Coral Renaie, a woman with an impressive beard, bravely confronts the daily challenges posed by the judgments and reactions of strangers both offline and online. Despite the negativity she encounters, she has come to love her distinct appearance.
For the past 16 years, Coral had been shaving her face to conform to societal beauty standards for women. However, she has grown weary of adhering to these standards and has decided to embrace her beard, a manifestation of her polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Her beard now measures an impressive four inches, and she has bid farewell to razors for good.
Being a woman with a beard is not without its difficulties, as the 30-year-old constantly contends with the reactions of others, including hurtful comments and stares. Nevertheless, she takes pride in her unique facial hair, and her partner, Illias, aged 25, loves her for who she is.
Coral, a full-time content creator from Kansas, US, shared her emotional journey, saying, “It had been a really painful journey, physically and emotionally. Starting at about four years old, I was getting darker skin on my neck, knees, elbows, and ankles, caused by insulin resistance associated with my PCOS. One person thought I was dirty and would tell me to scrape my skin in the bath to get it off. It was the first time I really felt shame about my body.”
“At the age of nine, I began growing thick sideburns, and by 12, I was shaving my face daily. I felt like shaving was the only way I would survive. In some ways, I feel like this is somewhat validated by the amount of hate I get online now. They [people online] ask ‘what I am’ because somehow hair makes me not seem human, or if I’m a man or a woman. I get told that I need to shave – people love telling me what to do with my body.”
Coral acknowledges the mixed reactions she receives: “Others see my intentions and are supportive and kind. Most of my followers currently are men; they seem to enjoy the view.”
In person, she encounters stares but not direct confrontation. She firmly believes that her beard doesn’t make her any different from anyone else. Coral asserts, “My beard has nothing to do with me being odd or different. I love myself, and that infuriates people.”
Coral’s partner, Illias, has no qualms about her facial hair growth, and she receives support from her mother and nieces as well. She insists, “Women shouldn’t have to hide. I deserve love. I deserve pleasure. And I won’t compromise on that anymore.”
Coral is determined to challenge the stigma surrounding women with facial hair. She has delivered talks at local libraries and shares her experiences with her 22,700 followers on social media (@lovesintentbycoralrenaie).
In conclusion, Coral calls for greater understanding and acceptance, saying, “We need to think about that—why women with beards bother people so much. Do better. Most people in the world know a woman who removes her body hair; I would say everyone does. How would you react if she stopped? Would you still love that person? Or is that love contingent on their hair removal?”