By Rebecca Drew
THIS incredible woman has been sharing her PCOS and hirsutism story on Instagram in a bid to inspire others and to highlight the other medical implications the condition has besides excess body hair after ditching her lengthy five-hour long hair removal routine and celebrating her ‘unfiltered self’.
When Miranda Nodine (28) from Virginia, USA, was diagnosed with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at sixteen after being rushed to hospital with stabbing pains in her stomach, she had no idea what side effects and symptoms the condition would entail. She now suffers with irregular periods and didn’t have a period for two years before starting birth control just a few months ago, pelvic pain, weight gain, feeling bloated and excess hair known as hirsutism.
Student Miranda used to spend up to five hours removing her body hair in the bath and would choose her clothing carefully to ensure that her legs, chest and shoulders were covered if she was venturing out. Feeling unhappy and after seeing other women share their fitness and weight loss journeys on Instagram and not seeing many share their hirsutism or PCOS stories, Miranda started to post pictures of her body hair and has been supporting others with her natural self ever since.
“I found out that I had PCOS when I was a teenager, around sixteen or seventeen when I woke up at 3AM with a stabbing pain in my lower stomach and had to get my mum to take me to the ER to get a pelvic ultrasound to find out it was a ruptured cyst on my ovary,” she said.
“I have not always been proud of my body hair and I did used to remove it. I would spend hours upon hours. Five or more in the bath shaving everything. It became increasingly more difficult the older I got so I decided to stop. I would wear pants during the summer and hide as much skin as I could.
“I would rather spend those five or more hours doing things that don’t make me so unhappy, like spending time with my loved ones or really anything else. I did try a few laser hair removal sessions five years ago but it was too painful so I stopped.
“I thought why continue to miss out on things that I enjoy just to shave my body hair and put myself through pain because society doesn’t understand it, that’s just silly. Just because I felt that way in my head doesn’t mean that it was that easy to live it.
“Whenever I was getting dressed for anything, I would make sure that every hairy part of me was covered and that included my shoulders. The biggest problem with PCOS though is the constant fear that if I don’t get my birth control, I won’t bleed again for two years or longer.
“It’s scary and I wish that part didn’t exist at all. There’s a lot of things medically that concerns me more than my body hair.
“For the first time in years, I went to the grocery store the other day with my chin hair shining and wasn’t concerned about hiding it. It was liberating. I can’t wait to wear my new super cute romper this Summer. Hair and all.
“I saw a lot of women on Instagram sharing their weight loss journey and a lot of other life journeys and wanted their strength and courage but wasn’t ready. Until one day a few years later, I was sitting in my future mother in law’s living room and she said, ‘what if you make a Facebook group for women with Hirsutism?’ I immediately knew I had to.
“So then, I decided to share my story in a private Facebook group and try to help myself and other women feel more comfortable. I shared the group via Twitter and a woman joined who had chosen to let her body hair grow out but she was open about it.
“Months passed and I decided I didn’t want to hide anymore and the rest is history. I decided to share my story via Instagram because I saw there weren’t a lot of women like me who were choosing to grow it out, so I took a photo, told my story and that’s it.”
According to the NHS, PCOS has three key features; irregular periods, excess androgen that can cause excess body hair and polycystic ovaries. It affects one in five women in the UK and more than half of these have no symptoms at all.
For Miranda, the most difficult part of sharing her journey with others was the feeling of disgust she felt from them and coming to terms with her body hair as a young adult.
“The hardest thing about sharing my PCOS and hirsutism story with others was the constant feeling of disgust from them. Especially in past relationships. I remember the two people I shared it with would somehow think that bringing up my body hair after we would break up was a way to hurt me. It did at the time because I was still very insecure about it,” added Miranda.
“I also was bullied a lot in school because of the hair growth. I was still learning about my growing and developing body so getting undressed in front of other girls with an extremely hairy tummy, back, chest, and all wasn’t easy.
“My fiancée though is very accepting and loves me with or without my body hair. She’s helped me a lot in this process and I’m extremely thankful for that. She’s helped me realize that body hair is just that. Body hair. It doesn’t define beauty. There’s much more to beauty than that.
“As a teen and young adult, my mother would feel extreme sadness for me because she would see me crying over my body hair either because I was picked on or I just hated it and was confused as to why I had it.
“My aunt who is a hairdresser would help me wax and things like that. Those were the only ones I would openly share it with them. Now, people don’t really say anything too negative or out of the way.”
Finally, Miranda shared her words of advice to others in her situation.
“Loving yourself takes work. Hard work. It’s the most rewarding work you’ll ever do. I’m still learning every day that I’m worth more than just my hair. Whoever is reading this, please keep pushing on,” she said.
“One day, you’ll wake up and wonder why it took so long. It’s freedom to live your life without worrying one hundred percent of the time if anyone can see your hair. It’s free to finally put your razor down and spend time with your loved ones instead of fitting society’s boring way of living. Be you. Life is way too short, but your hair won’t be.
“We all grow up feeling negative in one way or another about ourselves. It’s true. Just admit it. But we don’t have to.
“Yes, I have hair on my body. All over my body. People constantly want to remind me of that with negative comments and reasons why it’s ‘unattractive’ when in reality, it’s none of their concern. Who’s concern it is though is the girl who is starting puberty and seeing their body changing as well as developing but on top of all that, they have hair all over.
“If you can, talk to a doctor about PCOS. It’s not just body hair and PCOS doesn’t always equal body hair but it could be PCOS or something else entirely. With all of that though, that doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy of love or affection or will never find someone to love you for you.
“I’m more concerned about the possibility of never being able to conceive. I want people out there reading this to just stay strong, learn to love the skin you’re in, and take care of themselves and to realize that beauty doesn’t equal the outside appearance.
“It’s how you treat others, it’s your heart, your sense of humour, and your generosity. If you show yourself all of those things, you’re all set.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/squirrelsinhats