Some Things Need to Stop, Others Need to be Done

I haven’t blogged in a while, but I am back.

I am here to tell you about something that is bothering me in a way nothing else has ever bothered me before.

We are living in a world where women are constantly objectified, catcalled, beaten and harmed, treated like a second-class species, and regarded as projects that need to be enhanced.

Young teenage girls look up to people like Kylie Jenner who, even if she denies it, has underwent more than 5 plastic surgeries to look the way she looks now. They think that thick and full lips, wide hips, big butt, long eyelashes, and an extremely flat stomach are the correct idea of beauty. Yes, Kylie was able to build her own empire at only 19, but she’s far from a natural. Millions of people are going through plastic surgery to meet the idea of “a perfect face”, when in reality, all they did was turn into dolls full of silicon. Looking up the “baddies” of Twitter and idolizing models/TV icons are pushing young girls to hate their bodies and their appearance and thus creating depression and anxiety when they fail to reach the standards of beauty. Girls don’t want their thighs to touch, don’t want their butts to be flat, don’t want to be flat-chested, don’t want to have stretch marks etc. What they see on Instagram is in reality the outcome of time spent on Photoshop to perfectionate the model. People don’t actually look like that. What’s funny is that girls I know always complained about having natural wide hips, when the idol of many (Kylie) had a surgery to have that body shape.

Moreover, I traveled recently and everywhere I went, it was as if girls and young women wore pretty much nothing. Cropped tops look like bras, and shorts are so short you would think girls are walking in their underwear. The questions I ask myself are why would they expose themselves like that? Is that considered “eye candy”? Do young girls feel better about themselves and how they attract people’s attention that way? I don’t understand. What happened to elegance?

Don’t start barking at me with all your “she can wear whatever the fuck she wants” bullshit. Elegance is my standard, and I wouldn’t allow my daughter or even my sister to walk in the streets wearing clothes that look like underwear. This isn’t about feminism, or women’s rights, or I don’t know what other shit people use as an excuse. This is about self-respect. My body is not an object for display. A woman’s body isn’t eye candy. The only things that should catch a man’s attention should be the way a woman treats others, respects others and herself, how she thinks, how she tackles a problem, and how elegant she is. However, this is only my point of view on the subject. But if a young woman wants to wear these revealing outfits, she should not be objectified, and it shouldn’t be an excuse for anyone to attack or harrass this young woman.

HONY

HONYCAP

“YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHOW SKIN TO GET ATTENTION.”

Now, onto advertisements. I’ll start off by showing you these two videos.

It’s disgusting to see and know that women’s bodies are used as advertising material to sell products. What’s worse is that it is not just found in advertisements, but also in video games (as shown in the first video). The graphics used in video games are highly powerful and portray an image of women that is not technically appealing. Video games also give many male gamers a chance to approach the female character in the game in many sexual ways. Night clubs in video games also have strippers in them, so you can clearly see where this is going.

What’s even worse is that kids everywhere are seeing these advertisements. I’ve come across the idea of the effect of seeing naked women and pornography on children in two books. In the first book, Love Won Out by John and Anne Paulk, Anne tells readers that she had found pornography magazines in her friend’s house and seeing the women, in their very unappealing positions, terrified and scarred her. These images made her feel ashamed of being a woman and were one of the few factors that pushed her to become homosexual. In the second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, Mariam, who was married at a young age to a man older than she is, found a pornography magazine in her husband’s drawer. Again, she was scared and disgusted by the women in the magazine. I’ll show you a third video about kids’ reactions to seeing disturbing ads.

Credits: WomenNotObjects

I think the video says enough. We should protect our little ones, before protecting ourselves.

Furthermore, I would like to talk about a phenomenon observed in my country. My country has welcomed many refugees in the past years and there have been a few incidents ever since. Because of these incidents, girls are afraid of walking in the streets. And it’s not just because of refugees, but men in general. It is highly uncomfortable to walk in the streets and to be looked at as if you were a cookie. No, not all men are uncontrollable, bad, trash or harmful. But what I’m trying to say is that the existence of street harassment cannot be denied. Phrases like “Hi ya helwe” (Hello, gorgeous), “Shou hayda, shou hayda!” (their way to say “hot damn”) are quite often heard in public areas, and the number of girls who are uncomfortable walking in the streets or taking a taxi is increasing. Street harassment needs to stop, and that is by educating our younger ones about respect.

Catcallslippery slope of street harassment

Street harassment has many forms, and until the issue is resolved, the only thing we can do is raise awareness.

Also, There is a project known as the KIP Project on Gender and Sexuality  that tackles the issue of street harassment, and when it comes to my country’s case, the following video was done (it’s in Arabic): https://www.facebook.com/theKIPproject/videos/1782181905406104/

The following video encourages the community to stop street harassment through the use of the hashtag #مش_بسيطة (#ItsNotOkay) and by making powerful campaigns. Thankfully, many non-governmental organizations have succeeded in defending women’s rights in my country and in others, so there’s a lot of faith in the KIP Project.

Read full article: http://stepfeed.com/lebanon-says-mesh-basita-to-sexual-harassment-7470?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=PagePost

Now, what I would like to do is tell you a few things.

  1. Your body is something that belongs to you. If you want to set a goal, take my advice and let your goal be HEALTHY. Not skinny, but healthy. If you want to eat, then go eat. Eat whatever you want.
  2. Your standard should be elegant, not trashy. Trust me, the fashion industry is full of classy clothes that you could wear. And if you insist on wearing whatever you find cool then I can’t really stop you.
  3. Do not respond to catcalling. Or, here’s a trick given by a 23-year-old woman: elevate the comment to your comfort level. If he says, “How are you doing, baby?”, she would say, “I’m doing very well, young man”. And if the form of harassment is a whistle or so, she’d just ignore it. (I love this article: https://www.bustle.com/articles/97065-do-you-respond-to-catcalling-23-women-reveal-how-they-reply-to-street-harassment)
  4. Do not look up to TV icons or celebrities. They enter the industry to try and look appealing and make money out of their stupid products.
  5. Protect your children by observing what they are watching and which games they are playing. Make sure everything is under your control.
  6. Encourage your loved ones to talk if they ever encounter a disturbing ad or go through something that made them uncomfortable.
  7. Love yourself. Love your curves, your bruises, your teeth, your stomach, your clothes, your hair. LOVE YOUR FLAWS.
  8. Change is good, as long as you’re not doing it for others. Yes, go through plastic surgery, not because others pointed out your crooked nose, but because you think it’s better for YOU. If you want to try a new dress style, do it. Because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to or you FEEL LIKE THEY WON’T LIKE YOU if you don’t.
  9. People who don’t like you for who you are are definitely losing an incredible person from their lives. Forget them, find people who will love your personality and your natural looks.
  10. Let a man fall in love with your mind, not just your body.

 

Now I support the WomenNotObjects campaign.

I stand up for my future.
I stand up for myself.
I stand up for my future daughter.
I stand up for my mother.
I stand up for my best friends.
I stand up for my dignity.

Stop objectifying women. Stop hurting women. Stop undermining women. Don’t talk to a woman in a disrespectful way. A woman’s place is not under your power, but in the outer world, in the revolution, in a place where she could make a difference. #WomenNotObjects

 

 

 

on Friendships

There are times when you do something because you think it’s the right thing to do, or because you think you’re doing that thing for the best. There are other times when you let your emotions take control and suddenly you do things that, to you, are fine, but to others, may or may not be as fine. 

This academic year is over and I had decided to look back on that year with my dad the other day. I realized that day that I had messed up throughout the year. I’ve learned that a friendship should never be measured by how often you and your friends talk. Just because you and X talk almost every day, if not every day, doesn’t mean that the two of you have a healthy friendship. My dad gave me the example of his best friends from school. He told me that he and friend A only see each other once or twice every 2-3 years. He and friend B occasionally see each other, and sometimes 5-6 years go by without him talking to friend C on the phone or on Facebook. But do you know what my dad told me? He told me that even if all his friends are away, and that he barely talks to them on social media or barely even sees them, he fully enjoys their company once they get together. He tells me that when they do meet up after a certain while, it’s as if they were never apart. And frankly, I think that’s beautiful. 

Distance shouldn’t be an obstacle for friendship. It’s fine if my best friend and I don’t talk every day. What’s important is that when we see each other in real life, we truly live our friendship; we laugh, we joke around, we share some good stories, and we create some great memories.

Also, I’ve probably talked about this like a million times but I’ll repeat it again. You cannot own friendships. People aren’t ours. Just give them their space, and if they really want to be friends with you, they’ll also call you to make plans and to spend time with you! It wouldn’t be a one-sided effort, and you would face much less disappointments. 

That’s all I have for today. I hope this post was helpful for the ones among you guys who have been through similar situations. Until next time, stay positive, stay elegant, give people their space, smile more often, and keep blogging. 

On a side note, I really wanted to share these song lyrics with you, but there is no proper context to share them. However this song really means to me and it describes an emotional state I’ve spent a lot of time in and I thought you should know about it too. These are two verses from Some Day by Shinedown. 



— Maria H. 

New Beginnings

We can put it all behind us.

There is no need to spend the summer miserable, thinking of what we could’ve done. There is no need to remember all the tears that have been wasted on people who made us feel bad or unimportant. There is no need to remember that our high school crushes actually never liked us back. There is no need to think of all the failed tests, or all the negative attitudes of others, or all the jealousy that has been born, or all the drama that has been created over the past years.

High school is officially over. I graduated. It’s all behind me now.

I would like to thank my parents and friends for always sticking by my side and for reminding me that failure will never define who we are. They played a big part in molding me into the person I am today.

All I can hope for is a promising future, and a bright college experience.

 

April 30th, 2017

I believe I have gathered enough “life lessons” to write a decent inspiring post.

I would like to begin by telling you that no matter how tough the obstacles you’re facing might seem, and no matter how impossible you think life’s being at the moment, it’s important to remember that time always makes things better. When you give things time, without trying to interfere every now-and-then, things eventually get better. Time offers people the chance to look back on whatever has happened. For example, if two friends had an argument, the logical thing to do would be for one of them to apologize. The problem in many cases is that none of the people involved in the argument accepts to admit that s/he is wrong. However, if this is the case, I suggest that each person gives things some time, because the others would still he enraged, and having a discussion with someone who’s mad never goes far. Give the others 2-3 days to calm down (and don’t bring up the subject before then), and that is when you can try to fix things. Time heals.

Another thing I would like to talk about is learning to not be selfish. And by that I don’t mean selfish as in not giving others anything, but as wanting your favorite people only to yourself. Let me elaborate because I am haunted the most by that bad trait. My best friend and I talk every day, and I introduced that friend to my other friends and I was completely cool. But with the years, I started feeling like my best friend and my other friends clicked so well and I had no place in my best friend’s life anymore (yes, maybe I’m overdramatizing it). The sad part is that I started blaming myself for introducing my best friend to other people! The thing I want to tell you is that people can’t be yours. We would love it if they could, but they can’t. And perhaps it’s all in your head. I’m pretty sure your best friends love you a lot (and I do mean a lot) but you have to give them their space! I know it hurts to see your best friend and other friends bonding so well, when you know it’s what you and your best friend always had, but that’s life, and you can’t really stop it. It definitely hurts, and I get it, but you can’t go up to the person and say “hey, no talking to anybody else but me.” 

The last “lesson” I want to mention goes as follows: 

Never, ever, under any circumstances, think that everyone is better than you are. Certainly there are people who are smarter, prettier, or funnier than you are but that doesn’t mean that everyone is better than you are. I am 100% sure that you are extraordinary, that you have a gift the people who are prettier/smarter/funnier would die to have! You are incredible just the way you are, and somewhere out there is someone who will think that you are nothing less than phenomenal. 

That was it for this post, and I would like to tell all the fellow readers out there that  yes, I do talk to you like I’ve had my entire life figured out, but in reality I don’t. Obviously. But these are things you are taught and things you learn every day of your life, and spreading morals and life lessons is actually a good way to grow and turn to the better. Never settle for less than what you deserve, learn to live and be happy even if it takes time, give without taking, love unconditionally, forgive the haters, forgive your mistakes, and keep blogging. 

Little Random Post

I have to be honest and say that I don’t really know where I’m going with this post. Let’s see…

My 15 years in school are practically over. I graduate this year. MOMMA, I’M GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL IN A FEW MONTHS! 

Okay now that I let that out, I would like to confess that the idea of “the future” scares me. My dad says to live day-by-day and not to worry about the future but guess who finds that impossible

I can’t help but think of how I’m about to jump from one phase of life into another without going through a sort of try-living-on-your-own-for-a-few-months experience. I don’t know. I mean for the first 18-to-20 years of your life everything you want is taken care of by your parents and you’re still their little baby and suddenly woop! You’re off to college. You’re now an adult and you’re supposed to handle your life, stress, studies and problems all by yourself. Cool.

I’m applying for a major in biology. Many have asked if by “biology” I meant “pre-med biology” and one can clearly see that they lost interest the second I said no. I have repeatedly received comments such as “PURE BIOLOGY? Then what? Teaching career?”
In fact, yes. I’m aiming for a PhD. Soon, you’ll be calling me “professor”.

However, even if I know that I’m passionate about biology and that I find pleasure in studying it, I still have some doubts. Is it really what I want?

***

Another thing that I’d like to talk about is something regarding school in general. Listen, kids. High school is tough. You will  face competition, you will have emotional breakdowns because of grades, you will face a stress that will sometimes lead to failure, you will go through sleepless nights, you will get heartbroken, you will face disappointments, and you will meet new people and let go of the ones you thought will always stay by your side. But if there’s something I have learned from high school, it’s that grades will never define how smart you are. Perhaps in middle school you never fought for your grades, and maybe other people’s results didn’t mean to you when you were younger. Everything was fine. You did your best and that seemed enough. Now you realized that other people’s achievements do affect you, and that you are indeed fighting for your grades, but guess what? You’re not the only one going through this. In middle school, teachers and administration members push you to do your best so that you can make it to and through high school. However, ever since you start your sophomore year, every teacher starts following you, telling you that you have to excel in everything, enroll in extracurricular activities and all that bullshit because if you don’t, university X won’t accept you.

We all want to get into the best universities. I know that from myself. But I think that school shouldn’t push you to do this and that. The school’s job is to guide you in order for you to choose the university that is best for you and whatever major you want. I think that, in the end, it’s all a matter of reputation. You know, a way for administration members to brag and say “yeah well we have a student, X, who studies at Harvard” and “Yes, our students are going to the American University of Beirut”.

Well, I think I made a point. I’d like to wrap everything up by thanking my parents because they never made a big deal out of a certain bad grade since they know that I’m doing my best, my best friends with whom I grew up because they’ve always had my back, the people I’ve met recently (a few years back) because they have been wonderful, and finally, God, because He always listened to my prayers and eased my pain.

Let this be a lesson to you: do your absolute best, all the time. If you succeed, you’re on the right track. If you fail, try again. Don’t let one, two, or even eight bad grades get you down, because life is about much more than academic results. And finally, the stress you will face is only temporary. When you’re down, always try finding a reason to smile. Stay positive, stay determined, and keep blogging.

Smile More!

Honestly, I believe that in a world where danger reigns, our only solution is to seek help, and stay strong. Easier said than done, you might say, but not impossible. I have liked Unicef’s Facebook page a while ago, and I’ll be sharing some of the pictures I’ve come across. This is a short post, I know, and it’s definitely not that much of a moral lesson, but smiling changes you and makes you stronger. A smile can change you entire day, and believe me, when I saw those few pictures, my heart was overwhelmed with joy. I was happy that the world is turning to the better, no matter how slowly. If you need aid, do not hesitate to search for it. Be kind, be good, and smile more!

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Credits to the Unicef CHAD, Unicef Rwanda, and Unicef Srevige Facebook pages for the pictures.

The World is Red

Autumn has come after a long wait. The sound of crushed, dead leaves, the sight of naked branches, the smell of the ground after the rain, the feeling of the cold autumn breeze on your cheek, the taste of delicious hot chocolate while sitting next to the chimney.

It starts to get dark a little earlier, and everything instantly goes to bed…except me.

Time is passing so quickly, and I don’t know what to do. It’s almost November, and Christmas will arrive soon too. I try to make the best of my days, but it’s like my mind and soul don’t want me to. The world is red right now, but I’m feeling terribly blue.