SELFIE OBSESSION – Vanity or Empowerment ?

Phone gallery filled with duck- face pouting selfies? If this sounds like you, Then High Five ! Same here . And I use filters too. Cannot even imagine clicking a picture without one.

Trying to look a shade brighter, removing those dark circles and stubborn acne marks, or adding a little glow to our face; we all have been there. And then we post those selfies on social media and WhatsApp status, smiling to glory seeing “Likes” and comments. Basically what we are actually searching for is validation. Just like how a drug addict needs his supply, we tend to get our supply in the form of approval from others.

But, is it possible to look drop dead gorgeous all the time? Atleast I cannot. So then, I straighten my hair, apply make up and only then do I click my selfie and that too with filters. Because like every other girl, I too want to look pretty all the time when I know in reality, I can’t.

Well, to be honest, Selfies aren’t all that wrong. I mean, it creates memories and is an effective way to communicate. I can choose how I want to look, so the idea of expressing oneself the way we want to look is empowering and let’s not deny, a good selfie does give confidence boost.

So are selfies a tool of empowerment or vanity? It depends. It’s a boon because it is a tool that enables self expression but a bane, if used exclusively for seeking validation.

We have created a false self or the ideal perfect illusion of us. It’s time to drop our masks and embrace ourselves. Our real self, not the perfect false self which we have created.

An ode to a ‘NOBODY”- Why am perfectly fine being Mediocre

“Don’t settle for AVERAGE. You were made for greatness ” – Victoria Osteen

“All I knew is that I never wanted to be average” – Michael Jordan

Don’t these quotes look absolutely wonderful on paper? Being ‘Average’ is abhorred and detested. But is ‘Mediocre’ or being ‘Average’ really the worst thing in life ?

I am an average girl, nothing special , A NOBODY and am perfectly fine with it. Shocked? Since our childhood, we are psychologically conditioned to prove that we are the best, be it getting good grades in school, doing well in sports, getting admission into the best college, being a social butterfly and making lots of friends, and a seven figure salary. If every human being turns into someone extraordinary, then No one will remain ‘Extraordinary’! Not everyone can be Michael Jordan, Einstein, Sachin Tendulkar or The Prime Minister.

People are afraid to accept that they are ordinary and average just like others, nothing extraordinary. Yes, You all are average. Not only the amount of effort and hardwork you put, but also how you deal with failure is what makes you better than others. Let me give an example, If I decide to lose 10 Kgs in one month , it may not happen and I will end up feeling disheartened. So set up REALISTIC GOALS and then work towards it. What matters is not how to avoid failing but rather learning how to GET UP AFTER YOU FALL.

When we set up incredibly high standards for ourself, we may feel like failure when we don’t meet our own expectation. Our inner voice shames us. Now this can be dangerous. Let me explain this through a simple example- An Onion. The ‘true self’ at the centre is protected by outer layers. Let’s call these outer layers – ‘False Self’. As a defence mechanism, our brain may create a false ideal self to protect our true self. Just imagine how painful it would be for the person to face himself and the world when this “False self ” shatters. It may also lead to anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

Don’t let your grandiose delusions trap you. There are innumerable success stories all around us but nobody talks about their failures. Thomas Edison failed 1000 times, but many of us don’t know that because he was successful the 1001th time.

Am I saying do not dream big ; No! It’s good to set high goals but DO NOT GIVE UP WHEN YOU SLIP. Even if you work hard, its not possible to attain everything you want. Life doesn’t work that way. Getting good grades, job, high salary etc can be part of your life but Don’t make it your life.

You were not born for being the next President or Mother Teresa. You were simply born because your parents had sex without protection. So don’t beat yourself up when life doesn’t go the way you want. Love yourself and learn from every mistake you make because even making mistakes mean you are trying.

Do NOT let fear of failure or being judged stop you from experimenting or doing things you want to. Do NOT feel afraid to voice your opinion or to take risks. I ventured into blogging accidentally a month back, after I discovered my love for writing. I had left my job at IBM few months back, and cut off with most of my friends after my face got ravaged with acne. I used to stay couped up in my room, scared to face people and resorted to writing. I can proudly say Producer-Writer Vinta Nanda followed me on Twitter after a #MeToo article I had written went viral.

Success is not final and failure is not fatal, so do not get disheartened when things don’t go your way. It’s okay to be average. Yes! I am “Mediocre” , a “Nobody” and am perfectly fine with it.

EMBRACE WOMENHOOD – PERIOD TABOO

Having binged on my favourite web series, I slept happily only to be awakened by my uterus smirking at me. “Wipe that smug smile off your face”, I yelled. Aaah.. Why me? Who gets these weird nightmares? Guess I had read far too many fairy tales in my childhood . My Sadist uterus grinned ,” Time for your little punishment”. I groaned. Oh no! Not again !

When I was young, I use to wonder Why blood of all things, Of course later I learnt in one of my biology class that bleeding is caused due to blood vessels disintegrating when the lining in womb detaches itself. If only the pain burnt calories, it would still be worth it !

(Pic Credit :Google image used for illustration purpose. I Do Not own this pic)

So last week, I decided to conduct a survey to see if I was the only one suffering. I typed a few questions and sent it to a sample size of 40 women. Well, 16 of them said it affected their ability to work, which constitutes almost 40% of the sample size.

Out of 40 women who took this questionnaire, 72%, that is, 29 women said they tend to binge and crave for certain food items like sweets or meat when their periods are due. When asked about PMS, 71% said that they feel irritated and experience mood swings in the week leading up to their period.
23 women revealed that their body showed physical changes like bloating and breast tenderness during periods, which constitutes almost 57% of the sample.
43% also confessed to feeling tired and have difficulty in concentration.
When asked to rate their monthly period pain on a scale of 1-10, 11 women said they don’t feel any pain during periods which constitutes only 15%, Rest 85% responded to having moderate to severe discomfort.
According to this survey, 57% suffer, 28% feel moderate discomfort while only 15% do not feel discomfort.

The worst part is when you are moaning during periods and someone in vicinity asks how are you feeling, and you say ‘I am fine ‘ and try to put up a brave face while your inner voice whispers As fine as giving birth to twin dinosaurs.

Only 10% of working women said they feel comfortable asking their manager for leave during periods. I remember one of my male manager long back asked me why do I take a day’s leave every month. How is it possible that only you fall sick monthly while we don’t. Of Course I curbed my tongue from saying I have a uterus and You don’t. So please Do Not voice your opinion about something you have no idea about.

There is a need to sensitize men about menstruation. Pain varies from one person to another. Around 80% women suffer from PMS. Heard of PMS? Premenstrual Syndrome occurs between ovulation and till the period ends, Generally it starts few days before periods. Our body goes through a lot of emotional and physical changes. It is common to have mood swings, irritability, crying spells, during that time, Other than bloating, breast tenderness, acne and fatigue.

There is no cure for PMS but your doctor can help with the symptoms. My Gynaecologist said that every women should take one Vitamin D sachet and Iron supplements after your period ends for 10 days (10 tabs a month ).

  • Vitamin D (once a month ), Iron (once a day) and calcium supplements
  • Drink lot of water. No milk and dairy during Period as it can trigger menstrual cramps.
  • Eat healthy. Stay away from salt and processed food to avoid bloating.

So it is important to educate people about the distress and discomfort faced by women. People generally feel discouraged from speaking about periods and related topics due to societal shaming and cultural factors.

Even today in India, in the 21st century, despite being a progressive country, women are considered impure during menarche and are discouraged from entering temples and other holy places.

It is a natural biological occurence . Let’s stop being ashamed about it and stop labelling it with names like impure, Not Well, Stomach pain , chumming etc . Let’s embrace womenhood. We are not weak . And all those who think of us as ‘weak’ , try bleeding for a week continuously while carrying your day to day activities.