An inspirational mum has opened up about living with Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) social media in a bid to empower other women after being encouraged by her husband to ditch her lengthy hair removal regime that would see her spending hours shaving her body every day.
Milena Jonas, from Berlin, Germany, was diagnosed with PCOS after giving birth to her daughter in 2014.
Before her diagnosis, 31-year-old Milena suffered with irregular periods and only had two a year, skin problems, hair loss on her head, weight gain, tummy pains, depression, hot flushes and excess hair growth. It wasn’t until she had a resistance to insulin after her daughter’s birth that doctors finally diagnosed her with PCOS.
Milena, used to spend hours every day shaving her hair from her legs, armpits, stomach and face for 15 years, but she would find that she would always have to shave the next day and sometimes remove hair from her face twice a day.
It wasn’t until Milena’s husband of seven years, Denny, asked her why she spent so much time exhaustively removing her body hair that she started to realise that she didn’t need to shave to be beautiful or fit in with society.
Denny reminded her she could still be a feminine woman with hair, prompting her to stop shaving in July 2017.
At first, she thought people would think that she was unhygienic, dirty and disgusting for not removing her hair but now she shares pictures of her body hair, which she loves, on Instagram and hopes to inspire girls and women to ditch the razors because they are beautiful as they are.
“I think I’ve tried almost all methods of hair removal. For me, shaving with disposable razors was the best method. It took me hours until I was completely shaved, I shaved my legs, stomach, shoulders and my face,” said Milena.
“There is hardly any place on my body where I am not hairy. When everything was shaved and it always came back the next day. I even had to shave my face twice a day.
“My husband knew from the beginning of my hairy problem. I am fortunate to have a very understanding, empathetic and supportive husband. He saw how much I suffered and encouraged me to no longer be ashamed of my body and not to bow to social pressure.
“He has often told me how beautiful I am and how proud he is that I am his wife. That helped me a lot. We talked a lot with each other, and he showed me that even with my hair, I am a fully-fledged, feminine woman.
“He saw how much I was shaving and wondered why I shave when I do not want to. I thought about it and then left it. At the same time, I discovered Instagram for myself. I was amazed at the range of pictures on there.
“I saw photos from a woman who also suffered from hirsutism (excessive hair growth) and saw that she was open about it.
“So, I decided to publish my pictures to help other people. At the same time, I began to go out hairy and no longer hide my hair.
“It was a process in which I became more and more self-confident. I’ve only received very positive reactions, many admire my courage.
“My family and friends have responded very well. Better than I ever would have dreamed. There were good discussions about body hair on women, about how advertising women always suggests having to be shaved.”
According to the NHS, PCOS has three key features; irregular periods, excess androgen that can cause excess body hair and polycystic ovaries. It affects one in five women in the UK and more than half of these have no symptoms at all.
For Milena, sharing pictures of her body hair was daunting at first but now she hopes that there are other women out there who will be able to identify with her and grow to no longer be ashamed of their body hair.
“I was afraid to be rejected, to be considered dirty, unhygienic or disgusting but I decided to just leave it. Nobody has a right to tell me what to do with my body. Not society, not the media, nobody,” said Milena.
“The topic of my facial hair was very embarrassing for me to talk about and I was very afraid of nasty comments and to post the photo of my hairy belly was a big thing for me.
“I hope that many women and girls can see my pictures and identify with me. I hope that I can encourage other people, support them and show them that hair does not mean the end of the world and that they do not have to be ashamed of it. It’s just hair.
“Try to remember that hair is natural. It is not disgusting, it is not unhygienic, it is a part of you.
“You were born that way and you are just right as you are. Your body is yours and only you decide what you want it to look like.
“It’s not your body that needs to be changed, it’s your thoughts.”