2016 Faves: "Let's Skirt the Issue"
As we look back on 2016 and wave farewell to our print magazine, the Parallel team members have come together to decide on their favourite features from our 2016 issues. First up is our interview and photoshoot with Harnaam Kaur and Nik Hampshire, by Sophie Elliott. (Click to enlarge images!)
"[I] really loved the message and styling of the photoshoot. It's great seeing people who don't conform to traditional beauty standards or gender stereotypes. I think it's inspiring as these are the people who truly understand what self-love is."
"Honestly this is possibly one of my favourite features yet. Beautiful colours, the composition is just fab & the models & accompanying models are incredible. Fuck your gender standards!"
Can you tell us about yourselves?
HARNAAM: My name is Harnaam Kaur and I am 25 years old, and I am also London’s very own Bearded Lady. I am a Body confidence activist who aims to portray a different kind of beauty for both men and women. We are continuously told what a good body should look like, and we forget that each and every one of us is actually already pretty amazing versions of ourselves. I aim to show the world that beauty comes in many different forms, shapes, sizes, colour and even ethnicities. I love being a bearded lady, and I absolutely 100% love my lady beard. My beard is a side affect caused by a medical condition called Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome which I was diagnosed with at the tender age of 12. It is the hormonal imbalance caused by this medical condition which has allowed me to grow out my beautiful lady beard.
NIK: My name's Nik hampshire and I'm an international model / influencer. Really I'm just a person who's doing whatever I can do to experience as much of life as I can.
What is the concept of the photoshoot "Let's Skirt the Issue"?
HARNAAM: Through our images I wanted to show people that there is no right or wrong way to wear clothes; Clothes, make up, jewellery are genderless. I do not believe that we have to wear certain clothes, or look a certain way and appear in a certain manner or even labelled as a certain gender. We are who we are, and we are perfect in the most awesome way.
Who assigned genitalia to a certain gender? Who gave clothes a gender? Who said that make up/jewellery can only be worn by women? These are manmade rules, and as human beings, we are able to break down these stereotypes and express ourselves how we wish to be expressed. Never be ashamed to be your true self.
The theme of this photo shoot is very important to me. As a bearded lady I sometimes feel that I do not fit into a certain gender. I sometimes feel that rules and regulations of fashion are forced upon us which then doesn’t allow us to express ourselves fully. Personally I feel that I do not fit into a certain gender, I am gender fluid and I feel comfortable wearing any style of clothing. I hope through this photo shoot people can see or open their minds to people who are different and diverse.
NIK: I just want people to see the images and if their first thought is "hey, they're wearing the wrong clothes" that they're next thought is "but it's working for them..." I want to challenge people's concept of what men and women can wear. Maybe inspire them to get more courageous in their own styles or at the very least not be so judgmental of those that do decide to wear clothing that's considered to be strictly for "another gender."
This message is important to me because I like fashion and style. I think it's so fun to express your personality and voice to the world before you're even able to say something and I want to open up people's understanding of that language. I want people to be less quick to attribute gender to these styles and more apt to appreciate the style like they would if I was wearing something that was "for men". I think it's another step towards accepting others as they are and allowing people to be confident in how they'd like to represent themselves.
Do you have any advice for our readers?
HARNAAM: To the readers I would like to say, never be ashamed of expressing yourself the way you wish to, this world, life and society is yours. Never let anyone make you feel ashamed of being your true self. Express yourself the way that is natural to you, love your whole being and cherish your own existence. There will be many people in the world that will try to put you down; never allow the narrow minded judgements change you. This is your life, live it how you want to live it. My number one rule is ‘My body, my rules,’ and this phrase has allowed me to live fearlessly with strength. Use it to your advantage, and just love yourself unconditionally.
NIK: Don't be afraid to be yourself. Love yourself and love those around you. The world can be a horrible, trying place that can weigh on you until you don't want to get back up but there is so much beauty in the world including you're very existence so try and appreciate that. Share that with others and encourage them to do the same!