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Apne Papa Ki ‘Bigdi Hui Ladki’

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Editor's note: This post is a part of #BHL, a campaign by BBC Media Action and Youth Ki Awaaz to redefine and own the label of what a 'bigda hua ladka or ladki' really is. If you believe in making your own choices and smashing this stereotype, share your story.

While I walked out of my home wearing clothes which my dad bought for me with a smile, little did I know that apart from the bills and discounts, the not so complimentary frowns on the scrutinising faces of my aunts and uncles would be an added cost for me. Those clothes I wore were memorable as I wore them during the father-daughter trips in the city and abroad, but somehow they were being tarnished by narrow-minded thoughts.

When we shop, fashion and comfort are the priorities, not the view of the society and the people. It’s funny how my clothes and thoughts don’t bother people who are closest to me but cause screeching amounts of discomfort to those who just surround me. This is not something that had been thrown at me during my teenage years or now when I am in my twenties. ‘Apne papa ki bigdi hui ladki‘ (The spoilt daughter of a father) is something that I have heard for years.

While most girls and boys struggle with opposing views of their parents or siblings, my case is quite different. My family has very progressively and joyfully adapted to my crazy ways, be it my clothes, thoughts or my way of living. The brunt of this title is not just borne by me but also by those who support me willfully.

At this point, it does not even matter what I think and what I wear. Irrespective of whether I wear shorts and strappy clothes, ripped jeans, crop tops or even kurtas; If I am in a pub or a temple, I am still the ‘bigdi hui ladki’ whose parents don’t say anything. These labels once given can never be taken back, it’s some sort of a golden rule, something that every labelled Indian has accepted.

What is easy for me is that views of people who truly matter have been with me. There is a presence of an extremely symbiotic relationship amongst us. It does not stop there though. It baffles me to see the interest people take in other people’s choices. Initially, they take a jab at the child and if that does not work they disrepute the upbringing by the parents. The least that these onlookers can do is align their thought and pick a side to blame. I grew up in the company of people who raised me proudly, instilled values and ideologies that aren’t defined with clothing or societal dogmas.

What keeps me going is the undying support I receive from my amazingly structured family. They are the perfect combination of culture, principles, morality, independence, freedom and equality. There is a thin line between pampering someone and spoiling someone and my parents never crossed it. For people, I might be a bigdi hui ladki and that does not bother me anymore. I am bigdi hui and proud!

To all those, who struggle with the same, I would like to share my father’s words with you. In his extremely filmy style, he would say to me,”Don’t let people’s words get to you, don’t let them upset you. Logon ka kaam hai bolna, log toh bolenge. Ek kaan se suno or doosre se nikaal do.” (It’s the job of people to talk and they will do so. Listen from one ear and let it go out of the other.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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