Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

The culture of fat-shaming: A conversation with Ali Moeen Nawazish

I’ve written extensively about the society’s attitude towards overweight people. Seemingly harmless jokes and unsolicited weight-loss advice often has serious, negative impact on the lives of people struggling with weight problem. I sat down with academic prodigy Ali Moeen Nawazish, to discuss the issue of fat-shaming and body image. Do you consider shaming people for their weight as something perverse? Definitely. Just judging anyone by not their actions, but the way they look, they sound, they speak; the whole concept of judging people based on these arbitrary things is perverse. Have you personally been a victim of fat-shaming, or suffered from poor self-image? Ever ...

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In defence of the ‘fat person’ sitting next to you on a plane

The hardest thing to do is to empathise with a person who is causing you inconvenience; to contain your righteous anger, with a self-reminder that the person doesn’t intend to bother you, and is probably as uneasy about the situation as you are. Some time ago, Rich Wisken wrote an acerbic letter to the airline company, Jetstar, complaining about being made to sit next to an obese gentleman on a flight from Perth to Sydney. He’d spent the duration of his flight periodically arguing with the flight-attendants, and heaping insults on the passenger next to him. In his letter to the company, he referred to ...

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In defence of Bilawal’s vocal cords

Let’s face it; there may be legitimate complaints out there to lodge against Bilawal Bhutto as an emerging politician. An allegedly ‘girly’ voice does not qualify as a ‘legitimate’ political complaint, or even as a ‘harmless’ joke. The things that make us laugh make a statement about us and how we perceive the world. Consider the anatomy of an ‘insult’, and the part of it that actually causes the sting. Why is it insulting to Photoshop a detested politician’s face onto the body of a mule, but not the body of a lion? Because the mule, in our perspective, is a lowly being, ...

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Is ‘Haider’ really a threat to Pakistan’s ideology?

This is not a review of the film ‘Haider’, but an evaluation of the strong political reactions it has generated. This review is unsuitable for adults easily aggrieved by unfavourable judgement of their political views. Vishal Bhardwaj has established himself as an artist who likes to prod controversial subjects, just to see what happens. While the film itself boasts an impressive rendition of Shakespeare’s magnus opus, set to the beat of dazzling musical numbers, and jaw-dropping footage of the embattled valley, what truly stands out is its boldness. India: 2/5 stars While Haider managed to successfully squeeze its way through tight grasp of the Central Board ...

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When did not rising for a national anthem become a crime?

You know you’re insecure about your nationality when you have to raise a ruckus about people not standing up for your national anthem. It’s safe to flag this one as a serious problem. In late August, 25-year-old Salman was charged with sedition in Kerala for refusing to rise during the national anthem as it played in a movie theatre. Additionally, he was charged for posting derogatory remarks about the Indian national flag on Facebook. He was denied bail, and faces life imprisonment. No, I am not kidding. More recently, Preity Zinta boasted on Twitter about throwing a man out of the theatre for the same peccadillo. Why did Ms. ...

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No, Mr Khan. Dictatorship is never better than democracy

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief, Imran Khan, has recently claimed that former President Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship was better than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s democracy, allowing the world to roll its eyes to what has become our national shame – the dictatorship apologia of self-hating democratic politicians. In what has become a weekly tradition of delivering bafflingly misinformed statements, the lines between dictatorship and democracy were blurred by the D-Chowk rage-generators, in an attempt to continually vilify Nawaz’s government. The comparison of dictatorships and democracies is as ludicrous as suggesting that a bad bargain is worse than someone stealing your wallet. Any notion ...

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Qadri Sahib, you cannot ‘rent’ your supporters!

Battered by the monsoon and baked by the sun, many Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) revolutionaries seem to be yearning to return home. Alas, they did not or probably could not read the fine print of the contract they signed with their political party. According to a BBC Urdu report, there is growing discontentment among a large number of protest participants who are, allegedly, not being allowed to go home. These include participants who were injured in the clashes with the police, and are ostensibly unfit to sit-in any longer. A young resident from Bahawalpur informed BBC that he’d been promised a sum of Rs6,000 to ...

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Pakistan’s Hidden Shame: Exposing child sexual abuse and Pakistan’s ‘see no evil’ attitude

Pakistan’s Hidden Shame, a documentary exploring the widespread sexual abuse of children in the streets of Peshawar, is something one wishes every Pakistani would take time to watch, while imploring his or her own eyes to un-see it. The practice of ‘bachabazi’ (child prostitution), as it’s known around the country, is something most of us are aware of. It is an ignominious fact of life in Pakistan that has blended seamlessly among all the other facts we don’t like to talk about. The statistics are hair-raising. Of the estimated one and a half million street children in Pakistan, 90% have suffered sexual abuse. And for every 10 ...

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No Imran Khan, you haven’t ‘won’ yet

As the clouds of smoke, dust and teargas recede, what looms into view is a picture of aggression and lawlessness that spells ‘victory’ for nobody. Maybe Mr Khan lost, but lesser than others did. Imran Khan has made repeated claims over the past few days of his party winning, which leaves one wondering what ‘victory’ really means to him. It’s important for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to not let its supporters be demoralised, and maintain faith in their rebel-leader. Yes, rebel-leader, which can be taken either pejoratively or as a term of endearment, as the reader sees fit. Khan has achieved this with a generous dose ...

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Shireen Mazari’s weight is not a political issue!

Being an overweight public figure isn’t easy. In a world obsessed with appearances, it’s like wearing a ready-made joke on your lapel that you just know your critics will use the first chance they get, however irrelevant it might be. Fat-shaming is effortless. On the list of categories of comedy arranged by the level of creativity involved, a fat joke is half a step higher than letting out a fart and giggling. All one requires, is to take note of the obvious fact that a person weighs more than normal, and compare him or her to any number of large, heavy ...

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