• Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

The Sikh Woman Who Stood Up To Abuse About Her Facial Hair

Balpreet Kaur's photo was published on Rediff without her consent. What is your stand?

  • Posting pics of private figures without consent is an invasion of privacy. It should be punished.

    Votes: 15 71.4%
  • Posting pics of private figures without consent leads to abuse. It should be punished.

    Votes: 5 23.8%
  • Posting pics of private figures without consent can lead to positive results. It should be permitted

    Votes: 1 4.8%

  • Total voters


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004

The Sikh woman who stood up to online abuse about her facial hair
When a picture of student Balpreet Kaur was posted on the website Reddit and attracted insulting comments, she responded calmly – and earned a well-deserved apology

'Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us,' wrote Balpreet Kaur in response to comments on Reddit.

This is a story of Reddit, race and taking pictures of women without their consent. Remarkably, it has a happy ending.

Earlier this week, an unidentified man surreptitiously took a picture of Ohio State University student Balpreet Kaur and posted it on Reddit, in the Funny section, with the caption: "I'm not sure what to make of this." Implicit in his words was the invitation that we all gawp at Kaur because she is a woman who has facial hair. Kaur, a student of neuroscience and psychology, was unaware that her picture had been taken until a friend mentioned it on Facebook, by which time her looks, outfit and turban were all being mocked anonymously on the internet.

With a humbling display of maturity, Kaur joined the thread and explained: "I realise that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptised 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 [we] must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will."

She goes on to explain that this involves not depilating: "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." She also says: "I'm not embarrassed or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positive] that this picture is getting because, it's who I am."

Well, that shut the "douchebags" up. In their place, the thread was flooded with positive comments, backslaps and a fair amount of personal body image sharing in support of Kaur. Even more impressive, the man responsible for posting the picture offered a tail-between-the-legs mea culpa. "I felt the need to apologise to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you're making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post."

And so began a new thread of Reddit users praising the man for his apology. So what have we learned here? That the nuances of the Sikh religion are still lost on some, that taking pictures of people without their consent is despicable and that little beats a good old-fashioned apology (except, perhaps, not doing wrong in the first place). Oh, and that Balpreet Kaur is a bit of hero, frankly.

Inderjeet Kaur

Oct 13, 2011
Seattle, Washington, USA
Lousy choice of answers to this poll. Yes, it is an invasion of privacy. Yes it can lead to abuse. But I put freedom of the press and freedom of expression above these and believe it should not be punished. Let the people decide how to react to this.

I would like my vote to be Yes, it is an invasion of privacy and yes, it might lead to abuse and NO, it should NOT be punished. Since that was not a choice, I chose freedom and voted for the third option. Although the fact that it may sometimes, as in this case, lead to positive results is good, but beside the point. This is an issue of freedom, not results, be they positive or negative.

I shall refrain from writing an essay about Radical Free Speech (which includes freedom of expression and freedom of the press as logical extensions). India condones censorship. Canada and the UK have some restrictions on free speech, such as outlawing hate speech and, at least in Canada, Holocaust denying. I do not know about Australia. The USA, in my opinion, has gotten this right. The only restrictions of free speech involve fraud (lies) and threats to life and limb and gross violations of public safety. I treasure my right - and yours - to be offensive.

I am not a hurtful person generally, but please think twice or even three times before you vote to curb the free speech-expression-press of others.

Harkiran Kaur


Jul 20, 2012
It is an invasion of privacy... and should not happen. However, in this case, some good came out of it because MANY people who never knew who Balpreet Kaur was, now know of this incredible person. I know I aspire to be like her someday.... Knowing that because of Sikhi there are people like her out there, makes me even more proud that I chose this path!

Inderjeet Kaur

Oct 13, 2011
Seattle, Washington, USA
She was just named Huffington Post's "Religious Person of the Year" by unanimous vote.

"In past years we have made lists of 'most influential' religious leaders which have included the Pope and the Dalai Lama. However, when the HuffPost religion editors thought about the person we admired most in the last year, the unanimous choice was Ms. Kaur."


Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
Guru Fateh to all.

Let’s be openly frank here. The fact is that due to the technology, social media and cell phones with cameras, we have all become paparazzis, intentionally or not. We take pictures of buildings, of the streets, of the beach and of many other places; all full of people without taking their permission. It is an unconscious culture of invasion of privacy we have become the birds of the feather of. We all use Facebook, Instagram, Flicker and many other means to flaunt our photographic talents. This is the way we surf the waves of the WWW all the times. The case in point, right now on SPN.

The question here is not about consent. It is much deeper than that. Had the Editor (Redditor) of Reddit taken the picture if it was just some ordinary person? I do not think so. It was her beard that made the picture curious and putting it in a “funny” section, he did a lot of good unintentionally to the Sikhs and Sikhi because little did he know the inner strength of Balpreet. She is the true lotus that Gurbani talks about- standing out unblemished -, rather beautifully and spreading her fragrance. Balpreet's beautiful way of expressing her Sikhi way made the paparazzi of the Reddit to apologise to her and to all Sikhs. This is a remarkable achievement.

In the Sikhi spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I know The Huffington Post’s religious editor quite well. In fact I have been invited to write there but had to decline for some other reasons. I hope to do it in the near future. Lots of my Sikh friends write there. We have one more media outlet to share about who/what we are and it is important for us to come out of the four walls of our Gurdwaras and become the part of Americana, Canadiana, Englandiana and any other places we live in.

Now the back story. When Huffington Post picked up the story, their traffic went up many folds, not only in their religious section but also on the whole site. This attention along with the shootings in Oak Creek, Wisconsin created more curiousity about Sikhi. Before this, the site was more dominated by many Muslim writers talking about Islam as far as the “ethnic” religions are concerned. The readers were able to know more about Sikhi and according to Huffington’s feedback, it created a positive image for them.

Hence, choosing Balpreet Kaur was a business decision and a very good one, I must add. Huffington’s choice has created more chatter in the social media which is great for Sikhi.

Now, it depends on us to seize the moment and rise out of the cesspool like the Lotuses, just like our Gurus ask us to do. Come out of our cocoons and join the crowd by introducing ourselves as Sikhs and share its traits.

We all stand out with our bana. Let’s become outstanding with it. Balpreet demands this from us.

Tejwant Singh
Last edited:
📌 For all latest updates, follow the Official Sikh Philosophy Network Whatsapp Channel: