“Is it me?”

My silence was not a sign of enjoyment. It was one of helplessness..jpg

I was at the tailor yesterday. He had to take measurements and yet again, his hands were where it shouldn’t be. They always were but with my mother not around, it was more obvious now. I walked out wondering why he felt like he could. Maybe I should’ve panicked. I should’ve screamed and said “What are you doing?” But I was silent. I had told myself it’s part of life as a woman. Maybe I look like someone he could take advantage of. Maybe it’s not his fault that he feels entitled. Maybe it’s.. me. Is it me?

I told my mother later that day, “If this man was bad at his job, he’d be in jail for molestation already.” She shrugged and told me it’s who he is. She asked me why I couldn’t find another tailor. That sounded like a normal question to which I responded that not everyone can stitch well for fat people with slender shoulders. This one does. So I have no choice. Maybe if my body was different, I could avoid this. Or maybe it’s because I’m fat and my boobs are too, he feels the need to. Is it me?

But this wasn’t the only man. If I had to list down  similar experiences, I could go on forever. Like the guy in the flower market who casually pressed himself to my back and I blamed myself for shopping when it’s crowded. The old man at a temple who casually touched my butt and I cursed myself for not knowing it’s a mistake and thinking bad of an aged person. The married man on my right running his hands along my legs when his wife is sitting to my left and I knew I shouldn’t have worn those shorts on a Saturday night. Oh! How could I forget the stinking man who pressed my boob flat while he walked past me making me shiver with disgust for days and I shouldn’t have worn that damned kurti when I knew it was a little tight. If so many felt so comfortable over a decade, it couldn’t have always been them. It is me, isn’t it?

But then I remembered the man who asked me to kiss him when he thought he’d gotten me alone.. at 12 years old! I wore a middle school uniform and ran for my life. That wasn’t me. I didn’t know men could behave like that. I didn’t have big boobs, I didn’t wear tight clothes and it wasn’t an accident.

I suddenly realised I was wrong. When I answered my mother’s question, I was wrong. I was focusing on the wrong part of what she’d said. When she’d asked me why I still went to this man when I knew he was like that, I shouldn’t have given her a reason. I should have asked her why he was forgiven.

Why have we accepted the fact that he is who he is and come to terms with it? Why are our questions always turned towards ourselves and not the other person?

Why did you wear that dress? Why did you go out that night? Why did you smile at him? Why didn’t you ask for help? Why didn’t you scream at him? Why did you?

Why did I what?

Wear a dress I’d loved and bought with money I worked hard for? Go out of my house to unwind after a day of chaos with friends who just wanted a laugh and a fun night out? Smile at a stranger who was older than my father out of courtesy because I was taught to be kind and never harsh? Scream at a man that was invading my private space in a very disturbing manner knowing he could kill me and my Government will tell you its my fault?

Why did you?

Why did you raise a son who thought he could have it all? Why did you tell him he can abuse me and walk away because it’s his birthright to be an asshole? Why did you shame the girl who talked about it instead of applauding her for being brave enough to relive that experience over and over again with every word she spoke? Why did you bring a nation’s culture and values into behaviour that should be punishable?

It’s not me. It’s you.

You are the reason I had to walk away silent. You are the reason his wandering hands and his filthy mind are forgiven. You are the reason I feel unsure writing about my experience.

Because what if they read? All those men who have grazed and touched like I belong to them just because I’m walking past. They’ve made me used and worthless. What if the man I will someday marry read this? Because YOU have taught and preached to him that a woman is only good if she is pure and untouched. But then you went and told him he could. Now what about me?

You don’t have to answer to me. I’m nobody to you. But your daughter, your wife, your best friend, your future family will need to know why you, in your need to make your son feel important and manly, have tarnished her safety and way of life. Will you tell her it’s her fault? Will you tell her she should’ve known better?

When she asks you, “Is it me?”

Will you still say “Yes?” Or hang your head in shame?

Because we both know, it’s not her.

It’s not me.

It’s You.



This is a problem. One that needs to be addressed.

I have an unshakeable memory of a moment in my life. A moment when my ObGyn suggested I see a therapist because she thought I might be depressed. The therapist was a woman in her late 50’s. And I’ll live a million years and never forget the way she looked at me as she spoke the words no emotional healer should dare utter to someone that might be on the verge of depression – “Imagine being at an interview. You and another girl are the last two contenders. You’re both equally talented. There’s only one difference. She’s thin and glamorous. You’re.. Well, you. Who do you think they’ll choose, sweetheart?”

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wondered if that was true. I’ve wondered if I’d lose my dream job because of the way I look. I developed an inner fear towards interviews because of her. And you know what the problem is?

She’s just one of the many, many people in this world who, everyday of their lives, continue to make girls feel this way. Like they’re not enough. Like their physical characteristics are flaws that will haunt the dreams they’re building in their minds.

Why does a size 0 swimsuit model still feel fat? Why does Queen Bee feel the need to photoshop her thigh gap? Why does the covergirl on a magazine claim to be make-up free when every inch of her skin is carefully airbrushed?

Have you ever been so uncomfortable in your own skin that you’d pay a man thousands of dollars to alter it? To look in the mirror and want features that aren’t yours. Her nose. Her hair. Her cheekbones. For what?!

The 70’s boasted women who are now considered too fat to have a life. Bigger women were considered beautiful then. A new mother’s pregnancy fat is considered a disgrace now.

But why?

I was having a conversation today and suddenly, something struck me as ridiculously abnormal. When taking a picture with a friend, it is no longer important that only you look good. The person with you has to look that good as well. A human being no longer makes a friend based on emotional attitudes. They’re solely formed on the physical characteristics. He looks decent. He’ll make it look like I have decent friends. She looks hot. She’ll make me look so cool. If I take pictures with them, I’ll get more Instagram followers. This narcissism fuels the concept of “Look Good, Feel Good.”

Fifteen pictures later, there’s always that one person who comments, “Who’s your friend? She’s hot!” And just like that, out of nowhere, your insecurity appears. You stare at your mirror and you see flaws. The girl with a happy-go-lucky smile finds that nonexistent flab and picks at it. Workouts. Fitbits. Walk more. Eat less. Smoothen your hair. Get side bangs. Curl it in the bottom. A Brazillian wax. Inch after inch, your body is carved to the world’s concept of perfection when it is anything but. Only, it’s no longer called an obsession. It’s called “Being Healthy.”

Have you ever stopped long enough to wonder why the men, who’ve always spoken about a “thinner” woman, are suddenly asking for more meat in their women?

It was a few days after the floods hit my city. We were finally out of our houses and in a safer, more drier part of the city. My mother looked at me and said, “I realize now that maybe it’s okay for you to be fat. Some people are meant to be the way they are. You’ve really helped at a moment of crisis. I think you should stay as you are. You’re a nice person.”

I smiled. Not because I’d received a compliment. But because my mother had finally understood something the world is teaching girls to forget.

It does not matter how you look. Nobody cares if you’ve got a thigh gap. Kylie Jenner’s lips are NOT real or natural. Who you are to the world is not about promoting the beauty you possess on the outside.

It is embracing who you are within. It is feeling like a million dollars on your worst day. It is knowing that you’re worth something because you’re kind. Because you’re caring. Because you think and act with your heart.

I don’t want to raise a daughter in a world where the person she turns to for help is going to teach her what that person believes are her flaws.I don’t want to let my sister live in a world where she feels the need to walk up and down the stairs because she ate a slice of pizza. I don’t want my mother to know that the world she’s leaving us with is polluting our brains with everything we’re not. I don’t want my grandmother to ever hear about how, if she were twenty today, she wouldn’t make the cut. Because her beautiful soul will never make as much sense as the perfect winged eyeliner, the close to nothing stomach and an unhealthy waistline.

Who you are today is everything your daughter will live through tomorrow. Is this really the world you want to create for her? Is this the example you want to set?

Because I’d like to believe that somewhere behind those fake eyelashes are eyes filled with tears at the inability to be who you are. And I’d like to hope that this post is telling you it’s okay. It’s okay to not fit in. It’s okay to have thighs that stick together. It’s okay to not have an hourglass figure. It’s okay if your nose looks weird. It’s okay if your cheeks are chubby. It’s okay if your chin looks doubled.

It’s okay. Because that imaginary standard they’re setting? That will go out of fashion within the next decade and all this energy you’ve spent fitting into that stereotype will become pointless. But a good heart? A kind soul? That will always matter. That will always stay in fashion.

So take a deep breath and wipe that makeup off. It’s time to stand up for who you are.

#IStandUp for You.

Who’re you standing up for?!

The Bigger Problem

Glossophobia. Do you know what that means? I didn’t. In my first year at university, I stood in front of my entire class and instead of flawlessly explaining the cultural differences, I froze. Two weeks later I wrote a very long paper on that word. Glossophobia – The fear of public speaking.

We humans do this very often. We tend to not notice something until we have the need to do so. There aren’t a lot of things on this planet we learn about willingly.

Unfortunately, the people that aren’t a part of our lives fall under that category.

If you had looked at my History book at the end of an academic year, it would have looked brand new. I hated history. I was very clear – Somebody killed somebody. They’re both dead and I couldn’t care less.

And I know there are a lot of people that agree with me about that but even they cannot deny the fact that though History may be insignificant, the future will always matter. And I don’t want to wait until I am left with no choice again. Because Glossophobia – it is the smallest of our problems. There are bigger problems with fewer support groups that nobody talks about. But I want to talk about it.

Because the fact that my mother wakes up every morning and knows I’m going to be fast asleep and not dead is actually a privilige – That is a problem.

I’ve tried to put this thought into words for a very long time now and luckily someone else did it for me. Because this – this moment when we realize that someone out there could be smarter, better and absolutely amazing at doing exactly what we do but with no means to show it – this is the truth.

“I have never understood why some people are lucky enough to be born with the chance that I had—with this path in life. And why across the world, there’s a woman just like me with the same abilities and the same desires, the same work ethic and love for her family who would most likely make better films and better speeches. Only she sits in a refuge camp, and she has no voice. She worries about what her children will eat, how to keep them safe, and if they’ll ever return home. I don’t know why this is my life and that’s hers…” – Angelina Jolie, Governers Awards Speech

And I have wondered for a long time how it is fair that I get to wake up in the morning and her innocent, darling child didn’t. And the truth is, it’s not and I would love to be the individual that changes that, that changes the world and brings about world peace but I can’t. I can’t do this alone.

I can’t stop poverty alone. I can’t stop wars alone. I can’t save those kids with amazing talent – the ones being shot in war zones, the ones dying of hunger, the ones struggling to jump from one refuge camp to another and the ones that might not wake up tomorrow – and help better their lives.

“She speaks more languages than anyone in the family. Because she plays with all the children in the street.”

This was a quote describing a little kid on Humans of New York. It makes me feel sick that a child has the ability to see something so simple that we as adults have failed to understand. That she has the ability to look at a child and see just that. She doesn’t see where they come from or who their parents are. And if only we could do that.

Do you know about the photographer, Kevin Carter? He killed himself after shooting a picture of a kid in starvation. I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked at my mother and said “I’m going to die of hunger. Feed me now !”

I wanted to put up that picture on this blog but I just can’t bring myself to. I can’t look at it. It may have been taken a long time ago but I assure you, there is still a kid somewhere in this world that looks like that and is going through that. And yes, there are people rallying about it and screaming about it but nobody with a life takes the time to listen and that is a problem.


Is it fair that we get to whine about not having pizza for dinner? Is it fair that I get pissed with the Universe for not letting me travel the world when some kid out there can’t even travel home? Is it fair that this life that I don’t do much with, some kid would have used to the best of his ability and maybe even cured Cancer with but he’s sitting in a little room made of plastic scraps and wondering where his next meal’s going to come from while struggling to ignore the mental images of his dead parents?

And should we really wait until we are left with no choice but to listen?