ASK THE QUESTION

Today I was very lucky to listen to cross-cultural consultant and Australian Muslim of the Year 2013, Tasneem Chopra, deliver a speech on how to drive social change within our communities. While I was inspired by her words, what I really wanted was to have a conversation with her, maybe even ask her to mentor me. So I (nervously) walked up to her, tapped her on her shoulder and introduced myself. I wanted to interview someone as empowering as her for my blog and while I was afraid of her saying no, in my boldness I asked anyway. Next thing I know, she hands me her business card and tells me that she should would love to be apart of my work.

If there is anything you want from life, personally or professionally, you have to ask for it. The worst thing that could happen is someone will tell you no, in which case you’ll dust yourself off, better your game plan for next time and try again.

Be brave, ask the question and put yourself out there for the sake of achieving whatever it is you want.

AMAA4 Chopra

Image: Tasneem Chopra
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NATURAL BEAUTY-LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE THROUGH

In my late teens I got really horrible acne. I started wearing hats to cover my face, I stopped looking at the mirror because I didn’t like what I saw and I thought that my acne made me less beautiful. Those feelings became worse when people would ask me things like “Do you clean your face?” and “You should do something about your pimples”, as if I wasn’t self-concious about it already. Getting clear skin was not only expensive and time-consuming, it completely crumbled my self-esteem.

While my skin is much better than what it used to be, recently I have broken out a fair bit and I have felt this constant need to cover my blemishes with make-up, almost like I should be ashamed of a normal human condition. So I wanted to post this picture to demonstrate that while having acne isn’t all that glamorous, it most certainly doesn’t take away from the essence of who anyone is as an individual and what they have to offer.

We might not be picture perfect but we’re worth the picture still.

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These images are of me where in picture one I have quite big cyst like acne (which you may not be able to see clearly due to the quality of light in my room);  picture two I have clear skin and no make-up; and picture three where I am wearing make-up. While each picture is different, in every single of of these pictures, the one consistent factor is me. It is my responsibility to create something that feels so good on the inside, that it doesn’t matter what skin I am wearing. This is what I hope for you too.

RACISM IN WRITING

“Migrants are like cockroaches”, The Sun columnist Katie Hopkins writes.

She has obviously forgotten that it is us migrants who make the clothes she wears on her back, us migrants that help her with all her tech issues and us migrants that clean up her mess after she eats out at a Indian or Thai restaurant.

Yes, it’s all well and good when she EXPLOITS migrants for her own superficial needs, but god forbid migrants leave their beloved homelands in hope of building something better for themselves elsewhere.

But you are right about one thing Katie Hopkins, us migrants are survivors and we will survive beyond the privileged hatred you preach.

racistpig

RELATIONSHIP ADVICE

Lately, when I talk to young women about their experiences with men, the one thing common theme that appears is that their partner is emotionally and psychologically manipulative. These men use their partners insecurities to get the upper hand in a fight, they invalidate their partners feelings, they seldom take responsibility for their own shortcomings and they make their partner feel inadequate.

Too often these signs are dismissed and not recognised as dangerous or damaging, but young women who are on receiving end of such treatment slowly lose their self-confidence and self-worth. By being manipulated into believing they are the responsible for the man’s behaviour, women punish themselves by working double time to win his approval or affection and they fail to recognise that his behavior is a reflection of who he is and how he feels about himself. This is problematic because these women forget that they deserve better and fall into a pattern of dysfunctional relationship dynamics.

So my advice to young girls embarking on relationships is that your partner is meant to make you feel GREAT about yourself and a healthy relationship is one where you are safe to be who you are. And for all the female friends out there, if your friend is in that position speak up and support them because once the cycle of abuse begins, it doesn’t stop.

WHAT IS IN A NAME?

Society constantly reaffirms to women that in order to be respectable they must fulfill their maternal nature by getting married and having children. This is while men are told to be power and success driven. It is for this exact reason we see such a gender imbalance in our education, government, health, legal and polictical systems, majority of which are all run by men. It is imbedded in men that they should be running the show, while women take a back seat at home, baking muffins in the kitchen and raising children who will continue to fall into the trap of a patriarchal social structure.

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WOMEN OF COLOUR WILL NOT R.I.P COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE

Dear Cosmopolitan Magazine,

I am writing this out of complete and utter disdain and frustration for your recent article ‘21 Beauty Trends That Need to Die in 2015’ where nearly a fifth of the “R.I.P.” column features women of colour (WOC).

I am a WOC, my social circle involves WOC and I am an advocate for WOC professionally. That means, when it comes to the discrimination WOC face, my experience and knowledge is valid.

When some Westerners find out I am from Bangladesh, they make comments like “Oh, you’re pretty for a Bangladeshi”, as if to say that I come from a country where the women are inherently ugly. I’ve also experienced someone telling me that I couldn’t be fully Bangladeshi, that I must have white in me, because Bangladeshi women aren’t attractive otherwise. Do you know where those ideologies and perceptions stem from? It stems from magazines like you who print features reaffirming the notion that in order for a woman to be ‘gorgeous’ she must be white.

In a world where white beauty is perceived as the supreme form of beauty, WOC are told by society they are not beautiful, that they are not good enough and that they are not deserving enough. Don’t believe me? They did an experiment where African American children were given two Barbies, one black and one white. They were then asked to choose the Barbie they thought was beautiful. Guess which Barbie they chose? The white one. These children will grow up, and that sense of not being beautiful because of their skin colour will internalise and grow with them. And then magazines like you will print features like the above advocating further self-hate within WOC. Also, like all beauty and fashion enterprises, you will go on to profit from the insecurities of marginalised WOC.

While I considered that this feature might be an oversight on your part, I highly doubt it. I have a suspicion that it is most likely a publicity stunt because you need to create hype around your magazine, I mean who in their right mind would read such filth?!? While public relation specialists will give you a round of applause for your seemingly ‘cleaver’ marketing ploys, I am here to tell you that women of colour are not here to be exploited. We are not puppets to raise media controversy or revenue for an industry built on making WOC feel shit about themselves. We are made up of the exact same genetic chromosomes of white women and we are no less beautiful then them.

Cosmopolitan magazine should be ashamed of this feature and everything it subtly hints about outdated beauty standards. Additionally, a public apology should be made regarding this matter because we women of colour are not here to ‘REST IN PEACE’, we are here to be fearlessly exotic and unique in our beauty. And while you’re at it, why don’t you write something worthy of reading, like, ‘How not to write a racist beauty feature column’.

Not sincerely yours,

Nabila (A woman of colour who is too god darn fabulous to ‘RIP’)

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