What would you do if someone took a picture of you without your knowledge, then uploaded said picture to the Internet just to make fun of you for how you look?
Over the weekend, a Reddit user appropriately named “european_douchebag” posted a photo of a female Ohio State University student named Balpreet Kaur to the popular social sharing site under the “funny” thread.
Kaur practices the Sikh faith, and in accordance with her religious beliefs, she does not shave or trim her facial hair. As a result, she has a full grown beard and noticeably thick sideburns.
When she found out her picture was being ridiculed on Reddit, instead of lashing out at the Redditors with an angry, profanity-laced rant, Ms. Kaur killed them with kindness, and offered an extremely graceful and intelligent response:
Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn’t know about this until one of my friends told on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled :)
However, I’m not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] that this picture is getting because, it’s who I am. Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women.
However, baptized 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, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. 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.
By crying ‘mine, mine’ and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a separateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it?
When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can.
So, to me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are. :-) So, if anyone sees me at OSU, please come up and say hello. I appreciate all of the comments here, both positive and less positive because I’ve gotten a better understanding of myself and others from this.
Also, the yoga pants are quite comfortable and the Better Together tshirt is actually from Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that focuses on storytelling and engagement between different faiths. :) I hope this explains everything a bit more, and I apologize for causing such confusion and uttering anything that hurt anyone.
Also, wearing turbans for women is a sign of inner strength and empowerment because we too are equal to Sikh men. Sikhism advocates total equality for both genders [the only difference between them are the last names] and therefore, it is okay, however rare the occurrence, for a woman to adorn herself with the turban just like her male counterparts.
I encourage everyone to go and google and expand their knowledge of the sheer diversity in this nation – as will I; and gain a better understanding of each other.
Then something totally unexpected happened … “european_douchebag” — the Reddit user who posted the photo — actually apologized!
I posted this link a few days ago: http://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/109cnf/im_not_sure_what_to_conclude_from_this/
I know that this post ISN’T a funny post but I felt the need to apologize 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.
/r/Funny wasn’t the proper place to post this. Maybe /r/racism or /r/douchebagsofreddit or /r/intolerance would have been more appropriate. Reddit shouldn’t be about putting people down, but a group of people sending cool, interesting, or funny things. Reddit’s been in the news alot lately about a lot of cool things we’ve done, like a freaking AMA by the president. I’m sorry for being the part of reddit that is intolerant and douchebaggy. This isn’t 4chan, or 9gag, or some other stupid website where people post things like I did. It’s fucking reddit. Where some pretty amazing stuff has happened.
I’ve read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.
So reddit I’m sorry for being an asshole and for giving you negative publicity. Balpreet, I’m sorry for being a closed minded individual. You are a much better person than I am Sikhs, I’m sorry for insulting your culture and way of life. Balpreet’s faith in what she believes is astounding.
… I apologized to Balpreet in private via e-mail and plan on meeting up with her next time I’m at Ohio State. I don’t think I did anything special, it was just an apology. Just because you’re anonymous doesn’t mean you can be an asshole.
In an interview with the NY Daily News, “european_douchebag” — a 20-year-old from Melbourne, Fla., who asked to remain anonymous — said he understands why people are angry, saying “it was an ignorant post.”
He said he’s talked to Kaur since the incident, and it “completely opened my eyes.”
“It turns out she went to my rival high school where I grew up [in West Chester, Ohio],” he said. “She was glad in a sense that I posted it so more people could see, and so much positivity came out what started as a negative thing. I never even thought about how she felt or what she was going through. I really admire her faith.”