Rantings

I’ve been standing at a crossroad in this phase of my life for a very long time now. And I guess, I’ve procrastinated a little (okay, a lot). And it hasn’t helped. Neither has family for that matter.

When should parents back off from trying to control their child’s life? I feel as if I am still their puppet. I try to break free but they won’t keep their hands off of me, and I just trip over and fall each time I make a run for it.

Asian parents are more controlling than the average parent, and I guess one can’t really get them off their backs so easily. Especially Brown parents. Also, especially in a stupid society like Pakistan’s.

But when is enough enough? When do we finally say no? When do we take back our own lives? I want to be the grownup they’ve raised me to be. But HOW do I get this past the thick skulls of theirs? My parents are full of contradictions. On one hand, I am old enough to have 3 kids by now, a house and a husband of my own. But, yet, I am too naive to make my own decisions and too young to take control of my life.

When will parents let their kids finally grow up?

Marriages in Pakistan: what it really feels like

Marriages, in Pakistan, are made in drawing rooms. Also known as hellholes. And auction houses. 

The whole experience leaves a girl feeling as if she is no more than a commodity, that she is being auctioned off to the highest bidder. Some men will have better degrees, some will have looks and some will have more money, and for the girl’s auctioneers, who are also her family, that is a huge deal to ponder over. 

What and how the girl feels doesn’t matter. She is required to dress up specifically to attract people, just like shopkeepers make things pretty to get more buyers. 

The whole process of getting ready, as if she is being displayed and sold off, is pretty demeaning. But do people care? Not the pathetic guests who come over to eat food like hungry apes and scrutinise her to the flesh and bone, and certainly not the family who gave birth to her. 

This is part of life,” the mothers would say, “We went through this exact same thing and so did our mothers before us, and we never complained.”

Once she hits puberty, your daughter is no longer a human being. And the priority is showcasing her to the world like she is a porcelain doll, something that can be bought and sold. If she bags a good proposal, wow, if she bags two, good job to her beauty and no brains. It’s always the more, the better. 

“My Shumaila got 3 proposals from very rich and handsome doctor boys. They wanted a thin tall fair young innocent pretty girl and are heads over heels for my beautiful Shumaila. The boys are just so divine. One lives in Amrika, one in London, and the other in Australia! Oh, however will we choose from 3 saint boys?” Gabba gabba, yak yak. 

This is common practice in our society. And as sad as it sounds, it is deemed quite normal, too.

Beauty and no brains. Plastic and fake beauty too, what with all the bleaching the skin and caking her face with every makeup product known to man. 

And if, God forbid, IF a girl complains, she is accused of being many things. Promiscuous, foolish, and corrupt are just to name a few. 

This. This is one of the many reasons why Pakistan can never grow and will always remain backward in every aspect of life. 

Girls are not commodities. They are not things. You do not own them and have a million “guests” over just to auction off your daughter. Guests, who viciously scrutinise her and discard her once they find “faults” in their perception of beauty. 

When will you ever learn? 

How is a girl ever supposed to be okay with this? 

Beauty cannot be defined.

Ever since I was a child, I have been told over and over again, what beauty is, and what steps I should follow to ensure that I become beautiful. And because of this, all through the years that I was growing up, I struggled with my body image and trying to achieve the so-called beauty stereotype.

But as a child, I did not understand what the fuss was all about. Why would my grandmother instruct my mom to keep me from playing in the sun for too long, or why should she control the amount of food that I eat? Why would my mother scold me for talking in a loud voice, or laughing loudly? When I did not understand still, they had to tell me what beauty is (sweet voice, fair skin, petite frame) and what beauty isn’t (tall, dark skin, loud voice, fat).

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The women in my life hated certain parts of their body. I was confused. Beauty, for me, was unspecified. My grandmother, with her wrinkles and her dainty pearls; my mom, and the lines that formed beneath her green eyes and outlined her mouth when she smiled; and my aunt, with her long and pointy ears that so resembled mine, were beautiful. What they thought were flaws, were beautiful to me. In the eyes of a child, beauty is boundless and effortless.

Honestly, I did not care that the sun would make my skin more tan than it already was, or that the food I eat would give me spots on my skin, or how loud I’d sound when I laughed. I was just a child, and children will be children. I did not know that having a darker skin color was shameful, or having a natural deep voice was a bad thing. I thought I was beautiful, too, with all my crooked teeth and my tan skin and my loud voice. I did not, for one second, think that I was not beautiful.

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With my mom’s youngest sister. I must be 6 or younger.

Everything changed when I started growing up. Since I used to play in the sun a lot, I got tan. More tan, than I already was. My skin color was prominent than ever because my mother, siblings, and all of my cousins were fair-skinned. They were milk, and I was chocolate milk. That did not bother me. But everyone in my family acted as if it was the most horrendous thing ever happen to me. As I started my teens, their behavior got worse. My grandmother would concoct home remedies to lighten my skin color, and my mom and aunt forced me bleach my face. Being told that the color of my skin is not beauty, was shattering. And since then, I stopped looking in the mirror.

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My siblings were as white as snow, and I was as dark as coal. My best friend was fair, and I was not. My grandmother had whiter skin than me. I got so self-conscious that I stopped appearing in photographs altogether. I hated it when my picture got taken, because my cruel aunt and cousins would make fun of my color and my then crooked teeth.

My dad’s sister, while we were going through old family pictures one day, told me that when I was born and she saw me for the first time, she shrieked because I had really brown skin. She even said that she asked God what her poor brother had done to deserve such a daughter. Those were her exact words, but in Urdu.

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With grandparents. I was 10 here.

My skin color was an embarrassment, I was starting to feel embarrassed about myself. I stopped smiling. I stopped loving myself. 

Pakistani, and Indian people alike, have a strong beauty standard that concerns the skin color of girls. The common misconception and belief in my society is, that if a girl has dark skin, she will have trouble getting a great marriage proposal because nobody desires a dark-skinned wife and daughter-in-law (sadly, this is 10000000% true).

For them, beauty is fair skin. And that’s probably because of the British rule over us for many years. The British were fair-skinned, white, and pale, considering the climate and weather of the place where they lived. And the people of Subcontinent (Pakistan and India) lived in opposite conditions, and thus, had brown skin as compared to the British.

Despite of their distressing rule over the Subcontinent, I believe that the people were quite mesmerized by their white skin. They probably thought it was the epitome of beauty. And that has stuck since and has become the stereotype of beauty in my society. Hence, the huge production, demand and sale of fairness and bleach face creams in India and Pakistan:

fair and lovely mehwish hayat2 ST_20140831_NGFAIR31_623617e

I let these things affect me every day for a number of years. I let myself be haunted by this… depressed by this, night after night. I was crying all the time, hating the world. I wanted white skin because I thought that would make me beautiful. Turns out I was wrong. And I have realized this now. I’ve decided I won’t let myself be exploited by some twisted logic. I do not agree with society’s portrayal of beauty. It’s superficial and fake. Yes, beautiful people exist. But just like you can’t compare apples with oranges, or two classic movies, you can’t also just compare beauty. And it’s better to love yourself and not live with a dark cloud hovering above your head all the time. You need to be happy to have a healthy mind.

Society has to change. Beauty cannot be defined. All over the world, people are crying themselves to sleep, starving, cutting, loathing their bodies, and undergoing multiple surgeries to change the way they look. Beauty comes in all shapes, colors and sizes. We say that a lot of times, but we need to believe it, too. Believe that you are beautiful, believe that you are enough.

My inspiration behind this blog post:

Great! Another Thing to Hate About Ourselves by Jennifer Weiner

“25 and single” in pakistan

I got a text today. Iqra, my on/off bestie, is getting married on January 10th 2015.

And I’m depressed. Not that I don’t want to see her happy. It’s not that. I am actually SO happy for her. So happy.  To me, she is my BFF, no matter how many fights we have. And I never want to see her sad. Ever. I hope she gets everything she ever wished in life. ٓAmen.

Anyway. Back to me. I’m depressed because of many things. The major one is that I’m the remaining single friend in our group. Then, there’s the dread that I’m feeling. Because once my family finds out the news of Iqra’s wedding, MY life would be hell.

"Haw, Iqra is getting married, then why isn't Mahrukh? 
Not even engaged, tch tch tch. Must be her dark skin. 
Everybody wants a fair-skinned daughter-in-law and wife.
Nobody wants to marry a black girl. Or it must be growing age. 
25 is old. 25 is the end of the world. 
She will get no good proposals. 
Once she crosses 25, only widowers, poor, and fat men will be 
interested in her then. 
Why, God, why? 
What sins have we done to deserve this kind of punishment?"

This is what I have to hear. Every day. Every hour. Every minute.

Is age just a number? Heck, no, it isn’t.

Pakistani societies are very weird. They’re broken up into three parts: the extremely conservatives; the moderates; and the liberals.

My family falls in the second one. But. In some ways, they fall into the first category. Which sucks, big time.

The rest of the society falls into the first category, though. Well, only the society surrounding us, that is. Idk. An unmarried or a single girl in her twenties is an abomination for them. Most families do not want to bring home girls who are above the age of 24. Because according to them, “girls who are older tend to have their personalities set in stone, and their minds and thoughts and feelings developed and then, the mother-in-law or the family can’t mould the girl into whatever they want her to be.”

Basically, this means that the girl over 24 will not stand any bullshit coming her way from her in-laws. She will fight back. She will not let herself be their slave. And this is why society doesn’t want their sons get married to older girls. Their son will be nearing 40, but they will look for a “simple, family-oriented girl, in her late teens or early twenties” so they could brainwash her and use her as a doormat for the rest of their lives.

This is what our society is like. Backward, illiterate, stupid. Incredibly stupid.

A pakistani girl.

Sometimes I think I was made just to get married. At least that’s what my family believes, and wants me to believe.

Born a daughter, a first child to my parents, in a typical Pakistani family, my “life” is a big deal for everybody in our family. Ever since I hit puberty, I am constantly being reminded that all I can ever accomplish in my “meaningless” life is getting married.

Pakistani families are very close-knit by nature. Cousins usually grow up together; aunts, uncles and grandparents mostly live under the same roof, and hence, everyone is in everyone’s business. Since I am the eldest girl in my family, I have been experimented upon one too many times, and was bound with restrictions all the time when I was growing up. It was always: “what will people think?”, and “girls can’t do this, girls can’t do that”
nonsense.

But now, almost a decade later, this is not the case with my younger girl cousins nor it is with my own sister. They can be whoever they want to be. However, whatever and whenever. Be it businesswomen or astronauts, accountants or psychologists, highschool dropouts or doctors. There is nothing that will stop them from being their own person, and no-one will stand in their way.

But what about Mahrukh? Can she do what makes her happy? Something that she likes?

No.” 

She can only be a wife. Have kids. Cook. Clean. Manage the house. Have some more kids. And repeat.
 

At least that’s what I’ve always been led to believe. According to my family, the best thing I can do with my life is to get married. And as soon as possible, too. Before I reach my “expiration date.” Attract a nice rich man to marry, become a full-time Masterchef and a housemaid, provide my parents lots of grandbabies to play with, and basically, just kiss my own personal life goodbye.

This is what girls living in Pakistan go through everyday. I’m not saying that every girl goes through this, just most of us do. And there’s nothing really we can say about it, or complain. Because we’re told that our family members always know best. As if.

Breaking stereotypes

Hi, guys. I’m sorry I haven’t been writing much lately. I’m finishing my undergrad school and my final is going on, and I’m just caught up with that.

I was meaning to write this post last night, but I was so tired from all the design work I’ve been doing on Photoshop, and so, I went to sleep. Anyway. I think this is an important issue because it affects us in a bad way. It’s something that almost EVERY girl goes through. At least, where I live. In Pakistan, that is. Pakistani society still needs some time to evolve and modernize. They’re still very narrow-minded and they seriously need to get out of the cave they have holed themselves up in.

Okay. So, basically these are a bunch of stereotypes that my idiot of a society and most of my family believes in. And believe it or not, this kind of stuff is ACTUALLY said. A lot of times. I’ve heard my mom, grandmothers, aunts, relatives, family, all repeating this one time or another. And reading this, you’ll see how ABSURD their arguments really are.

 

  1. If a girl is wearing jeans and a T-shirt: She is spoilt and immoral, totally has deviated from Islam. 
  2. If a boy is wearing jeans and a T-shirt: It’s okay, because he’s a guy. What else would he wear, right?

  3. If a girl is smoking a cigarette: She has a very bad character, totally immoral. God knows what else she does. Her family is not nice, she doesn’t know the values of a “good Pakistani girl.”
  4. If a boy is smoking a cigarette: It’s okay, because he’s a guy. What else would he do, right?

  5. If a girl is naturally born with tan skin: Oh God, how will she ever get married. Who would ever want a kaali (black) wife and daughter-in-law? Bleach her face, bleach her face!
  6. If a boy is naturally born with tan skin:  It’s okay, because he’s a guy. And guys who are tan are hot and handsome, right?

  7. If a girl is friends with the members of the opposite sex: She is immoral, and has no sense of values. She is also a slut and a whore. She totally sleeps around. God knows she must have had a million babies by now. Tut tut tut. 
  8. If a guy is friends with the members of the opposite sex: It’s okay, because he’s a guy. Guys have to bold, right? And interaction will only make them gain more confidence because they have to get out in the real world one day.

  9. If a girl wants to hang out with friends at the mall or the movies: What will the people think if they see you with boys? Rumors will start spreading around and you will never get any good marriage proposals. Stay home, and help out with the chores. No need for you to go out.
  10. If a boy wants to hang out with friends at the mall or the movies: It’s okay, because he’s a guy. It’s not in their nature to stay at home all day, right? Let them go out and have fun with friends.

  11. If a girl has a boyfriend: THAT SLUT! OFF WITH HER HEAD! WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK, YOU WHORE!
  12. If a boy has a girlfriend: It’s okay, because he’s a guy. And all guys fool around, right?

  13. If a girl wants to work after she graduates: WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK?! It’s the highest form of shame. Independence= immorality. And so, we won’t let you become immoral. 
  14. If a guy wants to work after he graduates: It’s okay, because he’s a guy. And all guys have to become independent and stand on their own feet, right?

  15. If a girl is getting her post-grad degree: Master’s?! She must be so OLD!
  16. If a guy is getting his post-grad degree: It’s okay, because he’s a guy. Even a Master’s degree is not enough for him. Go further, son. Go further!

  17. If a girl wants to eat what she wants to: STOP EATING, YOU WILL GET FAT! DIET, DIET!
  18. If a guy wants to eat what he wants to: It’s okay, because he’s a guy. Here. Have the whole world. You can eat as much as you want, because guys have to be strong and they need all the nutrients and proteins and vitamins, and they will have to start and support their families one day.

  19. If a girl is fat: You are ugly. Nobody will marry you. You should die. 
  20. If a guy is fat: It’s okay, because he’s a guy. His weight doesn’t matter.

  21. If a girl is tall: WHY ARE YOU SO TALL? It will be so hard finding a tall husband for you. Pfffft!
  22. If a guy is tall: It’s okay, because he’s a guy. Tall guys are hot, duh.

  23. If a baby girl is born: Oh, a girl? Well. Why couldn’t it be a boy?
  24. If a baby boy is born: THANK GOD! WE ARE SO BLESSED, SO HAPPY!