6 Days to 28: Please Don't Call Me Beautiful

The truth is, I don't have anything against being called beautiful because I know there is a difference between being perceived as beautiful and actually being beautiful. But what I do hope for myself, my friends and loved ones, and for my daughter too should I ever have one, is for people to learn to humanise young girls and women. There's no denying it - there is a certain shallowness and double-standard in our society when it comes to women, beauty and the process of growing older. I'm not one to shame women for wanting to look good and presentable because I'm into fashion and beauty trends myself but I know there is far too much focus on how women look, or rather how women should look.

Hyper-femininity is a way of conditioning women so that they will have many insecurities about the way they look, think, speak and behave. Worst of all, hyper-femininity makes women believe that staying youthful and looking young is the be-all and end-all of their existence. In other words, life itself is against us because the very natural process of growing up and ageing is our enemy. Men don't worry about these things half as much as women do. We need to do something about it. We can start by changing the way we look at ourselves and changing the way we talk to each other or about each other. Let's start with the way we talk to little girls. Let's teach them to perceive themselves differently and show them that they have a personality and a mind that's worth getting to know and worth cultivating.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross 

My definition of beauty has changed tremendously in the last one decade. When I think of some of the most stunning women I know today I realise what makes them beautiful in my eyes is the positive energy they exude, the passion they have for what they do and the way they confidently carry themselves. Almost anyone can look like a million dollars but you really can't buy a personality that lights up a room. You can't buy intelligence, good character or a kind heart. You can buy an education but trust me, you can't buy intelligence at all! This applies to men too because I have met good looking guys who became less and less attractive to me in time because of their unpleasant or shallow personality. 

Today, I want to show women that it's okay to be barefaced and it's okay to not be called beautiful. In fact, it's more than okay because looking beautiful is overrated, much too easy to achieve these days and not to mention, very subjective too. Being beautiful, on the other hand, is what we truly need to embrace and work on. And that's why I find the concept of hijab so fascinating and progressive. In a world that hyper-sexualises women and teaches society to value women for their physical appearance, the hijab helps to take that focus on sensuality away from the public gaze and gives women the option to save a part of herself for herself and those she can trust.

It is liberating to not feel the need to conform to society's norms of what is beautiful and instead figure out what it means for myself. It is nice to be valued for my thoughts instead of my thighs. It is also a relief to not have unwarranted sexual male gaze on me. At the same time, I'm aware no amount of cloth or covering can stop some men from thinking or behaving inappropriately. That's not my battle to fight. That's why I believe the hijab, when worn for the best of reasons, is ultimately a symbol of humility towards God, a symbol of a woman's effort to not please her ego all the time and accept that His wisdom surpasses all of ours combined together. If that isn't beautiful, I don't know what is.

Liberation of Wine
by Nurul Zuriantie Shamsul

Pashmina blended with the softest silk,
It's colour of wine so sweet
But so sinful,
Loyalty to God.

It dances in the wind so freely
But secured are
My values,
My identity.

'Modern' is the society.
And 'backwards' is I,
The girl
In the silk pashmina,
Wine red scarf.

I am,
To know I can be
With just inner beauty

And to
Wonderers of my outer beauty.



To say I am 'oppressed'?



To 'believe' the media?

Don't look at me.
Look into me;
For I am a girl


With her silk pashmina,
Wine red scarf.

This blog post series was inspired by Mark Gonzales (@ideasbygonzales) of wagebeauty.com who started his 40th birthday countdown by sharing a photo blog of reflections on his Instagram account last week. I view Gonzales as a kindred spirit and my brother in faith whose work not only compels me to be myself but to be the best version of myself.