A Sikh woman with facial hair defends her appearance

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/27/photo-of-woman-with-facial-hair-leads-to-conversation-understanding/?iref=obnetwork

I found this article last week but never got a chance to blog about, so I’m going to do it now!  This article is interesting not only because it has to do with gender stereotypes and the material we’re covering in class, but because I can relate to this on a personal level. First of all, the fact that somebody secretly took a picture of this woman and posted it online is outrageous.  Like Lorber said, we are constantly ‘doing gender’, yet we don’t notice it until somebody stops and their gender is not apparent.  This is not a problem, except that it makes us – society – uncomfortable because we cannot label and divide people just by looking at them.  So just because the photographer was “not sure what to conclude from this” picture of Balpreet, does not give him the right to make this a public issue and mock the woman.

Second of all, the issue here is her facial hair.  Just her hair – that’s all.  For a lot of dark-haired women (especially South Asian women), facial hair is pretty common, and it can be embarrassing.  But why is it embarrassing?  Because of people like this anonymous photographer who feel the need to point it out, draw attention to it, question our gender, and make us feel like we’re not real women.  Facial hair is natural for men and women.  However, hairlessness (in terms of facial hair) is used as a standard for beauty for women in our society.  I’m glad that Balpreet stood up for herself though and defended her natural appearance because she challenges our conception of what makes a ‘beautiful woman’.

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