A college student who posted a mean spirited photo he shot of a fellow student to the online community site Reddit.com just got a life lesson in tolerance he’ll never forget.
The Ohio State University student who goes by the handle “European_Douchebag” posted the image seen above with the caption “I’m not sure what to make of this” in a “funny” section of the site. The image captures a woman with facial hair that does not to alter or manicure her appearance because she is a baptized Sikhs who “believes in the sacredness of this body.”
The woman in the photo, Balpreet Kaur, also a student at Ohio State, was unaware she was being photograph but found her image online hours later after several friends alerted her on Facebook.
Reddit is an of online community where users vote on content like news stories, pictures or YouTube videos that other users submit. The site dubs itself the “front page of the internet” because it allows users with similar interests to quickly discover new content.
One of the more than 4,000 communities on the site is the “funny” community, where registered users called “Redditors” submit hundreds of pictures with hopes of other Redditors voting their submissions up so they can end up on the front page of the funny community.
By the time Kaur found her image online she was on the front page. Her image was trending and hundreds were commenting on her appearance. Some defended her but most deconstructed her image and made negative comments.
What happened next is extraordinary.
With an open heart, patience and love Kaur posted a comment on thread “European_Douchebag” started. Below is her response published in its entirety:
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.
Now what happened next is even more incredible. A post believed to be published by “European_Douchebag” included a sincere apology: