April 30, 2008

on fashion, feminism and photography

Posted in I Wonder... at 5:51 pm by meldee

I have often wondered, what rule in what book ever stipulated that feminists cannot be fashionistas?

I don’t know why the stereotype that exists of feminists are butch, hairy, muscular man-haters who burn bras. FYI also, the bra burning never happened–it was a misconstruing of a protest of the Miss World pageant in the states where feminists threw into a bin items symbolic of patriarchy and control–but there was never any burning, tcah.

But anyway, there is this common idea that feminists are…well…dowdy, for the want of a better word. That feminists cannot be young and beautiful and have nice handbags. That feminists don’t wear makeup (or bras, for that matter) and think high heels are a waste of time.

Nevermind the fact that many non-feminists also think high heels are a waste of time.

But anyway, I suspect it’s the fact that feminists are by and large opposed to patriarchy (no duh, Cap’n Obvious) which is often linked in turn to capitalism, which is often understood as the buy-buy-buying of things we are falsely induced into thinking we need.

Perhaps I am a bit messed up for thinking so, but I have oftentimes felt shamed for calling myself a feminist yet loving the things I do: fashion, makeup, women’s magazines, photography. It’s self-censorship on my part, for consciously avoiding talking about these things for the fear of coming across as vapid and dumb-blondesque, but seriously, I cannot be bothered any longer.

I believe that women’s rights are human rights, and in “feminism: the radical notion that women are people” (I forget who). I also believe that one shouldn’t (emphasis on the shouldn’t) feel the compelling urge to buy anything and everything that comes one’s way fashion-wise, and I don’t believe women should be objectified and made up as sex objects all the time.

I believe in fighting for causes that are bigger than oneself; however, I believe in not losing myself in the process. If pretty shoes or sparkly jewelry makes you happy, why deny yourself if you can afford it? Donations to causes, be it time, money or effort, should come from a heart that is happy and willing to give. For the more altruistic among us, perhaps they are content to give and give and claim that the knowledge that they have contributed to society is enough, but me…I need to be happy meself in order to give to others! And I’m not saying that this is always the case, but I’m made happy by pretty things (so sue me, I like aesthetically-pleasing things).

So I love trawling shops, and looking at pretty pictures of people in beautiful clothes to admire the harmony of all the little things that make up a beautiful photograph: lighting, expression, body movement; I love not wearing the same thing twice in a month (guilty as can be–I haven’t worn the same outfit twice in 10 weeks) and I also love the ideas of gender equality and a society free of violence.

And maybe these things I love do contradict each other on certain levels, but it also brings a new level of consciousness into what I do or enjoy–I adore cuts and materials that skim the human form, be it male or female, and I love seeing people being captured on film, but I am also aware that I do not condone a blatant sexualisation of a person, especially if they are a minor. I know there is a thin line between classy and trashy that is hard to define, but these boundaries are often shifting.

All I know is that these things are a part of me, and are what I love. I’m finding that I can integrate all these things into my life, these little indulgences that make me happy, and couple it with an ideology I love. There is nothing wrong with beauty, or being beautiful, or wanting to be beautiful–of course it depends on whose definition of beauty it is 😉

And there goes my feminist again…


April 23, 2008

of traffic jams and clouds

Posted in Random Ramblings at 9:51 am by meldee

I’ve probably said this a million times already, but I absolutely abhor Subang traffic. Or PJ traffic. KL traffic. Traffic, period. I get tetchy and aggro and impatient when stuck in jams, mostly because it involves me pumping the clutch up and down repeatedly and my left knee is my bad one; on bad days my knee clicks everytime I press down on the clutch.

But for this morning, it was different, somehow. Mainly because traffic was so bad–coming out of my row in USJ, there was an immediate traffic backlog all the way up to the main road. And this was at 7:55am.

As I crawled up the road along with the masses of other irate drivers (not too many cases of driving on the wrong side of the road–which surprised me, considering how there was no policeman at the Nightmare Junction (friends would know what I’m talking about)!) with my mellow music CD on, I found myself appreciating the little things I haven’t thought about, in a long time.

Like how pretty the trees look in the early morning sunshine. Like how the droplets of dew hanging off the leaves sparkled like crystals. Like the cool tinge in the moist air, soon to be polluted beyond belief by fumes and curses. Like how funny Chinese grandmothers that go for morning walks look, in a sweet way, wearing their matching floral print top-and-long-pants combinations with Nike jogging shoes.

All the way to uni, crawling along in traffic (I never once went up to third gear!), I found myself dreaming–something which I actually don’t recommend while on the road, because of the high chances of getting into an accident!–and listening to Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now.

And it struck me how those simple lyrics, drawing parallels between clouds, life, and love, were so pertinent. Life is an illusion, and no matter what we do, how high we rise or how low we fall, we don’t really know life. It is so impermanent and changes so much, so fast.

I listened to it over and over again, and on some level the traffic soon faded away and it was just me. Just me and the clouds, and love, and life. Because really, that’s all there is.


I am addicted to Roberta Flack’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. I want to slow-dance to this song at my wedding with a thousand fairy lights twinkling above me and a soft sea-breeze in the night air..in the arms of the man I love.

April 20, 2008

on giving thanks

Posted in Family at 1:46 pm by meldee

It’s indeed ironic that we so rarely give thanks for the things and people that are right before our eyes.

But it’s also not easy; in fact, it can be very hard indeed. How do you begin to thank someone for everything they’ve done for you since the day you were born? For the bathtime fun, the school lunches packed, the diapers changed, the clothes so lovingly stitched and repaired? For the food laid on the table, the hugs and kisses, the long talks, the stories shared?

How do you tell them that it is because of their love and time, tears and encouragement, that you are who you are today?

Though you can talk to them about anything and everything, it’s so difficult to really stop, and say, ‘Thank You’ for being around all your life. For knowing you better than you know yourself. Because really, where do you even begin?

I know I couldn’t start to thank her without it ending up a complete sobfest, complete with anecdotes that have been rehashed a million times before and emotional declarations. Only because I think the love we have for each other can only remain unspoken between us, for if we were to try to describe it, we’d draw a complete blank. Because it’s infinite.

For those of you who know me well, you will also probably know how much she means to me. How much I adore her though I grumble about her incessant naggings and having to bring her out shopping; how much I love her cooking and hearing about her blonde moments (yes, she gets them too!); how she is my rock, my idol, my angel.

Happy 71st, Granny.

It is because of her I know the value of life. Her bravery, courage and resilience have inspired me all my life and I know I will always think of her as my Superwoman. I want to have children that inherit her giving spirit, kindness, devotion and strength so that her memory will never leave this earth. I want this, because I don’t know if I could ever be half the woman she is.

I can only hope.

Thank you. Because I want the world to know how much I really do love you.

April 19, 2008

word therapy

Posted in Random Ramblings at 4:46 pm by meldee

I know, I’m awful with this blogging thing lately. I haven’t written for the usual reasons–no inspiration, no time, nothing to say.

But I find I miss writing. I know I do write, at a surface value, the articles I churn out for various publications, the assignments (indeed, I still have them!), the comments I give on my student’s tutorial exercises and of course, the endless Wall-to-Walling I indulge in on Facebook.

But words are more than just words sometimes, you know? And it both frustrates and amazes me that something so structured and limiting can also provide so much release and liberation. And how I need them to maintain my sanity.

Words, to me, are like breaths. I suppose I have been feeling so out of depth lately precisely because I haven’t been writing the way I need to.

These last few months have been some of those horrible times where it dawns upon you (so you think) that life is more than just dreaming, loving and praying–I mean this in the daily grind kind of way–you know, work, routine, same old, same old.

You cynically tell yourself that dreamers and lovers and those with faith also need to pay bills and carry out mundane tasks, and no amount of visualisation or nights spent conversing with divine powers can ensure that there is food on the table and that the people depending on you can continue to live comfortably. I shouldn’t scoff, I believe I did think this way for a while.

But a little piece of me dies everytime I set writing aside to scurry about the laboratory maze that is the rat race of the societal discourse of living, which is ironic because I should be proud of how much I am accomplishing. How I’m paying bills, repaying my education loan, saving up for my future. But I’m not; not really.

I remember how I felt so centered and at peace with myself last year, with the creative writing classes Sharon taught us. The words that spilled from my pen to paper and often, flowed from my fingertips to my keyboard onto a blank screen were weaved into a fabric of an alternate universe that allowed me to escape, which I need.

And as self-indulgent as this sounds, I do need escapism to continue functioning–I am, fundamentally, a Piscean. With fire planets abounding in my astrological chart, I suppose it’s easy to slip my quivering fish in a bowl and tell it to be happy in there till my other more action-oriented planets get whatever it is the fuck they imagine they need to do, done.

So I lived, but a part of me was probably also on its deathbed; pardon the drama! To me, this makes perfect sense–I’ve been cantankerous as all hell, I snap at people I love, I’ve neglected societal causes that mean a lot to me, and worst of all, I’ve been attracting bad energy. I’ve been utterly miserable, and while I am doing all the things I should be doing, I’m not doing what I want to be doing.

What I’m trying to get at, I suppose, is to remind myself, albeit in a public space, to stop. Breathe. Dream. Write. Because through words, another part of me comes alive; the part that isn’t available to the prying eyes of the world. It is the part of me that comes alive when I am alone, thinking thoughts and penning them down.

Too often, too easily, we think nothing of decentering ourselves in the pursuit of material things, telling ourselves it doesn’t matter what we want to do, we need to do these things which are way more important–or so we think.

This is a reminder to myself, and to those of you who still read me (you poor things, LOL) to remember that what your heart and soul needs are just as important as what your body and mind needs. When body, mind, heart and soul are one, you are at peace; living is no longer a chore, but a source of joy.

So I will write (here, there, anywhere).

I will take pictures of things and people that move me (provided I have my camera on me, of course).

I will splash through puddles; so what if I ruin my shoes? I have another 30-odd pairs to choose from!

I will laugh loudly when due to my own oversight I land myself in ridiculous situations (like with an old carseat that lodged itself under my front bumper yesterday, because I drove over it, because I was too lazy to get out and move it); what else can you do?!

I will sing off-key at embarrassingly loud volumes ; smile warmly at strangers; listen to other people’s problems though I have my own; I will savour the taste of food on my taste buds, stop skipping meals and give thanks that I have food that I can choose to eat at my pleasure.

I will read books with beautiful words and admire gorgeous clothes and shoes; I will ask for whipped cream with my frappucinos; I will play with children and hold them and laugh with them and kiss them.

And I will remind myself as often as I can, that these are the things that make me who I am.