Dear Cinderella…

Disclaimer:

            However tempting it might be to view Cinderella’s story as just a fairy tale; Nevertheless, an ideal of womanhood and manhood exists in this society, and that ideal emerges from the messages we receive as children. If that message conveys that women should be submissive, beautiful, and most appealing when they are damsels in distress and that men should possess wealth to be most desirable, is it any wonder that women and men are edged to be and do those things as adults in this society?

Therefore, it is problematic that a story such as Cinderella fortifies a limited range of feminine and masculine behaviours.

Consequently, however alluring it might be to see Cinderella as just a bedtime tale to put children to sleep, it is important to acknowledge the power this fairy tale has had in forming certain staple perceptions in the society.

Henceforth, this blog is purely personal and opinionated, and does not intend to hurt your sentiments you may have formed towards illusions created with stories such as Cinderella and many more.

 

Dear Cinderella,

I hope this letter brings you more beauty and your prince more charm. You have remained immortal and your story has been passed on from generations of grandparents to grandchildren and I don’t see a nearing end to this cycle. However, I believe I must bring into your notice the unintentional nuisances you have caused in our world and the staple perception of beauty, materialism and gender roles your story has engraved.

I understand if you are perplexed of this accusation, for you must have believed for the longest time to have projected one of the most prominent examples in the world of a ‘happily ever after’ and the idea of a ‘perfect life’. I apologize for popping this bubble you have resided in for the longest time, but your idea of a perfect life became the root of problems that need to be addressed.

To begin with, your life became a bedtime story and so I thought your qualities must surely be of brilliance. After all, bedtime stories exist to inspire children before they conclude the day. But let me recall what they said about you: “Once upon a time, there lived, a ‘beautiful’ girl, named Cinderella”. As far as I can recall, you were much more than just beautiful but your appearance was emphasized to an extent that it became the most important quality you ever possessed. Sadly, superficiality arose in our world too and became a prominent factor to assess an individual.

Secondly, I’m sorry that you had to put up with ten odd years of anguish by your wicked stepmother and sisters. But what’s worse is that you exhibited docility, obedience and submissiveness to the evil and normalized the idea of being tolerant towards torture.

Moving on, your story also highlighted and emphasized on materialism to a great degree. You were waved a wand at, and had been embellished with an expensive attire and diamonds so the Prince could pay you attention. However, I wonder what would have happened if you forgot about going home before the clock struck twelve and were thrown off of your fancy disguise and put into your ordinary apparel? Would you still have had a happily ever after?

Adding on, the Prince asked you for your hand and you accepted the proposal without a thought because let’s be blunt here, the Prince’s substantial possessions such as his royal heritage was probably the part of attraction.

Lastly, you represented the trend of women being damsels in distress based on the fact that your decision to marry the Prince without giving it much thought was undoubtedly propelled by a desire to escape a life of servitude under your stepmother and sisters.

Henceforth, you, and many such fellow princesses as you, are to be blamed to have established rigid perceptions about genders and their roles, prominence of superficiality, and emphasis on materialism. I wonder if things were any different in this society had the story begun with emphasis on your talent, your kindness, or your intelligence. Had the fairy god mother never appeared to grant you an escape and you revolted against the wrong, had the prince seen you as ‘you’ and not the fancier version of you, had you not have lost the glass slipper behind or, had you have been self-reliable and not dependent on miracles, coincidences, or a random Prince to give you a happily ever after. I can only wonder but until then,  I wish you more beauty and your prince more charm.

Sincerely,

Someone who is torn apart between reality and fairytales.

Shame Shame, Body Shame

A lot has already been said about ‘Body Shaming’ and therefore this blog will not state the obvious. We are all well aware and realize that demeaning someone for their body type is discrimination. But this particular blog is rather a personal account. It is my story about growing up under scrutiny for my weight and body type.

I realized at a very young age that being over weight in our society is everybody’s business. As I visited relatives or family friends, I noticed a pattern. The first thing people commented  was about weight gain or loss.

I had been on the bigger side as a teenager and being made fun of for being fat had been a part of my school life. My present self realizes that all of it it was to be ignored, but I had failed to explain and convince my 10 year old self that I was much more than my weight.

In  elementary school, my physical education teacher measured heights and weights of students every semester. While doing so, he would announce every student’s measurements and what would follow after would be a nightmare. Giggles, snarky remarks and endless mocking. I would pretend to be sick to escape from being in that situation but what’s funny is that I didn’t even have to pretend. My body would turn hot from anxiety and I would begin to shiver. I would be sent home eventually.

I was not delicate or sensitive as one may think. I did what I could to ignore what was said to me and fought back sometimes. But I just couldn’t answer myself when I kept asking how long it would take for all of this to end.

It was frustrating because my weight hid everything I was made of. My confidence had been shattered and my talents weren’t good enough because I wasn’t thin. I knew I would never get the lead in plays that were held in high school. I knew I would never be able to be convincing enough because of my weight. I used to be asked why I kept pulling my shirt down and I had no explanation. I though it was out of sheer habit, but I knew that I would do it out of consciousness. Consciousness of being ‘too visible’.

This battle was endless. People would say things and forget, but there were so many times in the past when I had felt that everything in life would be so much easier if I was thinner, as if my weight was the only burden I had in my life.

If anyone had the right and authority to be blatant and blunt about my weight, it was my parents. But they had never chosen that approach, which made me even more intolerant about others being into my business. As long as I was active, healthy and happy, my parents were satisfied. They did not want to introduce the concept of vanity at an early stage, and knew that at some point, I’d be conscious about my body.

I did shed most of the weight after moving to university, and I am finally at a point where I feel comfortable with my body. I have worked very hard on my esteem and confidence, but what had occurred in the past has played a major role in shaping my personality. Every time someone compliments me, I still find it hard to believe that they mean what they’re saying. I have disliked what I saw in the mirror and it wasn’t because of my body, but because of the thoughts put into my mind.

Now that I have lost most of the weight, I hear a lot of people saying “You look so different”! Sure I do, but I’d rather not look different at the cost of sacrificing my self-esteem.

I was what I am now, with the same passion and zest for life. But what is out of my understanding is that somehow I am viewed differently because I occupy lesser space.

Body shaming has existed for me. It was real and dangerous. It was poisonous and everything that reduced a human being’s worth to nil.

Stop. Think. Are those words doing any good to the person they’re dedicated to, or are they merely for the sake of your own entertainment.

If you think you’re ‘just joking’, think, is that joke really funny to the person whom you’ve based your humor upon?

If you’re justifying yourself by claiming that you mean well for the person and are ‘merely advising’, think, have you been given the right to do so? Does this person depend on you for their life decisions? Have you been asked for your advice?

If you think you feel better about yourself by commenting on someone’s body type, on their face or behind their back, think, who needs more help? Them, or you for the kind of insecurity you possess?

Once you have considered the questions above, think about the times you have intentionally or unintentionally body shamed.  Are your words really worth ruining someone’s self-image?

I would like to conclude now, but before that I’d want to state that your fitness is YOUR personal journey with YOUR body. Someone else’s struggle is just theirs’ and you play no role in it. Everyone has a story and have their own battles. Do not make it difficult for them to heal their wounds. Your body is just your home. It is no one else’s, it is your own.

 

 

 

 

 

Shade

Shade

She discovered a different shade of red that day.

Not when she was taught to distinguish between the diversity of tones in her colour palette,

But when it had stained her childhood when she was sold for a negotiated price not bigger than the dreams that hid in her eyes.

 

She discovered a different shade of unity that day.

Not when she skipped a rope while two of her friends held each end,

But when she empathised with other victims and they reciprocated to her with the same.

 

She discovered a different shade of peace that day.

Not when she sensed her miseries coming to an end,

But the day she noticed she hadn’t shed a single tear.

 

She discovered a different shade of liberty that day.

Not when she was unbound off of the torture,

But when she shut her eyes to escape reality and never opened them again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Same Page

The Same Page

As the ink gracefully fell on a paper and transformed words into facts, I observed something so exceptional, so unusual that it left me contemplating. Stress that once arose from the last minute studying for a midterm, for a course called ‘Religion,’ ambled and replaced itself  with a miracle. As I inscribed the heading about what the course entailed, I observed I had created a history. The heading comprised of ‘Islam and Christianity‘ as the topic of my midterm, and on the top of that, I drew the mystical and sacred symbol of Hinduism called the ‘OM’ as a sheer habit that my mother inculcated in me as a child. What grabbed my attention was the hypothetical situation I had created on this piece of paper; all of the three religions were, for once, on the same page.

However, what surprised me the most was how amazed I was at the dimensions I drew and the thoughts I put into the creation of this hypothetical situation, which really wasn’t a mere imagination. I should have known that I had connected all these religions when I passed through Temples, Churches, Gurudwara, Mosques and any other religious places, and my parents told me that God resides in each one of them. That was when I associated myself with all forms of ‘God’ through the ‘respect’ that I was taught. Little did I know, I had assembled every religion on the same page, since then.

I was unaware of this connection when I often visited the Chapel, two blocks down the road, with a Christian friend on Sunday mornings. We had connected then with my curiosity as I asked her questions about her religion to fill in the gaps in my knowledge as she did the same. We had connected when I wished her a Merry Christmas, and she wished me a Happy Diwali, with a sincere effort to pronounce the word ‘Diwali’ right. The curiosity, effort and the differences is what put us on the same page then, but I had failed to realize it, until now.

I was oblivious to the connection when on Eid, I indulged myself in a plate of spicy Biryani with my friends from Pakistan who follow Islam. We connected when the homemade dish made of love, hit me with an aroma of spices and took me to a journey of memories from back home. We connected when they talked in what they call Urdu and what I call Hindi, yet, used the same words and phrases to express ourselves. The aroma, our language and its differences is what put us on the same page then, but I had failed to realize it, until now.

I have settled to the belief that if we cannot meet on the diameter of a politically controversial topic of ‘Religion’, we could at least meet in the radius of love, respect and humanity. As a young adult, I still have so much to learn, so many influential people to meet, so much knowledge to gain, but one thing that is adamant on staying the same is my connection with all religions, their differences, our efforts, love and respect, that I can say at last, has put us all, on the same page.

The ‘F’ word

The ‘F’ word

I felt like today was the perfect day to come out of the closet. The sun shone brighter and enhanced my existence. The birds chirped louder to cheer me as they embarked from their nests, encouraging me to be brave enough and admit the truth. The trees swayed vigorously and wished me luck as the wind hit my face, preparing me for the criticism.

I am a Feminist.

There. I said it, and what is sad, is my need to make a grand appearance to admit to the actuality, as if refusing to conform to patriarchy is an enormous deal.

I have indulged in several conversations where I have been accused of being dramatic in the name of being a feminist. Hence, I felt the need to bring out a clarification to answer all those rebuttals of face to face interactions I had to cut half way through, due to the saturation of my tolerance to obliviousness. Blame it on my short temper, or their ignorance.

Firstly, when I say I am a feminist, it does not mean that I am a ‘man hater.’ I repeat, feminism is neither directly, nor indirectly proportional to hating men. The sole purpose of feminism is to stand for gender equality. It is not the battle to prove that women are superior to men. It is a mere effort to uplift the status of women and bring it to the same level as the eminence of men. Let us not deny being a part of this patriarchal world where men do enjoy certain advantages over women that we cannot debunk.

Secondly, when I say I am a Feminist, I stand for ‘gender’ equality, bringing your kind attention to the word ‘gender,’ just in case it did not seem emphasized enough.  Therefore, being a woman emancipator, I stand against ‘male bashing’ because when I say I am a feminist, I only strive for women rights to have them experience the same rights as men, with no desires to put the male gender down in any way. Feminism does not involve women empowerment with the help of belittling men. I do not wish to create an illusion of women superiority by demeaning the men of our society.

When I say I am a feminist, I am not seeking for sympathy towards the female gender. I am only hoping for your awareness to the ugly truth that inequality in both the genders does exist. I say it with the anticipation, for you to educate yourself, because it does not mean that disparity against women does not exist if you do not see it happening around you.

When I say I am a feminist, I do not say it with the aim to change your opinions or influence your thoughts. I say it because I feel obligated as a human of this world to let you realize of your misinterpretation of the term ‘feminism.’ Because one thing I know for sure is that, you wouldn’t say you are not a feminist if you truly knew what feminism meant. If you think you thoroughly know what it means, then I doubt your skills at being human, assuming that human beings would always strive for justice.

When I say I am a feminist, I am against gender roles, I am against imposition, and I am against people who think women are not worthy enough.  I am against every idea that constrains women to a child bearing entity, as if that is the sole purpose of her life.

When I say I am a feminist, I hope I am able convince people that women can conform to gender roles if they wish to, and that should not make them a ‘prude’. Women can wish to rebel against norms that society has designed, and that should not mark questions against their character. They can wish to procreate, and they can wish to not procreate. None of those decisions should define who they are from within.

When I say I am a feminist, I hope I am able to persuade people that men can also emote, they can express. Cry when they’re hurt, be prominent with their expressions. They can cook and do household chores, and none of that should raise questions against their manhood.

I write to you, with utmost passion that believes that we do not need binary oppositions to govern society. We do not need patriarchy. We do not need gender roles.

Because, when I say I am a Feminist, I am a human first, who is striving to experience a world that lets an individual be. A world with no titles, no expectations to conformity with existing norms.

A world, where I can be honest when I say, “I have a fundamental right to ‘Freedom”.

 

I have more reasons to be happy

I have more reasons to be happy

-Story from the eyes of a visually impaired:

I may not be gifted with eyes that bear sight,
I may not be able to see the world like you do.
Yet, I am content, because one thing I know for sure is that,
The world I have painted in my mind, is far more beautiful, far more magical, far more mesmerizing.
Where I have my own colors, my own flowers. 
It is my own world where I am set free.
Which is why I say,
I have more reasons to be happy.

I may not have fallen in love at ‘first sight’ 
I may have never seen my beloved.
But what makes me feel blessed, is that,
I have ‘felt’ in love more than I fell in love.
It makes me feel like a human for whom appearance matters nil.
And what matters the most is the affection, the care, the love.
Which is why I say,
I have more reasons to be happy.

I may not be able to believe people when they tell me I am pretty to look at. 
I may not be able to stand in front of the mirror admiring my reflection.
But, what makes me feel beautiful is when,
I feel the strengths of mine overpower the weaknesses.
When I can stand strong in the darkness, where the sun never rises.
Which is why I say,
I have more reasons to be happy.

I may have never seen the woman who gave birth to me,
I may have never drawn the similarities on my mother’s face that suggest I’m her daughter. 
But what makes me feel proud is that,
when she took me in her arms for the first time, 
She was determined to teach her daughter to stay strong,to never encourage sympathy and to be content with what she is.
As, she has more reasons to be happy.

Trapped in a trance

Trapped in a trance

It rested like a diamond in the black of her eye, growing, as each tear planted its nourishment. ‘Dream’, she named the sheen and swore by it.

“Light”! She gasped at its sight while she perched in the dark. Her desperation wished for gleam to bestow upon. The dazzle ambled with grace, swapping with somber.

She embraced, as it caressed her face with blaze. Her being became brighter, as she cherished, adored and treasured the juncture.

But Alas! Did she realize, her dream grew no more, for there were no tears to water hope , aspirations ignited no more for there were no shadows of somber. Her presence mattered no more, for there was no darkness to enhance her existence.