A 34-year old woman who works as a matatu conductor in Nairobi has opened up on the struggles of having a beard.
Speaking to the BBC, Theresia Mumbi narrated how the unorthodox condition has brought her ridicule. According to the mother of one, she has had a lot of hair since her school days.
“I saw having a lot of hair as a normal thing and it didn’t bother me that much.”
After finishing high school, Mumbi started job hunting in 2005 and that’s when she noticed how fast her facial hair was growing. Her decision to hide the sprouting beard by shaving backfired as instead, it made the hair grow at a faster rate.
“I found it hard hiding my facial hair by shaving every time. I grew tired and decided to stop shaving altogether.”
According to Mumbi, during the period she was shaving, she had no trouble whatsoever as she appeared ‘normal’ just like any other woman. When she stopped shaving, she was ridiculed and people stared as others engaged in name-calling.
Mumbi, who was working as a waitress in a city hotel at the time said that she had an easy time at work as the customers were used to her with a beard. However, once she stepped outside her workplace, the ridicule continued.
“When at home, I never left the house during the day. I would wait till dark to go to shops to buy food.
“Even though I had no issues at work, I used to feel ashamed of my neighbours gossiping about my beard,” said Mumbi.
She opted to seek medical attention for her condition and was informed that it was caused by hormonal imbalance.
Frisked by police
Narrating an unforgettable encounter she had, Mumbi recalled when she was arrested by police officers while working as a matatu conductor.
After failing to pay Sh400 the cops were allegedly asking for, she was arrested and taken to remand.
She was locked up with other female remandees, but later, a policewoman started questioning her gender and Mumbi was ordered to strip.
“We are not sure about your gender and we suspect that you might be a man, so we would like to frisk you to ascertain your gender,” Mumbi was told.
The experience haunted Mumbi as the police officer demeaned her for having a beard. It made her questioned God why she was created like so and she even contemplated committing suicide at some point.
However, her 7-year-old son motivated her to put the suicidal thoughts aside.
Harnaam Kaur’s case
Mumbi’s case is not unique as around five years ago, Harnaam Kaur from the UK came out and spoke about her condition. Kaur has polycystic ovary syndrome, which can cause excessive hair growth.
Speaking at the time, Kaur narrated how she been made the victim of cruel taunts at school and on the street. She even received death threats from strangers over the internet.
Like Mumbi, Kaur ditched the razor blade for good and was baptized as a Sikh, a religion where it is forbidden to cut body hair.
“I would never ever go back now and remove my facial hair because it’s the way God made me and I’m happy with the way I am. I feel more feminine, sexier and I think I look it too.
“I’ve learned to love myself for who I am nothing can shake me now,” Kaur said.