Living in and out of reality as I chase my dreams sky high.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

"You are not as feminine as me"

According to the dictionary the definition of feminine means:
"Having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy, and prettiness"

Out of that definition take out the two major words DELICACY and PRETTINESS.

What does it mean to be feminine? Every mother tells their daughter that she is beautiful, mine did too. However, when she was upset with me or was unhappy with me she would mock my appearance and tell me how much of a man I was. I was always told that I wasn't as delicate as her, or that I didn't get her features but rather acquired more masculine features like my father. As a child I hated looking at myself in the mirror because I was made to feel apologetic about having received genes that we associate with masculinity. I had bushy eye brows, hairy hands and legs, and the most common thing I was called out for a broad body. It wasn't just my mother, but a lot of my relatives who would compare me to my mother and tell me how I was not as beautiful as her, or that I was the replica of my father and what a sad thing it was. One of the reasons I never visit or go to my relatives houses when I go to Mumbai is because I am constantly reminded how I am not as beautiful, delicate and feminine as my mother is. If not that they will allude to how I was such a beautiful baby, and how none of them had expected me to turn out to be this hideous creature, of course they put it a nicer way...but in the end that's what it meant. I often wondered if I was swapped in the hospital or if I eat something weird that made me look the way I did. I wish it stopped there, but it didn't. My mother's friends were like the mean girls at school they added to my bullies. They would compare me to her, and be shocked to think that I could be even related to someone as beautiful as her. I remember overhearing someone saying how it was impossible that the product of Yasmeen and Mujeeb concluded to THAT. Yes I was referred to as that, and my mother would be hurt and upset to hear things like that about her daughter, but instead of standing up for me she would try and change the way I dressed, or anything she thought she could control. When I chose not to listen, she would be upfront and tell me what her friends said to prove a point, so I would listen to her and try and be more lady like. It was tough because growing up I never played the part of what my parents daughter should have looked like, or what they expected me to look like. Even when we were jewelry shopping, everyone always pointed out how grubby my fingers were, or how big my neck was. From the age of 12 I was competing with my mother, and everyone called it out to be jealousy, and yes I was jealous of my mother. I was jealous of how young she looked, at the age of 16 I was jealous that 20 year old men were hitting on her. I was jealous that she was so confident and so comfortable in her own skin. She had no care in the world, and why should she have. She grew up being told how beautiful and feminine she was. I on the other hand grew up feeling guilty for not being feminine enough. Also let me make it clear these were all women bringing me down on the basis of appearance. My lack of feminine qualities was used as a weapon against me, and I always saw it as my weakness.

I remember someone once told my mother not to let me swim too much otherwise I would end up being flat chested, just another thing to add to my masculine features. This was at an age when all I cared about was being outdoors and playing sports. But yes women were already contemplating about how me being a tom boy would add to my boxy features. But to their dismay I developed big breasts, bigger than my mother, but even then I couldn't win. Now I was brought down for my breasts being too large, again bringing fact to how I wasn't delicate enough. So in the end I was never going to win.

Going away to college I thought I was far away from all of this, and that I would finally not have to be compared to or even put in the same category as my mother. However, I was wrong wrong wrong. I will never spend more than 20 minutes getting ready, heck even 20 minutes seems like a lifetime. I take 10 minutes to get ready, and you can ask any of my friends. I can't be bothered to paint my nails...in fact I don't even own nail polish. Maybe once a year I will go get a pedicure or a manicure because I can read a book and not waste my time doing something that I don't have the patience to do myself, and I wish I did because honestly I would love to have awesome looking nails, and truthfully if I do them myself they won't look good at all. I don't have very "delicate hands", another thing I was told as a child. However, the point is whether I chose to spend 10 minutes on my hair or whether I choose to spend 50 minutes on my hair that is my choice. It's got to do with my personality not my femininity. I don't know whether it was my insecurity or just my personality but I don't have the patience nor the interest in grooming myself. I can't spend hours and hours doing things to myself, I've never had that interest because I would rather be spending my time reading a book, watching a movie or just being lazy. I have zero patience and interest in myself, or bettering my looks. I simply don't care. There is no shame in wanting to spend hours in front of a mirror, everyone has to do what they feel comfortable doing, everybody has got to do them. All I never understood was why I got called out for doing me? I had friends and have friends who always call me out on not caring enough, and yes they have also used the word feminine against me. Up until a month ago I was still insecure and sensitive to the fact that my friends would tell me how I wasn't feminine enough. I would sit in bed and just want to have a slim slender figure, and be delicate like the way my mother was, and how many women were. I wanted delicate features, and a more lady like persona. I remember when I was 13 a friend of mine wanted to give me a makeover, she thought straightening my hair, painting my nails, and tweezing my eyebrows was going to make me prettier. She wanted to tame my look because that was what femininity was all about.

But here it is to all the females reading this blog. Women come in all shapes and sizes, but with also all sorts of features. Women are all individuals, and shouldn't be grouped or defined as a norm. We shouldn't restrict ourselves or others to the definition of what a woman is and or can be, because that is not feminism. We already live in a patriarchal society where we are told what we can and can't do, so why do we instead of supporting one an another chose to further create divides within ourselves and create standards of beauty and femininity?

I wrote this not as an attack on anyone but as an ode to myself, and my future self; to remind myself that I am beautiful and feminine. I am who I am, and I am what I am. I have thick eyebrows, broad shoulders, a thick nose, and a large neck. I have grubby hands or what some refer to as "man hands", and grubby feet, and not so delicate nails. I am what people say is "unlady like". Nothing about me is tamed, and honestly I would rather keep it that way, because I wasn't born to fit into the definition of femininity or be version 2.0 of my mother. Women who till this day question my femininity are threatened by my strengths. I am a woman even if doesn't fall into your definition of it, and I will no longer apologize for myself or my boldness. I use to feel insulted for not being called feminine, but now I take pride in my sharp and bold features.


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