Leah Jorgensen, has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance that causes her body to overproduce testosterone, and hirsutism, the term for unwanted male-pattern hair growth on a woman. She was diagnosed at age 15, after noticing extra hair on her body.
“Shortly after I noticed it, a classmate noticed it, and she pointed it out and then there was this cluster of kids who really teased me relentlessly about it,” Jorgensen, from Madison, Wisconsin, told Inside Edition. I was so embarrassed then and scared that I didn’t know how to talk about it.”
Jorgensen would shave multiple times a day to remove the hair that covered her face, chest, stomach, back, arms, legs and toes. But about two years ago, she got in a bad car accident and paramedics had to cut away her clothes for a leg injury, exposing her excess hair.
“They didn’t make me feel like I was a freak or strange or unusual,” she said. “It really helped me get over this hurdle I had, where no one could ever really see the true me.”
Ever since, Jorgensen has stopped obsessively shaving and embraced the hair. She’s even posted photos of herself in a bikini on Instagram, and said that it’s improved her relationships.
“I’ve actually had better dating experiences as soon as I accepted myself, versus when I was hiding myself,” she said. “There are people out there that are attracted to all kinds of people and bodies and personality and there’s definitely someone out there for everyone.”
Now Jorgensen is sharing her story to bring awareness to her condition.
“I really want people to see that women like me exist,” she said. “I really just hope to show that women who have hirsutism aren’t alone, and to show that bodies are diverse.”