Balpreet Kaur is a college sophomore at Ohio State University, whose photo was plastered on Reddit and Cracked.com this last week, by those who were trying to guess her gender.
The confusion happened because the young woman was sporting facial hair.
Kaur is studying Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Ohio. Ironically, she is studying the effects of social stigma on mental disorders in developing countries, and has recently been faced with having to explain her appearance to the whole world.
As president of the Sikh Student Association at OSU, Kaur stands behind her decision to grow her facial hair, as her decision is motivated by strong religious belief.
“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,” she responded to harsh comments on Reddit. Sikh24
reported that the student is stating she is proud of her appearance, as it represents not only her allegiance to the Sikh faith, but her lack of shallowness.
“I’m not embarrassed or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positive] that this picture is getting because, it’s who I am,” Kaur said.
She states that the fact that she is not focused on looks is a driving force behind her concentrating on academics and social work.
“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,” she writes.
According to wikipedia
, the five Ks, articles that identify a Sikh's faith if they are carried by believers, are: a small wooden comb named Kangha, a steel or iron bracelet known as a Kara, cotton undergarments worn by both women and men, known as Kachera, a ceremonial sword or Kirpan, and, perhaps most importantly, uncut hair or Kesh.