Brave PCOS Sufferer Decides To Ditch The Razor And Embrace Her Hairiness
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A woman with poly-cystic ovary syndrome has decided to embrace the side effects of her condition by ditching her razor, leaving her excess body hair to grow out.
Leah Jorgensen, 33, is a behavioral health technician from Madison, Wisconsin, who suffers from the hormonal disorder that can cause male-pattern hair growth.
From the age of 14 she'd been bullied by cruel people branding her a 'man', meaning she felt she had to wear full-sleeved, high-necked shirts and long trousers to hide the excess hair.
By her late 20s, Leah was even spending hours shaving to remove the thick hair on her chin, cheeks, upper lip, chest, stomach, arms, legs and back.
Leah said: "I had never seen women who looked like me. I was so ashamed that I didn't want to talk about it.
"My way of coping with that shame and embarrassment was to hide. My daily goal for a long time was to just get through the day without anyone noticing how hairy I was.
"Because I have so much of it, it was very difficult to hide it. I developed a terrible case of anxiety and it really took a toll on my mental health."
She added: "In junior high school a classmate noticed the hair on my face and there was this group of girls that would tease me about it and call me a man.
"I felt ashamed, embarrassed and scared, like I was somehow less of a woman."
In December 2015, Leah was hit by a car and had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance, where paramedics had to cut her clothes off before she underwent surgery and therapy - meaning that for the first time people saw the extent of her hair growth, up close.
"I realised no one cared what I looked like, they just saw me as a person. It really helped me to get over it," she said.
Around the same time, she also met a man who found her attractive - regardless of her hang-ups - and while she's no longer with him, the fact that he embraced her excess hair gave her the push she'd always needed.
She continued: "I realised that I never really disliked how the hair looked. The problem was not with the hair, it was with people's perception of it."
Leah stopped removing her body hair just over a year ago, and has since felt empowered, managing to wear low-cut, sleeveless tops and reveal her legs in public and even donning a bikini last summer - sharing photos of her new look with her thousands of Instagram followers.
The sense of liberty also prompted her to quit her insurance job and return to college, where she's currently study social work. She also recently got a new job working with autistic children.
She said: "I used to be scared of people noticing my hair but now I embrace it and let it grow. I'm unique and that is perfectly fine.
"I do still shave my face because I like how my face looks without hair but I used to shave multiple times a day and now I will go a couple of days.
"It has been incredibly empowering."
For Leah's next brave move, she'll becomeone of 100 women photographed next month for a book for Underneath We Are Women, a project promoting diversity.
"I hope that sharing my story will give others courage," she added. "And to women who have hirsutism - you are not alone."