Queen Okafor’s life story is a typical example of how one can turn shame to fame. She is the acclaimed Nigeria’s ‘hairiest woman’, because of her heavily bearded face, hairy chest and body.
In many parts, people see it as an abomination for women to have beards or hairs on their face and chests. This is because they allude that the beards and hairs are clear signs that the woman is highly temperamental, wicked, and has a bad character. Even, in some communities, hairy women are labelled witches, as they are mocked and treated as outcasts. However, Queen, a native of Nnobi Town, in Idemili South, Anambra State, has narrated inspiringly how one should be resolute and avoid being yoked into low self-esteem because of one’s appearance.
According to Queen, growing up in a society where hairy women with beards are tagged queer and alien, she panicked when she began to notice lush black hairs springing out at unusual parts of her body.
And as a flowering girl, she became depressed trying all she could to stop the hairs to stop growing. “I was born and grew up like every normal child, all through my teenage years I was like every usual young girl. It was when I clocked 21 that I noticed that excess hairs are growing all over my body. I was very surprised and confused. And I, like other people, I wondered why a fine young lady like me should suffer such fate.”, she told Sunday Sun.
Beards of destiny
To immediately stop the hairs from growing, Queen started to apply all kinds of weird stuff to eradicate the beards from her face, but all to no avail. “I did so many things to eradicate the hairs. I kept shaving and rubbing tortoise faeces on my face and body to make the hairs stop growing. I heard people say that tortoise poops can stop hair growth. So, I used it, but it didn’t work for me. Also, a friend of mine got me some hair eradication creams from the United States. I used the creams, yet the hairs refused to wither, rather it kept growing all over my body. So, to get to the roots of my condition, I went to the hospital. I went to see a doctor that examined me and did some test. Because people speculated that it could be that I had PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), or some kind of disorder. But the medical results revealed that nothing was wrong with me. I also monitored myself, and noticed that nothing changed in my system, my menstrual cycle was flowing normal, and my body was growing like every normal young woman. I felt okay, and the doctor also reaffirmed that I am medically okay. Along the line, my mother disclosed to me that the hairs were hereditary. She told me that it runs in their family ancestry, so I must have inherited my hairs from her bloodline. It was then that I found that the thing is just natural and that it cannot be removed.”
Queen said that she faced a lot of embarrassing situations, and ridicules that affected her self worth, until she had two experiences that changed her life forever. “The first experience that I had was from my pastor. I went to seek his counsel on my hairy situation, and he decided to go on a prayer and fasting session to get divine answers for me. And after his prayers and fasting, he summoned me and told me that the hairs are a gift from God and not a curse. My pastor told me that it was God that decided to make me special and outstanding from other young girls and that I must stop feeling bad about my looks. My pastor’s advice lifted up my spirit, and I decided to feel free with my hairs. I started making people understand that I am unique. I became more proud of myself and my hairs. And cared less about what people say to me about my hairs. And I told anyone that cared to listen that they should either, accept me and appreciate the handiwork of God, or they can go, and leave me alone.
“Another incident was when I met an old woman at Ogwasi-Uku, in Delta State where I went for a friend’s traditional marriage. I then spotted the woman coming towards me, I didn’t even see where she emerged from. She was standing with a walking stick and approached saying that I should not fear. She then told me that she had a daughter that has beards like me and that it was her facial hairs that attracted the man she married. she told me that her daughter is now staying with her husband and children in Holland. she told me that I should not feel bad, or worry that my looks because God has kept a special man for me. The woman advised me that I should ignore what people say because their opinions about me don’t matter and that I should be proud of myself. l was still listening to her when some friends called my attention, I greeted them briefly, but when I turned to continue my conversation with the old woman, I couldn’t see her again. And throughout my stay at Ogwasi-Uku, I never saw the old woman again.
“It was those two incidents that made me see myself as a child of destiny. I embraced my fate and began to love my look. So, now I don’t hide anymore. In fact, I love to show my hairs now. It makes me feel unique, and I am proud of myself. My hair makes me feel attractive and sexy, “ she said.
Women with beards and hairs on the chest face a lot of societal stigma, they are called different names and are often mocked or mobbed when they are spotted on their way. Queen got enough dose of such treatments and was on the verge of becoming discouraged. “There was a time, I boarded a bus and was waiting for it to be fully loaded. then a woman that wanted to board the same bus, alighted immediately when she saw me. She rushed out of the bus as if she saw an evil spirit, and went to enter another bus. I felt bad and really embarrassed at how she ran out of the bus as if I was a leper. Then sometimes when I find myself in a crowd, many people on seeing me would frown and move away from me as if they don’t want my body to touch theirs. Even at a social gathering like when I go to a restaurant or bar, some people that are seeing me for the first time, get uncomfortable. Many of them become afraid of me and then run away from the place as if they’ve seen a ghost.”
Fans, trolls, sex advances
Queen disclosed that she is now unruffled whenever she gets harassed by people or online trolls. The 32-year-old, actress, entrepreneur and social media personality, said that she is only open to the positive attention she gets from her growing fan base, and that she is also quick to shut-out the negative vibes from her haters. “The truth is that I get more love from people that say they like my hairs than those that hate and mock me. On social media, I have almost 30, 000 followers on Facebook, and thousands of fans on both Instagram and Twitter. I live a very simple life, and I try my best to appreciate my fans. But if any troll says anything bad to me about how I look, I simply block that person and restrict their access to all of my platforms. My online social media platforms are only for those that love and appreciate me. Also when I walk on the road people notice me and get amazed. Most times, a lot of them, especially men flock to take pictures with me. I even noticed some men find the hair attractive. My fiancé adores my beards and finds it irresistible too.
“But as people troop to see me, I notice that some of them mean well, and have good intentions, while some just want to have me for something else. Some men would come offering me money to go stark naked, while some offer to get me pregnant and give birth to their baby, for them to know if my kind of person can have a child. But I don’t give in to such demands because it is not what I want for myself.
“Three years ago, I was at an event at Sheraton Hotel, at Maryland Ikeja, when one man introduced himself as a pilot and told me that he’s gay. He offered me N500, 000 to have anal sex and wanted to have a taste of a very hairy woman. But I refused because it’s not what I want. My looks attract plenty of attention, but I believe that I have the right to make my choices and not what people offer to me. That I have hairs all over my body doesn’t mean that I have low self-esteem. I am a disciplined person, and I know what I want.
“Also here where I am based in Abuja, I get plenty of love advances from lesbians. Some of them come saying they want to be my close friend. So, when I accept them as my friends, I find out that they are actually lesbians trying to lure me to sex. But I enjoy my man more, and I don’t have any interest in lesbianism or having any affairs with lesbians. I don’t accept that kind of thing, it is only what I want, that I go for.”
Maintaining my beards
“My facial hairs can grow long and full like that of the late Osama bin Ladin’s beards. So, I do normal things to maintain my hairs, to keep it neat. I have my necessary shaving kits like scissors, and I also treat them at the barber’s shop so that it doesn’t look tattered and bushy. It doesn’t stress me at all, and I don’t feel bad about it, why should I? I have embraced who I am and the way I look. So, there is nothing to feel bad about at all. I rather feel special about it.”
“I am inspired by one of the hairiest ladies in the World – Harnaam Kaur. She holds the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest woman in the world to have full beards at 24 years old. I am inspired by her interviews, talk shows, and her lifestyle. She also inspired me to be proud of myself. Also, I like the popular Nollywood veteran actress, Patience Ozokwor is another of my role models. I just love her so much.
Advice to women with self-esteem issues
“For women feeling low self-worth because of how they look, I’ll only tell them to be bold and proud of themselves. Because when you feel positive about yourself, you will be better and won’t be cheap for people. Be yourself, and be happy with who you are. Take a look at the life of Aki and PawPaw (popular Nollywood actors- Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme), and see how they made it. They started from somewhere, but now they are very famous.
“At a time, I used to be very afraid of my future. I had very low esteem. But I thank God now I have become more courageous, and accepted who I am. I don’t give in to people’s demands or expectations that don’t tally with mine. You’ll only live once, so try to explore your talents and live your life to the fullest. So, as a woman, be smart, and always try to make smart and intelligent choices so that you don’t look cheap.”