This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

I Am A Feminist And I Love Chick Flicks, Dresses And Glitter. Sorry, Not Sorry

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Narayani Subramanian:

kareena kapoor kabhi khushi kabhi ghamThe very first time I felt furious against gender discrimination, inequality and politics, I suspected there might be more like me who dared to raise their voice. I sought help from the Internet and in books to find out if there are others like me. That was my first encounter with the word feminism.

The more I learnt, the more I was haunted by the stereotypes and fixed behaviour patterns that were expected of those who identified themselves as feminists. For example, most of the feminists from Tamil Nadu were supposed to look similar. They apparently shunned makeup and did not pay much attention to ‘external beauty’. They mostly wore loose kurtas and ratty old jeans. And a majority of them had short hair.

I also realised that this extended not just to feminists, but to some ‘intellectual’ women. I found them restricting themselves from paying attention to beauty and also shunning other women who like to wear makeup or pay attention to beauty as being dumb and stereotypical. Somehow, for them, being ‘presentable’ was enough and anything beyond that was considered attention-seeking and intellectually shallow.

I was not very comfortable with any of this.

We used to have a gender equality circle in Bharathidasan University, Trichy. I participated in the circle after 5 pm every Wednesday for four years. I realised I never saw anyone with long hair, shiny outfits, make-up, etc. Although for most of them, it might have been a personal choice, I felt there must have been some people who did not want to attend the gender equality meetings looking ‘girly’.

Is it like an unwritten dress code? Why?

The cosmetic industry keeps feeding beauty myths to women to increase their sales. But if I know all of this and still want to do something just because I like it, what is wrong in that?

I am completely aware of the whole commodification of women scenario. But what if I don’t want to wear those jasmine flowers for objectifying myself but just because I like their smell in my hair long after I have thrown them away?

Why can’t I be a feminist who wears large dangly earrings?
Why can’t I be a feminist who chokes up during a romantic movie?
Why can’t I be a feminist who would not step out of the house without wearing kajal?

Why can’t I be a feminist who likes her long, albeit difficult-to-maintain hair?
Why can’t I be a feminist who wears pink sparkly gowns and admires herself in the mirror?
I kept thinking…

There is no reason for me to shun my desires and character traits just because I believe in gender equality. Does my ideology dictate each and every move I make? Professionally? Yes. Personally? Not always.

I have interacted with many women regarding this and they all agree that their mood somewhat dictates what to wear on a particular day. Women who are reading this may or may not agree. There are dressy days, jeans and t-shirt days, chiffon saree days, cotton saree days and sometimes, there are even I-just-don’t-care-at-all days.

The same goes with other things that are dictated by our moods. Funny as it sounds, I have felt that I react very differently to the same romantic comedy or ‘chick flick’ during different times of the month. It may seem very cliched but I have felt it and I guess this is totally fine as long as my ideology has not taken a complete u-turn by the end of the month. This is just my situation. Many women do not experience mood swings at all. It is their situation.

As much as I hate people shoving ideas down my throat because I am a woman, I also don’t like people expecting me to be different in every possible way just because I am a feminist.

The sooner everyone realises this, the better.

I like blue. Not just that, I hate pink. This has nothing to do with my feminism. But if I had liked pink and you say that’s so stereotypically feminine and that it beats the whole point of me being a feminist, then my respect for you starts falling flat.

‘Girly girls’ are not dumb. They are not ‘silly, floaty and shallow’. Your intelligence is not measured by the amount of sunscreen you wear or the lack thereof.

I am not saying we should all start being ‘girly’. I am just saying that it would be ironic if we start casting ourselves into a stereotype in the process of fighting against oppression.

I feel we need to accept the little things, idiosyncrasies, crazy cravings and random mood swings that come with the whole package of being a woman. Celebrating womanhood is not just about menstrual hygiene, sexual freedom and empowerment. Celebrate the craving for that chocolate cake! Celebrate your urge to share that useless information you got with your best friend! Celebrate those reflex tears whenever something touches your heart! Celebrate it all!

I like wearing big earrings; I (sometimes) like romantic comedies and cliched ‘chick flicks’; my mood decides my outfit for the day; I am into fashion; I love cooking and I cry more often than you think I do.

Go ahead, cast me into a stereotype all you want. It doesn’t matter one bit.

Gloria Steinem is my star. When someone harasses me, I make sure they get punished. I stand up for what I believe in. I have little tolerance for misogyny and would go to any level just to make sure I am not discriminated against. So deal with it.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Love Matters India

By Sahil Razvii

By Ankita Marwaha

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below