Faith Macharia, 40, started growing a beard at the age of 24. While she initially struggled with esteem issues and even contemplated expensive surgery, Ms Macharia decided to try self-love and now walks with her chin up.
Faith also started the bearded women organisation in 2018 to help other women facing a similar challenge.
Here’s her story as narrated in the Nation newspaper.
“You look beautiful, why are you stressing yourself about the growing beard?” the doctor told me. This marked the beginning of my journey to self-love. The next day I looked at my reflection in the mirror and decided to love myself and accept what I couldn’t change.
It started with one strand of hair on my chin, then two, and my razor helped trim the two strands. What I did not know was that my action would increase the growth of my then invisible beard. I was 24 at the time and had been enjoying life without a worry in the world, leave alone a hair growth on my chin.
One day, my aunt asked me, “Are you growing a beard?” I didn’t take notice of what she was getting at. I considered it a silly joke. But after the trim, more strands of hair started popping and the more I trimmed the more they grew. It started bothering me.
‘What is wrong with me? Women don’t grow beards, do they? How do I deal with it permanently? Won’t everyone think am cursed? What do I do? Why me?’
My only solution at the time was to shave the beard as neatly as I could, cover my chin and walk around with a smile on the outside, and be secretly tearing up on the inside.
In 2006, when I turned 26, I decided to seek professional help. I needed to find out what was wrong with me and if I had to live my life hiding my chin. The first doctor I visited, advised me to acquire a tablet prescription that would balance my hormonal imbalance – an excess of androgen – or a laser surgery for my hirsutism condition. The options would cause a huge hole in my pocket.
I, therefore, decided to seek a second opinion, which I am glad I did. “The doctor here baffled and amused me,”
He said, “Faith, you do not need to take tabs or have an expensive procedure.” All I needed was self-love and acceptance, he advised. Shave the beard if I had to, and not stress about having a laser surgery that will cost a fortune, he told me.
I left the hospital happy and ready to take on anything. The next day I started my journey of growing my confidence, self-esteem, and enjoying life one day at a time. I have never looked back.
My dating life has been like any other woman’s. Bumpy at times and effortless at others. True, my beard has caused some issues—I have had a man walk out on our relationship because of it. But my negative experience has not shattered my dream of love, marriage, a big house, and children.
Luckily for me, I have never had a confrontation regarding my beard. When I grow it to visible length, I crack a joke when someone stares at me. I think my confidence attracts a positive vibe.
My nine old son gives me more determination to forge ahead. I have taught him to accept my beard and have the confidence to avoid confrontation or bullying from his peers.
I had always pondered on the thought of doing something to share my confidence and help others facing similar challenges. It took a news headline of a bearded woman who had been told to undress in police custody to determine her gender, to fuel the desire. I thought to myself “I would be next or that would have been me,”. That is why in October 2018, The Bearded Women Organization was born.
Am currently using Twitter (@ bearded faith), my Facebook page, and the Bearded Women Organization Facebook page, to reach out to women with beards who need a shoulder to lean on and to create awareness about bearded women. Having a beard as a woman is not a curse and we need to be accepted and loved.
It brings me great joy for a lady to call me and tell me, “I have not shaved my beard, people keep staring at me and I have not given them the power to take my joy. Am smiling inside out.”
I hope to reach out to more women internationally, through the organisation and change society’s view of bearded women.
I consider my beard a quality that makes me different, and not a curse or something to be ashamed of. I do shave it, but even when shaved, you will notice the stubbles on my chin.
When you love yourself and accept that which you have no power to control or change you thrive. It can be weight issues or a bald head. My confidence has protected me from ridicule, fear, and allowed me to walk around chin up.”