Erin Honeycutt, 38, from Michigan, USA, has been growing her beard for around two years.
It now measures 30 cm (11.81 in), officially breaking the world record for the longest beard on a living female.
The previous record of 25.5 cm (10.04 in) belonged to 75-year-old Vivian Wheeler (USA).
Erin’s beard is completely natural; she doesn’t take any hormones or supplements.
She has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is a condition that causes hormonal imbalance and can result in irregular menstruation, weight gain, infertility, and excess hair growth.
Erin’s facial hair began growing when she was 13. She used a variety of methods to deal with it, such as shaving, waxing, and using hair-removal products, however, she was constantly self-conscious about it.
“I was probably shaving at least three times a day,” she revealed.
Erin continued doing this throughout her teen years and into her adult life, however, after partially losing her vision, she became “tired of shaving”, so her wife, Jen, encouraged her to grow out her beard.
PCOS is not the only health issue that Erin has had to battle. In 2018, she injured her foot and was taken to the hospital, where, within the span of a week, she developed necrotizing fasciitis in her leg, which is a rare bacterial infection that results in the death of parts of the body’s soft tissue.
Erin’s leg became septic and gangrene, resulting in her making the decision to have the lower half of the limb amputated.
She told her doctor that she would “deal with it” and move on with her life, which she’s been courageously doing for the past five years.
However, her health complications didn’t stop there. Her blood pressure rose to such a high level that she suffered an eye stroke. This caused bleeds in the back of her eyes, which then scabbed over, resulting in the formation of scars, creating shadows in her vision.
“It took away all my central vision,” she explained. “But I have perfect peripheral.”
Despite suffering these debilitating problems, Erin maintained a positive outlook on life.
“The thing that got me through losing a leg and eyes and everything, honestly was that I had a cruise booked,” she said.
Erin was told by her doctor that if she kept thinking positively, she would heal 3% faster, so Erin says she became the “most positive person in the entire world”. Although that’s not a real Guinness World Records title, Erin would undoubtedly be among the top contenders for it if it were.
Despite partially losing her vision, Erin continued shaving her face every day, until one day she grew tired of it.
Erin had often been curious in the past about what her beard would look like when fully grown, as she thought that she could “probably grow a decent beard”.
With Jen’s support, Erin made the decision to grow out her beard during the nationwide lockdown put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It really gave me a chance to build my confidence in growing a beard,” she said. “Wearing masks really helped with building my confidence in going out in public.”
Erin jokes that the best thing about her beard is that it hides her “double chin”.
One of the downsides is that it “gets stuck in everything”. To avoid getting her beard in her food when eating, she usually tucks it into her shirt or braids it.
Jen says that she and Erin sometimes “get looks” from other people in public, and although it doesn’t bother Erin, because she can’t see them, it does bother Jen. “We deserve to be able to go out and not have anyone judge us for who we are,” she said.
Erin’s mother, Jill Roach, is very supportive of her daughter’s decision to grow out her facial hair. She said: “I didn’t realize how much she was having to shave as a younger person and this is a lot that she has to go through, and it’s mainly just for appearance. I got used to it, and I can see she’s very happy about it, and that’s the main thing.”
For Erin, achieving a world record for something that she used to be ashamed of is “really awesome”.
“I never thought that I would be able to attain or achieve a goal that would let me be in a book, and it’s just kind of a nice thing to be recognized for, even though it’s just something that happens naturally for me,” she said.
As Erin joins the Guinness World Records family, following in the footsteps of other bearded females such as Vivian Wheeler and Harnaam Kaur, hopefully her story will inspire confidence in other women with PCOS, proving that they can be embraced by society and their loved ones regardless of whether they shave or not.
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