Erin Honeycutt has polycystic ovarian syndrome, which causes, among other things, excess hair growth.
After ditching her routine of shaving three times a day, a woman in Michigan has grown the world’s longest beard on a living female.
According to the Guinness World Records, 38-year-old Michigander Erin Honeycutt’s beard measures 11.81 inches, surpassing the previous record of 10.04 inches, which belonged to 75-year-old Vivian Wheeler.
Guinness noted that Honeycutt’s beard is “completely natural; she doesn’t take any hormones or supplements.”
Rather, Honeycutt’s massive mane is the result of her polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition that causes a hormonal imbalance that can lead to a number of different physical changes, including infertility, irregular menstruation, weight gain, and excess hair growth.
In Honeycutt’s case, this led her to begin growing facial hair at just 13 years old. Despite trying a variety of methods to get rid of her facial hair — shaving, waxing, and trying various hair-removal products — Honeycutt said she was constantly self-conscious about it.
“I was probably shaving at least three times a day,” she said.
As she grew into adulthood, Honeycutt continued to find ways to eliminate her facial hair — but after other health issues caused her to lose part of her vision and her leg, she decided that she was sick and tired of having to shave her beard.
In 2018, Honeycutt suffered a foot injury and went to the hospital for treatment, but while she was there, another serious issue appeared. She began to develop necrotizing fasciitis in her leg, a rare bacterial infection that causes soft tissue in the body to die.
As a result, Honeycutt’s leg became septic and gangrene, and she had to have the lower half of her leg amputated. Despite the life-changing operation, Honeycutt told her doctor that she would “deal with it” and get on with her life.
It wasn’t the end of Honeycutt’s health issues, though. Shortly after, a spike in her blood pressure rose to such a high level that she suffered an eye stroke, which led to bleeds in the back of her eyes. These bleeds then scabbed over and formed scars, which have severely limited her vision.
“It took away all my central vision,” Honeycutt said. “But I have perfect peripheral.”
All of these medical issues could cause a person to have a negative outlook on life, but not Honeycutt. Her doctor reportedly told her that if she continued to think positively, then she would heal three percent faster. This inspired Honeycutt to strive to become the “most positive person in the entire world.”
“The thing that got me through losing a leg and eyes and everything, honestly, was that I had a cruise booked,” she said.
Even after the stroke, however, Honeycutt continued to shave her face, despite the decline in her vision. Then, one day, she grew tired of it.
As she explained, she had always thought she could “probably grow a decent beard,” and she decided to put that theory to the test in 2020, as global lockdowns began to set in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Honeycutt’s wife Jen supported her decision.
“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.”
Of course, there are some benefits and drawbacks to donning a massive beard. Honeycutt joked that it helps hide her “double chin,” though she admitted that it also “gets stuck in everything.”
Jen also admitted that when the couple goes out in public, her wife’s appearance tends to cause them to “get looks” from people as they pass by. Erin said this doesn’t usually bother her — after all, she can’t necessarily see these “looks” — but Jen is bothered by them.
“We deserve to be able to go out and not have anyone judge us for who we are,” she said.
For what it’s worth, Erin’s mother, Jill Roach, said she is supportive of her daughter’s decision to sport her massive beard.
“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,” she said. “I got used to it, and I can see she’s very happy about it, and that’s the main thing.”
It’s been quite a journey for Honeycutt, going from the shame she felt as a teenager to a Guinness World Record holder, but it’s a journey she said 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,” she said, “and it’s just kind of a nice thing to be recognized for, even though it’s just something that happens naturally for me.”
After reading about Erin Honeycutt’s world record-setting beard, meet Hans Langseth, the man with the longest beard in history. Then, read about the Nebraska man who set a world record for sailing down a river in a giant pumpkin.