By Aimee Braniff Cree

THIS INSPIRATIONAL woman has vowed NEVER to shave her beard after calling on fellow PCOS and Hirsutism ladies to embrace their facial hair.

Customer service representative LaRae Perkins (40), from Compton, California has struggled with symptoms of PCOS since she was 12 and has had hair on her face her whole life.

PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that affects how the ovaries work. The three main features of the condition are irregular periods where the ovaries do not release eggs for ovulation, excess androgen meaning high level of ‘male’ hormones physical signs include excess facial and body hair and polycystic ovaries where your ovaries become enlarged and contain fluid filled sacs (follicles) that surround the eggs.

Her condition did not make growing up easy. People would ask LaRae if she was a man or a woman asking her questions like, “what are you as if she was some sort of circus freak.”

LaRae never let negative haters get her down, instead she used the cruel comments as fuel to make her stronger and began advocating for others.

Now she represents bearded women with positivity and power, teaching them to embrace what makes the unique and unequivocally declaring, “yes I’m a girl”, through her pioneering clothing brand.

“I began experiencing PCOS symptoms around puberty at the age of 12, but I had hair on my face my whole life,” said LaRae.

LaRae takes pride in her appearance and wants to advocate for others with similar conditions to do the same.

“The only thing mentioned at the time was that I had a higher percentage of male hormones known as androgen than most women. All women have androgen.

“Hirsutism in PCOS is associated with both ovarian derived androgen excess and individual sensitivity of the pilosebaceous unit to androgens.

“My PCOS symptoms included irregular menstrual cycles, that is how mine started, my body was struggling to start a period. I had to be put on birth control pills to regulate it.

“I have been experiencing hirsutism my whole life, I didn’t find out it had a name until I was in my 30’s.

“I had thick sideburns that connected to the back of my hair line at a younger age.”

LaRae felt alone when she began experiencing her PCOS symptoms and living with hirsutism; she has no family history of the conditions and treatments failed her.

“My symptoms made me feel alone, embarrassed, ashamed, different , discouraged, confused and emotional,” she said.

“There is no history of PCOS or hirsutism in my family, and PCOS is not the only cause of hirsutism however around 70% – 80% of people with PCOS develop hirsutism.

“In my family I’m literally the only one with PCOS and hirsutism. In my case it is mainly due to genetics from my dad that have given me a high enough hormone percentage to be diagnosed with PCOS labelling as hirsutism, PCOS is the carrier.

“I currently don’t treat my PCOS or hirsutism. I do not agree with any of the recommended treatments for my type of PCOS.

“Treatments include laser hair removal, waxing, and shaving. I love my face and skin too much to destroy it or cause more issues by trying to remove something that will never go away and I have no control over.”

“I will never shave because I love my face and don’t want to cause more issues than just having a beard, my appearance is important to me and having skin that has dark marks, pigmentation, or even razor bumps would make me sad and feel less beautiful.”

LaRae has received a mixed bag of responses over the years but rather than be defeated she uses them to fuel her advocacy.

“The feedback that I receive has been positive and negative, I only focus on the positive and use the negative as fuel to continue influencing and educating people,” she said.

“Nothing hurts more than being asked ‘what are you?’ I had to grow a tough skin over the years causing me to make myself choose happiness over ignorance.

“I had to begin loving the person I see in the mirror, telling her she is beautiful everyday and it doesn’t matter what clothes I choose to wear. I’m still that beautiful being I’m looking at.

LaRae proudly shows off her beard during the shoot.

“The most appreciative comments I have received come from my family and friends along with some of my followers.

“Comments like, ‘you are beautiful as you are’ , ‘I love how bold you are’, ‘you are strong’, ‘you have the confidence most women don’t have’,  ‘you are strong for putting yourself in a place of judgement’ the internet can be cruel but I am hoping my journey inspires other to embrace who they are.

“My favourite compliment is ‘you should be a motivational speaker’ and who knows maybe someday I will be.

“I have embraced my hirsutism by learning to love myself despite what others may think or  have comments about and I want to lead by example for others, I would be a hypocrite if I had not learned to love myself first.”

LaRaes family helps her through difficult times, she has a wife and a daughter to lean on if she ever needs any encouragement.

“I have a large family but currently it’s just the wife and I with our dog Jasper, our daughter Madisyn is 22 she does not live with us anymore,” she said.

“I take care of my wife who’s living with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and lupus, on her good days we go do outside activities and view the town.”

LaRae is an extremely motivational person and she has this message to share with people who may just be beginning their journey with PCOS or hirsutism.

“Do your homework on the condition, get tested, and ask yourself who you love and care more about, yourself or society’s judgement on who you are,” said LaRae.

“Self esteem and confidence are a must to get past what the world defines as normal.

“We ‘bearded women’ are not normal but we are human. You must love yourself flaws and all to be respected or you will just be a person hiding and trying to fit in this non perfect world.

LaRae will never shave she is proud of who she is.

“I took the chance by standing out and using my voice to bring awareness and respect to all women with facial hair.

“It has been the greatest journey and I am so glad I did it and if because of me even one woman feels she can embrace her natural self then I will have something to be proud of, it will have been worth it.”