I always knew that I am not beautiful. I was okay with this fact. I also accepted the fact that I am not thin. It is not a big deal. I thought I had accepted myself, successfully, but conventional beauty standards are so powerful that they influence you in subconscious ways. So even though I never obsessed about my looks and my weight, I obsessed about other things…I obsessed about how creative I am. This might look harmless on the surface but after contemplation, I realized that I was overcompensating. Deep down, I believed that I am ugly and that the only way I can find acceptance is through my work and my creativity. So I constantly put myself in a race…I always wanted to be better than others when it came to creativity. While there was a desire for self-improvement and passion at play here, there was also insecurity: If I’m not beautiful and if I’m not thin, then I have to be good at something else, so that people don’t mock me. There was a fear that if I’m not beautiful or thin, people might not love me. I wouldn’t admit this to myself at first but this is the truth. And this is the truth of many women. While men also face different kinds of pressure, there is more pressure on women when it comes to how they look, how they dress up, how much they weigh etc. Even if we are not thinking about the way we look, we are thinking about it, subconsciously. Centuries of conditioning won’t vanish in a few days, so I guess the first step is to be aware. And it helps to remember this kickass quote from someone: “Pretty is not the rent you pay to exist in the world as a woman.”
I looked at my forearms in the mirror to see if my body hair was visible. I used to shave but because of my sensitive skin and PCOD, hair removal became extremely painful and stressful. Since the day I heard about waxing and other methods of hair removal, I felt there was something wrong with the compulsion (not the hair removal itself) and shaming of women’s body hair. I never understood why men were not shamed for body hair. My intuition always posed these questions but the peer pressure was just too much. I mean, I didn’t want to be mocked and alienated but at the same time, I wanted to listen to my intuition. The inner conflict made my life hell. There were times when I cried.
It was then that I discovered Feminism. I read about Harnaam Kaur and other body hair activists. And since then I haven’t tried to remove my body hair. This is extremely risky…in both professional and personal life but when you have so many awesome women for inspiration, there’s no looking back.
Shaving or waxing is not wrong. If you want to do it, please do. But think before shaming women who don’t shave/wax. Ask yourself why you don’t apply the same rule to men. Why is that male colleague with hairy legs normal (in a creative ad agency) but a female colleague with unwaxed hands, filthy and disgusting? At the end of the day, it’s about choice: some women wax, some women don’t. Both deserve to live without being shamed. And if you wax because of peer pressure…you deserve to live without being shamed too.
1. Use ‘dick’ as an insult. If you get angry when ‘pussy’ is used an insult then you should also stop using ‘dick’ as an insult.
2. Mocking men who are “girly.” It’s 2018 and some women are still stuck with gender stereotypes. (Yes there are feminists who do this!)
3. Say that trans-women are not women
4. Expect feminists to live up to the feminist ideals ALL the time, which is not possible.
5. Laugh at jokes involving violence against men (example: When Kangana Ranaut “jokingly” said that she should have beaten her ex-boyfriend up)
If a girl wears a short dress.
Most men are afraid of associating themselves with anything feminine because in a patriarchal society, femininity is inferior to masculinity. In a culture where people say stuff like “Ladki hai kya? Mard ban, be a man!” or “Haath mein chudi pehenke rakha hai kya”. it is difficult to find men who embrace feminine things like nose rings or skirts. It takes guts for a mainstream Bollywood actor to be associated with feminine stuff. It takes guts for a mainstream Bollywood actor to say in his interview that he is hyper-sensitive.
We always worry about what people will think about us but we hardly think about who these “people” actually are. If we analyze deeply, we will find that we are mostly, subconsciously/unconsciously trying to impress white, heterosexual men. We might say that we want to impress our neighborhood aunty but let’s analyze: What if this aunty has a dark skin color and what if she is fat? What if she is “unattractive”? What if she had body hair? What if she is a lesbian? Will her opinion matter so much to us? Now notice how the beauty standards are constructed. A conventionally beautiful woman is thin, fair-skinned, has no body hair, etc. So we are not looking at the neighborhood aunty for who she is…we are actually looking at her from the beauty constructs of white, heterosexual men.
Dear members of the Indian cricket team,
Scientists, dietitians, and doctors are also influenced by patriarchal culture.They are not Gods. They are subjective human beings who are conditioned by the society. A good example of this is the way some doctors fat-shame their patients.