Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Falsehood of fairytales: the propaganda we internalise in our young years about men and relationships

In this day and age I am not too sure I like the idea of having my daughter being brainwashed by these fairytales, I am grateful that at present I have no children and more specifically to my area of anxiety I am appreciative I do not have a daughter to raise.

My anxiety can be rooted at the fact that I believe I would be compulsive about ensuring that I raise a strong, self aware daughter who has an accurate representation about what is important in life and what is false about the world. In my idealistic mind I know I want to make sure I guard the things that my child idolises. So in other words I would want very little of the fictional accounts of life, I would want very little television, I would impose strict and radical rules about ensuring my child has a greater advantage then myself in embracing the strength and not weakness of their sex and race.

I believe fairytales have an impact, at a tender age when you are learning about the world I think fairytales create a lens about what life should be like. A perspective that is hard to shake, an expectation that is not easily forgotten or tossed aside. I know these fairytales are just that whimsical pieces of literature that are meant to be easy to understand and heart tugging for the little ones. I do admit to loving the Cinderella story as a young girl but even that makes me uneasy at this point in my life because I know it had a lasting impact on my life. As a woman in my twenties I have never met a man who can measure up to the perfect prince charming but I expect it. Where is my happily ever after? I grew up believing that a ring, a man and a wedding was the measure and validation of a woman’s success. This as I continue to go about my life is not where and how I measure success any more (or at least I’m trying not to). This is still a prevalent perception in many cultures, we are who we are because we are socialised, and we are the reflection of the influences of our environment. The world has a lot to offer and women from a young age need to grasp that you can live a happy life, amount to great things and find happiness in having goals that don’t revolve around a man. Why was Repunzal stuck in some castle until some man came along. Snow White was brought back to life by the kiss of prince charming. I shudder at the psychological implications this has on us as women. It is for this reason that fairytale’s whose focal point of happiness is a man - that at some level women have come to internalise that they need a man to be happy. The things that we hold to value in our lives have changed over the years. Love has come to mean different things to different people, love comes in various forms. We live in times where women continue to strive to assert themselves as independent, happy in the traditional sense of marriage a husband and kids. As well as outside the traditional sense single mother, career woman, homosexual, single by choice. There are negative connotations that surround being a single lady about not having a man by your side. We live in a time where we need to have new fairytales, where we need to have new standards. Fairytales can be more reflective of the diversity that happiness takes shape in. Be aware of the impact that fairytales have had in the way that you view the world, don’t hold yourself to a standard of happiness that you do not need. With or without a partner you have the right to know and feel alright about your life.

By Lindi Khumalo

Who should you love more your man OR your friends?

It can be hard to navigate if you should love your man more than your friends or your friends more than your man. Often you are forced to make decisions that test who in actual fact you do favour more. Are you the type of girl that drops her friends when she has a man? Do you devote yourself to your man so much that you are neglectful of your friends and your commitments as a friend? Or does going out with your friends take priority over the plans you make with your man. Either way it is important to love your man and it is important to love your friends.

The way you love these separate groups is different. It is when you choose one above the other in a way that compromises your boyfriend or in a way that compromises your friendships that is when these two relationships begin to be at odds. What often jeopardises your friendships is when you stop being a good friend because you have a new man in your life. Equally it is important to understand to value your man and not to make him feel second best to your friends.

Time Manage your relationships

Time management is an essential capability that allows you to ensure that the needs of your activities and your relationships are managed effectively. These relationships need to be nurtured in a way that allows you to give the necessary attention to all your loved ones. Time management is an essential part of your world at work and effective time management between your friendships and your man is equally crucial. It is also essential to realise that talking about your man the whole time you’re with your friends will not work in your favour. The friend that does nothing but talk about her boyfriend is annoying and it can be better having no friend in comparison to this friend. Also important to note is that gossiping about your friends to your boyfriend does not equal spending quality time with your partner. Time management as a result should also include quality valuable appreciation of things that bring you closer in your relationships. If you and your friends enjoyed going to the movies together don’t suddenly blow off your friends because you’ve seen all of the movies that are out with your boyfriend. That is not cool!

When your boyfriend and girlfriends don’t get along

Do not try to force the situation it is possible for your friends to not like the person you’re dating or for your boyfriend to completely not want to spend time with your friends. It need not be a deal breaker if you are wise enough to ensure minimal tension by not constantly forcing these two separate social groups to spend time with each other unnecessarily.

So who should you love more?

Love both in different ways that allows for them to feel and see that they are being valued. Men come and go and your girlfriends can be life long companions so nurture those relationships like a precious garden. It is important to figure out a way to maintain friendships and still allow yourself to find positive and lasting relationships with men and not feel that your time with friends is preventing the attention and growth with your man. So navigate these two relationships in a way that makes your life richer instead of in a way that creates problems, rivalry and unnecessary drama in your life. Happy navigating may your life be richer in some way because of this article.

Your beauty African women is not a fairytale story

I do not remember a time where I heard a story about a girl with African curves and tough, rough hair being a woman whose looks brought the adoration of great princes. The inferiority complex of whether our beauty as African women is true and real lives some where at the back of our minds.We live this reality of a psychological "your not the best" complex due to the fact that there are very few occasions where African features are upheld as being truly beautiful.

The truth is that the world is very with-holding in providing images of the African women in African shape with African textures in hair as being an image to love and adore. Even though we live in good old Africa ( as i am South African)  , Africans still have the pressure of not feeling that we are truly beautiful just as we are. Before the relaxer to straighten our hair, before the weave to replicate the length and bounce of Caucasian hair, do we see ourselves as beautiful?

Many of us truly do not. It Is not because we want to feel this way. It is because the world is such that it is easier to be the western version of beauty which is an international standard of beauty. Even in good all Africa it is hard to be African, it is easier to be close to white to speak really good English, to look a certain way this is an African standard of beauty, still today. Do not get me wrong we modern African girls with our English twang don’t go around thinking we want to be white. We do not think we idolise white features and looks and hair but our actions reveal that we do.

We are not totally to blame for our passive rejection of our heritage & looks. We have just become use to embracing ourselves in halves(meaning not totally). It is because some where along the line it became easy to fight our nature.

When at crèche we heard and saw illustrations of pretty white girls in fairytales but never heard ones that reflected us. When our mothers thought they were doing us a favour by straightening our hair from as early if not earlier then at six years. We were rejecting a part of ourselves. The addition of black dolls in stores is a new and refreshing inclusion. Us oldies had only white dolls to play with. And so these small actions had an impact.

They made African children take in this sense of what beauty was. To be an African girl is hard even in Africa, it is not a fairytale scenario where you can look and judge and fault us for not being African enough.

The way we as women look has always been a crucial area of importance. At the tender age of our crèche years we girls were being socialised to seek validation in looking a certain way which is why so many of us continue to find some validation in weaves & cosmetic surgery .We were told of stories of girls with immense beauty, the traditional western blonde, blue eyed slender framed beauty and how she was whisked away to eternal happiness. So it is no wonder that it takes a movement to shift mindsets. You have to really take the time to embrace the things about you that are not unobjected beauty. Because we object that frizzy african hair is beautiful. That thick girls are beautiful. That thick lips , a flat nose, a hude ass and a really dark skin is beautiful.Those are the things that are distictly who we are . Those are the things that are distictly african.

By Lindi Khumalo

Cinderella the psychological impacts

Cinderella may not have been the best story to hear as a child, I think this is a realisation I came upon when my girl friends and I were talking about “how come there is no prince charming in our lives?”, like some how the universe owed us all that soul mate connection. I know we are all grown ups now. We should perhaps know better but the truth of the matter is that many for us yearn for that deepest of emotions. True love is what they call it that one soul mate you feel was made to be your perfect fit. I think much of this is rooted with the influence of love stories we heard over and over again from our earliest childhood years that did after all plant the earliest seed. Which girl hasn’t heard that Cinderella story, which girl didn’t wish that romantic ending for herself how many women still hold a glimmer of hope, do you not wish, want, search for your Prince charming. A crucial learning experience about the world and ourselves took place in the pages of idealistic fairytales. In truth many of the depictions of love in fairytales, movies and songs continue to influence the kind of love we search for, yearn for, pray for, date for and continue to wear our hearts on our selves for in this modern jungle.

The message is clear in fairytales love is a beautiful experience that is greater in value then most things. Others would say it is the purpose of life. Love always has this mist of super human strength. We are all searching for a love that makes us feel super human or perhaps just super valued. In that connection we will be loved for the unique individuals we believe ourselves to be. The fairytales we heard as children continue to grow like a seed planted at the heart it wants to be fed it wants to grow it wants to prosper to bring a smile on your face for the rest of your days. So we search, going about our daily lives hoping to find the passion, the spark that cliché quick heart beat that sparkle in the eye. We want to have that fairytale ending. As I hear the complaints of my female friends I realise that we almost always end up having the same conversation. Are we perhaps not too young to be stewing over how we can’t find Mr Right?  after all we earned the title young women just yesterday. Certainly women in their twenties should not be as bitter, as unhappy about the lack of good men. I look around the room and it is as though I’m surrounded by women in their fifties who have been looking for “that one guy” for years. Then I realise that there is a common ground amongst all women most of us feel that the universe owes us that perfect prince or princess ( shout out to the lesbians)  to live happily ever after with. So I take my hat down to the Cinderella story for being so influential to the lives and thinking of many women whether these expectations are good or too idealistic they live near and dear to most girls hearts.


By Lindi Khumalo