Rose Geil, a 39-year-old woman from Portland, Oregon, is spreading her message loud and clear: She’s done with shaving her beard, and it’s changed her life. But you might be asking, why does she have a beard in the first place? Here’s the scoop.
Geil was diagnosed at age 13 with an extreme case of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder that can cause women to grow excess hair. In an interview with British TV show This Morning, Geil said when medication wasn’t helping to treat the syndrome, she turned to shaving her face to avoid growing a beard—something she did every day for more than 20 years.
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After two decades of shaving, Geil said her skin had become “torn up” and she was ready to put down the razor for good. “I just couldn’t handle putting a metal blade to my skin one more day.”
Montclair, NJ, dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD, says she is happy Geil embraced herself. “According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 5 million women suffer from PCOS in the United States, and there aren’t a lot of good treatments available for it,” she explains. “The syndrome involves irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, hair loss, cystic acne, weight gain and infertility, and it may run in families. Some women address the increase in excessive hair in unwanted places—the face, breasts, neck, stomach, back and buttocks—with laser hair removal, but this typically takes many treatment sessions because their hair is so thick.”
For Geil, she’s getting a lot of attention with her beard (especially on social media), but much of it has been positive and she said she finally feels more at peace. “I wouldn’t be able to do it without social media. I found my community right away.”