Woman with excess body hair from PCOS ditches the razor and finds her body confidence

A woman with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has decided to embrace one of the side effects of the condition by ditching her razor and allowing her excess body hair to grow freely.

According to the NHS, PCOS is a common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work.

Thanks to the high levels of male hormones in women with the condition, one of the most common side effects of PCOS is the growth of dark hair on the face and body.

Although it is perfectly natural in some women, many women often feel pressure to remove excess body hair. But Leah Jorgensen has no time for this beauty taboo. The 33-year-old behavioral health technician from Wisconsin has suffered from PCOS since the age of 14.

Having been on the receiving end of cruel comments from people branding her a “man,” Jorgensen spent years in full-sleeved, high-necked shirts and long trousers to hide the excess hair. By her late 20s, she was spending hours shaving to remove the thick hair on her chin, cheeks, upper lip, chest, stomach, arms, legs, and back.

Woman with body hair ditches the razor
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Woman with body hair ditches the razor
i genuinely don’t know how to process all my feelings and emotions from today. i am so pleasantly overwhelmed by the power and strength of women. thank you amy @underneath_we_are_women for starting such an important project, and for bringing so many incredible women together. i am in awe. 😍✨ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ • #happyandhairy #nomorehiding #loveyourself #bodyhairdontcare #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #hirsutism #girlswithbodyhair #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #pcosgirl #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #bodylove #underneathwearewomen #women #womenpower #womenareamazing
someone recently asked me why i am trying to normalize body hair when my amount of body hair isn’t “normal”. my reply was... who says it isn’t?! 1 in 10 women have PCOS and a number of them have hirsutism. just because it’s often not seen or talked about because people are hiding in shame doesn’t mean that it is abnormal. i am tired of this being kept in the dark. i want to be seen and i want this to be talked about. i firmly believe that visibility is the first step toward attitudes changing and minds being opened and i am more than happy to be a part of that! ✨ ETA: there are powerful women who have gone before me with their stories. in fact, they all empowered me. i’m not the only one making this more visible ✌🏼 @thisislittlebear @lunchboxscoresagain @bebeardiful_x & @harnaamkaur to name a few. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ • #happyandhairy #nomorehiding #loveyourself #bodyhairdontcare #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #chesthair #hairychest #hirsutism #girlswithbodyhair #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #pcosgirl #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #bodylove #visibility #normalizebodyhair
pretty in pink! 🎀 my last few photos have been of my legs. i guess i’m really feeling them lately 😊 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ p.s. i owe several awesome ladies some messages 💖 i have been dealing with a lot of change and transition in my life these past couple weeks. it’s nothing bad, quite the contrary actually, but i am just trying to get used to my new life 😊 thanks for your patience with me! i’ll be more myself soon 🤞🏼 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ • #happyandhairy #nomorehiding #loveyourself #bodyhairdontcare #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #girlswithbodyhair #hirsutism #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #hairylegs #leghair #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #pcosgirl #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #bodylove #feelingmyself
it’s been wonderful to be with family the last few days but there’s just nothing quite like being in your underwear in the comfort of your own home 😂 amirite?! 🙌🏼 i love the patterns, the curls, the waves, and the thickness of my hair.... all things that we typically appreciate and admire about the hair on our heads. but why not body hair too? 😊 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ • #happyandhairy #nomorehiding #loveyourself #bodyhairdontcare #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #hirsutism #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #hairylegs #leghair #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #pcosgirl #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #bodylove
who decided chest hair is masculine? it grows naturally on my womanly body and covers my breasts. it feels perfectly feminine to me 🎀💖 • #happyandhairy #nomorehiding #loveyourself #bodyhairdontcare #chesthair #hairychest #hairybreasts #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #hirsutism #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #pcosgirl #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #normalizebodyhair
what a difference a year makes! the last time i shaved my legs was about a year ago to document my knee injury. it amazes me to see my shaved legs - i hardly recognize them! 😲 my legs are beautiful and awesome NO MATTER WHAT but it’s so interesting to see the differences and really recognize how “normal” my hairy legs have become to me 😭🌱 • #happyandhairy #nomorehiding #loveyourself #bodyhairdontcare #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #hirsutism #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #hairylegs #leghair #leghairdontcare #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #pcosgirl #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #bodylove #normalizebodyhair
this photo is from last week... i still love these colors together! 👗👛🐬🌸💎🎀 • #happyandhairy #latergram #nomorehiding #loveyourself #bodyhairdontcare #chesthair #hairychest #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #hirsutism #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #pcosgirl #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #bodylove #fatshion
so happy to have my story shared by @theeverybodybeautystandard! please go check it out 💛 • #happyandhairy #nomorehiding #bodyhairdontcare #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #leghair #hairylegs #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #hirsutism #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #pcosgirl #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #loveyourself
one of the things that has helped me with embracing my body hair was finding things that i appreciate about it. sometimes my tummy hair makes this squiggle after i have been wearing a swimsuit or working out. i think it is so cute!!!☺️🌀 . #happyandhairy #bodyhairdontcare #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #hairystomach #hairytummy #hairybelly #squiggle #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #hirsutism #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity
this is for the teenage girl who feels terrified because of the hair spreading all over her body. for the woman who has never seen another woman who looks like her. for anyone hairy, whether they are hirsute or not, who feels alone. you are not alone! 💖 we are beautiful. #happyandhairy #representation #youarenotalone #bodyhairdontcare #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #hairychest #hairystomach #hairyarms #hairylegs #haireverywhere #hairy #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #hirsutism #bodyhairisbeautiful #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #body4me
my very hairy arms 🌱 i was bullied and harassed as a teenager because of these arms, which brought me deep shame. when i was 20 a group of jerks spotted my arms and took pictures of me while i was standing in a security line at an airport, which made me feel incredibly embarrassed. for fifteen years i wore long sleeves year-round to hide these arms. i shaved my arms when i finally decided to start dating in my late 20's, convinced that no romantic partner would accept me for who i am. for a long, long time i thought that my own hairy arms caused all of this pain and discomfort that i went through. but it didn't. you know what did? ignorance. closed minds. fear. there were all these judgments about this part of my body being gross or weird or unusual, but it's JUST HAIR. the same hair that grows on our head that we are so desperate to maintain. the same hair that sprouts from our eyelids that we like to emphasize with length and thickness. the same hair that forms eyebrows that just have to be on fleek. there is nothing wrong with hairy arms. there is everything wrong with people's close-minded judgments about women with hairy arms. . #happyandhairy #bodyhairdontcare #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #hairyarms #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #hirsutism #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #bullies #harassment #fear #shame #ignorance #itsjusthair
it's hard to believe that summer is basically over already! yesterday was the last pool day of the year for me. this has been an incredible summer for me personally for a number of reasons, but a huge reason was wearing my first bikini!!! 👙 as a teenager and young woman i always wore oversized t-shirts over my swimsuits. eventually i transitioned to a rashguard and shorts. in the last few years i developed enough confidence to rock a one-piece suit, but only after shaving for literally hours in preparation (shaving back hair by yourself is a mission that seems impossible but i found a way 😂). it's so amazing to leave that all behind. to just be free and have the sun shine on my entire body that i used to cover up and shield. i love seeing my hair shimmer in the sun and watching its movement in the water. i've always enjoyed swimming ever since i was a little girl and this summer i feel like i was able to capture a bit of that freedom and fun again 😍 it makes me so abundantly happy! . #happyandhairy #nomorehiding #bodyhairdontcare #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #hairychest #hairystomach #hairytummy #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #hirsutism #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #pcosgirl #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #fatshion #loveyourself #torrid #bikini #fatkini #swimming #pooldays #freedom #imafish 🐠
so happy to have my story shared by @theeverybodybeautystandard! please go check it out 💛 • #happyandhairy #nomorehiding #bodyhairdontcare #bodyhair #bodyhairlove #leghair #hairylegs #hairywoman #hairywomen #hairygirls #hirsutism #bodyhairisbeautiful #hairy #notyourfetish #effyourbeautystandards #pcos #pcosgirl #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bodyhairpositivity #loveyourself

Jorgensen’s insecurity about her body hair stopped her from getting close to people. She didn’t have her first kiss until age 27 and avoided the dentist for 12 years.

“I had never seen women who looked like me,” she says. “I was so ashamed that I didn’t want to talk about it. My way of coping with that shame and embarrassment was to hide. My daily goal for a long time was to just get through the day without anyone noticing how hairy I was. Because I have so much of it, it was very difficult to hide it. I developed a terrible case of anxiety, and it really took a toll on my mental health.”

Jorgensen recalls her doctor telling her bluntly that she had the most severe case of hirsutism (excess body hair) she’d ever seen, which left her feeling like a “freak.”

Classmates who teased her about her hair added to her discomfort.

“I felt ashamed, embarrassed and scared, like I was somehow less of a woman,” she says. “I covered up with clothes and shaved my face, and if I was going to be showing any part of my body, I would shave it.

“It gets hot and humid here in the summer, and I would wear hoodies year-round, so I would be drowning in sweat. People would ask me, ‘Why are you wearing that?’ and I was just like, ‘Leave me alone.’

“I was really convinced I would lose my friends, and my family would disown me, and I wouldn’t be able to get a job or a boyfriend, I would just live a miserable life alone.”

The turning point came in in 2015, when Jorgensen was hit by a car. She had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance, and her clothes were cut off by paramedics so she could undergo surgery. Then, to her great surprise, Jorgensen realized that the hospital staff had seen the extent of her hair growth and that they weren’t at all bothered.

“I realized no one cared what I looked like,” she explains. “They just saw me as a person. It really helped me to get over it.”

From that moment on, Jorgensen vowed to stop shaving and hiding away her hair. Instead, she now embraces her condition, wearing low-cut, sleeveless tops, and skirts with bare legs out in public without worrying about what people think.

She also bravely wore a bikini for the first time last summer.

Her newfound body confidence lead to Jorgensen setting up her Instagram, where she regularly shares photos of her body hair with her 2,800 followers, alongside empowering messages encouraging others to love their own bodies.

Next month, the body-positive advocate will be photographed for a book promoting diversity, called Underneath We Are Women.

Speaking about overcoming her body fears, she says: “I realized that I never really disliked how the hair looked. The problem was not with the hair, it was with people’s perception of it.

“I thought, ‘Enough is enough.’ I didn’t want to run from it anymore.”

This shift in her mindset also prompted her to quit her job in insurance and return to college, where she is studying social work and recently got a job working with autistic children.

RELATED: Costly conditions 

The costliest health conditions in the US
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The costliest health conditions in the US

20. Liveborn

Liveborn is how childbirth and postnatal hospital care is clinically classified.

Average cost per stay: $3,529

Percent of all US hospital stays: 10.6% 

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19. Mood disorders

Mood disorders are a category of mental illnesses that include bipolar disorder, depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Average cost per stay: $6,275

Percent of all US hospital stays: 2.3% 

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18. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis

COPD and bronchiectasis are separate conditions, but both lung diseases make breathing more difficult.

Average cost per stay: $8,034

Percent of all US hospital stays: 1.8% 

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17. Diabetes mellitus with complications

Conditions that occur from poor treatment of Diabetes are wide-ranging, from vascular diseases, blindness, and chronic kidney disease.

Average cost per stay: $9,684

Percent of all US hospital stays: 1.5% 

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16. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is another lung condition — an infectious inflammation of the air sacs.

Average cost per stay: $9,887

Percent of all US hospital stays: 2.7% 

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15. Cardiac dysrhythmias

Cardiac dysrhythmia is the medical term for an irregular heartbeat.

Average cost per stay: $10,110

Percent of all US hospital stays: 2.0% 

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14. Congestive heart failure

Congestive heat failure is the inability to pump an adequate amount of blood through the body and can be caused by many diseases.

Average cost per stay: $11,585

Percent of all US hospital stays: 2.5% 

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13. Biliary tract disease

Biliary diseases are a group of conditions that affect the biliary system — including gallstones and pancreatitis.

Average cost per stay: $11,659

Percent of all US hospital stays: 1.1% 

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12. Complications of surgical procedures or medical care

Any side effect of surgery or a basic medical procedure is included here.

Average cost per stay: $13,073

Percent of all US hospital stays: 1.3% 

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11. Rehabilitation care, fitting of prostheses, and adjustment of devices

Rehabilitation includes "services that help you keep, get back, or improve skills and functioning for daily living that have been lost or impaired because you were sick, hurt, or disabled."

Average cost per stay: $13,777

Percent of all US hospital stays: 1.1% 

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10. Acute cerebrovascular disease

Cerebrovascular disease impacts the blood flow in the brain and often results in strokes.

Average cost per stay: $15,111

Percent of all US hospital stays: 1.6% 

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9. Fracture of neck of femur (hip)

Breaks in the neck of the femur are common among athletes and elderly individuals with osteoporosis.

Average cost per stay: $16,043

Percent of all US hospital stays: 0.9% 

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8. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis— or degenerative joint disease — is the wearing down of tissue between joints.

Average cost per stay: $16,149

Percent of all US hospital stays: 2.9% 

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7. Septicemia

Septicemia— or sepsis — is blood poisoning caused by a bacterial infection.

Average cost per stay: $18,244

Percent of all US hospital stays: 3.6% 

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6. Respiratory failure, insufficiency, arrest (adult)

Respiratory failure and insufficiency happens when the lungs cannot produce enough oxygen or expel enough carbon dioxide. Respiratory arrest is the cessation of breathing.

Average cost per stay: $18,287

Percent of all US hospital stays: 1.1% 

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5. Spondylosis, intervertebral disc disorders, other back problems

Spondylosis refers to any degeneration of the spine. Invertebral disc disorders is the breakdown of the discs inbetween the bones of the spine.

Average cost per stay: $18,375

Percent of all US hospital stays: 1.6% 

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4. Coronary atherosclerosis

Coronary atherosclerosis is a heart disease caused by plaque buildup in arteries, preventing proper blood flow.

Average cost per stay: $19,657

Percent of all US hospital stays: 1.3% 

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3. Complication of device, implant or graft

Devices, implants, and grafts are placed in the body during surgery to correct a clinical condition.

Average cost per stay: $19,669

Percent of all US hospital stays: 1.8% 

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2. Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)

Acute myocardial infarction is the medical name for a heart attack.

Average cost per stay: $20,086

Percent of all US hospital stays: 1.7% 

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1. Heart valve disorders

Heart valve disorders is a catch-all term for any illness stemming from the improper use of any of the four heart valves that controls blood flow.

Average cost per stay: $41,878

Percent of all US hospital stays: 0.3% 

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“People definitely stare or try to take photos, but I expect that, because you don’t really see women who look like me,” she says. “I used to be scared of people noticing my hair, but now I embrace it and let it grow. I’m unique, and that is perfectly fine. I do still shave my face because I like how my face looks without hair, but I used to shave multiple times a day, and now I will go a couple of days.

“It has been incredibly empowering,” Jorgensen says of her body-confidence journey. “I hope that sharing my story will give others courage. And to women who have hirsutism; you are not alone.”

Jorgensen isn’t the only PCOS sufferer who decided to ditch the razor. Singer and sideshow performer Little Bear Schwarz used to have to shave every day to remove the traces of her hair. But at 31, she stopped shaving and found it to be not only empowering, but also lucrative for her career.

“I realized it was kind of now or never, so I grew it out, and within a few weeks, found a flyer for a beard competition, which I entered and won,” Schwarz told Yahoo Lifestyle.

Within a month, she had joined the Wreckless Freeks sideshow, as a performer. “I learned pretty early in that [having a beard] was not just possible but also lucrative.”

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