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Photo of woman with facial hair leads to conversation, understanding
Balpreet Kaur responded to the reddit conversation about her facial hair.
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."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: gender issues • Sikh

soundoff (1,032 Responses)
  1. JH1

    CNN: Where Redditors come to read articles about themselves reading things on reddit after reading on reddit that CNN wrote an article about things they read on reddit.

    September 27, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      D+

      September 27, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Lucifer'sEvilTwin-suxPNS

      This name is free for the taking; everyone please feel free to repost. I also agree with the fellow who posted on your name, fairytail "TM", and grading system; you are akin to a feminine wash product.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  2. Mr. Ballpreen

    I have always enjoyed looking and playing with my hairy balls.

    September 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      B-

      September 27, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  3. CNN News Update

    September 27, 2012 7:50 PM ET
    Headline: Tragedy today on the campus of The Ohio State University.
    By Daphnie Ballman, CNN

    In the aftermath following the report that "Balpreet Kaur", university student and baptized Sikh member is a woman, many Facebook followers have begun posting their own pictures.

    Many of these photographs portray unshaved female gentalia, which appears to be a serious backlash against smoothly shaven pubic areas and Brazilian bikini waxes.

    The shock of this should come as no surprise due to the "Arab" spring, as women around the globe are putting away their razors and showing their "pride in body hair". Now championed to the extreme by Miss Kaur.

    September 27, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      Stupid, but slightly humorous (C+)

      September 27, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      @Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      I like it.

      Oh, your name with the "TM" on the end? F- / total doosh

      September 27, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  4. confusedeasily

    How does she get that much facial hair to begin with?

    September 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Witchy Poo

      Say this chant three times as you hold the part of your body that you wish for hair to grow on...

      Stretch it
      Twist it
      Make it grow
      Like a river
      Let it flow
      Three times fast shall this hair grow
      This is my will
      So mote it be

      September 27, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      Or you could try praying to Jesus or Allah, with the same success rate as Witchy Poo's spell...

      September 27, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Lucifer'sEvilTwin-suxPNS

      A+ (on my name). Due to cutbacks we are letting some aids go, I will be grading my own work.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • ohioan

      certain hormonal issues in women (specifically PCOS) can cause an abnormal amount of facial hair in a woman. Many women have this condition, but most choose to shave, pluck, use nair, or electolysis treatment. That is against this woman's beliefs so she just lets it be.

      September 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  5. Lucifer's Evil Twin™

    Hi Sam.... Very punk, I like 'em! "mayonnaise and other delights" could there be a cooler album name?

    September 27, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  6. phneutral

    I'm sure most of us could do well to be much less concerned about whats on the outside and more concerned with personal responsibility.

    September 27, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      F

      September 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  7. #1jesusFan

    Someone get this 'women' a razor!! STAT!!!!!!!!!!

    September 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      A-

      September 27, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  8. Lucifer's Evil Twin™

    @sbstr – if you talk to the psychos, you must accept the risk of them actually responding to you

    September 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  9. MS

    I don't care how others live or the decisions they make. I'm not even sure why this is on CNN or why anybody over the age of fifteen would even care.

    September 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Truth

      Check snopes.com

      TRUE OR FALSE?

      False!

      The person in the photo is actually Raheem Fabdula, a trans.e.xual MALE in the process of receiving a full s.e.x. change operation.

      Mr. Fabdula is in fact a student at Ohio State but when contacted admitted no contact with the original poster of the image. “Balpreet Kaur” is a fraud.

      September 27, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  10. sam yaza

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq5jBGYU_7Y&w=640&h=360]

    September 27, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  11. art

    Coool! WAy to Go, Balpreet.

    September 27, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  12. Akbal Singh

    I urgw every body to read this artical of a god loving soul. May god bless this soul.

    September 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      I'd rather get an enema...

      September 27, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • The Ilinois Enemy Bandit

      You would like a little...enema? I can pump you up with all my bag fulla Illinois Enema Bandit juice.

      September 27, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      Well that's disturbing and gross bandit.

      September 27, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • The Ilinois Enemy Bandit

      I will save some for you Lucifer's Evil Twin™.

      September 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  13. Lucifer's Evil Twin™

    How is an ugly woman with facial hair news? The take-away from this is that birth control is as easy as a few months of no lady waxing...

    September 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • MS

      Anonymously calling others "ugly" on the internet is far uglier than any picture I've ever seen.

      September 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      Very sensitive and insightful of you...thankfully I'm immune to little girl emotions like yours...

      September 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  14. sk8r

    I have sikh religion somewhere up in the chain of my ancestors. While I have no comment on her choice of maintaining facial hair, I do know SIKHS very well. Their men are most courageous (google Bhagat Singh) and their women most beautiful. Many of them are indeed very industrious and at same time religious. Regardless, it gives no right to any one of you to blame this on religion. This is her personal choice. You all who talk of "my religion is better than yours" are the problem to this society and modern world. But soon you will be out numbered by people like me who believe in doing one good deed a day without worrying much about your or her religion.

    September 27, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Tricia

      Well said.

      September 27, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • DN3

      Thank you.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  15. Jugi

    The turban has nothing to do with her gender, folks. Both male and female Sikhs wear them.

    September 27, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  16. Patti

    It just goes to show what a tremendous double standard we have in our society. When's the last time there was a news story about a man out in public with a scruffy beard or hairy legs and underarms?

    September 27, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • confusedeasily

      Charlie Sheen gone bonkers???

      September 27, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  17. Roberto

    So, she's got facial hair. Don't lose any sleep over it. My grandmother had just a tad of a mustache, if I remember correctly. I didn't take pictures of her and post them all over the world-wide-web. Of course, at that time I was growing up into my pre-teen years when I noticed it. That was, oh, say, mid-sixties. I didn't think for a minute, "Wow! I should take a picture of this and show the whole f****** world. People need to quit taking photos and videos of things like this and start communicating. Hmmm? "Communicating." What an interesting word. Does anyone do that anymore? Or does everyone just REACT!

    September 27, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • #1jesusFan

      Are you sure thats your grandmother?Or just your crazy senile grandfather dressing up in women clothes?

      September 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 27, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • the_db's

      Tell that to the 8 year old boys that were touched by priests.

      September 27, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayerbot..

      September 27, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • truth be told

      A few low end ho mo se xuals lied their way into the priesthood to molest the innocent and unsuspecting. To cast the entire church in a bad light for the actions of a few filthy ho mo se x uals is like blaming a bank for bank robers.

      September 27, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • herbie makes another absolutely worthless troll post

      stinking up the internet all day every day................
      LOSER!

      September 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • herbie

      There is no herbie

      September 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  19. Truth

    From Snopes.com

    Co-Ed Facial Fun

    CNN reported on September 27th, 2012
    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."
    The woman in the photo is Balpreet Kaur, a neuroscience and psychology student at Ohio State. The article goes on to conclude that Miss Kaur handled the issue gracefully and afforded herself quite nicely, even garnering apologies from those that taunted her on-line.

    TRUE OR FALSE?

    False!

    The person in the photo is actually Raheem Fabdula, a trans.e.xual MALE in the process of receiving a full s.e.x. change operation.

    Mr. Fabdula is in fact a student at Ohio State but when contacted admitted no contact with the original poster of the image. “Balpreet Kaur” is a fraud.

    September 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • sbstr

      Really, can you post the snopes link here?

      September 27, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • sbstr

      The reason I ask is your post itself looks very dubious. So, please post verifiable details.

      September 27, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Madelyn Campbell

      That's funny – I just went to snopes to check out your version, and the story isn't even there. If you're going to cite sources, assume people will check. I have no reason to believe this is fraudulent.

      September 27, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • snoozie

      That is a lie. There is no such story on Snopes

      September 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Truth

      As far as I know this is 100% true. If it is on snopes.com you can trust it.

      September 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Motoman

      The real truth is snopes.com is a fraud. It has always been a lame website that occasionally puts out false stories so people will check out the website.

      September 27, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • The Ilinois Enemy Bandit

      Well I am quite sure this is true. I mean look at the picture. Are you going to believe CNN or your lying eyes?

      September 27, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  20. fred

    Call me a pessimist, but everyone here is overly praising her and such , and what for : for not responding to a personal insult to herself and her religion with anger or violence ....Wow ... a religious person not trying to kill someone who had offended them , bravo, bravo. When will you , religious simpleton, realize this should not be a story this should be the norm. if someone insulted me , i would shrug my shoulders and say "okay", if someone insulted my belief in something ,i would rationally defend my perspective. Congrats to her for not wanting to kill him. what an amazing story.

    September 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • James PDX

      Forgive Fred, he's on his period.

      September 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • shut up, fred

      two-bit troll child.

      September 27, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • TheRationale

      Yeah. It seems like CNN is once again at a huge lack of content so they're now pulling junk off Reddit.

      September 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      @TheRationale

      Keep in mind yesterday that did not have a single new article. Not one. Desperate.

      September 27, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
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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.