Growing up, all of us (females) start putting ourselves into some unavoidable categories (boxes) designed by the society. These boxes are generally labeled as ‘Fat/Thin/Too Fat/Too Thin/Ugly/Pretty etc. Once you put one of such image in your mind, it becomes almost impossible to erase that. Being a female is an interesting phenomenon because then you expected to have the most stereotypical feminine qualities and I did not even have the most prominent ones out of them all.
To start with, I was a difficult child and a difficult teenager too. I somehow always felt like a rebel. I still do. I felt it was important to question things. These things were: EVERYTHING. And I would do the exact opposite of what was the most accepted way of doing things. It started just because I was curious.
Coming from the time when being ‘THIN’ was a teenager’s ultimate aim; I was so angered by the thought that I had started eating recklessly. It was my idea of redemption. “Maro saalo!”, I used to think while gulping those delicious pizzas and paani-puris. Things like finding a mirror and adjusting your hair every time you reach/leave a place, touching your hair/face every 30 seconds, having the excitement of dressing up/wearing makeup/clicking pictures with pouts, particularly being too prone to sunlight/dust/heat/cold/rain (this I still can’t seem to do!); were a part of the “feminine qualities”. I used to find most of them unnecessary and in fact disgusting. I wasn’t even a hoor-pari(fairy) with the most perfect figure and white colour. I always hated fairness creams. I still do. I looked like how most of us do when they are 16 in the 90s. I was 5’5, plump, with at least one part of my face with pimples showing serious acne issues, discovering the new world of menstrual, it’s hidden secrets and also the secrets to be hidden. I would never give a damn about how I was looking. There wasn’t any unnecessary detailing that I would have to do because there was nothing to get straight. I had curly hair and yes, we have our own merits.
“Why can’t I lie down on the sofa and hang my legs on the wall when Bhaiya can do the same?” “Because you are a girl and because you are wearing a skirt.” I was 10 and I stopped wearing skirts while watching TV.
“Why don’t you wear gloves while driving in such immense heat? You’ll become all dark! Who will marry you?” “Who cares?” My hands are a little dark. I still don’t care.
I had many controversial opinions. I always found it tough to respect females who were just about their prettiness and otherwise were dumb (bimbos). On the top of it, I would really speak unadulterated mind-mouth stuff. And that’s what made a lot of enemies around, though that is something that I have learnt to restraint with time. But at that time, it was the most deadly combination when generally you were asked to be diplomatic and sweet and cute.
Being treated like a “tomboy” just because I had more guy-friends and did not behave like most girls around was the last thing that any girls want. Everyone should have the choice of practicing their own set of beliefs and traditions and it should be well accepted too. My parents almost brought me up almost like a guy or better, not like a ‘typical girl’(something that I am sure they must have regretted too many times to count.) I always fought for staying out for 1 more hour at night.
They told me I would never find a boy-friend of my choice. “Gosh! You are just too smart for a man’s ego to tolerate.” And that the guy would be ‘bichaara’ because he’ll have to step on his ego to be with you. Being fiercely independent was hardly a compliment back then. I felt stereotyped as a female who’d finally end up being ‘the man’ in her relationship, whenever it happens; all this even when I never understood why any of the partners need to be ‘the man’.
While growing up, I have tried to step in all sorts of shoes. From being the girly girl to the girl next door writing poems in lectures to the tomboy to the activist kurti-jhola type, to the feminist to the sports shoes wearing entrepreneur, been there done that! It was like changing clothes and living different kinds of lives and then choosing to be what comes out in the end. It is mostly like a khichdibut a delicious one. And all this has resulted into what I am today. Today, I realize a lot of craziness in my teenage and early adulthood was a result to the norms being forced/intimidated on me.
There are so many things that I’ve changed about myself. Became less blunt, started respecting my own body and working to keep it healthy, made sure I listen to what my loved ones say(I listen to say the least :P) and not give a damn to the rest of the world. I am pretty much proud of it. There might be things to change, things to learn but if it’s that worth it, I am sure I’ll learn on my own.
This is the end to Things They Tell Me Part 1. Until next time,
You keep making rules.
I’ll keep breaking them.