Wednesday, 7 June 2017

I Am Done Apologising For The Way I Look

When you spend more than half your life living in a fat body, you systematically get conditioned to seeing yourself the way the world views you. As much as you want to, there comes a time where you cannot discrete yourself from the grander cultural narrative that is associated with plus size and fatness. 
Especially, the way Indian fashion industry perceives it.
Plus Size Fashion Blog India
While the world has started to get vocal about body positivity and fat acceptance, India is still sitting on the side-lines, occasionally celebrating the ‘curvy’ or ‘chubby’ or ‘full-figured’ woman.

A country that has more than 50% of its population as plus size and fat, it is extremely important to have regular dialogue about body diversity, body positivity, and fat acceptance. The need of the hour is to break all age old plus size and fat stereotypes and prejudices and educate people rather than body and fat shame them. We cannot have yet another generation going to war with their own bodies and trying to conform in a world that worships being thin.
I Am Done Apologising For The Way I Look
I Am Fat and I Am OK With It!
For a little over two decades, I have tried every trick in the book to not be me. Not that there was anything wrong with me per se. The problem was with me being a fat girl in a fat hating world.
You see, when I was growing up, there was no bigger insult that being called fatThere was always that occasional fat joke thrown my way. Or random remark made about my size and weight. There were times people would stop seeing me as Amena, a human being, and see me as an object that needs to be mocked solely because of her shape and size. If they had nothing to tell me they would just throw a fat slur my way that would cut me off at the knees and I would go from being feisty to fragile. 
Plus Size Fashion Blogger India
Anyone who has been on the opposite side of conventional thin has experienced fat shaming in some way or another. They can tell you instances of being bullied, called teasing names, put in a corner and made to feel like an outsider.
There comes a point when the voices outside your body get so loud that you eventually start believing them. I let those voices control me for far too long until it was a matter of sink or swim. I chose to swim the tide of fat shaming and make it to the other side. I am glad I did it. Once you let go of self shaming, you start seeing life from an all new perspective.

Over the years, ‘fat’ has lost its negative connotation for me. Now, it is just another word, an adjective, that describes me. I see fat and thin purely as descriptors. They are not an abomination or an aspiration. I don’t get offended when some calls me fat. Nor do I get happy when someone says, “Have you lost weight? You’re looking thin”. I am done with all kinds of body shaming.
Body Positivity and Fat Acceptance
Yes, Plus Size Fashion Blogger Is A Real Thing 
Back in 2012, during my rookie days as a fashion blogger, someone politely asked, “Are you a fashion blogger? You don’t look like a fashion blogger!”
The blatant assumption that all fashion bloggers, like models, are the same size - aka thin - is a biased generalisation. Blogging started as a way to express yourself. It gave women and men of all shapes, sizes, colour, sexuality and race a space to share their personal style and views. The bedrock of fashion blogging is diversity and to exclude plus size and fat bodies from it is unfair.
For every fashion magazine that reinstates that style comes in only one size, blogging offers an alternative narrative instead.
After years of believing that nothing will flatter my fat body expect tunic top and leggings, I was finally free to make sartorial choices as I pleased. Blogging empowered me to wear what every fashion magazine for years had denied.
Plus Size Fashion Blog India
Can I Have Some Clothes, Please?
When I decided to make the switch from fashion designing to fashion blogging I knew it would be different and difficult. I was not ready for discriminatory.
During my initial blogging days, I used to love attending collection previews. Not only did you get to see the new collection before everyone else, you also get to try it. I was overjoyed with this idea.
Soon my enthusiasm would turn into an uncomfortable moment for me and the brand as there was never anything that would fit Amena. “Sorry, we just don’t keep anything in your size. Would you like someone else from your team to wear this instead?” 
Earlier, I would say it’s all good and agree to just pose with the clothes rather than wear them. Now it’s a firm no. If I don’t get my size, then I don’t care to be a part of it. 
On many occasions I have asked brands why do they not get a tad bit plus size inclusive; there are people over size 14-16 in India. Most of then were polite and would say, yes, good suggestion, and move on, however, one brand manager was honest with me and said, “No offence, but we don’t want fat people to be seen in our clothes. That would not go well with our core audience.”
This was a major wakeup call. I have been indirectly promoting those brands that choose to look at me and women like me as less than equal, unworthy of their clothes. To think that plus size and fat women wearing their clothes brings down its brand value is not only discriminatory but also incredibly offensive. 
Ever since then, I have stopped associating with that brand. On principle I can not promote something that does not believe in diversity.
One can look at their choice as a preference and not a prejudice. But imagine if they said the same thing for race or sexual orientation. That their clothes are only for white people or straight people. Would we still look at it as a preference? 
As a blogger, I have the freedom to pick and choose who I want to work with. And I choose not to work with brands that are fatphobic and not democratic about size.
I Am Done Apologising For The Way I Look
In the last year, Indian fashion industry has made some efforts towards size inclusiveness. However, It’s high time Indian fashion industry finally embraces body diversity and becomes body positive. 

I long for a time where it will be normal — and not ground-breaking — for brands, fashion weeks, and magazines to feature plus size/fat women and men. The effort for equal and fair representation of plus size and fat bodies is a must. The only way we can end body and fat shaming is by normalising all bodies instead of glorifying a specific type.
Plus Size Fashion Blogger India
It has taken me a few years to undo years of body and fat shaming. To be able to look in the mirror and be okay with what I see. The journey has been tough, but the end result has been the best thing that has happened to me.
I am done apologising for the way I look. I am perfectly happy being a fat woman and a plus size fashion blogger. I am proud of all that I have achieved with the limited available options. I have made peace with who I am. About time everyone else does the same too.
Body Positivity and Fat Acceptance

Calae Top | Calae Check Dress (Styled As Jacket) | Marks & Spencer Jeans | Ted Baker Bag | Van Heusen Wedges | Accessorize Necklace and Rings | Swarovski Bracelet | Kate Spade Watch | MAC Diva Matte Lipstick | L'Oreal Paris Superliner Waterproof Gel Eyeliner | Maybelline Volum Express Colossal Waterproof Mascara

Photography by Shreyas Hegde

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Friday, 26 May 2017

Beauty Box | Smoky Eye And Red Lip With Oriflame

Much like your favourite saree, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge,  and mangoes and fresh cream in summer, a smoky eye and red lipstick look is a timeless classic. It is one of those looks that works for everyone and every mood. Best part- depending on the occasion, you can go for a full glam look or a subtle one. 

Over the years I have experimented a lot with my makeup and tried out different looks. But this combination by far is my most favourite look.
Smoky Eye And Red Lip
When I got an opportunity to try out Orifame’s latest The One Lip Sensation Vinyl Gel, I knew exactly the look I was going to go for. I wanted to create a look that would make a lasting first impression, a look ideal for a fun night out or a party or a celebratory occasion.
However, instead of going for run-of-the-mill black smoky and bold red matte lips look, I decided to give my own spin to it. 
Oriflame The ONE Lip Sensation Sensation Vinyl Gel
For my look I opted for the shade Sunset Burst. This is a vibrant red with pink and coral undertones. For someone who is not the biggest fan of liquid lipsticks, I was very impressed with the Vinyl Gels. The liquid lipstick has a fluid velvety texture that is smooth on application and doesn’t feel heavy on the lips. Most importantly, it is not sticky or greasy.
The Vinyl Gels are well pigmented. For a sheer look, one swipe is suffice. For an ultra glossy opaque look, 3-4 swipes will get the job done. The liquid lipsticks have good staying power and can easily last up to 4-5 hours without any touch up. 
The Vinyl Gel liquid lipstick is a perfect blend of well-pigmented, opaque lipstick and plexigloss finish.
How To Create Smoky Eye  Look
Once I had decided the lipstick colour, my entire look was built around it.  
For the base I used The One IlluSkin Face Primer and applied it with Professional Concealer/Lip Brush. That was followed with The One IlluSkin Foundation in Nude Pink shade applied with the Professional Foundation Brush. This brush moves effortlessly on the face and blends the foundation well into the skin. Next was The One IlluSkin Concealer in Fair Light shade and The One Loose Powder applied with the Professional Powder Brush. Finally applied Oriflame Giordani Gold Bronzing Pearls in Natural Peach as an illuminator using the Blush Brush. This is a multi-purpose brush. It is ideal for applying highlighters and illuminators as well as applying blush and blending concealer and foundation.

People don’t realise it, but brushes play a pivotal role in makeup.  I was pretty impressed with Oriflame’s Professional brushes. Application was effortless with them and there was no fear of the makeup looking patchy or unblended. The brushes have been designed to work out every minute detail.
Review Of Oriflame The ONE Lip Sensation Sensation Vinyl Gel - Sunset Burst
Like I mentioned, instead of a traditional black smokey eye, I decided to go for a gold and brown smoky eye look instead. 
Using the Professional Double-ended Eyeshadow Brush I have used Golden Brown and Rose Gold The One Colour Impact Cream Eye Shadow and two shades from the Giordani Gold Eye Shadow Radiant Plum Quad on the eyelids and created the winged effect with The One Eye Liner Stylo in Black.
For the waterlines, used the Deep Indigo The One Colour Impact Cream Eye Shadow and The One Eye Shadow Pencil Smokey - Jet Black. Polished this smokey eye look off with The One Volume Blast Mascara in Black and set the eyebrows with Professional Eyebrow Brush.
Completed the look by removing eye shadow powder residue from under the eyes with the Professional Fan Powder Brush.
How To Create Smoky Eye  Look
For this look, I was inspired by classic red carpet Hollywood glam. I wanted to create a look that would make an impression and impact. This look does just that. It makes a statement without being over-the-top.
Smoky Eye And Red Lip
This look would not have been possible if not for my dear friend Raquel-Ann Dsouza. Along with being an amazing friend, Raquel-Ann is one of the most talented makeup artist and hairstylist I know. She knows exactly what will look good and will make you look like the best version of yourself. A true artisan in her craft, you can confidently trust her to give you the best makeup and hairstyle.
Raquel-Ann recently opened her salon, Look Gorgeous, in Mulund, Mumbai. A top-of-the-line salon that offers all your beauty and grooming need. If you are looking to get yourself pampered, I suggest you book an appointment today.
Review Of Oriflame The ONE Lip Sensation Sensation Vinyl Gel - Sunset Burst
Heartfelt thank you to Raquel-Ann for creating this look. This look would not have been possible without you. A big thank you to the entire staff of Look Gorgeous Salon for helping out with the shoot. You guys are amazing.
You can contact Raquel-Ann on: +91 9820139694 /+91 22 2560 0320/

Photography by Shreyas Hegde

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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

5 Labels Every Woman Should Invest In

The other day I chanced upon an article that suggested, “The 10 Labels every woman in her 30s must invest in”.
As someone who has spent enough time in the fashion industry, I am no stranger to such a list. Every fashion magazine and website is busy telling women what to invest in. What are the things that will transform their life. What are those must-haves without which they are incomplete.
Plus Size Fashion Blogger
In celebration of International Women’s Day, I have decided to share a list of my must-have labels. I have worked very hard at compiling this list. It has taken me years to figure out which labels are the right match for me. Personally, I feel every woman should get herself well acquainted with these 5 labels and start investing in them.
5 Labels Every Woman Should Invest In
I identify myself as a feminist.  I am blessed to be surrounded by many women and men who also identify themselves as feminist. Sadly, there are quite a lot of women and men who shy away from using the word “feminist”. Some find it too harsh, too complex and others think it is not inclusive. So they opt for generic terms like humanist and equalist.
I’ve heard enough people ask, “Why do you call yourself feminist? Why don’t you just say you’re a believer of human rights and equal rights for all?” 

One of the reason some people shy away form using the term and/or identifying themselves as feminist is because it has the word “fem” in it. While you may dislike the word, remember, feminism started as a women’s rights movement that aimed to get equal political and legal rights for women. 
Calling feminism by any other name would be doing a major disservice to what the movement stood for and the significant impact the movement has had on women and men’s lives.
Using generic terms like humanist and equalist instead of feminist is to deny the specific and particular problem with gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been oppressed, marginalised and excluded. Yes, feminism is a part of human rights, but it is also very much about women’s empowerment and emancipation. 

It’s the feminist movement that fought for women’s rights to education, vote, inheritance, to get an abortion, marry anyone of your choice, work and report rape. So while you enjoy your rights, not so long ago, most of them were just male privilege. 
It was the feminist movement that worked at freeing women and men from the shackles of patriarchy and decided that women have had enough and will not be treated as second class citizen. 
While most of them did not get to enjoy the fruits of their hard work, what gave them faith is that their legacy will be carried on. That the next generation will be a step closer to fulfilling their dreams and goals of gender equality. 

For me, feminism is a way of life and I take great pride in calling myself a feminist.
5 Labels Every Woman Should Invest In
A guy once told me, “You’re very bossy woman, Amena.”
Back then I never understood why he used that one specific term to describe me. However, I was well aware that it was a pejorative term. Over the years I have noticed this term is often used for women who are extremely opinionated. Women who don’t shy away from asking for more. Women who raise their voices. Women who take up space and make noise. The reality is, nothing scares the patriarchal society quite like an opinionated woman who is not afraid to stand up for herself, her rights and call out what is wrong. A woman who is vocal about her needs and desires, who is not ashamed to voice her views, even if its an unpopular one. An opinionated woman is one who doesn’t hesitate to say no, is not shy of getting angry and demands what is rightfully hers. 

Since time immemorial society has worked very hard at silencing women. Their views, feeling, and opinions were never really taken into account. And whenever a woman did raise her voice she was called names and silenced. 
Thanks to the feminist movement, women now have a voice. They are free to express themselves. The more women freely express their views and opinions, the better.
Being an highly opinionated woman doesn’t make you a bad person or a diva or a drama queen, in fact, being a highly opinionated woman makes you a strong person.

Feminist, Opinionated, Ambitious, Independent, Body Positive
Since we are little girls we are taught that we have limits. You can do this, but this is your limit. You can’t cross it. The limit is so ingrained in us that we normalise it. We grow up keeping that in mind. We are raised to believe at some point in life we need to compromise, adjust, and be more flexible. 
We are constantly asked to shirk ourselves to fit in. Shirk our thoughts, views, bodies, ambition and desires. Being an overtly ambitious women is frowned upon. A woman who puts her needs, her career and wants before everything else is often shamed and called selfish for doing so. Instead of celebrating female ambition, we shun it. 
Indian pop culture is full of examples where women with too much ambition are the “bad, other woman”, often depicted as the conniving vamp or characterless home wrecker. 
This has to stop. Women should not be shamed for being ambitious. There is no such thing as too much ambition. We need to stop telling girls that having it all is a fairy tale. That at some point it is this or that, but never both. 
We never tell our boys that too much ambition is a bad thing. Boys are taught to exalt, soar, climb and strive. They are pushed to excel, they can have it all and then some more!

We need to stop teaching girls to compromise, adjust and be more flexible. And encourage then to aspire for more. We need to teach girls not to be ashamed of asking for more. Wanting more. Demanding more. There is nothing wrong, shameful or selfish about having ambition and putting your needs and wants ahead of others.
Plus Size Fashion Blogger India
For centuries women have been depended on the men in their life for everything. Not always by choice but because women had very little agency over their own life and body. From what to wear to whom to marry, all the decisions were taken by the men in their life. What women felt, thought or needed was never even taken into consideration. 
With the advent of  the feminist movement, women were finally able to take control of their own life. Over the years more and more women have become self-reliant and independent. 
From being financially independent to sexually liberated to emotionally uninhibited, women are finally in control of their own life and bodies.
CALAE Top - Plus Size Fashion Brand India
One of the most politicised things in the world is the female body. From what we should wear to how we should look to what we should do with our reproductive organs, everything is up for debate. For the longest times women have been told that to fit in they need to look a certain way, have a certain kind of body and speak in a certain manner. Anyone not conforming to these rules was always castigated. Over the years women realised these rules are nothing but patriarchal society’s way of controlling women and restricting them. Women soon realised that self-love and acceptance is key to women’s empowerment and emancipation.
Instead of hating the way they look women finally started embracing their bodies.
Body positivity is that radical notion that all bodies are good bodies. Bodies of all sizes deserve to be respected, loved and represented. 
The body positive movement has worked hard at normalising all, especially non-thin, plus size and fat bodies that have been marginalised. The movement has opened up a new dialogue on self-love, fitness and eating-disorder. Most importantly, it is working towards a more inclusive society. 

Whether you are skinny, thin, regular, plus size or fat - you can be body positive at every size. Body positivity is for everyone. However, being body positive doesn't just mean loving and respecting your own body. It mean respecting ALL body types and sizes. It means celebrating ALL body types and sizes. It means representing ALL body types and sizes. It means making space for marginalised bodies – People of colour, transgender, fat people and differently-abled people - and letting them have voice and visibility too.
Body Positivity, Fat Positive, Feminist India
Calae Top | Marks & Spencer Pants | Ted Baker Clutch | Pavers England Pumps |  Vogue Eyewear Sunglasses | Accessorize Necklace and Bangles | L'Oreal Paris Star Collection Lip Color Pure Amaranthe | Loreal Paris Superliner Waterproof Gel Eyeliner | Maybelline Volum Express Colossal Waterproof Mascara

The term label often has a very negative connotation. However, I don’t think all labels are bad. In fact, many of them have a positive impact. For me, the above 5 labels are a part of my identity. They have contributed into making me who I am.  These labels function as positive affirmation that have helped me become a better and stronger woman.

Photography by Shreyas Hegde

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