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Bearded Lady Who Used To Spend 2 Hours Each Day Trying To Get Rid Of Her Facial Hair Learns To Embrace Her Condition

Hope says she 'loves her beard' (PA Real Life/Collect)

A super-fit pole dancer has revealed how she marked the break-up of a 15-year relationship by growing a beard, after two decades of plucking and shaving her face.

Plagued by facial hair since she was just 14, Hope Schmerfeld, 38, of Oklahoma City has shaved, waxed, and even had laser treatment in a bid to rid herself of the unwanted fuzz – finally adopting a daily two-hour ritual of plucking out each individual hair.

Hope – who now pole dances as a hobby, but performed professionally until five years ago – finally ditched the tweezers after a heartbreaking split with her long-term partner, who she does not wish to name, earlier this year.

Much happier since she has allowed her stubble to grow, Hope, who now works on a mushroom farm, said: “For years I was weighed down by the shame of my unusual appearance.

“But recently I realized that actually for all those years I hadn't been hiding my beard for myself, but for the sake of other people. I was controlled by what society had set as the standard of what a woman should look like.

“It's been a real journey of rediscovery and self-acceptance for me."

Hope has been growing her beard for two months (PA Real Life/Collect)

Insisting that she now “loves her beard," she has also received plenty of positive feedback from other hirsute women who say they admire her confidence and that she is paving the way.

Hope, who has even started dating again, said: “So far, people have been really nice about my beard.

“Of course, I get a lot of stares, but when people do come up to me and ask things like, 'Are you transsexual?' or, 'Is it real?' they have been very courteous."

Hope has recently been on dates with her beard (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “I have been on a few dates too with guys I've met on dating sites.

“I'm totally up front about the beard and some guys say, 'Sorry, that's not for me.' But others have been really intrigued by it, with a few complimenting me, saying 'That's better than anything I could grow!'"

Hope was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition causing elevated male hormones, which can make people prone to excess facial and body hair, when she was in her late 20s.

Hope before she stopped shaving (PA Real Life/Collect)

She had been experiencing excessive hair growth since her early teens, when she started developing a 'five o'clock shadow' on her top lip and chin.

When Hope was ridiculed for it at school, her mother Cynthia, 71, a tax preparer, tried everything to help, taking her for waxes and for electrolysis treatment, neither of which much helped.

Gradually, as the hair became coarser and sprouted across her entire face, as well as on her chest, nipples, and stomach, she developed a grooming ritual that meant she had to get up early so she could devote two hours to standing in front of the bathroom mirror plucking her facial hair out.

"I was constantly in fear of anybody noticing a hair on my face or spotting a patch that I had maybe missed."
–Hope Schmerfeld

Looking back, she said: “I was constantly in fear of anybody noticing a hair on my face or spotting a patch that I had maybe missed.

“I remember often just zoning out throughout entire conversations with people, when the thought suddenly came into my head that there was stubble on my face.

“I was always in a state of deep shame."

Hope before she stopped shaving (PA Real Life/Collect)

While she confessed how hairy she really was to close friends, she kept it secret from men she dated – even hiding it from her partner, who she met in 2003 while working as a pole dancer in a club, for a year, until she finally confessed why she spent so long in the bathroom.

She said: “When I told him about it he was understanding.

“But he said he was still glad that I got rid of the hair."

Hope before she stopped shaving (PA Real Life/Collect)

Following the birth of her daughter, who she does not wish to name, in 2006, her hairiness got even worse.

And, keen for someone to identify the cause of her mysterious condition, Hope saw a doctor again in 2015 and had a series of tests.

To her amazement, after being taunted as a child and teenager for being “manly," she did not have an excess of the male hormone testosterone as she suspected, but rather a deficiency, and was put on a course of drugs to boost it as it would have made her PCOS worse had she not.

Hope performed a two-hour hair plucking ritual every morning for 20 years (PA Real Life/Collect)

She explained: “I was pretty surprised, as were the doctors who, to this day, really don't know what is causing the PCOS which is making me so hairy.

“It is so mysterious that it's most likely I have a genetic mutation of some sort."

Making matters worse, the testosterone boosters she was prescribed made her beard even bristlier, forcing her to use a razor instead of tweezing the hairs out.

Hope says feedback has only been positive so far (PA Real Life/Collect)

Sometimes she was forced to shave twice a day if she was going out in the evening, because of regrowth.

But when her relationship sadly began to collapse earlier this year, Hope decided that enough was enough and that she would no longer live in fear of her beard being exposed.

“I was going through a very big upheaval as my relationship with my partner began to disintegrate and I was reevaluating my life a lot," she said.

"I was going through a very big upheaval as my relationship with my partner began to disintegrate and I was reevaluating my life a lot."
–Hope Schmerfeld

She added: “But I read a book by British bearded model Harnaam Kaur, in which she talks about her decision to stop shaving, and it really had an impact on me."

Going without a morning shave for the first time on April 15, while she found the first couple of weeks “tough" and felt people's stares piercing into her “skin and very essence," she refused to give in.

She quickly learned to shrug off strangers' stares and embraced her new look, saying: “I'm finally able to live in the open without feeling ashamed and that gives me such a feeling of liberation and freedom."

Hope before she stopped shaving (PA Real Life/Collect)

Hope concluded: “I am in a much better mental state overall than I was before, which makes me wish that I had done this years ago."

Now with eight solid weeks of growth, producing a beard to be proud of, Hope plans to join a traveling circus next year and traverse the country showing off her unique look.

“I'm really excited to have the opportunity to go on tour with the circus, it's certainly not one that I thought I'd ever get." she said. I'm just glad to have the chance to put my shame to rest."