Friday, 4 August 2017

Why I Won't Ever Buy A Barbie Doll For My Daughter

Hi there! I have been meaning to write this since quite some time now. It is quite a controversial topic. Just recently, when I was gift searching for my cute little neighbour's birthday gift and visited Hamleys, I was sure enough, as I walked down the toy aisle,  I didn't want to buy her a doll; but what made my resolution stronger was the collection of Barbie dolls I saw.

There were various doll sets, many with kitchen sets, utensils, and what not. Because why not, 'it's a girls thing', isn't it? I was quite surprised to even notice Barbie's dressed as brides, and also Barbie couple sets, (I couldn't resist clicking :/) because it annoyed me, naturally the makers try to tell you girls, how important getting married is, and to find that suitable man for you.


While you want your child to have diverse toys and a rich imaginative play session, I fail to find reasons to brainwash your daughter right from a tender age to know that household chores are only her responsibility, that a marriage is only when you deck up and put on a red lehenga and adorn dozens of gold on yourself, that while playing "ghar-ghar", kitchen is always her arena and the boy always goes to office.

Barbie has possibly been the most famous doll in the world after her debut in 1959. She has represented fifty nationalities (she is a racist too : see below!) and has held over one hundred careers. Girls from age’s three to ten own at least one Barbie doll if not more. When people think of Barbie they think of a tall skinny supermodel woman with a perfect waist, perfect hair, perfect clothes, and a perfect life. 


But are Barbie dolls a good influence on our girls? I don't think they are. Many might disagree!

A role model shouldn’t be someone we imitate; instead they should be someone who opens up possibilities and choices of who we can be; someone whose qualities and characteristics should serve as the underpinning of our future selves.

But Barbie's come adorned with chunky high heels and hot-pink purse that according to them defines beauty and smartness. Barbie's are unrealistic perfection.

I don’t hate the princesses as people—they’re all really kind girls. But Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White are the same person in different bodies. They have no personality whatsoever, just superficial standards. Barbie life becomes #LifeGoals to young girls. Nothing in life, is ever so perfect. We need to teach our girls that.

We have definitely been a part of their journey that promised happy endings where the unfortunate princess-in-distress is rescued by a very handsome prince. We need to un-teach the unfeasible, sugar coated ideal of womanhood and instead, teach your daughters to save themselves from anything that affects their wellbeing, and put up a brave fight, despite a prince being there for her or not.

Some skeptics may argue that Barbie is just a toy and has nothing to do with reality. However, every child is influenced by the toys they play with. That’s why society is constantly giving children toys that are designed to prepare them for their adult life. Toys such as doctor’s kits, plastic kitchens, shopping carts, and baby dolls are all components to steering a child into typical and stereotypcial adult lives, sometimes, fairy tales and happy endings.

The only reason that any of the princesses get a happy ending is because they’re gorgeous. I have seen, heard, and read more Cinderella renditions than I can possibly count, and every Cinderella character seems to have one trait in common: She’s pretty. Cinderellas can also be active or passive, bold or shy, rebellious or submissive, outspoken and strong, or worn out and broken down. None of these qualities really matter because the only attribute she actually needs to get the prince is beauty. Imagine if the princesses were of average attractiveness. Cinderella is never noticed by her prince, Snow White’s prince never has the absurd urge to kiss a dead girl, and Sleeping Beauty isn't followed by Phillip in the woods. Aladdin would never become smitten with Jasmine, and so on. We’re telling little girls that physical beauty is their most important trait.

Princess stories repeatedly advertise love at first sight. Princesses marry a prince after only interacting with him once! Plus, these movies make marriage look like the end of the story (really, it’s just the beginning: you have the whole rest of your life ahead of you!).

I would instead teach my daughter to idolize someone who is independent, to look up to men who don't just find you 'hot' like you are a temperature and see only your outer beauty,  but chase you for what you are from within and see you as a whole being.

There are real life princesses who are bold, individualistic, independent and contribute tremendously to social and economic development in their countries and internationally. Time for a paradigm shift – next time you want to gift a Barbie to a five year old you might want to reconsider. Perhaps a set of boxing gloves or an enrolment in Karate classes would be a better idea. :)

Friday, 7 July 2017

Gratitude Exercise - How To Stay Positive!


Positivity is a powerful and infectious mindset that can make a real difference to people, communities, and companies! Lets paint the town with it, I say!

Change your life with the simple exercise of thanking it for little things! Give your day a boost and practice the strategy of gratitude!

So, I have this playlist called "The Positivity Project" on my channel, do comment below the video and share how do you stay positive? Lets spread goody, goody vibes :D

Subscribe to my YouTube channel Pljjj: HERE

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Book Review : The Wise Man Said


Publisher: Books That Inspire (2017)
Language: English
Genre: Self Improvement
ISBN-10: 8193391209
ISBN-13: 978-8193391204


    SYNOPSIS - Sammy is an 80 year old billionaire, who finds himself at the peak of his success built on a mountain of sacrifices. He decides to participate in a life he missed to live. Eleven months in a year he leaves behind his identity and money and allows his curiosity and his willingness to experience anything—death even, to take him on life changing adventures and experiences across the world. Loaded with wisdom, surprise, humor and an eagerness to embrace life, The Wise Man Said is a collection of twelve such adventures of Sammy, where his journey becomes his greatest achievement—a life well lived.

    Few days back, Priya Kumar’s team approached me for a review of this book. And having read her “The Calling”, I immediately agreed to review this one too! Priya is known to send her books for review so thoughtfully always along with cute goodies and merchandise (check the review of “The Calling” and what she sent in last time here); this time she sent a cute and a meaningful poster along with the book that has gone up on the green board of my room.


    The Book Jacket : The cover is so beautiful and magical. By seeing the cover you will get an idea that this book is going to take you on an adventure. Reading Priya’s books is equal to traveling to another world which we never thought of. Her creativity ..her imagination..is just another level.

    My Review : This is a lovely book with great insights. Priya’s writing style is so positive and uplifting, it always leaves me with good vibes and smiling ear to ear. Priya says what she wants to say in a very clear & interesting way. Like her last book, “The Calling”, even this one totally resonated with me. She is someone who goes the extra mile, inspires you.

    The book is about the 80 year old Sammy who travels around the world with no money and no identity. The author takes you to 12 different rare locations around the world and through the journey of Sammy's self realization. The author has chosen such beautiful, amazing , mysterious, magical places and she describes them ever so beautifully. He just goes to places, meets people and gathers experiences about life. He just takes the path as an ordinary being despite his riches. All through his journey, the Wise Man survives on the exchange…exchange of goodness, humanity and wisdom.

    Some of the stories of old man are simply WOW. They are constructed so beautifully that, they have the ability to surprise you at every phase. The story touches the heart in all the right places & teaches, what needs to be taught.

    The key notes/ synopsis at the end of each chapter is a very good practice by the author and summarizes your takeaway from the read. Actually, this book is worth reading a multiple times. Every time you read it, you get a different perspective and gives you some precious lessons throughout the journey of uncertainty that life is. This book will question your belief system. Each and every chapter has a new adventure waiting for you.

    VERDICT: Priya Kumar has brilliantly aligned the past, present, and future with life, underlining the importance of living in present. She conveys the message through the journey of The Wise Man that material possessions never bring you fulfillment in life but values do!

    An excellent read. A must for travel lovers! My advise is don't read the entire book in one go. Read it chapter by chapter each week and take time to reflect on it. You need to soak in the goodness of this book.

    Rating – 5/5

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Letter To My 21 Year Old Self





Dear Me!

Ah, you will be turning 26 this November! Although it isn't quite a lot of time, since 21, but you were a different person, 4 years ago, mentally at-least. I wanted to write a letter to you; a letter full of truth, confusion and hope - raw and authentic and not a rosy one. This is you from the future, sailing in to drop a few bombs of knowledge on that you will wish you knew back then. This is what I could have written to that girl I was, and to any other girl who is feeling overwhelmed by life as a young woman growing up in today’s world.

In these 4 years I’ve seen you fall into the deepest of lowest and I’ve also witnessed your rise, your strength, your glory.  At times you have impressed me, you have really left me speechless by your boldness, your efficiency. At other times, I have wept for you. I have bled for you. I have felt for you. I have wanted to move mountains and slay dragons just to console you & take away your pain. You have had moments of unspeakable fear, of crippling anxiety. There have been times when you stopped believing, when your heart - blessings to it - was shattered by life circumstances, put back together only to be walked on again and again by emotional conmen. You have been through it; some things no one even knows. 

You just turned 21 - milestone! Woot, woot! Feels like a woman, no? Just got done with B.E, with what-to-do next lying ahead, life still feels good as you finished what you didn't want to take up! Four years went by, didn't they? It was the good company of Naquiyah, Gazala, Bhagyashree and Kanchan though, that kept you going year after year, or else you were doomed in Engineering. Btw, we guys are still friends, we meet rarely, but it is always like the old times whenever we do, from 2009 it has been 8 years to this bond, feels like family almost.

And this isn't going to be the most flowery representation of what lies ahead of you. Life is about to churn you up. And it still does to me! But you ought to stay calm, as you cannot do anything better.

You will finish your Masters in the next two years, with wonderful opportunities coming your way. And then as you look back, at the journey from wanting-to-become a doctor to a professor, you would still be content with life. And you know what? Your students will adore you to bits!

You will meet a couple of spineless douchebags, who will make you build a future around them, and then leave midway. Life will still go on. Days will be heavy certainly, but life didn't stop for anyone. Love will cost you a piece of your soul, lost, forever. Suddenly, your world will be devastated. But, let me tell you that's going to be the best thing that would've happened to you because you're going to engross yourself in work and would try to do your best to be the best. Make yourself a priority, in this phase.

You don't even know what a pure soul you're because you won't treat anyone badly. From a waiter to a beggar, to a taxi driver you'll love and respect everyone equally because you know the value of being loved unconditionally without any labels. 

You'll have everything you want and some days you'll still feel bad but that's just the part of life. Don't over think it.

Don’t be afraid to rest sometimes. On the days where you are exhausted and just feel like you can’t keep going, give yourself a break. Self care isn’t selfish, and as life progresses you will need it even more. Take time to do the things you love because they’re just as important as “work.”

If you feel alone at times, talk to your mom she'll do anything to keep you happy, trust me she's going to be your biggest supporter. She is your best friend and wants only the good for you, in fact the best. Listen to her advice.

Develop the mindset that the creator does not make any mistakes. Everything is going to happen as planned. Let go, master that art. You will suck at it. But try to let go and not cling on to what you are losing. Let shit go.

Read more! You have begun writing your book, please write, write, write more, because 4 years down, I can still see it unfinished. Now is all the time you have!

Btw, you will soon have blogs and even a vlog. Cool things will be happening. You will get so many books to review, from authors. You will have a huge bookshelf adorning your room! Your blog will lead you to meet Bollywood Biggies for a day and even clicking pictures with them! You will get to attend Lakme Fashion Week complementary passes for three continuous years and so many other blogger events! You will get to see Rekha Bharadwaj and Kumar Sanu's live performances! You are even going to lend your voice dubbing for a short film!

Value Mama Papa, spend more time, and talk more with them, rather than being busy in your phone always. You will be blessed to have casual trips with family and friends often. You have the best parents who never leave you with empty pockets and sad moods.

Pray often. Go to the gym, don't neglect fitness.

You will have a cute baby girl in your neighbour when you shift houses and she will be responsible for almost turning your depression to positivity, on tough days!

You will never truly know the beauty of what lies ahead, should you have chosen to give up. Don't give up on things that will take more time to come to you.

I know inside you’re not feeling so glamorous. In a city full of chic, slim women you feel like you stick out like a little fat sore thumb. You feel ugly and you are conscious of the fact that almost everyone around has had a boyfriend, and you never had a guy telling you ever that he liked you. You are probably thinking you have some problem going on. But wait... a little sneak peek into the future, hardly any of the girls you saw with boyfriends are with their boyfriends now, even the ones you found so cute together and saw them as "goals".

I know it feels like a boy will never fancy you and you’ll often try to validate yourself. Your friends will all be in relationships and you’ll feel left behind. However, a relationship that will break your heart real bad, will change your life. Don't let one person ever consume you. Don't invest so much emotion in your relationships because you will always be let down. The deeper you go, the harder it will be to get back up on your own. 

Never feel sorry for yourself. Which brings me to, please don’t stress about not having everything figured out. The truth is you never will, but you will get better at accepting it in time.

I know it doesn’t seem like it, but you have so much more privilege than you have any clue about. Practice gratitude every damn day. Count your blessings rather than misfortunes. Don't surround yourself in negative energy, be less angry.

Don't regret something after it meets a bad end, because at one point, it will be dearest to you and you would want it badly at a point.

As the world gets bigger to you, you will realize how small you are within it and how little anything you do really matters. You are an imperceptible grain of sand in millennia and millennia in a universe greater than anyone can imagine. So stop worrying so much that you’ll make a mistake, because it’s not as big of a deal as you think. Cherish your mistakes and learn from them.

Try choosing happiness often. Choose your battles carefully.

The greatest skills you will acquire over the next 4 years are recognizing the power of honesty, the importance of compassion, and the incredible skill of patience. To be honest, that last one is still something you struggle with!

You’re going to spend a lot of time alone, which right now probably sounds terrible, bleaky, but it will be exactly what you need.

You will face a lot of rejections related to job, some based on religion, some due to lack of your own preparation, some you will lose to luck. But never give up. Improve yourself every day.

You will also realize the religion thing - the world takes it very seriously, be it personal or professional matters. It is not always like - "Oh we are in 21st century", people are not always very cool about it, even in 2017!

As I can see, you are almost always fighting to get things that are your rights. I want you to take things easy and learn to let go of things that are beyond your control. Because that way you have lost things and people. Actually, they didn't belong to you in the first place. Since what is given to you with full heart, you don't have to yearn or fight for it. What is yours, stays. Remember this. Don't force connections. Let the vibes come naturally.

Never allow yourself to become any man's option. Wait till you have someone who has his life inside you, and is ready to do what it takes when THE TIME comes. Because love happens often, men will fall for you, but people never commit completely.

Never hurry to fall for someone, by getting in the worldly traps of "You have crossed the age, get married", or a man saying sweet things. Take your time! Finding someone to love you and be your life partner is not and never will be the answer. There’s nobody coming to save you. You have to save yourself.

Don't depend on others often. Be on your own. Shop alone, eat alone. Learn this. Love yourself enough to know how well you deserve to be loved by someone. Enjoy your company before you share your time with somebody else.

Memories... they are easy to make. Please be sure who you choose to make them with, because they are almost impossible to erase in time.

There will be times you will ask yourself ’why me?’ The answer to that is simply, ‘why not you?’ Every fucked up thing that has happened to you has made you me. Know that it’s all going to happen the way it’s supposed to happen, just as the Universe intends. I am far from perfect but I know based on everything that will happen to you, I am now enriched with resilience, empathy and worldliness. Accept your journey as it is.

You will become the girl you always have been and you will let her shine through. I ignite these luminous beacons of advice not so much to help guide you but rather reassure you that everything is going to be ok.

I am so proud of you! XOXO. Focus on joy, and chase your dreams… I’ll be watching, and I’ll be checking in. Go get ’em.

Love Always,
Aayesha.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Book Review : The Secret Wishlist

Publisher : Westland
Genre : Fiction
ISBN : 978-9382-618-188 
Price : 175
Pages : 256


The Secret Wishlist revolves around Diksha, Ankit, Tanu, Sandeep and Abhay. It starts off in Chennai, where, as a sixteen-year-old, Diksha is like any other typical teenager. She and her best friend Tanu spend hours and hours of time studying, discussing the latest crushes and gossiping. Enter Ankit, Diksha’s elder brother’s friend. Both Ankit and Diksha start liking each other and spending quite a bit of time together without the knowledge of either the parents or her elder brother.

Cut to the present. In Bangalore, Diksha is married to Sandeep and they have a son Abhay. Diksha’s entire day, rather, existence revolves around both of them. Right from making the morning tea, to breakfast, lunch and dinner to catering to every whim and fancy of Sandeep and Abhay, Diksha seems to not have an individual life at all. She does not seem to mind her daily mundane life either.

Initially, when the book begins, the way she keeps on shuffling between both the periods of story is too interesting. The school life of Diksha isn't kept too cheesy like other authors. Then her equation with Sandeep, her husband is described perfectly. I was able to imagine each and every sequence as it seems to be real and not a single part seems to be filmy and exaggerated.

However, a sudden event in her cousin’s life seems to jolt her out of her existence. At the behest of the cousin, she decides to try and take some control over her life and makes a wishlist – a list of things which she truly wants to do.

By a fortuitous turn of events, Tanu (who has been working at Gurgaon and recently re-located to Bangalore) re-enters her life and tells her that Ankit has been wanting to get in touch with her since a long time. With this conversation, Diksha’s heart and mind are forced to confront whether she would really want to meet him; if yes, what would the future course of action be, etc. How the issue is sorted out forms the climax of the story.

The best part about Preeti’s writings is the time and effort spent in etching out each and every character and the interactions between them. Diksha as a bubbly teenager; Diksha as a housewife; Diksha as a housewife wanting to live out her wishlist; Diksha as a housewife imagining what it would be to go back to Ankit – all the various stages have been carved out beautifully. Sandeep’s character has been shown to be a typical, male chauvinist who only cares for his well-being without giving a thought to what his wife wants. The draggy narration of how the protagonist's husband uses as housemaid and sex toy as if is not painful enough, it is repeated in every tenth page making sure the readers still continue to hate him.

Few bits I liked are the Salsa and the details, the mother in law who seemed extremely understanding and sweet. Such characters again are rare species in real life. I mean there are mothers who support even rapist sons so I don't think a mother in-law will support a daughter in-law immediately if she wants to walk out of a marriage. I liked the concept of writing down a secret wish list and I loved the cover page which lead to my great expectations.

Every woman and for that matter every man should read this book. The women cause we at times let people take us for granted and also there needs to be some self searching to be done. Some women get so engrossed in their mundane house-office work they forget what it is to actually live. And all the men so that before they start considering their wife to be just a "housewife" realize that she too is a human who has her own dreams and life.

Preeti Shenoy managed to pick one of the most ignored topic in Indian society, the suppression an indian housewife goes through, which although is quite appreciated, is also a story that is already known to everyone. A warm, heart-touching tale of a woman who tries to break free from her abusive husband and find her own calling.

Shenoy is able to create moments of laughter, surprise and above all empathy through her words, which stream effortlessly across the pages. One yearns for the love and contentment she describes, and hopes to find such friendship and unconditional acceptance in their partner.
 
Verdict - One time read.
Rating – 3/5