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Poet Nupur Saraswat On The Toxic Conditioning That Makes Women Feel Inadequate

  • IWB Post
  •  April 15, 2019

There are a lot of restrictions being placed on women by society. An image of an ideal woman is thrust upon all young girls, they’re conditioned to fit that image, and they’re raised to fit perfectly in that unyielding mould.

Women are always ‘too’ something, too loud, too quiet, too thin, too plump, too ambitious, too unambitious… the list is never-ending. It’s so easy to say that our harsh words are to sculpt these girls into the perfect women, as our elders often do, without realizing the trauma such constant disapproval causes. The insecurities, those feelings of never being enough or always being too much to handle take root right from their childhood and unlearning such deep-seated trauma takes up entire lifetimes.

One woman who has overcome the insecurities instilled in her and is trying to help other women is Nupur Saraswat. A poet from Delhi, Nupur had been shamed for being voluptuous and having curly hair. Her own mother used to tell her, “Log patli ladkiyan pasand karte hain, moti ladkiyan doosre kaamon ke liye hoti hain.”

(Delhi, India) “A ‘big girl’, that was my identity for the longest time – I was voluptuous, with extremely curly hair. It started with my mom; she believed that only straight hair was beautiful. She oiled and brushed my hair everyday, hoping it’d come ‘under control’. And when I got older, she began straightening it. I used to get teased incessantly – girls would make fun of me, boys would throw paper balls at me. I always felt very visible, very ‘big’. When I told a guy I liked him, he said, ‘Your hair is too bushy.’ It hurt, but it also meant that I needed to change in order to be his girlfriend; anybody’s girlfriend. I moved to Singapore when I was 15, hoping that things would be different. But the patterns from my childhood began repeating. The Vice Principal kept calling me out for letting my hair down. One day, the hostel warden came to my classroom and dragged me back to the hostel by my ear. She told me it was because I had let my hair down again after repeatedly being told to tie it up. Funny thing is, I had tied it up that morning but the hair tie broke. I felt humiliated and broken. All the women in my life, especially the ones in positions of power, had let me down – I had no role models. My mom even said to me, ‘Log patli ladkiyan pasand karte hain, moti ladkiyan doosre kaamon ke liye hoti hain’. I was baffled because I knew she cared for me but her words were harsh. She’d betrayed her own womanhood by making me believe that I was only worthy of love if my body type was slim. I eventually quit my corporate job of 2 years to make sure my story is heard and I wrote my first piece – a war cry to all my curly haired sisters out there. Every woman can relate to my journey! Once a girl in the audience broke down and said her marriage was falling apart because her husband didn’t find her attractive anymore. This kind of toxic conditioning is what makes us feel that we’re too fat, too thin, too quiet, too loud – just never enough! How is that possible that none of us are enough? This is my fight at the end of the day – to celebrate womanhood, in its entirety. And if I could, I’d tell every woman – come out and be twisted, come out and be mine.”

3,921 Likes, 80 Comments – We, The People (@official.wethepeople) on Instagram: “(Delhi, India) “A ‘big girl’, that was my identity for the longest time – I was voluptuous, with…”

Sharing her story on the Instagram page We, The People, Nupur says,” A ‘big girl’, that was my identity for the longest time – I was voluptuous, with extremely curly hair. It started with my mom; she believed that only straight hair was beautiful. She oiled and brushed my hair every day, hoping it’d come ‘under control’. And when I got older, she began straightening it.
I used to get teased incessantly – girls would make fun of me, boys would throw paper balls at me. I always felt very visible, very ‘big’. When I told a guy I liked him, he said, ‘Your hair is too bushy.’ It hurt, but it also meant that I needed to change in order to be his girlfriend; anybody’s girlfriend.”

Hearing such harsh words everywhere she went left Nupur feeling hurt, dejected, and humiliated. She worked hard to let go of all of those negative feelings. “This kind of toxic conditioning is what makes us feel that we’re too fat, too thin, too quiet, too loud – just never enough! How is that possible that none of us are enough? This is my fight at the end of the day – to celebrate womanhood, in its entirety. And if I could, I’d tell every woman – come out and be twisted, come out and be mine.”

 

 

 

 

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