WHY THE HULLABALOO OVER WOMEN’S DAY?

On November 19th last year, I wished my male fellows as it was International Men’s day. One of them was taken by surprise, so much that he went gaga over my wishes. No wonder after all these years, we have been celebrating Women’s Day with great pomp and show, while Men’s Day is getting recognized slowly. I feel the celebration of Women’s Day is more of the previous guilt that people have inside them for taking the feminine power for granted.

Favouring sons over daughters, wishing the birth of boys instead of girls, making the world a better place for men than women, this gender discrimination was and is still being
witnessed in many parts of the world. My dad tells me that when I was small, I used to feel angry if in any television show, the mother-in-law made a face over the birth of a girl. I used to ask my parents, “Why do the eunuchs come for the custom of badhaai (congratulatory ceremony) only when a boy is born?” I used to often laugh at the older generations who used to make a queue of baby (girl) births for the want of a boy!

As I grew older, I was very much sure that our generation is going to knock down this
practice of wishing and celebrating ‘son birth’ only. But I was wrong. In spite of the
educated lot, including many women today still prefer a son because of some silly reasons.
“It’s so difficult for a girl to roam around freely. It’s so unsafe these days.”
“It’s always a burden to have a girl, so many expenses on her marriage you know.”
“You don’t have a girl na, you won’t understand.”
It’s a plight to know their state of mind.

In a study by the University of Virginia in 2011, researchers concluded that women were 47% more likely to get hurt in car crashes due to the car safety features which were designed keeping men in mind. The features neglected the varied musculature, neck strength, height, preferred seating position of women, making them more vulnerable to injuries. Why?

Is that only men drive and women don’t?
Is it because women are born with safety features, unlike men?
Then, why this perspicacity?

The discrimination is in their pay-scales too. Assuming that women will not easily quit
because of their family responsibilities, they are taken for granted and paid less as compared to women. This pay-gap is visible in film industry too. Renowned Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut says, “My male counterparts are paid thrice the amount. No one can guarantee the success of a film so why such discrimination?” 

Women are still considered as economic burden in many households, even if they are
economically independent. It’s an irony that a woman is addressed to as the weaker sex,
despite the fact that she leaves her parents after marriage, works at home and manages office too, carries a baby inside her, goes through terrible labor pain and the post-partum trauma. Still the weaker sex?

I feel Women’s Day is more of a hullabaloo.

I don’t need a reserved seat in the metro.
I can stand too.
I don’t need a special quota either.
I can work hard too.
Just give me the equal status.                                                                                                                               I am also like you.

I AM LOOKING THE WAY I AM!

Yes, I’m dark and skinny! What’s wrong? Am I in the place of God that I will change the colour of my skin and the structure of my body!

Recently, my cab driver shares with me his problem. Though he is a married young man having a kid yet his struggle is “Body Shamming”! Throughout the ride, he shared how he is always discriminated against and become the joke in his peer group, just because he is a little skinny. He said, “Though I earn hefty and having a beautiful wife and kid yet I’m not happy! I feel like I’m not complete. But what can I do? How can I change my physical structure?”

One of the lowest cost and heavily profitable businesses in Urban India is “Salons, Spas & Gym”. Almost 80% urbanite visit to a Spa or to a Beauty Salon on every weekend and 92% young people between 16-35yr, at least spend 2 hrs at Gym daily. It is good to stay healthy and fit but today our talk has gone little ahead – You need to look glamorous and acceptable or else get ready to be squared!

People are mostly replaced and mocked because of their physical structure and look. It always reminds me of a particular man from my hometown. Recently, I met him on the street and greeted him and in response, he said, “Your tummy is coming out!” It is okay to ignore such a comment or take it positively at once or twice but how to tolerate when every other time someone will bump on you to talk about your look. I remember last year we were in a conference and the same man commented on my look, while we were having coffee in a group with a few other friends.

How to deal with such people???

Do you know every human being has the birthright of freedom to think and speak? There is no power under the heaven and on earth to put barriers to someone’s thought. So, let’s make a wise deal, as I cannot change someone’s thinking let me not spoil my own peace by putting my nose into filthy talks.Giving a nice plastic smile and keeping safety measure can be a nice option!

But how to deal with body shaming when you face it with the family and friends???

Imagine! You are in a family gathering and your cousins will taunt you “hum khate pitte ghar ke hain” (we are from a well-nourished family). Yes, it is good to be a foodie but why to jeer someone and tag yourself foodie just because your cousin is too skinny!

Among your friends, you were singled out because you are not handsome and fashionable! Even at times knowingly people will ignore you in the public gathering because you won’t look the way they want you to look like.

Though some people are educated and of noble character yet they face rejection during matchmaking just because their skin colour and body structure are different!   

Everything that comes from the outside never spoils us rather it is what springs from inside of us defiles us. When we face body shame it never defiles our joy and peace rather when we start pondering on those catcalls then we start feeling ashamed on our looks.

I remember one night while returning home at night 10 o’ clock my bus banged on another bus and we all passengers were stranded in the middle of a jungle. After a long wait for a lift to the next bus stop, a cab came and immediately four fat people pulled me aside and jumped into the car. At split of a second the back seat was full and in the front, there was already a man along with the cab driver. Again another fat man pulled me aside asking the driver for a lift but the driver denied him and offered me that seat because I was the only thin person to adjust in there. So, the people skinny like me should not feel discouraged; be optimistic, it is only we skinny people who can easily travel in half-seats.

It was January 2017 on a winter night I was on the bus and was very angry with God. Grumbling at Him, “Why He has created me like this skinny and dark? How beautiful it would be if I would be a little fair and of good health?” As we were waiting for the green light to show up, I saw a very beautiful girl, looks like a professional climbed the steps of the bus struggling to balance herself with the support of a crutch. I was dumbfounded as tears rolled from my eyes and I asked God for forgiveness!

The Bible says,

So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.

God is the creator of mankind and He had uniquely created us!

Uniqueness doesn’t mean we need to fashion and look like a celebrity rather we need to realize – “we are created as the celebrity of our life’s destiny and there is no one second to it!” Secondly, we need to understand when God has created each of us uniquely that means we all hold a stark difference between each other and this difference is not to grumble with self, murmur about God and keep shaming others rather it is to enjoy the beauty & unity with our diverse look!

Don’t shame! Don’t feel ashamed!

YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!

Avinash Das

BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY YOU ARE

Beautiful, glowing faces everywhere I see,
Spotless, flawless angelic mien adorned with glee.
I wonder what are they trying to conceal,
what may come out when this mask they peel.
I wonder what brutal flaws they think trying to hide,
with what pain and agony they hopelessly abide.
I wonder why the prejudice about their beautiful bodies and flaws,
I for one, divulge and wear them with pride without cause.
I flaunt my insecurities, I’m not ashamed of them,
these glitches, they make me glow brighter than any gem.
They help me heal, they remind me I’m strong,
hiding, concealing won’t let me stand out in the throng.
You can’t and won’t heal,
if all those beautiful flawless flaws you conceal.

“Oh wow! The colour of her skin is so fair and perfect!” Exclaimed the dusky beauty.

Gosh! He’s got such a perfect muscular body.” Sighed the handsome chubby guy.

Who said that only fair skin is perfect or only slim is beautiful!?

According to whom is chubby not being healthy or dark skin not gorgeous!?

Where is this scale that everyone is referring to and who made them?

The answer to this is…. (stating the obvious) our society, those advertising companies, clothing companies, models, beauty parlours… just to name a few.

We live in a world where our thoughts are influenced by the media and the people surrounding us.

Where models, who probably live on just an apple or a can of energy drink a day, tell us how to be fit. Where facial cream companies shamelessly declare that dark skin is not perfect and lighten the skin tone by using their products. Where clothing companies and different high-end brands sell clothes only to petite people as if being voluptuous is a crime.

What actually these companies are doing is that they are selling you your insecurities. They are brainwashing minds of people of all ages and sexes and compelling them to follow a certain pattern for their profits. To sell their products, they are stuffing our minds with their desired thoughts. They are feeding off of our ‘self-doubt’ and minting money.

As a teenager, I had loads of pimples on my face (hormonal changes, puberty). So people, everywhere I went, used to look at me as if having acne is a sin. Salespersons who are practically at strangers, who sold ‘beauty products’, used to approach me with bizarre questions, frowning, disgusted, asking…” Oh gosh!! aren’t you doing anything about your skin!?..use this particular product..your face will be cleared in no time”. Mind you, they weren’t doing this out of goodwill.

Well, the big question is, how will applying a cream on my skin, fix the hormonal changes happening in my body?? So I never paid any heed to these kinds of irrelevant comments. And with time, my skin got better.

So what I mean to say is don’t let anyone use your flaws or insecurities against you. Don’t let anyone intimidate you by telling that you are not how you are supposed to be.

The first thing everyone needs to realise is that they are beautiful and just perfect the way they are.

No matter what colour your skin is, what size or shape you are, you just have to understand that you are beautiful.

Body shamming has become such a common thing now. It’s like an insane trend everyone seems to follow.

A lady who delivered a baby got back in just 1 month and a mother of 2 kids who is still voluptuous, are both beautiful. A man/boy who is thin and short and one who is muscular and tall, both are handsome. A human who is dark, dusky, wheatish, fair (or any other skin colour) is gorgeous.

Be the change, bring about the change, if you want things around you to better. Don’t make anyone feel any less about themselves. Stop self-pity. Have confidence in yourself. No matter who you are, how you are, what you do or where you are, just remember…you are beautiful and perfect just the way you are.

TAKE IT IN YOUR STRIDE

I look at myself in the mirror and more often than not I don’t like what I see there.

‘God couldn’t my hair be a bit more straighter..’
‘Oh, why do I have this big nose? Can’t I make it a bit sharper?’
‘Oh my… The greys are visible again.. Need to hide them.’
‘This dress makes me look fat.’
‘Had I been a couple of inches taller I would have looked better.’

So on and so forth. So basically I have an ability to find a new flaw in my body every day.
This is mostly true for all of us, we don’t need anyone else to body shame us. We ourselves do this job perfectly.

The idea of a perfect look and body type is so much ingrained in us that we can never be happy in our own skin. The advertisements, movies and recently ‘Photoshop’ don’t allow us to accept even a small blemish on our skin. The leading pair in any movie always have a gym ready size zero figure and the fat friend of the hero or heroine are solely there for comic relief… This attitude has rubbed off on our daily life also. And many a time we don’t even realize that we are being body shamed.

This time in Ganpati celebration we ladies also decided to put up a small dance performance. Since the day it was decided I think everyone who came to know about it makes a joke on the sturdiness of the stage. ‘Will the stage hold up?’ ‘So many ladies dancing together there’s gonna be an earthquake.’ Well, let them say what they want. Let them laugh as much as they want we will dance because we enjoy it.

Remember no one is perfect. If you are thin they call you a matchstick. If you are fat then you can get varied nicknames from fatso to football or hippo. If you are tall then ‘Why does she wear heels?’ If you are short then ‘She looks like a school girl. when will she grow up?’

Even celebrities and top models don’t get spared. The fashion columnists are earning big bucks by just pointing out the flaws in the celebrity looks, their dress, makeup weight increase, weight loss etc. I sometimes wonder about the pressure these celebrities must be under to always show up in a perfect body, hair, makeup, dresses etc.

I once saw a video by actress Sonam Kapur showing the amount of effort and number of people required to bring out that perfect look. It made me realise one thing. No one is perfect. Don’t take the comments to your heart. Take it in your stride.

The skin colour, hair colour, body shape, facial features are unique to you. Be proud of it. The only thing in our hand is to live a healthy lifestyle. Rest is all in our Genes.

FAT SHAME AND SKINNY SHAME

“Do you really have to eat cheese? Don’t you see how much you are bulging from your hips?”

Shanaya was too tired of listening to this. Sometimes her boyfriend would say something about her diet and other times one of her friends or sisters would make her realize how fat she has become since last few months. She has always been heavy built, no matter how much she went to the gym, dance classes or aerobics, her weight would never go down. Since her college days, she had been humiliated because of the way her figure is. She obviously looked a bit older than her age because of her size.

In spite of the fact that she was heavy, she loved eating. She couldn’t resist food. She relished eating and she had a knack for different kinds of taste. Italian, Chinese, continental, Indian, Thai or any other cuisine, she loved it all. Though she knew that she had to control her diet to look fab, she tried her best but she failed miserably almost every time.

She hated herself, her body, her looks, her liking towards food, everything. She remembered her mother saying,” You better control your weight or else you will look ugly and fat”. That was the first time she thought the words fat and ugly are synonymous. And yes, they were. That is exactly what TV and magazine advertisements proved.

Depression can prove to be very harmful to a growing girl who turned into a woman. She had found a way out of this depression. She used to exercise like crazy; she loved dancing and working out in the gym. She started doing this to get in shape, but she really started liking this. Now, the gym was not a place where she felt miserable but it turned into a place where she could just lose herself and sweat out all her anger and depression.

She thought how lucky are the people who can eat whatever they want and still stay thin without sweating in gym or dance. There was one name that came striking to her every time she thought of such people – Nancy. Nancy was so lucky, she could have chocolates, cakes, ice-creams everything without feeling guilty at all, coz nothing changed her slim figure. How does this happen to a few people and cannot happen to her? Is it even possible that a girl like Nancy can ever feel pathetic and have low body image?

“Real women have real curves. I don’t even know how any guy would find you even desirable with such a skinny flat figure.”

“Eat more bananas with milk, it will add to your body weight”

“Did you try those new creams I got for you? They are supposed to add fat to your skin.”

Nancy ended up crying in a room because this was a millionth time she had heard her elder sister say this to her. Her friends said the same thing. Why am I so flat? Why can’t I have a full figure? She was really slim. She ate a lot; her appetite was as much as of a guy. But it didn’t affect her body at all. She loved eating just like Shanaya, she too took weight gaining courses in the gym and with a nutritionist. She even applied all sort of oils to make her body look fuller and curvy than flat. Nothing really worked and she felt miserable about it.

Nancy too hated her body. She usually used to think, how lucky Shanaya is, at least she had good curves. What if she has a little fat on her belly and her hips, it makes her even more desirable.

“I don’t understand why Shanaya keeps crying about her own body. She looks perfect. People say that she looks like a perfect full figure.” thought Nancy.

On the other hand, Shanaya thought, “Nancy is so crazy. Can’t she see those models in TV, they all are skinny. I think she just doesn’t understand how fortunate she is to have a body that doesn’t gain weight at all. She will never have to worry about her weight.

Nancy was talking to herself at the same time, “Shanaya doesn’t get that model look so artificial and look good only on the television. No guy really wants a size zero girlfriend, they want a sexy girl with complete beauty.”

“Nancy feels pathetic about her body and I have no clue why. If a girl like her goes around the beach in a bikini, people are going to like her. If a girl like me goes around in a bikini, people will take offence in that. They will suggest me not to do something like this until she has a slimmer figure.” said Shanaya to herself.

“Shanaya doesn’t know how much it pinches when people call me flat. When people say that I am not desirable, how rejected I feel at every comment of this kind.” thought Nancy.

Both Shanaya and Nancy had to work on their own body image. But both of them had to realize that this world is so full of confusion about what really is beautiful. They had to realize that beauty is what you define. Beauty is a combination of inner beauty, confidence and natural sex appeal. And it has got nothing to do with what media portrays or people believe. It has to come from inside of every person.

Fat shame exists and so does skinny shame. Both are equally painful and degrading. Both do the equal damage.

CELEBRATE YOUR BEAUTY AND THAT OF OTHERS

What I look like, doesn’t define who I am.

Or does it?

Sadly, it does – many a time.

World history puts before us vivid accounts of racism and apartheid – all because of skin colour. Blacks vs. Whites! Thanks to valiant activists and sensible people at the helm of political affairs a few decades back, that equality has been established by law. But, did this change in pen and paper bring about an immediate change in the mannerisms of people? Not really. It took many awareness campaigns and social literacy programmes before the Blacks and the Whites could look eye to eye, intermarry freely and work together comfortably.

With the discrimination done away with, we look at the world today, and we still see incidents of racist attacks and shootings! All this because of identifying someone on the basis of their skin colour – as encroaching upon one’s own rights and opportunities.

In a different part of the world, we have people who discriminate against certain others on the basis of the size of their eyes. It sure causes a lot of embarrassment to many.

Did you ever spend some time to marvel at the wonderful geography of the world? If you haven’t, then I would humbly suggest that you pick up some geography books or spend some time each day watching the dynamics of land, water and air in the Nat Geo. It sure helps to understand our fellow human beings in different parts of the world, better.

The way people look has a lot to do with the part of the world they belong to – the climatic conditions there and the food habits prevalent. One cannot expect people living in tropical climatic zones to look the way people in temperate zones look. We cannot expect people in Saharan and sub-Saharan zones to look like those in Latin America.

There are differences!

But, differences need not be converted into discrimination and body shaming.

There are basically three ways in which body shaming occurs –

  1. You body shame yourself (before the mirror or before friends and family)
  2. Others body shame you (on your face or when you are not around)
  3. You body shame others (either in front of them or behind their backs)

A few years back, a friend of mine shared with me that she was excited to accompany her family members that evening, to visit the family of a potential bride for her brother (as in arranged marriages). The next day when we met in college, I asked her how the visit was. She said, “Everything is good about the family and the girl – only that her nose is too long! So, we are not going ahead with the match.” I was silent – couldn’t find words.

A young teen I know is struggling with Anorexia nervosa. She has been in and out of the hospital a couple of times. She has been exposed to several counselling sessions. But, to no avail! She was once the topper in her class. And, now her grades have started slipping low. Her parents are frustrated so much so that her mother told her not to stay in the house before her eyes as she will not be able to witness her daughter die in front of her. It all started when someone told the girl to control her eating; else she would put on weight and look ugly!

Most of us aspire to look the way we are not created.

People in Western countries like to spend hours on the beach to get beautifully tanned whereas, in Eastern countries, tan removal facials and fairness lotions are much sought after.

 You surf the internet and you find different types of tonics and herbal remedies to lose weight, there are ways to put build on those enviable abs, there are tricks to gain weight for those who are lean – and some even promise to help increase the heights of people way into adulthood!

Cosmetic/corrective surgeries are the trendiest things on the platter these days, with celebrities being quite open in talking about their experiences in getting some parts of their bodies reconstructed.

Aspiring to look good is not wrong. Desiring to look different is not a sin.

But, when we or someone steps down to shame oneself or others on the basis of their skin colour, shape, size, etc., it unveils a sick mind.

The major reason behind body shaming – be it of oneself or others – is lack of acceptance. Our mind fails to accept and appreciate the way we or others look.

There are special children in all countries of the world – those with Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, hydrocephaly, progeria and others. They look different. Let’s accept them as they are without making lives even more difficult for them or their parents, thus forcing them to stay within the walls of their houses and never venture outside.

Looking down upon ourselves or others because their bodies create the feeling of insecurity, breeds anxiety and depression, causes low self-esteem, lowers self-confidence and for a few it may even provoke them to commit suicide.

The key is to realise that we are created differently. Each human being is a marvel of the Creator’s creative potential. We need to celebrate that. We are created in God’s image to reflect His glory and so is each human being on planet earth. Only when this truth is realised, can we refrain from shaming our own or others bodies.

I join the Psalmist in the Bible in praising God for creating me the way I am –

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Note:

The intention of this article is not to discourage essential corrective surgeries for eye squints, cleft palettes and the like, or to justify obesity or size zero figures.

DON’T RAISE YOUR VOICE . . . NO YOU MUSTN’T 🤐

When I raise my voice at home,

I am told – Shhh! Decent civilized people don’t talk with raised voices.

And so I learn decent civil behaviour,

Within the walls of my warm home sweet home.

 🤐🤐🤐

As I step into the world outside,

I cringe with fear to see and hear,

Such confident deeds and words of tyranny,

Of injustice, exploitation, prejudice and villany.

 🤐🤐🤐

I wonder whether these all were not taught,

Those lessons of decency and civility that I was!

Maybe some were and some weren’t . . .

Alas! I don’t see much of a difference between the two.

 🤐🤐🤐

The respectable bespectacled professor,

With degrees galore from the country and abroad,

Turns out to be just a wolf in sheepskin,

Offering a deal for a night in exchange of assignment papers to be signed.

And I am told – Shhh! Decent civilized people don’t raise their voices.

 🤐🤐🤐

I witness the underprivileged bereft of the basic necessities,

While money changes hands under the table,

And the officials swoosh by in their well-polished vehicles,

Leaving behind a cloud of dust to fill the poor desperate hands.

And I am told – Shhh! Decent civilized people don’t talk with raised voices.

 🤐🤐🤐

I hear of the barbarious acts in the name of religion, caste and region,

Mass massacres, rapes of women young and old, and of children innocent to behold,

Hundreds maimed in the body and mind,

Several hearths shut down for all times.

And I am told – Shhh! Decent civilized people don’t raise their voices.

 🤐🤐🤐

To be a quiet conformist,

Doesn’t require much labour,

Just a sweet smile and a servile nod of the head – and that’s all,

You say right to what’s wrong – after all this is how the world has been going on!

 🤐🤐🤐

History holds high those mortals who dared to raise their voices,

Against prejudice and discrimination, repression and inequity,

Some lived to see, others died to let the world see,

The ripe lustrous fruits of their raised voices.

 🤐🤐🤐

And so I sit wondering – what is worth,

To fume and fret, and cringe under the threat,

Adorning the garb of decent civility,

Or to raise my voice out loud and clear – at the cost of life, decency and all?

🤐🤐🤐