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.
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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.

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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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I AM NOT FOR MALE CONSUMPTION

As a feminist, I often get asked by men what my views are on a woman’s preference for make-up, gym clothing and sexual partners.

Just to make it clear, as a woman, I believe women are entitled to do whatever they feel comfortable doing or whatever makes them feel great about themselves. My job isn’t to sit here and judge the next woman on her personal preferences. I am here to understand the insecurities women have, what factors contribute to them and to empower women to overcome them, just as I try to do for myself. And frankly, I do not have time to prioritise your issues with ‘skimmpy gym clothing’ or ‘cake-faced chicks’ over the 28 women have been killed due to violence against women in Australia since January 2015.

Either way, women are not here to succumb to male ideals and as Janelle Monáe put it, “I am not for male consumption”.

THE PROBLEM OF PAIN: DEPRESSION

Emotional fluctuations are anticipated and normal within the human lifespan. Depression, however, is different; it is a persistent feeling of sadness, lasting more than two weeks in duration, which is detrimental to one’s behavioural, emotional, mental and physical well-being.  Depression is caused by a combination of factors such as biochemical imbalances within the brain, environmental factors, genetic make-up and personal experiences. An article published by the Stanford School of Medicine utilized twin studies to highlight the role of genes in depression, demonstrating heritability as a major risk factor for depression. While another article published by Harvard Health asserts that depression is caused by imbalances within chemical receptors which are responsible for perception and temperament.  Putting aside medical explanations of depression, environmental and personal experiences are also strong triggers for depressive illnesses.  Distressing events such as the death of loved one, loss of a job and termination of a relationship increase an individual’s vulnerability to depression.  However, the societal stigma associated with depression prevents individuals from acknowledging and accepting their illness, in turn affecting a practitioner’s ability to correctly diagnose and treat the symptomologies of depression.   This stigmatization forces sufferers to isolate themselves from social support which is an important protective and preventative factor against depression.  In turn, possibly increasing the risk of suicidal behaviour and ideation.

A week ago television personality Charlotte Dawson lost her fight to depression, committing suicide in her apartment.  Upon hearing of her death I was overcome with grief that she felt that the only escape from her depression was to take her own life, that in order to cope she had to result to such an extreme and permanent measure.  Her death had become a social media frenzy with people updating their statuses sending their condolences to her family and friends, yet, very a few people wanted to address the cause of her death, depression.  As a society we tip toe around an illness that affects 350 million people worldwide, that is one in four women and one in five men. However, as a society we need to open the conversation about depression, to lessen the judgement, the stigma and to make it easier for people to say “I am sad and my sadness is unendurable”.

I am one of those one in four women that have experienced depression.  There is no sugar-coating how it made me feel: SIMPLY SHIT.  You wake up and you do not want to get out of bed, nothing seems worse than the idea of having to engage with people, little things irritate you and you find yourself lacking patience at the simplest things, a good night’s sleep does not fix the tiredness and emotional lows become so frequent that you cry at the drop of a hat.  Depression overrides clarity, hope and optimism, leaving you feeling burdened and heavy.  The lack of control you have over yourself, your emotions and your life during depression is incredibly difficult to deal with.  From every angle of your life your feelings of sorrow are exacerbated, emotionally debilitating and exhausting you.  The experience is further intensified when you feel like you cannot share your emotions and thoughts with anyone as you do not wish to burden others and when you realise that majority of people do not have the patience to deal with your sadness.  It is essentially a solitary experience which slowly erodes the self, which is not surprising considering it is metaphorically referred to as the black dog.

My knowledge of depression was not enough to assist me in apprehending what was happening to me psychologically.  As a friend of mine said “I consider myself to be very privileged in the life that I have. That’s one of the main reasons I don’t talk about my depression, I don’t believe I have the right to feel the way I do.”  Openly discussing my experience in the privacy of my GP’s room was stressful in itself.  I sensed her judgement peering over my answers to questions like “On a scale of one to ten how anxious are you?”, as if it were absurd that someone as fortunate as myself would feel anything but gladness and gratefulness. It was not until I sat across from a trained therapist, pouring out my heart and soul, that I started putting the pieces of the puzzles together.  What I realised in those sessions was that when you deny yourself the right to deal with your problems by repressing them; you also deny yourself the ability to recover.  

An essential part in recovering was communicating. Communication does not have to entail talking, it can be a written email, letter or text, as long as it verbalises your emotional experiences. People can and will help you, however, you must search for them and be open and receptive to the support and strength they have to offer. Reaching out, verbalising that you need help and being honest with yourself is the beginning of a better day, a better week, a better month, a better year and a better life. 

When your body becomes sick, your immune system fights for its right to function; when you hold your breath, your body fights for its right to breathe; and when you break a bone, your body fights for the right to heal.    It’s the same with when you feel distressed, disheartened or depressed: you must fight to get your groove back, to live a life that is a little happier, and to find the ability to laugh and smile again.

If the most minuscule cells and parts within you haven’t given up yet, why should you?

You’re meant to fight.

If you know anyone experiencing depression please reach out to them and offer them a helping hand, in the words of Stephen Fry: “Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”

If you are experiencing depression please seek help through these avenues:

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

http://www.kidshelp.com.au/

https://www.lifeline.org.au/

http://www.beyondblue.org.au/