In light of Abba and their wise words “See that girl / watch that scene / digging the dancing queen” I would love if you took a moment and allowed yourself to be seen for your individuality creating a beautiful scene of you. The real you, not the you that you present to people because that’s how you think society or others will want you to be portrayed.
Our generation is slowly coming to a rise, women are standing up for themselves more and more, men are expressing themselves in every possible way, swaying away from the stereotypical ‘macho’ man or societal norms of what every ‘guy’ should look like. I grew up with criticism shot at me by my aunts and uncles but my mum, although at times agreed with this institutionalisation when it came to a man’s role in a woman’s life, remained my biggest supporter in other ways.
So here’s a little bit about me:
I grew up being told that ripstik-ing (for those of you that don’t know, it’s a caster board with two wheels that mimics a surfboard but on the ground rather than the ocean) was for boys and boys only. Disgusted, I proved my family relatives and the riding stables staff wrong and soon enough, other girls at the stables owned a ripstik too and we looked like a girl biker gang, all dressed in jodhpurs and long leather chaps with spurs from time to time. And hell did I feel good back then. I wasn’t aware of the sexist comments, I only remember feeling irritated that someone was trying to hinder my ability to have fun on my Sundays spent at the stables and my relatives criticising my parents for not making me more ‘lady-like’. I was criticised for wearing trousers more than skirts and for being tanned in the asian community. Strangers on the bus would constantly comment on my tanned skin and the same comments were repeated: “Do a lot of sport do you?” The comments were aimed mainly at my mum who would just stroke my hair and laugh at the passing comment so it never really phased me at the time.
I used to take the MTR (underground) home with my mum on a Wednesday afternoon when mum couldn’t drive me home that day after school and I used to climb up the pole that people held onto for balance like a little monkey and swing from the handle bars as much as I could. And I would do it without a care in the world in my school dress with my rugby shorts underneath, receiving disapproving looks from mainly elderly women. Yes, I’ll admit, it probably was a ‘public nuisance’ but c’mon – I was 6 or 7 years old, bored out of my mind on the almost-empty carriage and I wasn’t the type of child to sit still. But finally, one afternoon, an old man started yelling at my mum for letting me do such a thing and it startled her and me too. That was the day my mum commenced her long time-line of scolding me for being too ‘wild’ and ‘tom-boy like’. I’ll never forgive that old man for swearing at my mum in front of everyone on the MTR and for looking at me with disgust and saying “You might as well be a boy.”
I began a growing passion for writing poetry and short fiction and I leaned towards the arts/creative side and boy, did my parents get criticised for that too. Why? To this day, I’ll only blame the stereotypical idea of “asians are only ever good at math or science”. Ironically, I’m awful at both. My dad, you could tell, was embarassed (can you blame him? His parents are so traditional they made snarky remarks for their grand-daughter taking ‘English’) for having a daughter who cried every time he tried to tutor her math (didn’t help that he was a math professor at one point) and my inability to understand even the simplest of science tortured him. We argued all the time when it was the weekend and I was taking public exams. Mum on the other hand, an artist herself, embraced my artistic side. She encouraged my passion for reading and whenever I wanted to start a new hobby or do something that didn’t follow the lines of ‘maths or science’ she would bend her backbone for me. And to this day, I couldn’t thank her enough.
So here I am today, still the same girl who loves cars, specifically old cars (my dream: 1963 Buick Riviera) and was frowned upon for wanting to drive from a very young age because you know, that’s a ‘boy’s sport/activity’ (or so my family members say), who loves running around under the sun until I’m so browned by the sun that I’ve lost the dimension on my facial structure (as my dad teases) and I’m the girl who wears trousers more than skirts or dresses, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a ‘feminine’ side. I wouldn’t have gotten here without my parents who just laughed at the criticism received by those who scowled upon their carefreeness, my friends who have loved me for who I really am (you know who you guys are) and the few strangers who pass by me and have actually physically stopped me to make a comment that not only makes my day but confirms that those who have criticised me are irrelevant in my life. I’m still criticised to this day by my extended family about my choice in style – my idea of wearing bright colours with a retro/vintage feel is ‘subtly’ frowned upon, but it’s so blatantly obvious. And you know what? I make a scene. And those who frown upon me or criticise me, well that’s your loss not mine. It’s taken me years to come to terms with pushing negative people who don’t support my quirky taste and hobbies and just say ‘bye’ to them. But now, I have and honestly, it’s the best thing I’ve done for myself.
Be you, baby girl, be you because the scene you make is absolutely beautiful.
lots of love,