Tuesday, September 25, 2012

skinny white girls

Yesterday, one of our quieter and more well-behaved students barely escaped suspension. Her crime? She was found heavily under the influence of drugs. Her reason for taking that pill? She was told it would make her fairer and skinnier.

We were surprised because while she's no string-bean Snow White, she wasn't that dark, nor fat, nor unattractive. She was tearfully remorseful and she swore it was her first time and that she would never repeat it again. We believed her because she is a very well-behaved girl- quiet and attentive in class, assignments done well and submitted in time, 90% attendance in class. We received apologies from the student herself, as well as her parents, and the warden at her hostel who expressed shock because this incident was so unbecoming of her.

We pored over her Student Profile page again and again and the talk around me centred on Colonial hangovers and the naivety of our young girls.

I don't need to recount how this obsession to be fair and skinny most probably might be brought about by the images of Korean celebrities that we are now inundated with, and their clear, fair skin and their skinniness. While the Western world celebrates tanned, golden skin, we identify more with Orientals, and being fair of skin is still regarded as an indicator of beauty.

And for celebrities, looking good is their profession and they work with dieticians, personal fitness instructors, make-up artists and even cosmetic surgeons to look that good. Its well nigh impossible for the average girl to look like them. And yet, we try.

There's this pill I've heard about which is used to treat ovarian problems or something and the required dosage is one a day. And these young girls take upto 10 pills a day because it makes their skin whiter and paler and makes them lose weight. A short-cut method to looking like the celebrities they adore, I suppose, but at what cost?

That student might never take those pills again but will she stop undervaluing herself because she is not as fair, nor as skinny as the girls she sees on TV?

I'm not exempt and neither are so many of the girls I know. The fat girls want to be thin, the thin girls want curves, the dark girl wants fair skin, the fair skinned girl wants wrinkle free skin, the straight haired girl wants curls, the girl with curls wants straight hair.
Ka ziahzawm peih tawhlo.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Call it self-fulfilling prophecy if you will. Ever since 2002, I have expected September to be a month for losses and general blahness, and it always delivers. This is the time when I get too weak to fight and I lay down my arms and I give in. A time when I willingly give myself over into the darkness and I hibernate.

This is when I use minimal make-up, when I let myself go, physically; that time of the year that I favour grays and blacks and drab colours; when my hair becomes limp even when its clean.

Looking back at my blog entries, September 2010 I wailed about loss and regret and loneliness. August 2011, my last entry said I was content, yet uninspired, and the first entry in October still said I was content, though questioning the nature of happiness. There were no entries for September. In September I had nothing worth speaking about, I guess.

September is a time of transition, and being someone who finds transitions hard, I guess its natural that this month foreshadows a period of gloom for me. This is the time that the sunshine takes on a different cast. This is when the wind starts to creep inside your bones, silently, sinuously. This is when you realise that the year is halfway done, and you find yourself disappointed by what you have not achieved, again. This is the menopausal time of the year.

I look forward to October. October with its mellow sunshine, when leaves start to turn yellow and the nights are lovely. October is, for me, the old and the new coming together. A time for reconciliations, new alliances, a tentative hello from winter, a lingering caress from summer. And September is the in-between in a way that I can't quite explain.

I suppose September is the woman fighting time, age and the loss of youth. And October is the older woman emerging from that fight, triumphant in the knowledge that there is still some life left in her old bones.

Thusly, I hibernate.
See you in October, love.