Showing posts with label socio-culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label socio-culture. Show all posts

Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy Eid ! - Be healthy, not skinny !

This Eid, I couldn’t stop myself from wondering about this new obsession with being skinny.  Like all festivals, Eid is all about eating holiday food, dressing up and taking loads of happy looking pictures (to put up on social media ironically). As I filled up my plate with all the savory chaats and traditional seviyaan (vermicelli) , I was more than shocked to hear my teenage cousin lament over how fat those extra calories will make her , as she put a slice of cake on her plate.

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 Geez! When I was that young, I’d gobble up all the cake in the world without giving two hoots about my weight!  More shockingly, it’s quite common for girls as young as ten to be self conscious about their bodies instead of celebrating childhood and health.  But the fact is that this fascination with being model thin has taken over the minds over all women of all ages and it’s been going on for quite some time now.
Just like our media promotes the idea that white skin is beautiful, it also quite shamelessly promotes that the only people worthy of being considered pretty should be thin.  Now I am by no means suggesting that one should be obese and unhealthy, but what I find highly objectionable are the standards of beauty that the media, both print media and TV have created for us.  Being surrounded with anorexic models with huge breast implants, airbrushed makeup and photo shopped images, our minds subconsciously start to believe that is how a woman should look ideally, and let’s face it- that is how we also aspire to look.

The media has spent years and years drumming it into our minds, that skinny is sexy and everything else is downright hideous!  The startling thing is that the skinniness they project is not only unachievable but more importantly it’s all fake! But since the general population has endorsed this twisted concept of beauty , as a result we always remain unsatisfied with our appearance no matter how good we look, because we cannot achieve the flawlessness that the media projects.  We are always worrying about that little extra flab, or a fuller looking face or slightly heavier arms. Here’s time for a reality check-that is what REAL woman look like, and they ARE pretty despite the slight imperfections! 

It’s astonishing to see the extent to which women go in order to achieve the look of the ‘perfect media woman’. Cosmetic surgery, liposuction, breast implants, harmful medication and eating disorders are becoming increasingly common. The situation is so bad that even teenage girls, who are in their growing stages and need proper nutrition, have started to exchange health with ‘beauty’ -the new name for being skinny!

What we need is courage - to refuse to be controlled by the media and instead set our own standards of attractiveness. If Kate Winslet can refuse to step on the skinny bandwagon and audaciously flaunt her curves on the same television which promotes skinniness , than that should be a big encouragement for us ‘ women of the world’  to be able to feel confident and pretty even if we are not thin. The focus should be on being healthy and most importantly happy!

So ladies,  it’s time to sit back, relax, and have a great time without worrying too much about the weight. There are far better things in life to focus on.

……..And  anyways , the only thing that looks good skinny is a pair of skinny jeans !

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cricket- The glue that binds us together

We Pakistanis are already a fragmented society, divided on the basis of religion, ethnicity, provinces, socio-economical backgrounds and urban class/ rural class. Moreover the country is going through tough times. Inflation, terrorism, corruption, increasing crime rates, and political instability have brought about despair and hopelessness.  But the one thing that binds us together, despite all our differences and dissimilarities is cricket!

I've inherited my interest in cricket from my dad, who being a fifty-something busy doctor, still follows the the game unfailingly and his passion for cricket is beyond measure..  I remember my childhood memories of the entire extended family sitting together in my uncles Tv lounge and watching the world cup , cheering and clapping at every ‘chakka’ (six runs) and exclaiming  ‘out hai out hai!’ whenever a player would get out, scrutinizing and analyzing the batsman's every slightest move. Although I was just a little kid at that time, I still remember the energy and thrill that surrounded the room and it felt wonderful to see the entire family so deeply involved in the sport, from my grandmother to my youngest cousins.

Perhaps that’s why I like cricket so much, because it seems to be the only secular thing about the country that everyone is passionate about. It feels great to be able to sit in one room or one stadium (as it used to be before the Srilankan Team was attacked in 2009) without discriminating against caste, ethnicity or religion and just lose ourselves into the game, cheering for a common cause.  Soumya Bhattacharya in his book ‘You must like Cricket’ has quite accurately called cricket the ‘Anti-Religion’ for the subcontinent, and in fact that is the only thing that glues us together and enables us to unite.

The true beauty of cricket can be experienced whenever there’s a cricket tournament going on. It feels good to see the whole country taking an active part in the festivities and giant screens being set up where friends and families can go to not only watch the sport but also socialize. The sense of patriotism and oneness, the thrill and energy, the lively and enthusiastic audience – where else does one see such fervor in Pakistan?
Even on an international level, it is cricket which bonds us together with the other desis living abroad. All desis , Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis all are equally passionate about the sport which automatically ties them  together irrespective of their nationalities.  As a staunch critic of the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, this brotherhood is like a dream come true! However it is quite shameful to see the hype that the local news channels create whenever there’s a Pakistan – India match. They forget the true essence of the game, and make it a matter of ego and prestige which spoils all the fun. Of course us people of the subcontinent are known to be a very emotional lot, but I think it’s very wrong of the media to turn the one thing that brings joy and happiness to the country into another tension filled drama! (As if we already don’t have so many things to be tensed about!)

So I’m glad that this Eid there are two remarkably exciting series to keep us all entertained. There’s Pakistan vs South Africa (ahem the chokers ! ) and India Vs Australia, and I’m glad that I can spend my holidays watching the matches with my dad and sort of reinvent my childhood memories . Sadly it’s just going to be the two of us this time as most of my family has shifted abroad. But that doesn’t matter because cricket is cricket. Full Stop. …….. Jeetay ga bhaiii jeetay gaa !! 

Image taken from