A few years ago, an interviewer asked me, “Tell me about one life-changing experience of yours.” I remember exaggerating and going on about about something extremely trivial. Because, you’re told to always have an answer, right? But if someone were to ask me the same question today, the most genuine, candid answer would be – embracing feminism.
Feminism turned my world around, and altered my reality. (Largely, for the better.) Although it can be quite overwhelming to learn that the your favourite movies and books are problematic, and to observe the sexism in the words and actions of your friends and family, viewing the world from the feminist lens has made me wiser than ever.
Here are 5 incredible ways feminism has changed my life:
- Feminism made me love myself for who I am
Growing up, I was always very critical of the way I looked, the way I behaved. I wanted to look great, talk smart, and excel at everything I did. I wanted to be liked by everyone. But more often than not, things didn’t pan out the way I wanted them to. I was full of imperfections.
I was an introvert; public speaking was my biggest fear, and socializing was not my forte. I did not have the perfect body, nor the prettiest face. I spoke too loud, ate too much, and I wasn’t the most sophisticated girl around. Moreover, people around me weren’t too kind either. They made an extra effort to point out my flaws. I spent a lot of time mulling over my imperfections and indulging in self-hate.
However, as I embraced feminism, I began to embrace my imperfect self as well. It changed my perception of beauty and made me comfortable in my own skin. I went from sulking for hours over negative criticism, to not caring one a bit about how others perceived me. It helped me recognise the numerous ways society’s beauty standards, expectations and stereotypes oppress women, and gave me the motivation to challenge these norms.
Also Read: 6 Steps To Fall In Love With Yourself
I began to love my body for the way it was; from my fat legs to my dark underarms and my acne-prone skin, I grew to love every part it. The only person whose opinion mattered to me was mine, and I was beautiful in my eyes. I also embraced my unsophisticated way of being and gave up social obligations. Now, I don’t feel the need to please people, be likeable, or be friends with people I don’t connect with.
- Feminism helped me get rid of my prejudices
I have indulged in a lot of problematic behaviour in the past. I am guilty of body shaming others, slut shaming my ex’s love interests, and I’ve even made statements like, “Girls are so much more dramatic than boys.” Feminism made me realize how I was a slave to the patriarchal order and helped me cast off my internalised misogyny. I became more compassionate and empathetic not only towards all women, but all individuals. Feminism led me to empathise with people’s diverse experiences of oppression and helped me recognise how overlapping identities impact a person’s experience of discrimination.
It also helped me deconstruct the existing power-relations in my immediate environment and beyond, and led me to examine my own privileges. I became more aware of my position in society, and the impact my words and actions had. It taught me how language perpetuates oppression, and made me cautious of the words I used. It transformed my way of being and nurtured me into a compassionate, sensitive individual.
- Feminism gave me the courage to stand up for myself (and others)
I used to be immensely timid, and I’d always let myself remain in uncomfortable situations. When people would mock me or try to put me down, I’d laugh at myself with them and let it pass. When they ‘d say mean things about someone else, I’d silently listen, even if I disagreed. And I was usually quite passive about sticking up for friends. I’d go to parties I didn’t want to, and hung out with people whom I wasn’t comfortable around.
Feminism gave me a voice, and the confidence to express my true feelings. It taught me to say no and never let myself be silenced or walked over. It told me that I mattered, and that my actions were important. It gave me the strength and courage to tackle bullies, racists and misogynists, and the patience to deal with bigots. Feminism is not only my biggest source of confidence, but positivity as well.
- Feminism gave me a family beyond the walls of my home
Feminist friendships transcend all kinds of boundaries, be it of age, race or geography. Feminists welcome you to their world with arms wide open; a world that is free of judgments and prejudices, where you can express your deepest desires with no inhibitions. You can vent about your everyday struggles, or share your darkest secrets, knowing that they’ll understand and not feel burdened by your rants. When you begin to doubt yourself, they come to you with positivity and make you believe in your true potential. Their strength of spirit and unapologetic way of being grow on you, and give you the confidence to be yourself. Together, you deconstruct the world around you, learn from each other, and grow. You’re never too afraid, and you’re never alone, because you know they’ve always got your back.
Friends that smash patriarchy together, stay together.
- Feminism helped me discover my life’s passion
For the longest time, I was envious of my friends who knew exactly what they wanted to do in life. They had discovered their passion, and went on to chase their dreams, while I simply drifted with life’s flow. Although I always had a desire to help make the world a better place, I was conditioned to believe that the idea was too farfetched. Then, I was introduced to feminism. It gave my feelings a name and my ideas a structure. It ignited a fire in me that I had never felt before. It empowered and liberated me. The more I read, and interacted with feminists, the more inspired I became to battle patriarchy and all other oppressive structures. Social justice became my life’s passion.
I wish to channelize all my future efforts towards the cause, and make people see the world from a feminist perspective. With my words, art, and activism, I aim to draw as many people as I can to the movement, and carry on the torch of feminism.