Vulnerability

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

                                                                                                  -Paulo Coelho-

I never quite understood the quote above, because there had been many things that I have wanted but never quite got. So, I never quite believed in luck, or that magical things would happen to me. I was a cynic who secretly enjoyed fairy tales and watched feel good shows. I now know that it was me trying to hold on to imaginary happy endings for an hour or two because I deep down believed that I won’t be lucky enough to experience unconditional love.

I was wrong, I found love. Love made me believe that I too deserve this experience. There was a spring in my steps, everything suddenly became beautiful and I felt worthy. Then one day, love decided to leave. Love left me in pieces, broken and insecure.

I struggled, trying to hold on and eventually resigned to believing that I need not get everything I want. Universe is not going to conspire for me. The cynic was back in full force, walls build high enough to ensure nothing gets in anymore. Then one day, as I was penning down my fears in a journal, I realized that my heart was too heavy. The walls were adding pounds that my little heart could not carry. I had to then decide whether to continue carrying the weights of my experience or to take down the walls. I started  to introspect and process my own emotions.

I realized I was right after all, you won’t get everything you want. You won’t get everything you want if you are not willing to risk the deepest parts of yourself. We all want to experience beautiful parts of life, such as love, empathy, kindness and joy. We wake up wanting the universe to show us that it is indeed beautiful and it is worth living. But then we are not willing risk our hearts, display our fears and insecurities in the most honest way possible. We hide behind pride, anger and nonchalance. How is the universe supposed to deliver goodness when our hearts are not truly open?

Now I know that love can’t leave, it merely shifted. Love never goes away with a person, it is not attached to a thing or even a place. It is something that remains inside, it is when we pick up the pieces of ourselves and honour the memories of our experiences. Love is when we learn to understand the other person’s situation and still believe in their goodness. Love is when you choose deliberately to see things with kindness and empathy. Love is not about what we receive, it is about what we give. We reap what we sow after all.

I have learned that when you actively give the world what you truly desire, it finds its way back in the most mysterious ways. It becomes liberating to give without expectations because you know you are living the life that you believe. Strength then is not in the height of our walls, but in our ability to believe that our spirit heals in vulnerability. It is a privilege to be able to touch lives with love and kindness. I am trying to take down the bricks, one by one, a day at a time. You should try it too.

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#fatacceptance # fatally #fatlove

Whenever I scroll through Instagram/Facebook, I see women who are plus sized advocating body acceptance. These women are trailblazing in their respective fields, be it modelling, entrepreneurship, acting or fashion. They look amazing and glorious embracing their rolls, very much alike Greek goddesses. In the comment section, you either see adoration for their courage or criticisms that they are promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. I have always been conflicted about this because I relate to this on a very personal level. You see, I am FAT. Not slightly chubby or plump. Just plain FAT. I don’t ever feel like a goddess, it is a wonder if I feel human on certain days.

So, I don’t suffer from thin privilege. I have firsthand experienced taunts of strangers and people I know making fat jokes, having difficulties finding clothes that fits well and is in fashion, and endless advises from people who are extremely worried that I will never land a husband. I understand being left out and judged. So, it is safe to say that being fat had surely dented my self-confidence. I am my harshest critic because I don’t fit that small sized outfit. So, when I see all these ladies looking empowered in a body I can identify with, I find it empowering. However, I am beginning to realise that the fat acceptance movement is also turning into one that celebrates being fat. I think we need to take a pause, and understand what we mean by body positivity.

Body positivity is about being happy with yourself at any size or condition, which is not a pass to promote obesity or pretend that some of us don’t face any health risk by being overweight. It is about understanding that a fat person can be healthy and a thin person can be unhealthy and that our bodies are made differently. It is about understanding that a healthy body can come in different sizes but health is still paramount. Only with health can we enjoy what the world has to offer.

So, in my honest opinion, fat acceptance is not about resigning to being a certain size and stagnate improvement. It is about acknowledging the body we are gifted with and to ensure it is being taken care of, be it in the form of nourishment, exercise and self-care. We should not have to project that being fat is healthy or it is even a deliberate choice by many. Let’s not project an image that being unhealthy is alright. For many, panting when going up a flight of stairs is not the best life, increased risk of getting diseases is not the version of a best life, not being able to play with their kids due to lethargy is not the best life. I am aware that this can happen to thin people too, but it is important to recognise that the risk is higher when you are overweight and lead an unhealthy lifestyle.

For those who are not fat, who don’t understand the struggles, it is you who needs schooling. When you see someone who is unlike yourself and perhaps is struggling, you show empathy. You acknowledge that you do not know their journey enough to conclude whether their fatness is warranted. You leave them to their choices unless you understand their struggles because diseases, depression, food addiction could also cause obesity, not just pure laziness. So, the onus is on you to be empathetic and ensure everyone feels included in the mainstream society. A fat person should not have to demand fair inclusion in the society with some hashtags. It is granted because basic manners dictate that we do not make anyone feel small, or insignificant.

Look, being fat or thin is just an outlook. It should not define anyone’s worth as human. There is more to a person than their external shell. Their ability to love, empathize and persevere through struggles is what determines their beauty. We should view others, and ourselves through the beauty of their spirit (I am trying). Maybe then, we would become better at recognizing that people don’t need any more judgement, just a hell lot of love.

Being A Woman

I am a woman, 28 years of age. My biological make up apparently comes with a manual. There are guidelines on how to speak, how to dress, what kind of tasks that I would be naturally good at, the activities I should engage in and even to the extend of the kind of opinions I can have. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am hardly oppressed at home. I am an independent, modern woman of the 21st century who is an educator, a professional. I am free to walk about, earn a living and engage in whatever the world offers but all within a limit. Now, herein lies the problem, I am told to pursue my dreams, learn to be independent and have a mind on my own but I should not over do it because it is very unbecoming of a girl. On a personal level, I am luckier than most. I was raised by parents who are not trail blazers in ensuring gender equality, but they allowed me to grow. They never curtailed my learnings. But, I am struggling. On one end, there are conversations that women are equal to men and on the other end, women are also conditioned to ensure they don’t cross boundaries that challenges patriarchy.

I speak from personal encounters where I have been expected to exist within societal expectations and have experienced the subtle/blatant sexism. Out of countless incidences, I shall recollect a few. I have been taught to view certain tasks as responsibilities that are unique to my gender like cooking, cleaning and anything that remotely relates to homemaking. Now, this has always dumbfounded me as home is not exclusive to women. We are depriving our boys from basic life skills. Let’s assume the boys are able to do these tasks, we praise them and view them exceptions but we do not accord the same praises to women. This extends to the idea that I must be dressed a certain way to be viewed as being respectable. I remember once wearing an outfit where my bra strap was unfortunately peeking out. I had people (females who are responsible in moulding the society) who had no business coming within my personal space to adjust it for me. It is a bra strap, not a slithering snake. Attaching a sense of shame and importance to a common article of clothing is absurd. I have had men be surprised that I am able to drive a manual car, or be able to park really well.

Out of all that experiences of subtle sexism, there is one that really hurts me. It is when I am mocked when I identify myself as a feminist. I am looked upon as someone who hates men, and have zero respect towards my roots. I get labelled as an opinionated young female who has yet to experience the “realities” of life. The word feminist has such a bad connotation that I am instantly deemed as difficult. I struggle to tell my story without someone who has enjoyed the privilege of patriarchy shut me down as an angry
young female. It hurts more when fellow women fail to stand together.
It is so important, especially now, to admit that our gender colours our experiences in life. In the course of my limited years of existence, I have stood up against sexism and I have also succumbed to it to ensure I take care and maintain goodwill with people around me. But it is stifling, to be pretending that this does not affect me or million others. We as a society must now have the difficult conversation of asking ourselves, “How have I allowed gender to shape experiences of women in my life?” We know women are capable of handling greatness yet we ask them to shrink their spirit, to fit a mould that is no longer relevant. We have evolved from the stone ages a very long time ago.
I don’t ask for much, only to be viewed as equals. I am aware that there are laws allowing women to be as successful but the real change is only when the collective mind set changes. I am aware that there are physiological differences between men and women, but the world has evolved. We no longer need strength to live, we need intelligence and knowledge to thrive. Those are not gender specific qualities. Let’s not continue encouraging patriarchy, nurturing boys to have fragile ego and teaching girls to cater to that. Lastly, for those who use the culture argument, it is about time to realise that culture is about preserving people, it should serve both men and women. We make culture, it not the other way round.
Note:
To women who don’t identify as feminists, take time to understand the movement. The movement (which includes women we call grandmothers and mothers who have stood up against discrimination) have struggled, so you are able to do what you take for granted, like exercising your personal choice. There are girls in many parts of the world who have no access to education, economic independence and even their lives only because of their gender. Be part of the movement, identify yourself as feminists.
As for the men who have not thought about this, start now. You make half the world, so we need you to evolve as well. Identifying as a feminist is critical because we want to be equals. We want men to not be defined by such narrow idea of masculinity that the idea of an equal scares them. Men who believe in and practice equality are attractive and masculine.

Therapy

I am what you would call a ‘word person’, I process happiness, sadness, love, grief and every nuances of emotions using words. Growing up, most days were spent with a book or writing something in my journal. But, only last few years made me realise how therapeutic words can be. It was a period where I felt that I experienced so much pain and loss and I tend to suffer in silence. Words became my personal therapist, helping me cope and grow.

As I wept through the nights grieving, stories that I have read of love and loss kept me company. The poems I read kept me hopeful and my own love letters kept me sane. That is how I coped. There is magic when someone translates their journey into words and shares it. That is akin to sharing an intimate part of themselves, and sending it out to the world for judgement. There is courage in that, humility too. A recognition that humanity is diverse and full of various perspectives, stories of human experiences are diverse. In those stories, we find similarities and eventually a spark of hope.

I have always struggled to tell me story, I carry them within me. I have always allowed my insecurities to stop me from sharing the parts of me that are most vulnerable. But, I want to give my words a chance. For words have magic in them, they heal and give hope.