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Woman Has a Message for People Who Thought Her Beard Was a Halloween Costume

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Little Bear Schwarz has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that causes her to have facial hair, which she has grown into a beard. In a post published on her Facebook page Tuesday, Schwarz explained why Halloween is a difficult day for her, and what she wishes people who saw her out on Halloween knew.

Schwarz wrote that she used to love Halloween, but since growing out her beard, the holiday is painful for her because she constantly gets comments like, “I like your costume” and “Who are you supposed to be?”

This is the part where you tell me to “laugh it off,” right? “Fuck the haters?” “Ignore the trolls?” Or that ol’ chestnut: “then shave.” “If you don’t like to be stared at, then don’t look in a way that makes people stare?” (Just like, if you don’t wanna get raped, wear a longer skirt, amirite?) “you bring it onto yourself.” “You complain too much.”

Being in public in Halloween when I’m not performing is genuinely scary for me… It’s vulnerable. It’s panic inducing. When people ask me about my “costume” it reminds me how far I have to go in my mission to make Hairy Women valid and visible. It reminds me that above all my merits — talent, beauty, sensitivity — I am seen as above all else: strange.

Sad fact that will probably get me kicked out of the cool kids club ????: unless I'm performing, I hate Halloween.I used…

Posted by Little Bear on Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Schwarz, who works as an insurance agent and also performs opera and burlesque in a sideshow called Wreckless Freeks, acknowledged that some might criticize her for “profiting” from her “strangeness.”

“On my planet — I don’t know about yours — one can recognize that a system is both the hand that feeds them short term, and deeply problematic long term. And my long-term goal has always been to put myself out of business,” Schwarz wrote. “Someday women like me can be in public and not feel harangued, harassed or a laughing stock. Or a walking costume.”

Schwarz first began growing facial hair when she was 15, though she wasn’t diagnosed with PCOS until years later. She told Yahoo Style that at first she shaved it every day, but decided to see what would happen if she stopped shaving it after she moved from Florida to Seattle and started working from home. Within a few weeks, she entered a local beard competition and won, and she’s worn her beard ever since.

Schwarz told The Mighty that her ultimate goal is for women with facial hair to just be able to be out in public as women, versus “mistake women,” “punchline women” or “are-they-really-women” — to be able to dress up as whatever they want for Halloween without their beards necessarily adding to or detracting from their costume.

“As it stands, in my normal face, I get asked, ‘Who the f*** are you supposed to be?’ (Myself?) And if I were to dress in costume, it’d inadvertently become a joke. I couldn’t be Princess Leia. I’d be ‘Bearded Princess Leia.’ I couldn’t be Ariel. I’d be ‘bearded Ariel.’ And in both cases, people would think it was part of the ‘joke,’” Schwarz said. “I’m here to say that in or out of costume, women with beards are not a joke. We are not ‘mistake’ women. We are women. And we are every bit of deserving of dignity and dimension as any other women.”

Originally published: November 2, 2017
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