It’s no secret that I like to march to the beat of my own drum, but I’ve always tried to be sensitive in the way I do it. I always believed that as long as I wasn’t hurting anyone and my intentions weren’t misplaced, I could do anything. What I could never figure out was why being an autonomous, bold woman capable of making her own choices was such a big deal.
With social media being so big now, it’s easy to lose your real identity behind a sea of filters and hashtags. That didn’t change much for me. I loved being able to display my life, but I didn’t want it to turn into an elaborate facade either. So I tried to keep it as authentic as I possibly could; if I happened to take a nice photo while I was at a sleepover with a few of my friends and we were in pyjamas, I’d post it. The same way, if I was at a beach and I happened to get a nice photo in a bikini, I’d post it.
So when it became an unreasonably big deal, I couldn’t quite understand why. It didn’t matter whether people were commending me or berating me. The fact that posting a few harmless pictures here and there made me so “scandalous” made me laugh. So for a while, I fed it. I fed the metaphorical monster until it got fatter and more powerful. But there came a point where I couldn’t feed it anymore. It had started learning how to feed itself.
I realised that what I regarded as a “feminist issue,” was much more than just that. I realised that I was the ignorant one. Living half my life in Mumbai and half in New York had blurred a few lines for me, lines that are there for a reason. I questioned my own beliefs very often. I asked myself why I wouldn’t ever think of walking into a temple in shorts and a crop top, and the answer was very simple: It would make people uncomfortable and it would be disrespectful. That’s when it hit me that this frenzy I was stuck in had originated from a small seed of discomfort that kept growing. That discomfort was what I fed the monster, and that discomfort was what made it a self-sufficient creature that brands me.
And so I’ve begun feeding another being. I will continue to be as authentic as I possibly can, but this time, I also want to be authentic within my culture and the place I call home. The kind of bold I want to be doesn’t feed discomfort. My confidence no longer has to feed off someone else’s discomfort, it just has to empower.
Author Bio: Pooja Bedi’s daughter Aalia Furniturewalla is an Insta-star who was slut-shamed over her pictures. She’s currently pursuing film and television studies from New York University.
From HT Brunch, March 5, 2017
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