Friday, October 12, 2012
Bullied Teen Turned Hero
Sikh Woman Balpreet Kaur Turns Cyber Bullying Incident into Inspiration
After someone snapped a photo of her and posted it on online, Balpreet Kaur was ridiculed for following the tenets of her Sikh faith. But instead of hiding or lashing out, she politely posted a reply—and turned a bullying situation into a inspiring example of tolerance, support, and inspiration.
The photo was taken apparently without Kaur's knowledge while she was waiting in line at the Ohio State University Library. In the photo, Kaur's hair is hidden by a large, black turban. She's wearing a T-shirt and yoga pants, glasses, and is looking down at her cell phone; her sparse facial hair is clearly visible. A Reddit user posted it to the "Funny" forum with the quip, "I'm not sure what to conclude from this."
Comments started pouring in, making fun of her appearance, asking if she was transgendered, and taking her to task for not plucking, waxing, or shaving.
After a friend told her about the thread, Kaur decided to respond to the taunts herself—and take the opportunity to educate people at the same time.
"Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture," she wrote. "I'm not embarrassed or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positive] that this picture is getting, because it's who I am."
As a baptized Sikh woman, Kaur—who is from Ohio—said that she is forbidden from altering her body, as it is considered a sacred gift from God.
"The overarching principal is this body is a tool for service," she explained. "We have to maintain and take care of it while cherishing its original form." That means that going to the hospital and taking medicine is fine, because one should be healthy in order to be of service to others. But cutting one's hair or removing one's facial hair is forbidden, even if societal norms dictate otherwise.
"My hair doesn't stop me from being normal or doing service so its not a hindrance," she said in a later post. "I've been to the doctor regarding this and it's just a side effect of my hormone levels during my teenage years. The hormones have returned to normal, but the hair is still there. That's fine :) I don't regret anything, nor do I view it as an unfortunate thing....."