Cornelia Sorabji (1866-1954)
achieved a number of significant firsts in her native country of India and
abroad. She was the first female graduate of Bombay University, the first
female lawyer in the entire country, and the first woman to study law at Oxford
University in 1889.
mother, a strong advocate of female education, had founded several girls’
schools in her native city of Pune. Upon being accepted to Oxford University,
she became the first Indian national to study in the UK. She returned to India
after her studies, and represented particularly women and minors in court,
sometimes pro bono.
To be quite honest, I am utterly disappointed and dissatisfied with the way female hairy legs are depicted. Yes, even ones that support female hair growth of all kinds.
I am a woman who has not shaved in over a year and a half. I started when I was eleven. I saw it as a rite of passage to become a woman. I grew up seeing my mother shave every single night. I would sit on the side of the bathtub while her expert hands glided up and down her freckled legs. To become even a fraction of the strong woman she is, I thought I had to do the same: it is what my sister before me did.
And I cannot tell you the joy and wonder I experienced the first time I jumped into a pool and felt my two legs glide against each other and through the water: it was the feeling of soft beauty.
Sadly, this did not remain. I have a variety of skin conditions I lump under the term “peely skin disease.” I have a few different types: they effect my feet, my arms, my face, and my scalp in all different ways. None of them are severe, just annoyances. However, when it came to my legs it was different.
To this day, I have not gotten a clear answer from the dermatologist as to what was happening to my legs. Every time I would shave I would get little red spots the size of a pin head around my hair follicles. Shaving did not hut but the little sores itched. They itched in a way that makes you want to tear your skin off. And the more frequently I shaved, the worse they became. They gave me a ointment to put on after I shaved, but the prescription was expensive for something that seemed frivolous.
I didn’t stop right away. I would go weeks without shaving and then take away the hair for special occasions to minimize the chance of the little red spots appearing. I continued this way for around four or five year, the whole time calculating how bad things would be if I shaved now, or if I waited a little longer.
I officially quit shaving when I traveled to India on a study abroad program. Not knowing how my skin would react in my new environment, I did not want to take the risk of having irritating my legs and having open sores. Moreover, I knew no one there would care how hairy my legs were since I would be wearing traditional clothing that went to my ankles. And never before did I feel more at home in my body. I did not have to mold it to look a certain way or calculate how grossed-out people would be against my own comfort. My legs just were and they were beautiful.
When I came back I had to consider again my own cultural and its push for silky smooth hairless women. I was not as concerned about the general public. What worried me most was the man I was dating at the time and what he would think about my new fuzzy look. It was one of the first conversations we had, whether he would still find me attractive if I never shaved again: I told him that I would pick it up again if it truly bugged him. But I will never forget his response.
He put his hands on my shoulders and drew me close to him. He looked in my eyes without wavering and told me that it was my body and that he would love me no matter what I did to the surface of it. It was not up to him to decide.
People ask if it was for feminist reasons or even just for shock factor. I reply every time that I do it for my own comfort. Yes, it saves me money. Yes, I think that it is horrible the standard of beauty women are held to. Yes, it does shock many people. Yes, people do make fun of me. Yes, it hurts when people make comments, some well intentioned. Yes, you can ask why But I am doing this because this is the way I feel at home in my skin. To do it just to destroy the bullshit patriarchy we all are subjected to is to still be controlled by it. I am hairy because I like myself this way. I am hairy because I am more comfortable this way. I am hairy.
But the pro-hair legs art does not capture this. Those images still depict silky-smooth beautiful legs next to tainted hairy legs that are covered with unflattering little lines that disrupts the unity of the legs. The slogan is supportive saying “It’s your body: It’s your choice!” and other such motivational lines of solidarity. And yes, it is my choice, but these images still make me feel like I have chosen the lesser choice. This guilt is not what they intend but it still remains.
But the honest truth is that these do not make me feel beautiful. These images are supportive of my choice but still do not see me as beautiful.
So I leave you with a challenge: Draw a picture, paint a form, capture the light, craft an image that shows hairy legs as beautiful, that makes hairy legs not an supported anomaly, that depicts hairy legs not as unusual or shocking.
I have found only a few images in the whole of everything that I have seen that do this. Some are advertisements, but I do not know where they comes from or what they are for, but they depict simply a normal, stylish woman who happens to have hairy legs. Her hair is apparent, but she is still depicted as beautiful.
I am beautiful. All of me is beautiful. The confidence I walk with is unmistakable. I know this. And I do not need the media to tell. But please, do not say that you are with me, that you support me and my choice if you do not show this also.
Imagine superheroes championing causes while they’re not actively in war.
Imagine Captain America explaining to the world what being “skinny!Steve” was like, and trying to create safe spaces for people with invisible disabilities. Imagine him creating funds for orphans so that they can be housed in settings that won’t be psychologically damaging. Imagine Steve giving talks to discourage bullying, setting up programs that allow people to explore talents like art that aren’t funded as well in schools, working with the new technology available to better care for people and make it affordable for those who are struggling to get by.
Imagine Iron Man using his outfit to create exoskeletons for people who can’t walk, from the elderly to the paralyzed. Imagine his green energy initiative taking down the oil industry. Imagine the factories and rockets and all sorts of tech that were too unwieldy or energy-consuming before that could be created with the help of alternative energies that he helped shoot to the forefront. Imagine Tony talking about PTSD and encouraging people to seek help for mental illnesses, and reminding them that it’s not their fault.
Imagine Bruce Banner championing medicine, pushing for safer and better research. Imagine him tearing down the financial boundaries put up that restrict access to journals so that the public could better understand the storehouse of knowledge that has been stuck in academia and never applied. Imagine Bruce making it a point to encourage women into the male-dominated science sphere because some of the cleverest people he knows are women and there should be more of them doing great things. Imagine him teaching people about alternative medicine that he learned in his time abroad in India, from spices to yoga.
Imagine Thor bringing the technology of Asgard to Earth and jumpstarting a new renaissance. Imagine him giving people a glimpse of interplanetary and interstellar travel that nobody dared dream of before. Imagine him working the opposite field and reducing the negative attitudes in Asgard against the ‘silly little Midgardians’ so there can be peaceful interaction and coexistence despite their short lifespans. Imagine Thor inspiring a generation of explorers who want to travel as far as humanly possible.
Imagine Black Widow, now exposed for her deeds on behalf of various groups and nations, pushing for transparency in all areas, especially megacorporations. Imagine her working to ensure fair reporting and international coverage in the media so that people are not allowed to turn a blind eye to things that happen either domestically or abroad. Imagine Natasha wanting to avoid the publicity of a politician but working behind the scenes to keep lobbyists in line. Imagine her taking a stance against human trafficking and child soldiers, and delving into dubious organizations all over the world to bring those practices to a halt.
Imagine Hawkeye becoming a pillar of support for people coming from abusive households. Imagine him opening shelters, running therapy dog programs, finding safe spaces and homes for people. Imagine him telling teens and young adults that it’s okay not to have their life figured out yet, and encouraging people to take on employees that don’t have typical education or training. Imagine Clint talking about deafness and reaching out to the community to help reduce discrimination and help those who are not deaf not just accommodate but integrate with them. Imagine him finding out about the Hawkeye Initiative and claiming it a thousand percent and bashing sexism and gender roles.
Imagine Falcon as the newest addition to the team, working to find all veterans proper care so that the trend of homelessness ends and they can be supported through grief and loss and any post-trauma issues they may have. Imagine him tackling racial issues and discrimination against people of color in politics, in the workplace, in the media, in any way he can. Imagine him being the first of the superheroes to come out at as bisexual and champion the movement for LGBT+ justice and equality, only to have others join in and help.
Imagine the world becoming a better place because of superheroes, and not just through fighting various threats from villains or aliens.
Im about to leave the US 2 study abroad in India & i started talking 2 this guy a month ago just 4 fun & he is so ridiculous & such a mess i didn't think i wouldve dated him anyway but now its a month later & i think hes the best person i know & i like him so much?? & we've been hanging out w the assumption of things ending when i left but then the other day he said he wasn't sure he wanted things to end & like same but? thats so hard. i just dodged the convo & idk what to do i leave in 4 days
Oo girl thats a tough one because you haven’t fully solidified that relationship and long distance isn’t realistic if it isn’t a strong bond. I say make the best of those day, kiss em & just see what happens when you come back
“고1때 인도로 해외 봉사를 갔었어요. 길가에 어떤 한 인도 여자아이가 너무 추워서 계속 콜록 거리면서 있더라고요. 보니까 뒤에 원피스 지퍼가 열려있더라고요. 잠가주려고 봤더니 지퍼가 고장이 난 거였어요. 그 친구를 도와주지는 못했어요. 사람들을 도와주고 싶어 갔는데 결국은 이 작은 지퍼 하나 올려주지 못하는 보잘 것 없는 인간이었다는 걸 그때 느꼈어요. 열심히 살아서 지퍼 하나 더 올려줄 수 있는 사람이 되고 싶어요. 그렇게 사람들에게 도움의 손길을 주는 NGO활동가 라는 꿈이 생겼어요.”
“When I was a Sophomore in high school, I went to India to volunteer abroad. There was a little girl on the street who kept coughing because of the cold. I looked and saw that the zipper on the back of her dress was open. I tried to zip it up for her and found that the zipper was actually broken. I ended up not being able to help her. I went to India to help people but I realized that I am just an insignificant person who isn’t even able to zip this small zipper for someone in need. I want to live diligently so that I can become a person who could be more helpful, even if it’s just fixing a small zipper. That is how my dream to become someone that could help, an NGO activist, started.”
It takes guile to say a lie. It takes pathetic condition to construct an indoctrinated lie. It takes guts to say the truth. It takes unconditional reverence to wait for truth to prevail. They that build castles of untruths in the air, will find themselves crushed under its weight when it crumbles. Many in impatient wait, succumb to the vagaries when such conditions prevail. But strength prevails among those that tolerate insipid, falsified and inflammatory accusations.
After 25 years the Swedish Police investigator on the Bofors scandal that accused me and my family of involvement, informed the entire world that our names had been deliberately planted by mischievous elements, and that we had nothing to do with it, accepting publicly our innocence. When we went to the Royal Courts of London to fight defamation, Dagens Nyheter , the Swedish paper that ran stories of accusation, and the largest paper of the country, came for an out of court settlement minutes before our case was to be heard. They apologised and said they had no justification or evidence of any of the accusations thrown against us. We accepted their apology without any compensations or costs, as a gesture of nobility and kindness. One paper, India Abroad, fought in court and lost. The compensation that the jury adjudicated against them, never came to us. We had in any case pledged that amount, if received, to a charity. A charity started by the Father of that brave Indian air hostess, who saved all the lives of the passengers on a Pan Am hijack, and got shot in doing so.
Today the media asks me what acts I shall be doing against them that accused me, and I tell them, what would you want me to do. And by doing what you want me to do, will I or they be able to wipe out the suffering that we underwent all those years. What indeed is the better condition, I ask. The conscience of those that shall live the rest of their lives, in propagating the ugliness of falsehood, or those that shall conduct their lives in the exalted benefit of a clear and honest conscience ?
I need no reply. I need no sympathy. I need not be in the telling of this. And I certainly do not look to dignify an irrelevant, malicious and utterly false accusation, by seeking either justification or mention of it.
There are a million such cases and incidents that have occupied our lives. Incidents that have never held any feet or substance. Incidents that have through the convenience of attacking a public figure, been deliberately indulged in, purely for the sake of notice and publicity.
I have continuously borne them with dignity and utmost grace. The same, I am afraid, cannot be borne by those that involve themselves in this. Their minds and their beings shall always live in disturbed and troubled condition - diseased by the unforgiving nature of dishonesty.
My justice shall always be, the acceptance of the injustice from the other. The acceptance of injustice is next only to godliness. And God does not dwell in all. It shall never come my way then. What then ? Am I to wait till it does. Do I demand or fight to extract it from another ?
I am afraid those that shall express positively to this shall never be them that know me. I am a difficult customer, unconventional perhaps .. an idiot and a fool …
But .. rather a fool, than to exist in the company or thought of those that fool ..
The best reward though in such conditions is the return of those that held fort against, when they come without the barriers of the walls that they had created. They built the illegitimate and illegal constructs … and then they had to deconstruct them. I stood at a distance, not attempting ever to enter the walled edifices of hatred and lies, or seeking, that they be informed of their folly. Who’s body then suffered ? THEY … their body did ! Who then suffered greater damage ? They that aimed to damage and failed, or they that stood in innocent silence ?
“ the answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind ”!! -
~ Bob Dylan
Never then … ever … forget or ignore the compensation .. the poetic justices of life .. they do occur and prevail and with such emphatic strength, that it demolishes its and its adversaries paths in some permanence …
Forgive yes, but never forget ! For it shall never then be able to teach you not to make similar errors with them again !
Instead embrace them, acknowledge them in close company .. it is important for them to know why we smile, for, somewhere they shall be boiling in their own stew and making effort to demonstrate, in complete embarrassment, that all is right, when in fact it never shall be …
Long years ago I heard a rather pertinent joke, which as I contemplate on the happenings of my life, comes to mind ..
An exasperated Jewish elderly lady, who had for years borne the brunt of many unjustified remark, called out to the Heavens for reassurance and said :
‘Dear Lord ! Is it true that we are the chosen people ?’
The booming voice of the Lord replied back - 'Yes ! You are the chosen ones !’
The Jewish lady shot back - 'Well, would you mind choosing someone else for a change !!’
I recently returned from studying abroad in India (Goa) where one of my professors became a huge inspiration to me. She mentioned in passing that she meditates for one hour every morning and evening. I tried to set a goal of 20 minutes of meditation each day, but I always end up distracted. For instance, in the morning I am too eager to get to breakfast or reach for my laptop that I forget. Do you have any advice on how to improve focus?
Sitting for a meditation is like walking three miles. It doesn’t matter if you feel good during the walk, feel distracted and anguished, or feel numb/detached. All that matters is that you walk and remain present for the experience.
In the morning, have a light breakfast and briefly engage your laptop. Then set everything aside and sit for the meditation. The mind will find endless things to distract you with: things you need to do and have neglected, desires or hopes about the day, and whatever else is swirling around in your head.
Just sit and do it.
Right now you are like a weight lifter who is too restless to go to the gym and yet asks how to get stronger. Go to the gym and lift weights!
Focus isn’t a doing, it isn’t an intense honing in of sorts. Focus is non-distraction, simply being where you are and fully present therein. When you watch a good television show or movie, you don’t have to fixate and force your attention. You rest your attention on the screen and let go. Meditation is similar to that, although conscious.
You don’t need to set a goal. You just need to set a timer and not get up until the timer goes off. The rest happens on its own. The more regularly you practice meditation, making it a daily part of your life, the more your time sitting will grow on its own.
Distraction isn’t a problem so long as you recognize it when it happens and bring your attention back to where it needs to be. That is the process: gently and patiently coming back to yourself over and over.
Keep it up and you’ll find your own rhythm with respect to daily practice.