A mother-of-three who has been growing a beard since she was eight years old has finally discovered what causes her abnormal hair growth.
Dana, 32, of Portland, Oregon, grew up in sunny Florida, which meant she was always in shorts but children noticed that she had dark hair on her legs and poked fun at her.
At just eight years old, she started shaving her legs. At 12, she plucked her eyebrows for the first time and began bleaching her upper lip.
As the years went by, Dana waxed and would epilate the hairs that were too short to be removed through waxing.
Dana, also known as Lady Sasquatch, also suffers with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia.
She was left feeling exhausted having to keep up with stripping hair from her toes, feet, legs, bikini area, stomach, armpits, arms, hands and fingers which left her skin feeling prickly and irritated thanks to the regrowth.
When she was 27, Dana tried laser hair removal but found it a painful experience which didn’t give her the promised results.
It wasn’t until her now boyfriend, Steve, saw how draining hair removal and covering herself up by wearing long shorts was for her and suggested that she ditched the razors that Dana started to accept her excess hair although she thought he was joking at first and would no longer find her attractive if she stopped.
Embracing it: Dana, who lives in Oregon, has a hormonal disorder that causes hair growth
Previously, Dana would spend hours shaving and bleaching her hair, and it was exhausting
With Steve reassuring her she is beautiful regardless of body hair, Dana has been embracing the skin she’s in for two years now and hopes to show other females that there is nothing wrong with their natural selves and body hair is not repulsive.
Two years ago, Dana was diagnosed with hirsutism after her male gynecologist’s ‘jaw dropped’ when he saw her natural hair and after checking her tummy, neck and face sent her for hormone testing which confirmed she had the excess hair growth condition.
‘I went in for my yearly check-up, and it was the first time I had been since I stopped shaving. My male doctor lifted the sheet and his jaw dropped. I don’t think he had ever seen a woman with so much natural hair,’ Dana said.
‘He immediately checked my stomach and my face and neck and then ordered for more tests to be done to check my hormones.
‘Then I checked my online medical records after my appointment and under all my diagnoses was hirsutism. I was relieved to know that there was a name for all my hair, and then it helped me to normalize it with some research.’
The diagnosis was a relief, but it came incredibly late.
Dana had spent years trying to hide her hair, to blend in.
‘It was like having a constant nagging chore,’ Dana said.
‘Even after I shaved, I would still feel prickly, my skin was never smooth. With having chronic pain and fatigue, it just used up so much of my limited energy.’
It was only Steve who made her think about it another way, suggesting she stop shaving
Now Dana shares her body-hair-positive posts on Instagram, and says that she now feels more beautiful and confident than she has ever done before
Fourth of July in 2017 was the first time Dana bared her unshaven legs in public
It was only Steve who made her think about it another way.
‘When my boyfriend suggested that I stop shaving, I honestly thought he was joking. I couldn’t believe that he would still find me attractive. We were only a few months into the relationship when he made the suggestion.
‘My boyfriend asked me the question, ‘why do you shave?’ and I never thought there was another option.
‘He helped ease my mind so much and help me face my insecurities about my hair. Every time I felt ugly or gross, I would send him a picture of my hair and he would say I was beautiful and reassure me that I didn’t need to shave. I don’t think I could have ever let go of the razor without his support.’
Hirsutism is a term for excessive hair growth in certain areas of the body and mainly affects women. It develops where men usually have hair such as the face, neck, chest, tummy, lower back, buttocks and thighs.
It’s caused by an excess of male hormones called androgens or by the body being more sensitive to these.
Dana shares her body-hair-positive posts on Instagram, and says that she now feels more beautiful and confident than she has ever done before.
At just eight years old, she started shaving her legs. At 12, she plucked her eyebrows for the first time and began bleaching her upper lip. As the years went by, Dana waxed and would epilate the hairs that were too short to be removed through waxing
Hirsutism is a term for excessive hair growth in certain areas of the body and mainly affects women. It develops where men usually have hair such as the face, neck, chest, tummy, lower back, buttocks and thighs
She feels more beautiful, brave and courageous than she ever has in her life
‘It was really scary at first because I knew my family and strangers would judge me. Once I got over my insecurities and was more comfortable in my skin, it definitely was liberating. I also felt like I was being a good example for my kids, to help them learn to love and accept their bodies too,’ added Dana.
‘Baby steps have been key to me accepting my body hair. I was so nervous on the fourth of July in 2017, it was my first time in shorts outside in public. I just took deep breaths and tried to remember that my hair may be shocking for some but only because they’ve never seen a woman with natural hair.
‘I used to be a hair stylist and I was paid to remove hair, so I understand that there are people who do not like it, I used to think the same way.
‘One time when I went for a hike, I heard a man say, ‘look her legs have more hair then mine’ and really, it just made me laugh so hard. It’s really funny to me now that people are shocked by my hair because it seems so natural and normal to me.
‘Most people don’t even say anything at all. If I feel them looking, I might bring it up or make a joke about being a sasquatch.
Dana (left) compares her leg with Steve’s (right), as she says she feels completely comfortable
‘I woke up one day and just felt an urge to share my story. I am mentally at a place now where I understand not everyone will appreciate what I’m doing but if I can inspire just one person to accept their hair then I will be filled with so much joy.
‘I have struggled for so long, and I think if I knew earlier on that it was ok to stop shaving then it would have helped a lot.
‘I feel more beautiful, brave and courageous than I ever have in my life. I am grateful that I have feet that can hold me up and legs that can help me walk and arms that I can give hugs with and I don’t mind if they’re hairy.’
Finally, Dana shared her words of advice to other women who might feel insecure thanks to their body hair.
‘I think if we were raised with more natural women in the media and advertisements then we would be able to accept ourselves more. So hopefully seeing my story will help inspire others,’ she said.
‘I have so much more peace of mind and love for myself now that I have accepted my hirsutism, and I would love for that to catch on.
‘If you feel like you have to remove your hair but you don’t want to, just stop. Let go of the fear of not conforming and fill yourself up with love and gratitude.
‘This is your life to live and no one else’s, you should be as comfortable as you want, and spend your time and energy as best suited for you. Self-care is different than just pedicures and shopping, it’s also listening to your body and respecting what it wants and doesn’t.
‘Guys have a lot of hair and they are not gross, neither are you, we are all beautiful.’