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.”

-Nayyirah Waheed



  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Let go of anger. If you stay in that inferno too long you will be left with third degree burns.
  1. Don’t mock pain you haven’t endured.
  1. Stop being so fucking pessimistic. It’s draining.  Your shitty attitude does not encourage anyone, especially yourself.
  1. You’re not a doormat so don’t let anyone treat you like you are. It is self-destructive.
  1. Wear red. Because you’re a pioneering spirit who is powerful & strong.
  1. 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.
  1. Stop carrying your emotional baggage. Off-load and travel lighter.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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’.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


I think what I find most infuriating is the contradiction that lies in posts such as this. That men are pleased when they see women who are dressed in a manner that is provocative or sexy, that men enjoy having sex with women with no commitment, that men enjoy going to strip clubs and watching porn, yet they are so repulsed by women who partake in the activities which arouses them and pleases them that they have to term her a slut/whore/skank/ect. I never quite understood that. The second I hear a man degrading the woman, regardless of how attractive or nice he is to me, I refuse to form any ties with him, I don’t want such contradiction or negativity in my life.



Mr X: “Hey you! Planning to go out at all this weekend?”

Miss Z: “Going out on Sunday for an early dinner and drink. You?”

Mr X: “Nice! Don’t know yet, maybe something tonight.”

Miss Z: “Fair enough, enjoy.”

Mr X: “Yeh, you too.”

Being the long weekend and having been dating Mr X for a month my girlfriend expected Mr X to spend time with her. It was rational and reasonable.  He had three days off and he had not made any solid plans, so why not take some time to replicate a scene of a romantic comedy for her? Except all she got was a measly “You too”.


The skilled dating gamer would let it go, pretend not to care and dismiss it as his loss.  But my girlfriend’s ego was at stake.  The witch was lighting it aflame and she was ready to fire-fight that s*^t.

Miss Z: “Are you seriously not going to make an effort to see me this weekend?”

Mr X: “I don’t know if your attitude works with other guys but with me it doesn’t, it makes me think you’re unpleasable company.”



Miss Z: “If you think I am unpleasable company I suggest you don’t waste your time.”

He made a vague apology and revived the situation by saying he’ll see her Sunday.


It was late Sunday and there was no phone call, text, email or Facebook message in regards to their supposed Sunday night plans.  My girlfriend had accepted that the only way this Sunday date was going to happen was in her dreams, which involved her breaking his fingers so he have a legitimate reason to not get in contact.

6.45pm and there is a Snap Chat from Mr X.

Maybe this was a sign?

The picture consisted of alcohol bottles and a bag of weed, captioned: ‘It’s gonna be one of those nights’.

It was a sign alright. 

A sign that she was being e-maintained.

It was only at the start of this year that I became aware of this e-maintenance craze.  It seemed like everyone was doing it and everyone was having it done to them.  Blogger and writer Yashar Ali sums e- maintenance  up nicely “In order to keep women happy, women need to be maintained.   Men are socially conditioned to behave this way to prevent women from becoming hysterical.  In their mind, they are keeping her satisfied electronically with inconsistent, rapid and short bursts of texting which bared little or no substance”.

In a generation of indecisiveness, we have become obsessed with this idea of keeping our options open; of having multiple maybes rather than a definite yes. I would be lying if I denied my participation in the craze.  At one point I was enjoying e-maintaining two men.  It became evident quite quickly that I was not going to have a career in juggling.  I did the sensible thing and quit before I embarrassed myself and got fired from a job I didn’t really want in the first place.  Upon reflection I wonder why I felt the need to e-maintain and came up with a few plausible explanations:

  1. I didn’t want to put my eggs in one basket.  The logic was if one egg was off then at least I had another one I could crack open and poach.
  2. I wanted to eat my cake and have it too. I experimented with this idea and guess what? If you eat your cake, you eat your cake.  You just get left with some shitty crumbs.
  3. I thought I should show loyalty to my R’N’B roots and adopt that playa-playa lifestyle. Only Joe sang a song about how he didn’t “wanna be a playa no more” and I thought it be best if I took his advice.

E-maintenance was about having a back-up plan.  That if everything fails in the game of dating and love, you had someone to fall back on and someone you can continue playing the game with.  For me, the idea of e-maintaining and playing the game was too simplistic, immature and one directional.  It involved minimal effort and maximum expectancies.  You pay $2 for a meal that took $35 to create.  The entire problem with this e-maintenance epidemic is you fail to make any meaningful connection and commitment.  The mentality that you need a back-up plan already sets you up for failure: If you’re already thinking about it not working out, how can it work out?

E-maintenance was just as much about effort as it was about ego.  E-maintenance decreases the chance of direct rejection therefore minimalizing the bruising of the male ego.  If that was the case, is that why calling had been replaced by texting? To avoid direct rejection?  I dread dating a man that can only use his pretty little fingers to type a text rather than dial my number. If I am unable to hear your voice, I am unable to know you.  Regardless of such ideals, I went on a date with a guy who was obsessed with texting, almost as if he couldn’t exercise his fingers enough.  After a disastrous date my girlfriend called me out on it, “Honey, he e-maintained you.  He invested the lowest amount of effort and received a higher amount of return”.  Then there was the other side of the scope, how it made someone feel when they realised they were being e-maintained.  Vividly I recall the realisation that I was being e-maintained, my ego was deflated.  I felt like I was the runner up in a competition that I didn’t know I was even in.

I currently have a friend who is being e-maintained by a guy who has a girlfriend.  After months into their friendship, when my friend decided she had invested feelings, he surprised her with the “I have a girlfriend…” line.  Sensibly she did the right thing and distanced herself from him.  He must have taken this as her playing hard to get because he suddenly upped the ante on the e-maintenance.  There was a sudden surge of texts, the occasional phone call and request of catching up (one that he always backed out of last minute).  It was quite clear what he was doing.  He was queuing her and she was unconsciously lining up for take a ride on the rebound train.  She was engaged in a new phenomenon that is becoming more common in this non-committal world.  Yes I said it!  The world has become non-committal.  Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part, but in the world of non-committal e-maintenance the only way to survive is to be honest with your intentions, it’ll save you from headaches that’ll require popping a Panadol or two.

I’ll end with a little advice I got from a self-help book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo: If he is e-maintaining you, then he is just not that into you. 


Name: Nabila Farhat


Occupation: Full-time consultant at ANZ bank, part-time women’s advocate at Shakti Australia & casual writing enthusiast.

Idea of success: Growing up I had my parents constantly drill into me the importance of education.  Their motto was: ‘Knowledge is power’.  I suppose I adopted that motto, however, not in the way they had hoped as I pursed psychology, a line work that my parents believe undermines my intelligence.  People often dismiss what I am studying as ‘overrated’, even worse, mock me by making jokes that insinuate that my psychological state resembles that of my ‘crazy’ patients. What they fail to recognise is the amount of work that psychology students have to put into actually succeeding in a very competitive industry.

At any university undergraduate psychology usually starts off with 800 students, 4th year psychology dwindles that down to 300 students and then those 300 students are further dwindled down to 18 students who go on to become clinical psychologists. I am currently one of those 300 students and I hope at the end of this year I will become one of those 18 students that goes on to fulfil her dreams of becoming a clinical psychologist at a doctorate level.

Success for me is following what I am passionate about.  It is putting aside everyone else’s dreams and hopes for me and pursuing my own.  It is about making my own choices and holding myself accountable for my personal failings and triumphs.  It is being able to flourish in all aspects of my life and not have my identity be fuelled by my occupation.  But most importantly, it is about failing and in amongst that finding the courage to move forward with a sense of happiness and hope. 

In five year time I want to be established in my career as a Child Protection Practitioner, an advocate for women and focusing on my personal life, that is,hopefully finding someone who I share my successes with and travel the world with.

Name: Luisa Low

Occupation: Copywriter.

Idea of success: I studied a degree in Ancient History & Art History at the university of Sydney. During my degree I became an artist understudy for 3 years (it’s my fourth year now). Essentially mine was a degree in writing and thinking; I have financial aspirations which journalism just wouldn’t provide, so I applied for a Junior Copywriting role. I was promoted to a mid weight copywriter within 6 months.

My idea of success is not simply to be ‘happy’, all that does for me is conjure images of happy families eating chia porridge in Bondi, taking snaps to the hashtags #yoga #cleaneating. I’d like to be known, but I don’t want to be a celebrity. I want to make money, build an estate ala Carlo Scarpa, get married some time in the next 18 months and have a baby. A koi pond would be nice too. That would be success for me.

In 5 years I would like to be married and have a baby. I’d like to be working as a creative or senior copywriter. I’d like to own my own home with a happy husband and have lived with him overseas for a year.

Name: Sadia Karim

Occupation: Bachelor of Software Engineering student.

Idea of success: I’m a student at Monash University, studying Bachelor of Software Engineering. My road to this degree wasn’t an easy one. In high school, my parents constantly pushed me to do medicine, so I convinced myself over and over that that’s what I wanted too, but when the time came, I couldn’t do it. I could never see myself being a doctor. It wasn’t something I wanted to dedicate my life towards. So that left me in the ugly position of having no idea about what I wanted to study at university, and preferences had to be in soon. So I once again turned to my parents and they recommended civil engineering. I had no idea what civil engineering was, but I put it down as my first preference anyway. And I got it.

I started my degree and I hated it. I didn’t understand why people said uni was one of the best parts of your life. I hated every second of every lecture and tute I attended. I often sat there thinking why I was doing it and came to the same conclusion every time: because my parents told me to do it. Nowhere along this journey had I sat down and asked myself what it was that “I” wanted. It was always about what my parents wanted. By then I was three years into a four year degree, deep in depression with no-one to turn to (so I thought). When I finally had enough, I told my parents that I couldn’t do it anymore. They were surprised, but what surprised me the most was how supportive they were. Even though they were disappointed that I was quitting the degree so close to graduation, I honestly don’t think I would’ve made it through another week doing civil.

So I guess that brings me to my definition of success and how I measure it. For me, success is about fighting your battles and growing stronger from them. I would not have been successful if I managed to finish my civil degree. I would take that as running away from the war. The hardest battles are the ones you wage against yourself. How do you win when you’re the ally and the enemy? It’s the worst when everyone else around you seems to have everything figured out. You feel alone and different. The more you learn that you are in control of your life and choices, and the more you exercise these rights and achieve what YOU want, and do what makes YOU happy, then that makes you successful.

In 5 years’ time, hopefully I’ll be done with my Masters in Engineering, working somewhere in the States for a techology company like Google (HAH! That’s the dream!). But hey, that’s my dream. That’s what I want to do. That’s what makes me happy. And I can safely say I’ve won the war against the part of myself that was too scared to do what she wanted.

Name: Dima El-Alam


Occupation: Color Creative (fancy name for makeup artist) and Assistant business Manager at Illamasqua Sydney.

Idea of success: I got to my current position by choosing a course that I was passionate about, working my hardest to ace it, and then constantly doing what was required of me in my job to excel.

I measure success by the achievement of personal goals I’ve set for myself. A goal is usually something you need to work towards, put extra energy into, even learn extra skills for so the end result of an achievement is true success to me.

In 5 years time, I see myself tying up the last few loose ends in my life before starting a family and becoming a stay at home mum.