Sunday, 22 January 2017

Like a girl

"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives". - Jane Austen

When my mum was pregnant with me she knew she was having a girl even before the scan. They'd had a boy name picked out for me but my mum knew she was having a girl. She'd wanted her first child to be a girl and here I am.

Growing up I never really felt that being girl was something negative. I grew up in a bubble in the Middle East in a world that hadn't yet really discovered the internet let alone wifi. We didn't have a television with a satellite dish until 9/11 so my exposure to the outside world was rather limited. 

As a white girl from a pretty middle class family I know that my experiences as a female are just a tiny part of the bigger picture and that I live within a privileged world.  I try and make up for this as much as possible and educate myself out of the realms of what affects just me. Just because something doesn't affect me directly, doesn't mean that it's not important. In fact quite the opposite, it's vital that I understand the even greater picture, anything else would just be me resting on my privilege. 

But as I've gone through my life as a growing woman my eyes have been opened, I've realised that girls have to constantly put up with being part of an endless and contradictory balancing act.  

We're either too fat or too skinny. Too loud, too self-conscious. Too independent, too needy. Too self-obsessed, too shy. Too slutty, too prude. Too outgoing, too boring. Too high maintenance, too sloppy. Too confident, too uninspiring. Too beautiful, too ugly. Too educated, too stupid. Too intimidating, too bland. Too guarded, too easy. Too fierce, too meek. Too vocal, too silent.

It doesn't seem as if we are allowed to just be.

We're indoctrinated to believe in gender norms, that women can only inhabit certain spheres whilst others are reserved for the boys. We're brainwashed to believe the Beauty Myth - the obsession with physical beauty which traps us modern women in an endless spiral of self-consciousness and self hatred as we're told we have to look a certain way in order to be happy and fulfilled, as if beauty is our only priority over motherhood. We're told that there are certain tick boxes we have to accomplish in order to live a worthwhile life: get a certain level of education, find a partner, get married, have children, and whilst you're at it have more children that then continue to live out the prescribed gender lifecycle. If you don't live your life according to these standards you're questioned continually and deemed to have failed as a woman.

But the fight back is on.

"Like a girl" used to be that insult that boys used to throw around in primary school. But 'like a girl' is being reclaimed. Women have always had to fight that little bit harder to get where we need to get, and if we do that 'like a girl', well then you damn well know we're giving it all we have.

I revel in being a girl. I revel in being a girl that makes her own career choices, that makes her own reproductive choices and her own life choices. I revel in being in a position where I can make those choices all the while bearing in mind that I'm very privileged in being able to do so. Because for so many women out there, being able to have the opportunity to make those same choices as me, is a lot harder.

I've been incredibly inspired by the news yesterday. Seeing all genders, all ages and all races come together for the Women's March not only in Washington but all over the world, has brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. It makes me realise that I've been sat back too long, that I need to do something with what I have and who I am. I'm more motivated than ever to do something worthwhile.

When women work together to support each other amazing things can happen.

So; be confident like a girl. Be strong like a girl, kick ass like a girl. Fight back like a girl and always remember to stay nasty.

"A girl should be two things: who and what she wants."

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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Starting Over - New Year, Better(ish) Me

Photo by Gold Cut

New Year New Me right?

Well not necessarily.  

I’m still very much the same Nina that left 2016 feeling slightly disgruntled about this stagnant period of my life. I’m still the same Nina who watches bad reality shows and can eat a ‘To Share’ bag of crisps in one sitting whilst wearing a cat onesie. 

2016 turning into 2017 doesn’t magically throw up a totally new me over the course of an evening. As much as I sometimes wish it did. There’s that scientific myth that we replace all the cells in our bodies so that after 7 years we are a completely new ‘person’. Whilst that’s a beautiful thought it seems that biology just doesn’t work in that way, so I can’t rely on my magical and amazing cells to help me become who I want to be.

So instead of relying on a biological myth, I’m trying to employ the ‘New Year, Better(ish) Me’ mantra.

I’ve always wanted to be that girl with the clear skin, who goes to the gym in the morning, sleeps like a baby and does constructive things with her time (maybe like not writing a blog on the internet but there you have it).

So this January is all about taking those baby steps into the journey of becoming the person that I’ve always wanted to be.

I finally signed up to a fancy gym again. The result is that I’m paying an eye watering amount of money per month, but at least that guilt trips me into going more than twice a week. This week I made it to the gym at 6:30 and swam 36 lengths in the pool for the first time since I was a teenager. I was asleep at my desk in work by 9:10 and ate three digestive biscuits. Like I said, baby steps. Kayla Itsines I am not nor will I most likely ever be.

Every evening before I go to sleep, I write down five things that I’m grateful for from my day, because even on the worst of days there’s always something to be happy about. 

I’ve stacked the books that I’ve bought to look good on my bookshelf by my bed instead. This year I’m determined to feed my mind with words rather than Instagram photos.

From Monday to Friday I’ve planned to step away from the crisps and try to curb my love of pasta. But the weekend is a free for all because life is also for the living and eating all you can eat at brunch.

I like the person I am fundamentally. I know I make people laugh, that I’m caring and fun to be around. But I also know I can be clingy, annoying and sometimes crippled with self loathing which is masked by being a bit full on in social situations.

So like I said, ‘New Year, Better(ish) Me’ because I care enough about myself to acknowledge that there’s parts of me that don’t need any work at all. But some parts of me need a little extra care, love and focus. It all sounds so simple but it’s never a thought process that I’ve paid attention to or had the determination to follow through.  

Let’s see how I get on shall we? 

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