Posts Tagged ‘women’

#DEARME – Keyboard instead of Camera

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For International Women’s Day this year, Youtube started a global campaign titled #DearMe on its platform. Its goal is to empower and inspire young women of today by using the immense power and influence that the platform has provided many of its users.

I first learnt about the campaign while watching Essiebutton’s #DearMe video, and with all the changes, opportunities and adventures that I was experiencing in 2015 (and which I will continue to throughout the year, I’m sure of it), I reflected on my past and how it had led me to my present. As I’ve yet to begin my channel (I might soon), I thought it would be a waste to miss out on the #DearMe campaign, so I’ve taken it off camera and onto the keyboard instead.

Here’s what I’d love to tell my younger self, and all the young women out there who are feeling lost, unsure, depressed or unmotivated.

You might not fit in now, and people will be mean to you because of that, but keep going on, and you’ll become one of the brightest stars there is when you’re older.
Cross my heart. They might laugh and make fun of you now, or they might think your ideas and your clothes are ridiculous, but don’t let their negativity or small-mindedness destroy your dreams. Keep dreaming, find an outlet that works for you, and just keep going. Do what makes you happy, wear what makes you feel good and as you hone your passion and skills, as you push on against their negativity, as they focus on you, you are focusing on yourself and there will come a day when your life will seem so much more magical, meaningful and exciting than theirs. This is my first-hand experience, and I can say without a doubt that the most inspiring people I’ve met have been through hell as youths as well. I am where I am today, running my own business and not stuck in a corporate 9-5 job, happy with my life and having traveled the world because I never gave up. I might have cried myself to sleep in high school, and I might have almost wanted to end my life, but I’m so grateful that I didn’t because I wouldn’t have imagined my life to be the way it is now. Do not give up, and do not let the naysayers bring you down. Being different is amazing, don’t let society make you think otherwise.

Remember your parents, shower them with love, and even if you think they’re uncool now, they’re one of the coolest people ever. They’ve got their stories too.
During my teenage years, I always thought my parents were embarrassing. I’d be too humiliated to walk with them in the mall, for reasons unknown to me right now. I was a brat and I was ungrateful for how blessed my life was because of them. My parents supported me through school, they made sure I was well fed and clothed, they took me on adventures around the world, they introduced the world of music and art to me (without them, I would never have fallen in love with Tschaikovsky or Swan Lake), and they were significant in enabling me to chase my dream life. Even with the occasional (or maybe more) parent-child spats, I’ve learned to put my pride or anger aside, and to love unconditionally. I never understood this when I was younger, and as time passes, I fear that I will miss out on the time I have left with them. Remember to give back to these two individuals who dedicated their lives to giving you a future – find time for them, buy them the gifts even when they can afford it themselves, help them understand their iPhones or the internet, be patient with them, and even if they aren’t perfect, love them.

You will never be as young as you are today, so say “YES!” to adventures, dreams and excitement. Do not let the pressure of society or peers push you into adulthood too early.
Don’t be afraid of adventure, say yes to travels, say yes to love, let experiences and heartbreaks guide you and always learn from anything and everything. Your mindset is what makes or breaks an experience, so even the worst times of my life have taught me lessons on how to be strong, how to ride out the wave, and how to never give up. I ran away from a couple of would-be adventures when I was younger, and a part of me has always regretted it. Ask yourself if you’ll regret turning this opportunity down 5 or 10 years down the road, and if the answer is “yes”, go for it! I accepted a frighteningly exciting offer last week, and although my body has been filled with fear for the past week (and will continue to be throughout this new adventure), I know that I have to take this leap and just go for it. If you want something, ask for it. If that doesn’t work, chase it and do anything you can (legally) to attain it. Keep going at it, and always stay positive.

Be genuine. There will always be people rooting for you.
When I was in the University, I constantly felt alone. Lonely, yes, but feeling alone was a feeling ever greater than that. I could be in the middle of a room filled with hundreds and still feel alone. I could be in the middle of a group of schoolmates and still feel alone. This stemmed from the fact that I had been scarred by my experiences in high school, and I was too afraid to speak my mind. I feared that saying what was on my mind would lead to judgement and eventually me becoming an outcast once more. What I realized though, was that as long as I was genuine, positive and kind, there were always people who wanted to be friends, or who would be more than happy to help me. There are wonderful, caring people in this world who want to see you succeed, be they strangers, friends or family. Even if you haven’t spoken to a friend you used to love, or if there was a misunderstanding or argument, learn to forgive, reach out, and rebuild. Even when I feel alone nowadays, some part of me now knows that I am cherished and that there are are people who love me.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I did writing it. If you’d like to share your #DearMe video or what you’d tell your younger self, I’d love to know. Happy International Women’s Day, and here’s to all the kind, loving, strong and beautiful women I know. Thank you for inspiring me daily.

The New Disney Woman

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What do Maleficent and Frozen have in common, other than the fact that both are Disney movies from 2014?
(Spoilers ahead, please do not read on if you’ve yet to watch either. You’ve been warned.)

True love’s kiss was not from a man or a significant other,
but from a female role, a sister or an unlikely mother.

Or at least that was what I gathered from both movies, and that was the underlying reason why I loved it so much.

When you think of older Disney movies, have a think about how realistic is it for two people to fall in love in a matter of days, or even just 24 hours. Just like Romeo and Juliet, apparently one of the most tragic love stories of all, infatuation and lust do not true love make. The fact that I grew up with these idealizations (I’m 27 this year), did not bode well for me. When I was a kid and all through my adolescent years, I thought love would be simple – that I would lock eyes with a boy, we’d fall in love, and the rest would be history. As I’d learnt from Disney movies (all of which I so loved and admired, especially The Little Mermaid, Dumbo and Beauty & The Beast), sure there might be downs and lows, but once that’s done and over with, your beloved and you are to live happily ever after.

As adulthood and experience has taught me, that was not the truth. No one is going to lock eyes with you and imprint (taking the term from Twilight, which I find extremely appropriate to describe this concept) on you, and then love you and want to be with you for the rest of your life. More often than not, it ends up being lush or crush at first sight, and more often that not (sadly), the feelings are not mutual. Life isn’t a pre-2000 Disney movie, and true love does not exist the way you’ve been conditioned to think it does. Relationships are fraught with challenges, and it is but a daily commitment to choose your other half, your friend, or your family, and to dedicate yourself to love.

Frozen and Maleficent very clearly disowned the idea of love at first sight, as well as having true love’s kiss come from a man, or the opposite sex, or someone you are interested in as a significant other. Just as you think the story comes to the same conclusion all Disney movies do – the prince comes along and lands a lovely kiss on the lips of the fair maiden – that notion is quickly dismissed when you realize that that is not the salvation that she needs. The love between sisters, or some form of family, is something that surpasses distance, emotional fragility and misunderstandings, trumping coupledom. Shouldn’t this have been the case all along, Disney? As such a huge media conglomerate, shouldn’t you have taken earlier measures to teach Gen-Ys like me that a man is not my salvation? I’m not too sure if its too little too late, but I’m sure plenty of ladies have had their hearts and dreams shattered when they realized that life is not a fairytale romance.

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Another interesting thought that was planted into my head by these two movies was the re-definition of the female villain – in these cases, Maleficent and Elsa. Both having caused the severe destruction to their communities / world around them, the audience is still left rooting for them, with moments of humanity and positivity shining through. It is only human to err, and rather than keep to the unrealistic “100% evil” roles that have taken form in past Disney movies (think Cruella deVil and Ursula), the new Disney woman (or protagonist) is flawed, with both positive and negative characteristics, just like any other one of us. This makes them both realistic and relatable, and you’re left with a sense that there’s good in all of us, even if you go down the wrong path every now and then – much better, no?

This just scratches the iceberg of this topic, and whether you might agree with me or not, it is pretty obvious the changes Disney women are going through. If you’re interested in such plot lines, I would suggest catching “Once Upon a Time”, where the lead protagonist of the show is a female and equally as flawed as any one of us. I can’t wait to see where this leads our new generation of Disney women, who are no longer princesses, but women role models in their own right. What will their impact be on the young girls and women of today?

The Girl Code

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GIRLFRIENDS. The one thing ladies can’t live without. Having your girlfriends is like having your sanity. They’re your go-tos when it comes to relationship problems, family problems, career problems, or just life problems in general. They’re also the first people you’d like to go out and hang with, or just have fun with. You know they’ve got your back, and you’ve got theirs. The thing is, how do you feel about or react towards every other woman outside of that girlfriend pool? How about that lady whose skirt you were admiring while she walked past you on the streets today, or the 20-something who looked like you could get along with who sat next to you on the bus? I personally tend to feel comrade with my fellow women, especially those within the same age range as I.

I have an unspoken “Girl Code” in my head, and this isn’t one of those things with rules about guys, but more about guidelines as to how I should treat my fellow women-beings. I sometimes end up breaking one or two of them, and that either comes with good reason, or ends in guilt afterwards. Support, not judge, and just have each other’s backs – not too much to ask, me thinks. Here’s how I see it:

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1. Judgement

Don’t make mean comments about another woman’s hair, clothing or physical appearance, especially body size (covered below). If she’s gotten her style wrong, or if her makeup’s the wrong shade, you can possibly state the facts but not make a demeaning comment about it.

Don’t hate on someone you don’t know – everyone isn’t out to get you, and if she’s doing something to annoy you or encroach on your personal space, just let her know in a nice way.

Don’t judge a mother and how she’s handling her child, unless she’s being physically abusive – it is hard to be a mom, and everyone’s just trying to do their best. You don’t know how another woman’s day went, so don’t judge!

Don’t hate on another woman’s success, because really, her success means that the general success of women as a whole is rising.

Don’t judge another woman’s lifestyle – her life, her rules, unless she’s hurting someone or affecting your life.

If you don’t respect other women, how can you expect men to respect women as a whole?

2. Body Image

Don’t hate on women who are “too skinny” or “too fat” because guess what, not your body! Everyone’s struggling or working with what they have, and it really isn’t anyone’s place to call someone else fat. Let me tell you, I got called fat last year by someone I worked with, and it took the wind out of me – completely hurtful & uncalled for, and very very nasty, especially since I wasn’t overweight, just shaped differently from her. (She was petite and skinny.) I’m very glad my friends and I make no jokes at the expense of other people’s bodies, and that’s something I fervently stick with.

Body image is something that we as women have been battling with for the longest time. Rather than bring down someone else because they’re not shaped or sized like you, why not encourage and praise the other positive aspects? However, if someone you know has health issues due to their weight, step up and let them know that you think working out and a change of diet will benefit them, and maybe even offer to start a new regime with them. All about support, ladies.

3. How about the men?

Never stay silent if your friend is dating a jerk, but put it to her in a nice way of course.
Never date a friend’s ex or date someone a friend used to date. It’s a boundary that really shouldn’t be crossed. (Unless she’s good with it.)
Never go out alone with a friend’s boyfriend, unless you’re out to shop for an engagement or wedding ring for her.

Stand up for women against men – I don’t like calling this aspect of myself “feminist” but if a guy starts going on about how women are “emotional” or “fragile” etc, I tend to go on full Mama bear mode. I stand up for women first, and I really don’t enjoy men judging women for their emotions. In the fight of Man vs Woman, woman wins.

Always help a girlfriend out if she’s getting unwanted attention from a man, and this applies to women you don’t know too. If someone looks uncomfortable, walk up to her and ask her if she needs help.

4. Support & Inspiration

It is extremely inspiring for me when I see women in power or women who have achieved personal success. It acts as personal motivation, and a shining example of who I can become. I love it when I see a woman who’s the sole breadwinner of the family and loving it, and when her husband supports her 100%, my heart just wells up with joy.

Support your friends in their endeavors and life dreams. & when it’s that time of the month, comfort with chocolate and lots of understanding.

If a woman looks intoxicated / drunk and isn’t with friends or looks like she needs help, always help and make sure she gets into a cab safely.

If a friend has been dumped, presence is 100% required and clear your entire schedule just for her to mope, eat ice cream and watch movies.

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I personally really like this version of the Girl Code – with gifs and all – cracks me up!
What do you think of the girl code, and is there anything you would or would never do when it comes to girlfriends or just other women in general?