- Gennevieve Vaillancourt, a female empowerment and mindset coach, started growing facial hair from the age of 16.
- She was later diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome - PCOS - which caused the growth.
- Gennevieve has learnt to embrace her facial hair and now says that she feels more confident than ever with a beard after years of hiding herself.
Gennevieve Vaillancourt, 38, from Ontario, Canada was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome - PCOS, and has learnt to embrace her facial hair and feels more confident than ever. She felt ashamed of her facial hair, and how she looked, so she spent years hiding herself and her beard away from the world.
However, in recent years, Gennevieve has accepted her facial hair and has grown a full beard, which she says makes her feel more confident than ever before.
"As soon as my facial hair started to grow when I was 16, I knew that it would eventually become a full beard, and I knew that I wanted to get to a place where I was brave enough to grow it out and wear it in public," Gennevieve says.
"I just needed to learn some tools to be able to do that. There were a few turning points in my life that gave me a push to embrace my beard. Since I had my son, Duncan, now three, I wanted to lead by example. I couldn't teach him to love every part of himself if I wasn't doing the same."
The main turning point for her was when she ran into one of her aunts while she was waiting in the car outside the supermarket.
She hadn't shaved in about three days, and she gave her aunt a warning that she hadn't shaved her beard, and the aunt told her uncle not to come over because he 'didn't need to see this.’
"I saw my aunt's shame, but it also made me realise that I deserve to be seen. This really fuelled me to take the leap to be seen. I have been growing my beard out since September 2021," Gennevieve says.
Due to coronavirus, Gennevieve started coming out with her beard by posting pictures online. However, it wasn't until recently that she was able to be out in public without a mask and with her beard on full display.
The rule on masks in Canada has only recently been relaxed, and her first unmasked event was interesting as her beard is quite long.
"It's obvious that I am a woman, so I could see the confusion on people's faces. I was watching them go through a whole process of trying to understand. But everyone was really kind. It was quite a lot to watch everyone noticing my beard, and it was impossible to ignore, but this is my new life," she says.
"All of the positive experiences I have had since showing off my beard have spurred me on to keep going. I feel more confident than I have ever felt with my beard. When I wasn't able to be my true self, and I was hiding away, I was filled with so much anxiety. Showing off my beard has been liberating."
Gennevieve spent many years working from home so that she could hide from the world and avoid constantly shaving her beard. To keep on top of her facial hair, she had to shave it every other day but by the second day it's usually obvious that the hair is already growing back.
Genneveive added: "I was so ashamed of my beard. I was bullied through school because of it, and kids would tell me to shave or asked if I knew how to. Surprisingly, since fully growing out my beard, I haven't faced any backlash or bullying."
When she received her PCOS diagnosis, she felt relieved to have something to research and knew there was a reason why these things were happening to her.
"I also felt the loss of hope at the thought of not being able to be a mom in the future because it (PCOS) is one of the top causes of infertility in women. Another symptom was weight gain and, of course, the growth of facial hair. PCOS made me want to hide, and I felt robbed of my femininity," she says.
"But luckily, I have become a mom and I've also been able to accept myself for who I am and can walk around in public with my beard, with confidence."
CREDIT: Caters News Agency/MAGAZINEFEATURES.CO.ZA
Do you have a story to share? Tell us about it here.
Sign up to W24's newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our stories and giveaways.