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The kind of bold I want to be doesn’t feed discomfort: Aalia Furniturewalla

A 19-year-old social media star, Aalia, marches to the beat of her own drum

brunch Updated: Mar 27, 2017 18:34 IST
Aalia Furniturewalla
Aalia Furniturewalla
Hindustan Times
Aalia Furniturewalla,slutshaming,women's day
Aalia Furniturewalla is just 19, but when she was slutshamed on social media, she refused to take it take it lying down

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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First Published: Mar 04, 2017 22:50 IST