Showing posts from 2016

Shamed for Being Thin

By Ananya De via UN Online Volunteers

There has been a variety of body shaming that I have faced, sometimes subtle and sometimes direct. There were some even over those features on which I actually have no control, for ex., my blunt nose or my height (when in school), but the one over which I have encountered the most throughout my life is over my thin body frame.
The most peculiar thing that I have seen is that most of the people here are not even aware that they are thin shaming. We see that people try to control themselves or others from uttering some remarks on someone’s obesity or darker skin colour etc., but we see automatic comments on seeing someone thin or skinny on how they need to eat something.
I know that due to the image portrayed by the media, people who are overweight face much stigma. But it’s actually a matter of perception. Even if the visual media is seen to promote to become thinner, it seems that in Indian common househo…

Ain't I A Woman

By Ashley Dye via UN Online Volunteering

If I had a dollar for the innumerable times I’ve been called or refer to as he, him, or sir, I would be a millionaire. Seriously, it happens so often to me that I’ve actually become accustom to the shaming, offensive, and masculine pronouns.  It’s been happening to me since I was a kid. I grew pretty much a tomboy playing basketball, football, soccer and many other sports. Most of my friends were guys and the role models I related to the most, were the men in my family. Now, I’m not trying to infer that I didn’t have women role models. I’ve just always been an adventurous and active kind of person. 

The men in my life afforded me the opportunity to live that lifestyle. I’ve never wanted to be anything other than myself. I never thought that people would challenge my gender simply because I wear men’s clothing. My choice of clothing has always ventured toward an androgynous or tomboyish style. Yes, I am very aware of my both my masculine figures…

Being Afghan in America

By Nargues Kohzad via UN Online Volunteers

As an Afghan girl, growing up in America has had its difficulties. Trying to balance where I am from and where I live required courage, and I did not have that at the age of ten. Unfortunately I dealt with what is called “ethnic shaming” and to tell you the truth it was not dandy.
                The problems began when I started school, even at the early age of six. I remember it was Eid one summer, a celebration generally conducted by Muslims after the holy month of Ramadan. Eid is a celebration everyone was looking forward to, especially the kids. We would always get new clothes, gifts and eat yummy treats we never ate the rest of the year. Nevertheless, during this celebration everyone would henna their hands. Henna is a type of dye that we used as temporary body art. I remember being so excited to apply henna on my hands, not knowing the fatal events that would occur the next day at school.
                The next day arrived and as y…

When Are You Getting Married?

By Wisam Gangari via UN Online Volunteers

“Congratulations on your (insert significant milestone)! Here’s to your wedding!” This (or some variation of it) has become a standard salutation, which I, and many other young Arab women have heard upon the accomplishment of a significant milestone in our lives. It is the 21st century, yet social norms in the Arab world still hold tight to the notion that a woman’s goal, nay, destiny must be to get married. Any other ambition or desire must be secondary, and is therefore, less important.
            Growing up in a predominantly Arabized culture, dating at a young age was never socially accepted, that is, by families. Couples that were brazen enough to publicize their relationship were often expats, or individuals who came from “liberal” families.  Parents instead emphasized the importance of education above all else and instilled within their children the notion that good grades led to a successful future. In turn, this mentality, more often …

Don't Let Stereotype Impede Your Success

By Mitchelle Khadenje via UN Online Volunteers

BE YOUR OWN AMBASSADOR My very first lesson that a girl had no place to prosper was in high school. Despite the normal public system where majority of the schools were ‘single gender’, I found myself in a mixed school. At first, I took no notice of any differences-we were all brothers and sisters, just like in primary school. But with time, things got clearer. The boys population was near three times the girls population, so the boys almost had their way unanimously. As a teenager experiencing changes and not being sure of how people would perceive your utterances or actions, it can be difficult to stand up for yourself. Most of the girls would end up consoling each other in the dormitory; crying themselves to sleep because ‘the guys said something about them’. I have always been a calm, almost reserved kind of child- passing my tests, assisting others. I however, was not in the habit of lying to myself and others, so I was always in trouble…

Banda - Bound to Home

By Mehvish Ally via UN Online Volunteers

Life tests our vim and vigor at the best of times and seems an insurmountable challenge at the worst of times.  But in our world of low, middle, and high-income nations, some lives are inherently more privileged and systemically valued than others.   This neither means that wealthy people lead easy or care-free lives nor that the poor are relegated to the depths of irreversible misery: it is an illustration, albeit merely one, that the world is a place where complex dualities abound.  Masculine, feminine, rich, poor, these are all roles assigned to society by its own machinations and until we question their presence, meaning, and necessity, humanity’s eyes will be collectively shut to a deeper understanding of what it means to be alive.  Our anatomies and our economic stature are nothing to be ashamed of.  Though they may shape who we are, such identities should not be considered shackles but weights that increase our muscle and mettle.   Like ot…

Skin Color and Beauty Aren't Linked

By Ly Than Phuong via UN Online Volunteers

Many societies have put a link between the beauty of a woman and her skin color. In my country, Vietnam, people like pale skin and they show more affection and favor toward lighter-skin individuals. Vietnamese people often associate lighter skin with wealth, tidiness and beauty. They consider people with lighter skin more easy-looking and attractive. On the other hand, darker-skin girls are thought to be less pretty and of course they do not receive as much attention, admiration and love as girls with lighter skin.
I am twenty years old and I am a young girl with a darker skin than many of Vietnamese people. My life with a dark skin color is not very easy as I from time to time have to listen to all the different things that people tell me about my skin color.
When I was small, my aunt told me that I was not born by my parents because my skin color was darker than theirs. I got so upset at that time that I even asked my parents and others for…

Reclaiming the Narrative Gives Happiness

By Gaurav Ganti via UN Online Volunteers

I was 13, when I first noticed the small clump of hair in my hand as I took a shower. The implications of this did not strike me until a couple of years had passed. Fast forward 7 years, and my male pattern balding has progressed quite far. I have never considered being bald to be an issue. Yet, every time somebody asked me why they could see more of my scalp than was normal, I would feel a twinge of regret. A twinge of regret that was tied to the fact that I would always be different from people who had nice wavy locks, or curly frizzy hair. People, for whom a haircut lasted more than a few minutes, and could include a variety of different styles which were beyond me. Tied to these occasional twinges of regret, is an unfortunate comparison to what my life could have looked like, if I had more hair. This unfortunate tendency to associate our body images with our problems in life, is what leads to the genesis of a cycle of insecurity that doesn’t …

Female Healthcare Should be Discussed Openly

By Marion Mbiyu via UN Online Volunteers

I feel like the older I’ve become, the more aware I have become of my shame. I find myself constantly scrutinizing and doubting myself in a lot of things especially when it comes to making personal decisions. I also find myself more embarrassed about the most mundane things. For instance, I try to say less a lot of the time because I might say something stupid. It’s as if there are invisible standards that I am trying to confine myself to. Growing up there wasn’t much discussion on sexual intercourse, relationships and even female healthcare and hygiene. There was so much secrecy and shame when it came to these sorts of conversations. I remember being on my period and I would be in excruciating pain and would lie about the cause of the pain. Or even going swimming as part of the lesson which was mandatory, and having to ask the nurse to give me a letter stating that I wasn’t well. Worst of all, was a school matron in boarding school and among th…

Respect People's Religion

By Luanna Cristina Hedler via UN Online Volunteers

My parents are not extremely religious but God is a very important part of our family since I was little and as I have learned during my life. We go to the church every time we can and I consider that been educated by the protestants church ideals and way of seeing life and being is a good thing for me.

When a teenager, I entered a church group with people my age 12 - 14 and it was awesome to gather with young people like me who had the same beliefs and doubts about how to live among non religious people or people who makes fun of God. Because that was my issue during school and high school.

I always felt like when I was in church or in my church group I was free of every judgment, joke, bullying and I could be myself, I could be free and when I was at school I needed to act like the others to be part of the group and be cool. I even got a little distance from the church because I was afraid my school friends would find out I had a ba…

Moral Education to Help and Not Shame

By Debalina Roy via UN Online Volunteers

I want to share a sense of overwhelming pain that had a debilitating effect in my life. I have been a quiet person and an introvert since childhood. I could never imagine that life could be unduly depressive or even sad. Upon growing up a little at the age of ten I had observed significant changes in my body and emotions. I was becoming taller and heavier than my peers and started liking people older to me. I wished to mingle with both the sexes in the pursuit of studies, sports and recreational culture. Usually many girls and boys took notice of me but, to my surprise they befriended all others and never me. I was growing up as a loner finding little to do throughout the day. Gradually, I was seeing days of deep depression and a form of inferiority complex took birth in me. I kept silent all day long struggling hard to keep up a normal routine and academics seemed to be an encumbrance in life. I didn’t feel emotionally united with family members…

Sex-Ploitation can Happen to Both Genders

By Duncan Aliero Muhani via UN Online Volunteers

I grew up as a responsible young man, with good moral and sound Christian values. My mother always dedicated her time in educating me about every aspect of development including sex education and personal responsibility. 
She believed that sex education would always help me make safe and right decision during my involvement in sexual activities and relationships, hence protecting me from any sexual abuse, exploitation, sexually transmitted diseases, and unplanned pregnancies.
I joined one of the local universities to undertake a degree. At the university the values my mum had taught me guided me through out in my day to day endeavors. I observed high level of discipline and moral responsibility. 
During my second year of study, I proceeded to do my internship which was part of the university requirement. I was posted in a cargo handling port in The Information and Communication Department at the IT support desk, with responsibilities that i…

Every Complexion is Normal

By William Dekker via UN Online Volunteers

In a family of five siblings; two older and two younger, I emerge in between resembling no one - dark and black. This is my story: In those childhood days, majority of us were na├»ve or rather too innocent to think of what set us apart. We mingled with little or no regard to colour, shape or size, not until maturity set in. On my first Saturday in college, I auditioned for a play that was premiering a month from then. At the end of the day, seven contestants auditioning for the same role had been eliminated. Two of us were left in what seemed like a tie. We had gone through it up to late in the evening and the judges had to make a decision. In a very outrageous tone, one judge whispered; “since the play will be performed during the nights, we are better off with a lighter guy than the dark one”. Immediately the role was awarded to my competitor (who was way more light-skinned than I was).  That evening I returned to my hostel room, rejected and d…