Meet Alma Torres, a 24-year-old woman living in New York woman who grows facial hair due to being diagnosed with a hormonal condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, at the young age of 16-years-old. Torres refuses to shave her face despite suffering abuse from bullies who have told her to commit suicide.
“I have been called ugly. Others have said I should kill myself,” Torres told Daily Mail. “People have told me, ‘Go wax your ugly a**’ and have called me ‘cancer.'”
“People usually don’t make comments in front of me,” she added. “Most are over the internet but I will get stares. I’ve noticed people trying to take pictures of me but I just laugh and smile. I know it’s not a big deal so I’m OK with it.”
After years of shaving her face to hide her condition, Torres has decided to embrace her facial hair.
“Having the beard has made me a better person,” she said. “I feel more confident and I want to encourage other women with PCOS to feel the same. I know how other women feel and I just want them to know that I’m there for them and that you can be who you are and you can be beautiful.”
Torres said her boyfriend, Taylor, supports her decision not to shave her face.
“I told Taylor about my beard when we started dating,” she said. “I was shaving at this point so there were times he would see me frustrated and help me tweeze it.”
“When I started to grow it I looked at him and asked him, ‘Babe, what if I grow my beard? Would it bother you?’ His answer was, ‘Nope, it’s just hair. That’s normal,'” she recalled.
Taylor explained that his girlfriend’s facial hair doesn’t bother him at all.
“I wouldn’t know what to say about PCOS but I know my girlfriend has it and it’s a struggle every day but she pushes through,” he said. “She’s still beautiful to me and her beard doesn’t define her. It’s just hair and it doesn’t have anything to do with how a person feels and should never be able to change that.”
“It’s what is inside that matters,” he added. “It’s something that’s natural and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
In addition to the excess hair growth, Torres said she suffers from abdominal and ovary pain, fatigue, irregular periods, depression and anxiety. PCOS can also cause infertility, but Torres said she is determined to start a family.
According to the Mayo Clinic, PCOS is an endocrine system disorder that occurs in women who have enlarged ovaries containing small accumulations of fluid. The disorder causes excess hair growth, acne, obesity and is known to cause infertility.
“The infertility is difficult, but me and Taylor have spoken about it,” she explained. “Hopefully God will give us our miracle one day. We can’t give up just yet.”
Ultimately, she hopes her story will resonate with other women who suffer from PCOS.
“I want to tell other PCOS sufferers that this is who you are,” she said. “If you want to change it then it’s fine, but if you feel comfortable then don’t change. I don’t want to change. I’m happy with the way I am.”