I was asked a few days ago what my dream was. My genuine, unrehearsed answer was: “My dream is to make a difference”. And I stand by it.
I don't believe I have achieved that dream just yet, but I do believe I am on the right track to someday doing so or getting as close as I can to doing so by continuing with my studies, writing, doing voluntary work, trying to spread awareness about humanitarian causes, doing my bit for animal welfare, and just trying to help wherever I can.
I am by no means implying that I am an example to be followed or anything like that. I have known many inspiring women in my life, who have worked so hard to get to where they are, and who continue to work hard to make a difference in their own and others' lives, in whose footsteps I hope to gradually follow.
I know that not everyone's dream is equivalent to my own, and I understand that. And I also admit that it is not becoming of anyone to be judgmental, but having said that, I can't help but feel a little disappointed when I see other women, with so much potential to do good in this world, just getting by on their looks. Those whose dreams can be summed up in putting on makeup and fancy dresses, with the end goal being just lavishness and fame.
I am aware that today's feminism is about choice – it is a woman's own choice whether to use her mind or her body or both, as long as the choice remains hers. And I do agree that it is our choice to do whatever we want with our bodies, but it is when we start relying on it as an end goal, when I begin to feel that that choice has become devoid of value. That is when I feel the body has won over the mind and when I feel I see so much wasted talent in many young women today.
This is also the same reason I feel there is genuine hypocrisy on the part of 'liberal' feminists who claim that women who cover up are necessarily oppressed and need to be rescued by 'our values'. It is a sad day for feminism when the integrity of a woman's choice is determined primarily by what she “chooses” to wear – and let's be honest, even that choice belongs more to the fashion industry than it does to us.
Let me clarify, I am not declaring a war against fashion or makeup here, I am no stranger to either myself. I just wish that more women knew that they are worth more than that, that their dreams can go beyond wanting to be in the spotlight for the wrong reasons or to be showered with vacant admiration by the wrong people. I won't lie, I am also taken in by the empty flattering from time to time, but I do know one thing and it is that I don't want to be the kind of woman who looks back years from now, wishing she had done more with her life, wishing she had dreamed a bigger dream, or that she had more to show of her achievements than just youth.
Sometimes I fear that is all I have so far, but I'm trying to rectify by using my mind in all that I do – and I will continue to do so as best I can – and I hope to one day inspire other girls to do the same, just as other strong, inspirational female role models have done so for me.
Maryam Elika Ansari is a cyber activist and pseudo global citizen who is passionate about international politics, development, literature, gender issues and animal welfare. Her greatest challenge at present is to try to help reverse the skewed representation of minorities in the “Western” mainstream media, and what better way to do so than with the power of the pen (err keyboard). She loves writing anything from articles to fiction, and she also loves turtles. Question she dreads the most but gets all the time: Where are you from? Check out her other articles on: https://pseudoeli.wordpress.com/ or connect with her on Twitter @Elikaization