Ms. Wells linked me this week to a terrific story that came out of the online message board community at Reddit. The original posting is a little NSFW (not safe for work), so I won’t link you to it directly, but I wanted to share the story with you–especially the young woman’s response. You can read the recap here on the Gawker site Jezebel, which I do not recommend in general, but which I recommend for this one article. Again, there’s some vulgarity in the language elsewhere on this site and in the comments, so I do not recommend perusing other pages of the site. I’m providing the link here only to cite my source.
The OP (original poster) took a photo of a woman at an airport and posted it to the website Reddit. The woman pictured practices the Sikh faith, which prohibits physically altering the body. She has some visible hair on her face (which many women have, and which many women arduously remove through plucking, threading, waxing, or shaving), and the man who took the photo mocked her.
Then something astonishing happened, as it often does on the internet: someone who knew the woman pictured told her about it–and she wrote back.
This, I think, it an impressive example of a great way to respond to a bully. And, in an astonishing turn of events, the bully actually apologized. If only we all the grace of this woman to stand up to her bully–and if all bullies had the self-reflection to recant and apologize for their hurtful behavior.
Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn’t know about this until one of my friends told on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled 🙂 However, I’m not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] that this picture is getting because, it’s who I am. Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. Just as a child doesn’t reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying ‘mine, mine’ and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are. 🙂 So, if anyone sees me at OSU, please come up and say hello. I appreciate all of the comments here, both positive and less positive because I’ve gotten a better understanding of myself and others from this. Also, the yoga pants are quite comfortable and the Better Together tshirt is actually from Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that focuses on storytelling and engagement between different faiths. 🙂 I hope this explains everything a bit more, and I apologize for causing such confusion and uttering anything that hurt anyone.
And then, if that wasn’t terrific enough, the OP responded:
I know that this post ISN’T a funny post but I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post.
…Reddit shouldn’t be about putting people down, but a group of people sending cool, interesting, or funny things….I’m sorry for being the part of reddit that is intolerant…. This isn’t…some other stupid website where people post things like I did. It’s [redacted] reddit. Where some pretty amazing stuff has happened.
I’ve read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.
So reddit I’m sorry for being [redacted] and for giving you negative publicity.
Balpreet, I’m sorry for being a closed minded individual. You are a much better person than I am
Sikhs, I’m sorry for insulting your culture and way of life.
Balpreet’s faith in what she believes is astounding.