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.
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.
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’)
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”.
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.
that’s where the healing begins.”
- Kids in third world countries don’t have the opportunity to live as long as you because they have no access to food, clothing, shelter or water. Have gratitude for the life you are capable of living.
- Challenge yourself. Run on the treadmill a little longer. Give up a bad habit. Strive to do good every day. Whatever it is, set a goal, stick to it & achieve it or at least try to. Even if you are unsuccessful, just remember that success is built on failure.
- Let go of anger. If you stay in that inferno too long you will be left with third degree burns.
- Don’t mock pain you haven’t endured.
- Stop being so fucking pessimistic. It’s draining. Your shitty attitude does not encourage anyone, especially yourself.
- You’re not a doormat so don’t let anyone treat you like you are. It is self-destructive.
- Wear red. Because you’re a pioneering spirit who is powerful & strong.
- Stop being so afraid. Negative life events are unavoidable but don’t let that keep you from life experiences. Don’t let your past taint who you are, and who you could be.
- Stop carrying your emotional baggage. Off-load and travel lighter.
- Live out your fantasies every day.
The upside of being single is that I get to go on a lot of first dates and often a first date is where I leave it. It isn’t because I am picky and I have a list of 57 things I am looking for in a guy. Okay, I may have lied, I have a list but it’s only like 35 qualities long, GGEEZZ. It’s because majority of these guys tend to engage in a lot of dating don’t behaviours. Now I don’t have a degree in dating, but I do have a lot of girlfriends who have discussed their dating disasters with me and a lot of on the field experience. This obviously qualifies me to write an article about dating don’ts, DUH!
Disclaimer: These are the experiences and opinions of myself and my friends. These experiences and suggestions do not speak for all women and are all within the context of the situation.
- Don’t text me, don’t Facebook me, don’t email me, don’t write me a letter, don’t Kiki messenger me and don’t Snapchat me. JUST CALL ME.
I get it, you’re nervous and you’re worried about the possibility of your voice breaking when my angelic voice says hello. It makes sense, because like in the movies, I could have you at hello. But you’re not Jerry Maguire and I am not Dorothy. I get that we live in a technologically advanced society, but there is no reason for you to be so advance that you can creep on my Facebook and Instagram account, spend 20 minutes to articulate the wittiest message of your life and not call me. Don’t be the effortless and lazy guy. Be the cool guy, the guy that defies all odds, gets my number and actually calls it. When you call, the chances are you’ll make a better impression and get an even better response.
- Don’t wait for me to contact you about where we’re meeting 20 minutes before the date and then cancel.
It was date number two for my girlfriend and she had been looking forward to taking time out from university and work to enjoy some flirting and footsies over dinner. With half an hour to go until their scheduled meeting, she messages him to confirm the location. She got a response saying “Yeh, gotta bail”. Um, but you’re not in jail? When you leave your manners behind, we reciprocate by leaving you behind too. Even though your schedule is as busy as President Obama’s, if you’re going to ‘bail’, then at least have the courtesy to let us know a day in advance.
- Don’t take me McDonalds or TGI Friday’s.
You know what my favourite part of a date is? The food. Therefore, my disappointment is understandable when I met my date and he tells me he is taking me to TGI Fridays. I once went to TGI Fridays, do you know what happened? Food poisoning and taste aversion. If you’re going to take a girl out on a date it’s only polite to ask her if she has any allergies or intolerances to food or venues. If that isn’t a part of your repertoire, at least take her somewhere that isn’t going to be a hazard to her health.
I have to be honest, it isn’t just about the food, it’s about the effort and thought that you’ve given to organise that date. I once had someone who organised a date that made me feel like I was in my own version of Nicholas Sparks ‘A walk to remember’. The date consisted of a delicious lunch at a hidden restaurant overlooking a lake with violins playing in the background followed being taken to watch my first tennis game. It’s just a shame that at the time I had no idea it was a date. Dates like that that set the bench mark because you know he cares about making you happy and happiness is why we pursue relationships in the first place.
- Don’t be silent.
I was working at a university open day when I was approached by a guy who I instantly hit it off with. His blue eyes and his ability to engage in witty banter made it impossible to deny his request for a date. However, at dinner he sat in silence, the quirky guy I had met a week ago had disappeared and been replaced with a mute. I accepted his personality been abducted by aliens and went into date survival mode. To revive the situation I engaged in CPR by playing ‘21 questions’, a genius idea, until he decided to answer every question with “I don’t know…”.
Most men are not born entertainers like Kanye West and Usher but if you’re lacking conversation skills I am going to get tired, tune out and think of weird shit like ‘Who came up with the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’.
- Don’t compliment me by insulting my nationality or the girls sitting at the next table.
As my date and I had sat down at our table for coffee, he stared at me, smirked and said “I can’t believe you’re Indian, I mean you’re really pretty for an Indian!” I was so shocked by his passive racist remarks that I just sat there with my mouth open scrimmaging for words. He must have taken my silence as his queue to continue with his culturally ignorant ideologies because he then asked, “Are you sure you don’t have some white ancestry in you?”. Compliments where you need to insult a woman’s nationality are not compliments. They do not make you seem sweet, they make you need like an asshole who conforms to negative stereotypes about minority ethnic groups.
While we’re on the topic of compliments, please don’t feel the need to say“You’re so hot” 107 times. The fact that you’re attracted to me was obvious when you asked me out on a date, no need to reiterate the fact several times because it’ll make you sound annoyingly superficial. Also, please don’t make comments like “You’re like so much better looking than the girls sitting next to us at dinner”. You admitting to checking out other women at dinner is not a turn on and neither is you feeling the need to compare me to other girls.
- Don’t turn up looking like you’ve just got out of bed and don’t smell like you’ve just left the gym.
It takes me approximately an hour and half to get ready for a date because I believe in stepping my best foot forward. I wish this was the case with one of the guys I had a date with. I was sitting at a bench on Chapel St when I saw him walking towards me. His hair looked like birds had made a nest out of it and his clothes looked like they needed to be washed twice. I was mortified and deciphering how I was going to suddenly feel sick and need to go home. So there we were, walking along Chapel St, me looking like I stepped out of a fashion advertisement and him looking like he stepped out of a horror film. If you don’t want me to fake an emergency to get out of the date please make sure you that you shower, put a hairbrush through your hair and wear clean ironed clothes. The only exception to this rule is if you’re Channing Tatum, in that case, you can do no wrong.
Research shows that the most important sensory organ is our sense of smell and that this dictates our mating behaviour. When it comes to dating I tend to follow my nose as odours have the ability to alter my mood and influence my attraction levels. If you smell like you’ve just left the gym after an intense training session or like you’ve just climbed out a garbage truck, that’s a deal breaker, tough I know. Odours are the spice of my pheromones and I want your odour to smell like that of a tall, dark and handsome Calvin Klein model.
- Don’t show me a picture of your ex-girlfriend, talk about how hot she is or cry about how much you loved her.
So you apparently dated Gisele Bundchen, good for you! Do you want fries with that? I don’t care if your ex-girlfriend walked the catwalk for Victoria Secret, although I may want her phone number to get some discounts on their lingerie. The hotness of your ex-partner neither impresses me nor does it say anything about you except for that you’re on the vain side. Moreover, I get that it may have been really hard breaking up with someone that was so hot but please do not feel the need to use our date as talk therapy. Being a psychology student I know I should be sympathetic to your deep seeded regrets about your break-up, but I am not, especially because dinner is not an adequate charge for a therapy session.
- Don’t sit there and use your phone incessantly.
Don’t kill the mood by pulling out your phone and tweeting and texting.
7.05:“Omg I just got here”
7.11:“Omg I just sat down”
7.45:“Omg I am just eating now”
8.30:“Omg she’s so hot”
8.56: “Omg she just smile at me”
9.14:“Omg I think I am gonna get laid tonight”
Don’t do that. Put your fucking phone away.
- Don’t get freaked out by eye contact
A great thing is to make eye contact with women. It’ll allow us to connect with you and peer deep into your soul. It’ll also test if you get freaked out by looking into my big chocolate coloured eyes. But don’t look into my eyes for more than 2.3 minutes because I know what a prolonged look-at-me means. It means you’re trying to see if I am in love with you. And the answer is no.
- Use proper English.
My friend went out on a date with a 43 year old, who initially lied about his age and claimed he was 32. While the lying was already a deal breaker, the shit storm didn’t hit until he asked her if she wanted to stay over and have ‘breakfasty’ in the morning. Yes, he said breakfasty. As in pronounced break-fast-ee. Baby talk is for babies, not 43 year old grown men. And no, she isn’t going to stay over for breakfasty.
- Don’t invite us out, order everything on the menu, eat it and then make us pay for it.
A girlfriend of mine was invited out for sushi by a guy she wasn’t really all that into. After a month of deliberation, she gave him a chance. On the date, he ordered half the menu and ate everything that came to the table, with my girlfriend only eating one sushi from the platter. One. Upon the bill arriving, the owner of a ‘prosperous’ business split the bill with my girlfriend, who at the time was a student, and kept her change. If you invite me out on a date, it is only fair you get the bill because I would have much rather stayed in bed watching a rerun of Mean Girls. And I bet that sounds pretty entitled and hypocritical coming from a feminist, but considering you earn more than me you don’t have an excuse to be a cheapo.
- Don’t get drunk and hit on the waitress
So I am sitting at Chin Chin’s and this guy has already had three beers. Three beers were all it took for him to unwind and start checking out our waitress. Although I was feeling uncomfortable, I ignored it because eating my favourite soft shell crab curry was more important. As the waitress returned with his fourth drink he complimented her on her pretty hair. The waitress awkwardly thanked him, but he continued to compliment her about pretty she looked and how her hair framed her face perfectly. At this stage I wasn’t alone in feeling uncomfortable, I could tell the waitress was feeling a little overwhelmed by his flirtatious niceties. This was my cue to call him out on his behaviour, something which he denied, as little boys do. That was the first and the last time I saw him. Being attracted to the opposite sex is natural but it does not have to be flaunted in front of your date, unless you’re trying to give them a reason to never see you again.