh woman about reacting without threats of violence or burninng or decapitating people.
there are 1.4 billion muslims in the world.
Patel is a Hindu last name, idiot.
No, Patel is a Gujarati/Indian surname and whilst most Gujaratis are Hindu there is a large Moslem minority still bearing the last name; descendants of those that were converted with the Islamic conquests centuries ago.
Female sikhs are not required to wear a turban or maintain facial hair. She must be a dike
yes in sikhism both men and women are required but due to modern influence and critics , most of them dont wear, but few brave ones are still there
I am Sikh male and Sikhism does not require women to wear a turban or maintain facial hair. I have no problem if someone wants to do it but it is not a core part of Sikhism. I know certain Sikh sects in the USA promote it but in India you will not find Sikh women like these.
I do not which "sects" your talking about but if you follow Sikhism, there are no sects. Its either your a Sikh or Not – a sikh is a simply a follower of Guru Granth Sahib Jee (the holy scripture). As for as keeping a turban, one should study the history of Guru Gobind Singh Jee and Khalsa ... there is no males do this in Sikhism or females do that!
asingh, there are no sects within sikhism as stated above. And you are so very misinformed , there are baptized orthodox sikh women in india as well...just because YOU did not happen to see any, does not mean they dont exist (idiot)...
Her turban looks dirty
you are a disgraceful human being
well for me it is another example of how the internet can be a force for good. Even though the original poster's intentions were not good it elicited a dialouge about not only being accepting of other people but also what is appropriate to post on the internet. Good for Balpreet Kaur!...and shame on some of the knucklehead posters...
Her business, but gross looking nonetheless.