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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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”.

BODY LOVE

In an attempt to keep fit I dragged myself to kick-boxing and partnered up with a new girl in the class. She was thin like myself and was in great physical shape. At the end of the class her and I were chatting to one of the other ladies when she started discussing her work out regime and how hard she trains to keep her body in shape. She then turns to me and she says “I am not going to stop until I have a body like yours”. I stood there not knowing what to say because she was already thin, I replied with “That’s my natural build, I am petite by nature”.

What I realised in that moment was how critical women are of their own bodies, even if their bodies from an outsiders point of view looks great and most importantly healthy. While I am not naive to the fact that there is an increasing societal pressure for women to look a particular way, I think it is horrific that women who are already healthy or slim feel the need to continue to lose weight, that they are unable to recognise how fantastic their bodies are.

It took me a long time to appreciate my body. I struggled with accepting that I had more hair then other women I knew, the fact that I had stretch marks all over my bottom and the back of my thighs, scars on my legs and acne markings all over my back. When I looked at women around me, women in magazines, women on TV and women in social media I felt inadequate and flawed. That showed in the way I dressed, the way I carried myself and the way I interacted with men on an intimate level.

After getting a job in a retail store specialising in fashion, I was slowly able to break the mould and started wearing things that showed my back, with scars and all. What I found was that nobody noticed it and nobody made me feel any less beautiful because of those markings, it was a fragment of my own insecurities.

Now getting older, a month away from being 25, I am feeling a little bit more confident in skin. Is my body perfect? No, most certainly not. But, it is the only body I have, the only thing I can do is love it.

My body isn’t a project that needs to be worked on so it can be perfected, rather it is something I need to embrace and enjoy, something I need to look after because it is the only one I have.

“apologize to your body.

maybe,

that’s where the healing begins.”

-Nayyirah Waheed