“Look at his arms, they’re huge”: The naked truth of how men have body image issues too

A few months ago, my brother and I were at the grocery store picking up some snacks for movie night. The checkout line was stocked with entertainment magazines and tabloid covers. One of them was Men’s Health – I don’t remember what was on the cover, but they’re all the same.  “Drop 10 pounds of fat now!” “Three ways to naturally boost your testosterone.” “Get huge arms and a chiseled six-pack fast!”  Something like that, I’m sure. What I do remember is that the cover model’s arms looked as wide as my head, and his abs may as well have been sculpted by ...

Read Full Post

The downfall of Bahria University: From a prestigious institute to the “six-inch university”

“Men and women are to maintain a distance of at least six inches while sitting/standing together.” Imagine reading this somewhere, or hearing about it. What would your first reaction be? Perhaps something like, “Oh my God! The Taliban are back! They must have started enforcing their version of Shariah, and are probably planning to bring the days of terror back to the country!” If so, relax! This notice wasn’t issued by those fanatics, but by a renowned semi-government university, and is applicable only within its premises. It all began when a notice was issued by Bahria University’s (BU) director, requiring male and female ...

Read Full Post

I am a Muslim, but I fake fasting in Ramazan

It’s Ramazan and my mother is in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove preparing a big feast. She’s fasting, even though she is a 64-year-old diabetic. As for myself? Earlier in the day, I had a huge fish and chips platter for lunch, but my Muslim family believes I’m fasting with them. This has gone on for years. During the month of Ramazan, most of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims will observe by basically not partaking in any vice for 30 days. From sunrise to sunset, all able-bodied Muslims are required to “fast”; prohibited from eating, drinking (yes, even ...

Read Full Post

Feminism needs to cater to Muslim women, not the other way around

Feminism needs to include women of colour, Muslim women, disabled women, sex workers, trans women, gay women, queer women, fat women, skinny women. It needs to cater to all women. The fact that the term ‘intersectional feminism’ exists proves that the general movement is often exclusive and largely white. Mainstream, western feminism isn’t always intersectional. There are feminists who often don’t realise or can’t relate to the fact that for women of colour, of different faiths, abilities, it’s not just gender that they’re discriminated on. Such women are affected by these circumstances professionally, socially and mentally, and yet don’t always receive the ...

Read Full Post

Why is the Wagah border ceremony a competition of nationalism?

It has been 70 years since India and Pakistan emerged from a single, coherent geographical unit as two sovereign nations, and both states do their best to remember and reaffirm this. Every day at around 4:30pm, the Wagah border prepares for a unique ceremony, wherein the soldiers stationed at and near the border gates on both sides re-state the identity of India and Pakistan as sovereign nations, while their people cheer for them. As the dusk sets in, it is time to lower their respective flags, but both countries do so by giving a warning to each other. The gates ...

Read Full Post

To all the Wonder Mums out there, do not let society shame you for the choices you make

I have come to realise that no matter which part of the world they are from, mothers have one thing in common: putting up with unsolicited advice and dealing with intense scrutiny and judgement for the parenting choices they make. Hence, this Mother’s Day, I decided to write a message to all the mothers facing this issue out there. These mothers are trying hard to do the best they can by their children, while being constantly questioned and being made to feel they have got it all wrong. The constant unsolicited remarks a mother receives are not limited to family, friends ...

Read Full Post

Why I teach my daughter to raise her hand

Upon her return home from school, I asked my daughter whether or not she raises her hand in class, to which she replied,  “Yes mom, I did,” she said. “In fact, I raise my hand all the time now, even when I am not sure if I have the right answer.” I can’t describe how proud I am that my daughter raises her hand to speak up. Not being sure of the answer is fine by me, as long as she takes a risk and tries anyway. On the contrary, I would be a little upset if she would not engage and ...

Read Full Post

When did dancing go from a form of art to a taboo, dishonourable act?

I am blessed to enjoy rhythm in my life, and blessed to have parents who put no restrictions on my body’s movement to music. I grew up as a typical uninteresting teenager; music blaring from my room, no matter what time of the day or night it was. I was so obsessed with music that even my telephone conversations with my girlfriends mostly consisted of singing along to the lyrics of the latest popular songs. All this was made possible due to growing up in a home in Lahore which provided space and privacy without disturbing the peace of other family members. My ...

Read Full Post

A Sindhi living in Sindh, yet ashamed of their own “tacky” language

I am one of those lucky few who got to spend her childhood with her grandparents. My grandfather would tell me stories of the days of Partition. He was quite young at the time, but seemed to remember every single detail about how everyone in his village would prepare for the people coming to live in Sindh from across the border. He told me how the women would prepare and bring food to the railway platforms, and how some people would even vacate their homes to welcome the refugees. I would often ask him why they had to do ...

Read Full Post

“My bahu is prettier than yours” – When marriage turns into a beauty contest

“Mashallah! Bohat pyari hai aap ki bahu!”  (Your daughter-in-law is very pretty) “Bahu hai aap ki? Khoobsoorat hai!” (Is she your daughter-in-law? She is beautiful) These are the type of comments that I, a newly married bahu, gets to hear whenever my mother-in-law introduces me to relatives and acquaintances in social gatherings. Some people are very straight forward and say it right away to my face, while others pass comments on my looks in their gossip sessions. Though they are making an effort to praise me via these comments, I never take them as compliments. In fact, I don’t like it at all. I feel that everyone ...

Read Full Post