Can we sift from the long pile of years, that exact moment when we made the swift switch from being girls tbeing women? TV presenter & producer, Shamoly Khera is curious and reflects on her journey, hoping to find an answer
Ever wondered what that exact moment was when you transformed from being a girl to being a woman? Is it a moment, a process or an overnight realization that we are there? Does it really happen or are we sometimes too busy to notice the transition at all? Or are we all really little girls under the guise of grown-up women?
Wait, what if we are?
I have been through a roller coaster in the past few years. Three years back I relocated from the chaotic cultural pot of India, to the multi-faceted fast-paced city of Dubai, got married and moved here; my parents now living an ocean away from me (Okay it is just a three-hour flight away to be exact, but isn’t the ocean part more dramatic?) I have been extremely blessed to meet similar-minded women here – brave women who found the thrill of exploring a new place stimulating, even exciting.
Initially, to be honest I felt lost; uprooted, away from my familiar space of comfort. In retrospect, it may have been the exact growth curve I needed – the independence of thought, the questioning of many norms I may have followed because ‘that’s what we did’, sometimes a rebellious attitude that arose purely to fill the absence of a fresher school of thought. Going back to India now, on visits or holidays – going back to that same room I grew up in as a little girl with two pigtails – has made me acutely aware of the fact that, something has changed.
Something about that little girl who left her safe mansion of childhood memories is different.
Is it really just the way I live that has changed or is it my core principles? Does the voice in my head opine differently on the same things now? Does the women in me today hold the same views as the girl did few years back?
It’s time to put both of us to test and find out – right now.
I collect a few clichés and pose a question to each – the girl I might have been to the woman I am today, to see how differently they would react to the same situation.
I am astounded by their replies. Here you go.
The Girl: I haven’t entered my kitchen yet, though I can cook a basic meal if I have to, for lack of other options. Honestly there is so much more to discover outside that space! I am working full-time, I love to read, hit the gym, I am spending endless hours shooting and conceptualizing shows – this process of creating is so much more
exciting and fulfilling! The food, after hours of kitchen work, disappears in minutes. I am happier investing in longer goals. I don’t see why women are assumed to enjoy cooking – I don’t see the need to learn just because
I am ‘expected to’.
The Woman: Yes! It is so challenging yet so simple at the same time. I have realized, recreating the same dishes that I ate back home is therapeutic in so many ways – it really takes care of that homesick heart.
I have also discovered this dormant love for baking and I seem to be doing a good job at it, from what I hear. Love the way the house smells of warm butter from the oven! In general, there is something energizing
about watching all those spices melt together to form an absolute another taste that is indescribable. Good cooks are real artists. I respect them!
I also feel at this point it is something important, that I, as a woman of the house should know. Blame it on watching our perfect moms create those special memories with home-cooked food!
The Girl: That need not be true for all! Of course I dress up if I step out for an occasion where I am expected to look good or look a certain way, but I enjoy most being in my pajamas! And I ain’t giving up that for anyone.
When stepping out, I love fitted outfits that give definition to my structure. Dresses with some impact and presence either in their color or cut is what I look for.
The Woman: I am going to interchange dressing up with ‘having a strong presence.’ Beauty has always been a strong point many women hold but fail to use; there is something seductive about graceful feminine beauty. If we go back to some ancient texts and mythological stories – all mythical goddesses and strong female characters had this amazing presence about them. It was not about their physical features or beauty or body – it was a certain aura of silent power they emanated.
My point is, you could be dressed in basics with just a stunning neckpiece and a poised gait and turn heads. And you could be decked in layers of make up and hold the risk of coming across as trying-too-hard. I think that’s it, I have stopped trying too hard. I just… flow.
The Girl: Of course a full fledged professional. I cannot believe we are still being asked this question. I see nothing shameful about girls having ambition and they should leave no stone unturned to fulfill them. I am a highly motivated & driven individual and I see myself pursuing work just like any other brother I may have. I will be happy the day this question is obsolete or even better, asked to the men !
The Woman: I don’t understand why are these roles compartmentalized in a box, separate from each other. I completely believe that a woman who is a working professional can also be a wonderful homemaker and
I see no reason to make a stark choice. Yes juggling can be a bit challenging, but with men getting increasingly supportive & help being available more easily in today’s times, I feel a woman need not compromise on her
ambitions or on her core values of running a family. Both aims & goals can happily survive symbiotically under one roof ! Alternatively, if she chooses one, it should purely be her choice.
The Girl: Nope! Not me. Of course I love how tall they make me feel, but anything that hurts can show on the face. And ain’t a face pretty at all with discomfort written all over it!
The Woman: Again, for the presence they add, yes. But comfort comes first. I don’t even feel the need to add that height with a pair of heels anymore. I just stand erect and confident. Or may be I am just that way now. Heels or no heels, I feel tall. But I still splurge on them and wear them occasionally. Love them on energetic days!
The Girl: I prefer referring to that as being your fittest self. Yes, I love working out, running (because it makes me feel so free!), yoga and any exercise that tones me up. No I am not crazy about size zero, but I do want to look the most toned version of myself. And I am not apologetic about it. If you call that skinny, it’s your view.
The Woman: I love being fit. But I have stopped obsessing over being toned ALL the time. Ever wondered where the term ‘voluptuous’ originated? From the Latin word ‘voluptuosus’ which comes from ‘voluptas’ meaning pleasure – referring to something that is full of sensual pleasure or gratifying to the senses. Need I say more? I feel with time you stop shying from expressing your sexuality or being apologetic about having a soft silhouette. Curves are sexy! And you can still continue being healthy and running and being fit. It has nothing to do with the way you look.
While I can go on and on about how amazingly clear and distinct these two voices are, I cannot put a finger on when this transition happened. I write this as I sit in my room in India – the wall above my bed has this verse I wrote a few years, framed, with a coy picture of a twenty-three year old me.
I will quote parts of it here that astonish me today.
“A woman should buy flowers for herself, Feel the wind on her face,
Be bold, be shy, Trust men occasionally..
Break rules – lead the dances, drive her man’s car,
Run his bank account, wear his clothes,
Yet know that he’s the man and she’s the woman,
Learn to love herself, Kiss herself good night in the mirror…”
I think this girl walked alone, all by herself, deliberately looking out for rules so she could break them and make some new ones; put herself above others, because that’s what women empowerment taught her right? That we have been dissed for years, it is now our time to claim it back.
While I embrace her fire to being an independent person, I despise her extreme attitude, which may have arisen from some social expectation of her.
The woman I want to be today will walk on her path but carry everyone with her, she has learned to juggle her own dreams with dreams of those around that really matter to her, who have supported her while she needed it. She will love being the woman irrespective of what position men hold in her life. She wouldn’t have to remind herself to ‘love herself’ or ‘kiss herself goodnight’ everyday because it is not a practice needed anymore – this is now an attitude that she just, owns.
While a girl argues, a woman finds a solution. While a girl looks for a role-model, a woman influences. While a girl walks out of a fight, a woman pacifies and yet holds her point. While a girl loves owning, a woman knows the power of giving. It is obvious, I am in love with the woman a little too much.
But that girl, I am not leaving her behind. I want to retain that free flying spirit this girl has, and yet be grounded. I want to keep the fire of that girl alive and grow into the woman. That verse on my wall, is it still there? Hell yes. Will I take it off? Never, I think – that little reminder is all I need, just to know where I started from, to appreciate where I am now. And the last two lines of the verse on the wall, is something that I still hold together, like a little religion.“Never forget the little girl within.”