"When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it become less and less important whether I am afraid"
- Audre Lorde
Women are powerful, we are compassionate, resilient full of love and we have the strength to create life. Beyoncé did ask "Who runs the world? GIRLS", we chant it every time her song "Run the World" comes on. So doesn't this mean that our accomplishments should be celebrated equally if not more than men? It has only been 100 years since women have been given the right to vote in the UK. We must thank women for creating International Women's Day, a day where we embrace, rejoice and recognise the accomplishments of women all around the world. A day where we become the voice of the voiceless that are being abused, and have no one to turn to. A day where we come together and empower each other to achieve the best of ourselves on this journey we call life.
My fight as a bearded woman has been beautifully difficult. I have faced many defeats but I have never been defeated. We all know that being physically different nowadays is social suicide, if you look a certain way opposing the beauty standards of society, you will unfortunately get ridiculed; it is how you deal with the atrocities that will shape you as a human.
Living with my Lady Beard has been amazing, but that doesn't mean that I have not had to face hard times too. I have been body shamed all my life, and I have come to realise that it will never stop unless I try to change people's perceptions of what beauty really is. I will forever challenge people's thoughts about what they think to be "normal" is. In addition to this, I have confronted severe bulling which led me to become very suicidal. I was not able to create a career for myself, which I really wanted to achieve as a young teenager, but instead I turned the difficulties that I faced in my life into a career to motivate and inspire many. I would never change my career for the world. I have faced discrimination and bullying within work places too, which forced me to join a different place of employment; this continuous cycle forced me to quit work altogether and become an activist who stands up for the empowerment of women and men.
I have been able to create a mindset that allows me to live regardless of all the atrocities that I still face. I am bigger than my self doubt. My life, message, journey and work is far more superior to any inner demons that I may face within my life. I am larger than life and with this so are my values, my worth, my personality, my stance in life and the work that I do. I have gone through a great deal in my life from a very young age, I have had to handle a lot; most people would unfortunately crumble under major pressure from walking a mile in my shoes.
'My body, my rules" is the mantra that I live by, and this small quote has changed my life. People's negative opinions about my body won't be the reason why I change my appearance.
I have been burnt so many times that any heat that life has to throw at me just doesn't faze me anymore. I put aside my faults, my demons and inner doubts to work for people. My life has now been dedicated to working for and with people to help better their lives. I am able to deal with sorrow. I can be thrown to the ground, and get knocked back, I also know how to get back up roaring and work harder than ever. I have found the power and strength inside of me to put away whatever I am going through to save people's lives from bullying, body shaming self doubt, suicide and self harm. I have dedicated my life to this. "Harnaam, you have been there and done that, you've overcome a lot in your life and now it is time for you to help others. So stop feeling sorry for yourself and become the super hero that people need." This is what I tell myself. My life is now fully in service for helping people!
Women all around the world have shown bravery in the face of gender based atrocities, they have stood strong and valiant when confronted with racial discrimination and/or discrimination within the work place. I also applaud how women have stood up fearlessly when voicing their opinions on matters in which they feel oppressed. Due to this International Women's Day is important not just for women but also men too. Women need to come together in solidarity and celebrate all that they have accomplished collectively. We need to communally empower each other and commemorate our accomplishments big or small in a world where we are made to just sit at home and be housewives. I am happy to say that this has changed but in many countries women are still not allowed to have hopes and dreams.
Let's dedicate International Women's Day to those queens who are still being oppressed by society, the girls who are being forced into female genital mutilation. Let's remember rape survivors, women who are going through and have gone through domestic violence, forced marriages, 'honour killings,' and those Transgender women who have to deal daily with being ostracised by wider society because of who they are. During this International Women's Day 2017, I hope we collectively celebrate women regardless of sexual orientation, caste/religion, culture, colour, age or abilities.
Together we are powerful. Together we make the world go round.
HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today
Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email firstname.lastname@example.org