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bicyclewithoutafish

Fighting like a girl

Month

September 2016

Dear Dudes- We Don’t Care if You “Don’t Like Too Much Makeup”.

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In my first year of college, a questionable decision I made (read: boyfriend) said the following to me:

“You’re not as hot as the girls I usually date, but you’re really sweet, know what I mean?”

As an 18 year old with major self esteem issues and social anxiety, no, I didn’t know what he meant. Worry not, though, because he was more than willing to explain.

Apparently I didn’t party as much as his ex girlfriends, or put as much effort into my appearance. But hey, at least I was really sweet.

Now, five years later, if I had a penny for every time a guy told me how much better he likes me without make up I’d be able to afford every shade of lipstick MAC ever produced.

Yaar, your lipstick is too loud. You don’t need all this makeup.”
“What have you done to your hair? Why can’t you just let it be?”
“You looked so much better in college- so natural! Maybe you should tone down the lipstick.”

And my favourite:

“I love that you’re not like other girls.”

Aah, those mysterious “other girls”. After hearing this for about the hundredth time, I finally asked a guy what was so wrong with these “other girls” and how I was not like them.

“You know those girls who keep putting up selfies on Facebook…the kinds who can only talk about clothes and make up. You aren’t like that. You’re chill.”

Phew, I guess the number of selfies I post is just enough- maybe one more and I’d turn into one of those “other girls”. Also I didn’t realize there was a limit to how much a woman could talk about things that make her happy- is one hour of talking about make up okay? How about another half an hour for clothes and shoes?

It’s not like young girls grow up in a culture that places utmost value on their appearance rather than their talents. It’s not like there’s a 300 billion dollar beauty industry that constantly bombards women with products they obviously need because they’re too fat, too thin, too dark (never too fair, of course), because their skin isn’t clear enough, because what kind of woman doesn’t care about the way she looks?

But of course the minute you start paying attention to your appearance, you suddenly become too vain, too superficial, and not “chill” enough. There’s just no winning.

Here’s a useful tip- stop telling women they’re “not like other girls” (and FYI, a 24 year old female is a woman, not a girl). There’s nothing wrong with “other girls”. There’s nothing wrong with loving clothes and mascara. You don’t get to put down women as a whole just because you think it’ll help you get laid.

This may be surprising, but women don’t exist solely for your pleasure. We don’t care if you “prefer the natural look”.

So listen up, dudebros – if you don’t like lipstick, don’t use it. It’s really that simple.

An Ode to The Love(s) and Losses of My Life

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A few nights ago, I was counselling a friend of mine who was grieving the end of a 2 year relationship. My advice to her was to put herself out there. Embrace singlehood, get on Tinder and meet some good looking (?) men.

Her expression told me she didn’t take me seriously, but she then remarked: “I love how you’re still so positive about love in spite of your past experiences with men”.

“Past experiences with men”: 7 years of dating, the good, the bad, and the ugly, summed up in a neat phrase that sounded so very mature.

My love life has been a source of endless amusement (and sometimes concern) to my friends, my family, my parents’ friends, relatives and pretty much anyone else you can think of.

7 years is quite a while, and it’s been marked by my choices in men that I can only politely describe as…diverse.

I was a fairly awkward teenager (and I’ve carried that social anxiety with me through to my twenties), and my interactions with men were limited. Suffice to say, I wasn’t the epitome of grace and poise those days, waiting outside school so that I’d catch a glimpse of that guy I had a massive (still an understatement) crush on, only to stutter and make an ass of myself in front of him. Young love…sigh.

My first relationship (if you can call it that) was with perhaps one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known. He was a drummer in a well known band, smelled amazing (!) and was lovely to me. I guess my 17 year old self didn’t know how to cope with the affection and I eventually had to admit to myself that unfortunately good cologne couldn’t be the basis of a strong relationship.

Soon enough, I met the (first) love of my life- again, such a good guy, The Bengali Intellectual, and I, the Rajma Eating Punjabi. We had a good run, only to figure out that no matter how much you tried, Rabindra Sangeet and Daler Mehndi would just not go together (I feel like I need to apologize for the metaphor, but you get the drift…).

Little did I know that my next heartbreak was just around the corner- the (second) love of my life, a man of few words (and I mean, REALLY few) with a fascination for guns and cars (yup, I told you it’s pretty diverse). I absolutely adored him, and perhaps my adoration spiralled into obsession and the few words he said to me quickly turned into zero.

That one took me a while, and some questionable decisions to move on from: the stoner with delusions of grandeur, the so-called ‘relationship ‘with a guy who had shockingly dismal knowledge of American Presidents (Kennedy? Who’s that?)… It’s an eclectic list.

A college internship led to the start of my longest relationship- I was (still) young and impressionable, he was older, smarter and charming. For the first time I felt like a real “grown up”, I felt like this could be it- but of course, it wasn’t. It was the first time I realized I couldn’t be with someone whose politics differed so vastly from mine. That ended rather badly but I remain thankful to him for some valuable life lessons (and for numerous plates of momos that were consumed in the many, many evenings I spent in his house)

A close friend then tried to set me up with The Doctor: my first blind date and for a change, I felt confident. My palms weren’t cold and sweaty and I walked into the restaurant and knew I’d have a great time. Several cocktails later, I knew I’d see him again, and I did. However, that fizzled out due to my own stupidity, because why be with a perfectly nice guy who you have a good time with, when you can pine over men who treat you like shit?

And then I moved to a new city: I was struck by the severe lack of men on campus and beyond, and decided to download Tinder (as detailed in an earlier post). I met someone, went on a few fun dates, (Netflixed and chilled?), but that met with a rather unfortunate and quick end.

The past year has been peppered with rather brief and disappointing encounters (except one or two :D) , yet I remain, like my friend said, positive.

If there’s anything I’ve gathered from my myriad experiences, it’s that every relationship has something to teach you. Honestly, there are a range of lessons to be learnt: from don’t date a guy when you can’t tell the difference between when he’s sober and when he’s high, to never date a man who belittles your achievements and makes you feel like you aren’t enough.

So yes, I continue to look forward to meeting new people, forming relationships (no matter how short lived), because I love the feeling of liking somebody, of being with someone. But I also now know that I am enough. There’s no such thing as a “better half”. We are all enough, by ourselves, just as we are.

Picture Courtesy: Dead Poets Society

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