A Colored Person’s Invisible Insecurity

There’s a familiar lump in my throat and weird squiggles in my stomach as I am writing this post. The content in this post has been largely unspoken about or said to any of my friends or family. Thus, knowing that once I finish, I’ll hit the “Publish” button is absolutely terrifying.

This post is about a colored person’s insecurities.

The insecurities that arise when you’re in a public place, such as your workplace, and you start having pounding palpitations when it’s time to open your Tupperware because you’re worried that the smell of the warm, cozy rasam rice will ‘offend’ the white folks near you.

The insecurities that arise when you’re at a restaurant with your white friends and you notice how their body language is different from yours, so you change yourself. You notice the perfect angle at which they placed their napkins on their lap, so you abide by the same ‘rules.’ You notice their eloquent nature when using a knife and fork, and force yourself to not use your hands to eat that taco.

The insecurities that arise when one of your white colleagues asks to see your Spotify because you’re almost embarrassed that your Spotify is only filled with ‘brown’ music.

The insecurities that arise when you pronounce a word wrong and fall deep into a pit assuming that the white people around you will ultimately blame your color and ancestral origin for your failed attempt at pronouncing a word the ‘American way.’

It’s as if the country expects you to erase your non-American culture and only embrace the American culture.

It’s suffocating.

These insecurities can be largely subconscious or conscious for many of us. For others, the lucky few, these insecurities simply may not exist.

The point is though that the burden to acclimate to the environment and society is placed on colored people. Instead, there should be no such burden. People, specifically white people, should be educated about the way colored people MAY feel around them and it is naturally their duty to ensure that they do not continue to uphold such stereotypical notions and ideas of minority groups.

For the longest time I thought it was my fault that I wasn’t as comfortable around white people as I was around colored people.

“It wasn’t until I was in PoC-only spaces that I realized how much of myself I had cut off to fit into white culture,” one person of color in Shambhala recently told me. “So being in PoC spaces allows me to reclaim those forgotten parts of myself.” – Citation

Thank God for the way media has allowed for more space amongst marginalized communities. Organizations and companies like Live Tinted are changing the face of diversity in the U.S. and knowing that children are growing up during such a revolutionary time is encouraging and comforting.

An Interesting Debate Over ‘Purpose’

The other day a doctor I was working with said to me:

“Many people don’t know what their purpose is, so they make their work their purpose.”

This stuck with me.

I thought anyone’s purpose would be embedded within their work because, at least for those of us who are privileged enough, they will choose to enter a profession that brings them the utmost joy and value. Becoming a surgeon has been my ‘purpose’ for over a decade, and that’s because I believe that this profession will enable me to build on my strongly held values, such as service and compassion.

However, when a doctor said that to me, I was forced to stop and reflect. If work isn’t my purpose, then what is? How do I find it?

The doctor was talking about how we, as students, should not take academics as seriously as we do being premeds and even as we grow older. This is because he believes that work should never engulf one’s entire life.

I agree with this wholeheartedly, however, I have a slight problem. I can’t even envision myself as having any other purpose. I don’t want my purpose to be limited to family, friends, or any one sector of my life. I want it to be more, and being a medical professional fulfils that desire for me.

Because I was so deep in confusion over what my purpose would be if I can’t rely on my future profession, I googled how we can find out our purposes.

According to Richard Leider, who is “a nationally-ranked coach and purpose expert…the equation for purpose is G + P + V = P.” (gifts passions values = purpose)

Let’s break this up.

Gifts

I’m not sure what my gifts are yet, but I’m sure I’ll discover them as I progress further.

Passions

My passions are deeply rooted in service, specifically in helping & advocating for children and mental health rights. I am also passionate about the performing arts. As a dancer and someone who grew up watching way too many Telugu/Hindi movies, I believe the performing arts has the ability to change one’s perspective on various occurrences within our world.

Values

This one is tough to reflect on as I have never actually sat down and thought about them.

Using the list from this website, I would say that these are my current values that I hold very dear to me:

  • family-orientedness
  • leadership
  • service
  • self-actualization

Purpose

Combining all three of these aspects, I would ideally find my purpose. However, we know that discovering what we truly want in life is not as simple as cracking down on an equation. I feel like our purpose can only be found by either experiencing a lot in life or by having a life-changing experience.

And maybe we don’t need to settle with having just one purpose. Maybe we’ll have more than one purpose and that’s okay. Maybe we won’t discover our purpose(s) until we take our final breaths and that’s okay too. And maybe one’s profession does become their purpose, while for others it’s just something that they’re passionate about but it’s not their true calling. It’s our life and we get to shape it in whatever we want to.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers was the most thought provoking and intriguing book I’ve ever read.

Quick Synopsis: Gladwell takes a look at a person’s background, culture, ancestors, etc. all to explain how they became who they are. For example, Bill Gates is who we know as a successful and wealthy entrepreneur, making him an outlier. However, his success is not attributed to him alone. It’s due to his family, the school he went to, the hours he spent with computers. It’s even due to the year he was born in.

I had so many moments of utter shock while reading this book. Here are some of the things that I learned:

  • It takes 10,000 hours to reach the level of mastery.

Bill Gates reached his level of mastery with computers because he supposedly used his wealthy school’s computers all the freaking time, starting from a young age. Therefore, by the time he developed Microsoft he had already covered or was near to covering 10,000 hours of work.

If we all put in 10,000 hours solely for our passions and into our desired professions, we too would be on the Forbes List.

  • Privilege and power play a large role in your success.

Gladwell talks about Chris Langan, the smartest man in the world. Chris Langan did not have much power or privilege, causing his intelligence and “success” to go largely unnoticed. Gladwell talks about the moment when Chris’s high school teachers didn’t engage him with more challenging work as he was always 100 steps ahead of all of his peers due to his high IQ. Thus, he spent most of his high school time self-studying and eventually earning a perfect score on the SAT.

Langan proceeded to receive scholarships from 2 colleges. He attended one of them and was subsequently kicked out because his mother did not send in his financial information in time. Gladwell even mentions that Langan was denied his request to attend class at a later time because he had a broken down car.

Chris Langan’s opportunities were bare and few, and even when he wanted to act upon them, he couldn’t because of his social background.

There are A LOT of interesting stuff in this chapter that I can’t summarize here, but I HIGHLY recommend reading it so you get as equally shocked!

  • Culture impacts the type of person you are.

There’s this AMAZING chapter about plane crashes and pilots in this book that absolutely blew my mind. In essence, majority of the plane crashes that have occurred can be understood by taking a look at the ethnicities and cultures of the pilots.

Pilots from countries who value elders and authority, tended to not stand up for themselves and the state of their plane minutes before a crash. For example, Gladwell talks about a Colombian pilot who was unable to clearly state to the headquarters that they are out of fuel and needed to land ASAP because he was primed by his culture to never disobey or raise your voice against authoritative figures.

However, an American pilot may have spoken up immediately and demanded that they find a place to land because American culture claims that “all men are created equal.” American culture does not preach the need to bow down to all elders and people of power.

Hence, culture plays a large role in the type of person we are and could become.

Gladwell also talks about how our ancestors and what they did for a living impacts us today. He uses Asians as examples to explain this topic and why they are so good at math. It was incredible. I don’t want to spoil anything hehe 🙂

  • The time and era you were born in can determine your success.

This concept was simply astounding for me. The year and era you were born in can set you up for success or failure. Gladwell talks about how national-level hockey players tend to always be born in the earlier months. He also gives the examples of how all the multi-billionaires were born in the 1950s. Obviously, Gladwell goes more in depth and explains this idea of time to you in this book.

Overall, EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK to understand that a successful person is not someone who is incredibly different from the rest of us. They are the result of numerous factors that we often overlook.

‘Inaction Is A Slow Death’

“Inaction is the holiday of fools, who trade temporary comfort for long-term existential suffering…. Action is a life-giving breath. Inaction is a slow death.” – Better Ideas

Throughout the pandemic, I worked super hard to set a routine for myself – especially in the mornings because I love my mornings. I’d wake up bright & early, workout, get a lot of work done, not look at any social media until after my workout. I was happy with spending time with myself and not having so much stimuli enter my world.

However, college forced me to change my routine and since then I have not been able to get back to the same level of routine I had built during the pandemic. I now struggle to wake up to my alarm. I still love mornings, but it has become increasingly difficult to begin those mornings. I open Instagram right in bed to urge me to get tf out of bed. However, by doing that, I’m allowing an incredible amount of external stimuli to jolt my brain first thing in the morning. Working out has become an inconsistent action. I’ve started to rely more heavily on my morning cup of coffee. It’s just different.

As a result of this change and the weird feelings associated with it, I wanted to highlight this video. It was breathtakingly shot and addressed the mental rut that I’m currently in. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I did 🙂

‘Empty’ Time

My Dad is currently in India on a work trip. When he calls me to check-in, he often asks “What are you doing? What are you up to?”

My go-to reply, with actually anyone who asks a similar question, is “Nothing.”

However, I’m never actually doing ‘nothing’ because doing ‘nothing’ starkly goes against the American Dream: the idea that one must keep hustling in order to achieve their goals and dreams. Doing ‘nothing’ is also terrifying because then that means all the thoughts that I’ve locked away can come back – with full force. Thinking about those thoughts is emotionally draining, so the best solution would be to just go-go-go.

Once you’ve been go-go-go-ing for quite some time, you start to notice how depleted and overloaded you feel. Many define this as ‘burnout.’ A lot of people (and information on the Internet) claim that the cure to burnout is to do things that bring joy. The thing is, though, many people actively schedule those joyful things into their day-to-day lives. The act of scheduling joy may be helpful for some, but I found that it was actually more detrimental for me.

“According to the Western perspective, filling every moment with “value added” activities is a sign of virtue and significance….The archetype of the virtuously over-busy person is so ingrained in our societal mind-set that it takes strong language to knock it loose.” – Martha Beck

When I schedule joy, I start to look at joy as a task that I need to check off. For example, let’s say I schedule “write a blog post at 2:00pm.” Writing and posting on this site is one of my creative passions that brings me lots of joy. However, it only brings me joy when it’s not a structured part of my life. Therefore, when I try to structure this passion of mine into my day-to-day To-Do list, I found that I actually begin to not like writing as much as I used to.

The key to prevent such backward healing is to schedule ’empty time.’

“Empty time is a powerful medicine that can make us more joyful and resilient, but it’s strangely hard to swallow.” – Martha Beck

Schedule ’empty time’ into your calendars. Do not title that block of time with anything – just write ’empty time.’ When you reach that period of time, then decide what you want to do. Do you want to just sit on your ass and stare at the walls? Do you want to journal all your crippling thoughts? Do you want to go out for lunch with your best friend? Do you want to go downstairs and chat with your family? Decide what to do in that moment. Lean in to the things that feel like home. For someone who likes to be in control and plans everything well in advance, this idea of being spontaneous during her ’empty time’ is an uncomfortable, but refreshing feeling.

Martha Beck does an incredible job of conveying the importance of having empty time here.

A New Anxious Discovery

Every time I sit down to begin a project, MCAT practice, or even to write an exam, I begin excessively yawning. In the moment, I used to wonder why I was suddenly overcome with fatigue when I’m actually shitting myself and extremely nervous to complete whatever task I’m about to begin. Yesterday, I was fine all morning and then the excessive yawning began again when I tried to an MCAT practice passage. Curious to see if yawning was somehow related to anxiety, I swiftly googled it. To my surprise, yawning can be a result of nervousness, stress, and anxiety (Wired).

This behavior of excessive yawning is common to almost all of us living beings (i.e. reptiles, animals, humans, fish). According to the article Big Question: Why Do I Yawn When I’m Nervous or Stressed?, researchers found many studies that link yawning to stress. They believe that our hypothalamus, a part of the brain that maintain’s our body’s homeostasis, triggers the behavior of yawning during such stressful situations.

“In one study, male Siamese fighting fish were observed yawning multiple times during different aggressive encounters with one another. Similarly, numerous studies have shown that macaques will yawn in response to various male threats, bouts of sexual jealousy, and anxiety. In a recent study published in Neuroscience Letters, Japanese researchers used classic fear conditioning to successfully induce yawning in rats.” – Wired

One specific reason for this behavior that I found particularly interesting is that yawning can act as a mechanism to maintain our body’s temperature. Under stressful or anxiety provoking situations, we tend to sweat more because of our rising body temperature. Therefore, yawning helps to combat this temperature increase by keeping “the brain at its optimal 98.6 degree temperature.”

“In a 2010 study on the impact of yawning on brain temperature, Gallup implanted probes in the brains of rats and found that even a rise in temperature of 0.18 degrees Fahrenheit triggered yawning. He also found that the skull temperature fell immediately after the rats finished their yawns—sometimes by as much as 0.7 degrees.” – Wired

The next time you catch yourself excessively yawning, instead of reaching for another cup of coffee (like I naively used to do), just check in with your body and note any signs of stress, anxiety, or nervousness.

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

In all honesty, I was terrified to draft and publish this blog post because it’s forcing me to write down and reflect on my CURRENT thoughts. All my other posts are generally things that I’ve dealt with and thought about in the past, so it’s easier to reflect because I moved past that stage already. This topic, on the other hand, seems to always be a part of me no matter how hard I try to move past it. Thus, I was prompted to draft this post because I’ve been feeling this way since the beginning of this year. I hope it resonates with those of you who feel a similar way.

TW: body image issues, eating disorders

To begin, my first exposure to the Eurocentric ideas of a woman’s body began in eighth grade (which is, unfortunately, extremely late compared to children today). Up until eighth grade, I ate whatever and whenever I wanted to. I balanced nutritious food with possibly less nutritious food. I didn’t spend so much time thinking about food, my body, or anything related to my appearance.

Once in eighth grade, my athletic friends began to speak about how they have to go for a run to burn the calories from their unhealthy lunch or my aunts would comment on my supposedly ‘large love handles’ or I’d only see certain types of bodies being represented on TV shows I’d watch. Being around such stimuli began my so-called ‘fitness journey.’

I’d stop eating an actual meal during lunch and would rely on a pack of spicy Doritos or an ice cream bar to sustain me throughout the day. Once I came home at 4:00pm, instead of feeding my starving body, I’d force myself to run 2 miles on the treadmill nearly every day. On the days I skipped the running, I’d brutally criticize myself and would even sometimes punish myself by not eating dinner. When my mother would ask or try to force me to eat, I’d brilliantly win our arguments and claim that I was full and could not eat anything.

This same mindset trickled into my freshman year of high school. I’d eat an ice cream bar for lunch and proceed to go home and run a couple miles on the treadmill. Starting sophomore year, I started sharing my lunches with my friends, which worked out better for me because I was actually eating proper meals (chicken tenders, french toast, wraps, etc.). However, I kept trying to run every day.

Moving onto junior year of high school, the first few months I’d wake up at 4:45am to go to the gym with my dad. I’d do some cardio and abs while my dad did his own routine. We’d make it back home by 6:00, and then I’d stuff my face with some breakfast and hop on the bus to go to school. Though this time of my life taught me how to set a disciplined routine, I wasn’t able to stick with it for a long time because I was getting so drained while at school. I still remained pretty inconsistent with my ‘workouts’ during this phase.

Starting senior year, I was sick of my inconsistent running and bored of doing the same thing all the time and still seeing no results. That’s when I began getting more involved with fitness. I added some resistance training, Youtube workouts, and attempted to eat ‘healthier.’ I believe this is when I started to become more strict with labeling food as being either ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Therefore, my body image was still nowhere near perfect because I’d continue to get tempted and eat the ‘bad’ food. I’d binge on food and would proceed to absolutely hate myself and my decision making after.

Finally in August 2020, during the pandemic, I begged and convinced my mom to get me a personal trainer. My trainer’s name was Harrison James and he singlehandedly changed my life. He changed my perception of food, fitness, and bodies. I spent a year training with him for about 3-4 times a week and that will forever be one the most important and life-changing parts of my life.

He taught me that food is fuel. Food is essential to ensure our bodies function the way they’re supposed to. Most importantly, he taught me to eat until I was actually full. Before, I used to eat for the sake of eating or not eat anything at all. With Harrison, I began eating 3-4 eggs every day for breakfast, added more brown rice for lunch, drank a smoothie every day, AND also continued eating the ‘bad food’ when I wanted to. My labeling of food began to dissipate. I ate until I was full and that was such a unique and satisfying feeling.

Harrison also taught me that fitness is not about becoming skinny. It’s about feeling strong. Before, my goal was to look like a stick. With Harrison, my goal became to tone up my body to be able to survive my days for a longer period of time, lift things with more ease, and overall, appear to have a bigger personality so that I could radiate my confidence better.

Unfortunately, once in-person college began, I could no longer continue training with him. Therefore, I transitioned to working out in my college dorm room throughout the fall semester. I would say that I was consistent enough and also maintained a pretty balanced diet.

It’s when spring semester began that I started to revert back to pre-personal trainer days. I became so much busier with extra-curriculars, academics, and social events that I no longer had the time or energy to workout or eat with as much balance as I used to. I was eating random food at random times, sleeping at wack times, barely working out. Even when I did workout, I’d get tired so much more easily and lacked the normal amount of motivation that I used to have. I noticed how my body changed (and in my eyes, it was not in a good way). I’d spend so much time thinking about my food consumption and waste so much more time hating myself for the way I looked.

At the time of me writing this post, I feel uncomfortable in my own skin because I’ve spent years trying to undo the damage that I and society have caused to it. However, I’m in this constant seesaw battle where I hate the way I look, BUT I also hate that I’m reverting back to defining myself based on my appearance. I want to go back to the times when I would be able to consistently work out because my goal, at the time, was to feel strong and release those endorphins. I was not focused on getting chiseled and looking a certain way. I want to go back to the time I could eat whatever I want and still respect my skin, my body, and myself. I want to go back, but in order to do so, I need to move forward and understand that bodies change. Bodies change so much throughout a single day, so imagine how much they’ll change throughout the years.

Camila Cabello does a much better job of putting my exact feelings into words here:

I want to end this reflection with a note to myself and all of you:

Let’s work tirelessly to replace all of the teachings of our patriarchal world. Let’s just be kind to our strong, beautiful, curvy bodies. Let’s not let anyone (including our parents, best friends, significant others, and anyone else) make us feel as though we are only defined by the way we look. Let’s give ourselves as much permission as needed to eat – whatever we need to fuel our bodies. Let’s make a vow to ourselves to seek for resources to help us heal because we are worthy of healing. Let’s love and allow ourselves to be loved. ❤️

Life Lesson From a Maid

Note: I wrote this years ago 😂 But I thought it was such a nice, little reflective piece when I found it again, so I wanted to share it with ya’ll. This post can also be found on https://happy2thrive.org/life-lesson-from-a-maid/


I stay with my mom’s older sister whenever I visit India. 

She lives in a two-story house with a continuous supply of clean water, air conditioning, and healthy food. 

Behind her house is a small, man-made neighborhood consisting of back-to-back huts all enclosed under one unsteady, tin roof. 

I would always see kids with no shoes on, sometimes wearing torn clothes, walk out of that neighborhood and run down the mainroad, seeming to ignore their safety and health. 

One day, my aunt came up to me and requested, “Come with me to see where Mary went.” 

Mary was my aunt’s maid. She cleaned the house, washed clothes, and rinsed dishes every day. Mary lived in the neighborhood behind my aunt’s house.

“She always tells me if she can’t come, but didn’t today. I just want to make sure everything is okay,” my aunt explained. 

I understood and accompanied her on her search. 

We walked to the back of her house and crossed the street. We stood at the entrance of the neighborhood and stared at the flimsy door that we had to push open to enter. 

My aunt used her sari to push it. We walked in and I was suddenly hit with the most repulsive smell. I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly caused it until I turned to my right and saw two buffaloes covered in mud, sitting in their own defecation. 

On one hand, I was disgusted by the smell; on the other, I was terrified of those unguarded buffaloes. 

My aunt noticed my newly formed fear and assured me, “Oh, don’t worry. That’s pretty normal around here. You’re safe.” 

She dragged me away from the buffaloes and kept walking me down the unkempt, dirt pathway. 

Both my aunt and I used the long end of her sari to cover our noses and mouths as we made our way through the neighborhood. 

People living there stared, with big, bold eyes, at the both of us, without even blinking until we were out of their vision.

“These people never see the higher-class walk into their neighborhood. That’s why they’re so appalled. Don’t mind them,” my aunt said bluntly.

As we continued walking in search of Mary’s home, I saw many moms bathing their children with filthy water in the open area of the neighborhood. I saw shirtless, old men using twig branches to brush their teeth. I saw kids eagerly shoving pieces of candy down their throats and throwing the wrappers onto the dirt floor.

After what seemed like a lifetime, we found Mary’s hut. My aunt tried knocking, but the door was flimsy enough to swing open with one touch. 

I saw Mary sitting against the cement wall, holding her 10-year-old boy’s head in her lap as she smoothed a damp cloth over his forehead. 

Her eyes bulged when she saw us standing at her “doorstep.”

She stammered, “Wh-what are you do-doing here Mad’am?” as she gently placed her son’s head on the dirt floor. 

Before allowing us to answer, Mary said, “Oh, my God. I never told you that I wouldn’t be coming to work today. Saleem had a high fever, and I had to stay back. I’ll come back tomorrow, Mad’am. Please don’t fire me, Mad’am. I really need the money. I’m so sorry, Mad’am.” 

I was shocked by how much Mary valued her simple cleaning job. It was then that I realized it is that money she earns for performing those tasks that she uses to provide for her three sons and herself. 

“Mary, you’re not losing your job. I just came to check on you,” my aunt explained. “Go take Saleem to the medicine shop around the block and get a prescription for his medicine. I’ll pay for it.”

“No, Mad’am. I can’t let you pay for his medicine. He’ll be fine without it. He’s just red and hot. He’s fine,” Mary replied stubbornly.

My aunt, being the fierce lady she is, replied, “Mary, he has a fever and it looks pretty bad. Take him to the shop or you really will lose your job.”

Mary didn’t reply, but I knew she was grateful. 

That day, I watched families beam with joy for the smallest things in life. I watched parents work to their limit to care for their families. I watched children treat education like it was a piece of valuable treasure as they hoped to one day bring their families out of poverty. 

As a future healthcare professional, this experience motivated me to be able to provide the same services and aid to those who cannot afford healthcare, along with my regular patients. More importantly, as an individual, this experience fuelled me to always push further every time I want to quit because I knew that Mary would never give up.

Rest Up!

Coffee Date #25 and I had some amazing Frutta Bowls today. I came back home from campus and felt the food coma kick in.

My original plan was to come home and bang out a shit ton of work so that I could get ahead of my classes that are beginning next week, and possibly even get in a good workout.

What actually ended up happening is my mom excitedly jumping up and down as soon as she saw me, me smothering my brother, and my cousin being her usual hilarious self.

Despite all the love and energy I was receiving from my family, I forced myself to go upstairs to start my classwork. I barely lasted 30 minutes before I realized that I couldn’t work anymore. Hoping that maybe having my endorphins pumped up would help me finish my work, I went to go put my workout clothes on. That’s when my brain decided to activate and tell me that my body was just not really feeling it today.

That ‘devilly’ side of everyone’s inner self began telling me that I already did not do enough work, so now if I skip a workout, I will be utterly useless, unproductive, and a disaster.

It took me around 10 minutes to come to peace with my decision: let go of work (you can do it tomorrow), listen to the combined connection of your mind and body (skip a workout), and go spend time with your favorite humans (especially because you haven’t seen them for a week).

I always read and look for a resource to bounce me out of my negative self-talk because, naturally, I seek for validation. I look to find other people who have a similar experience because it provides me with so much comfort knowing that I’m not alone.

Therefore, I found this article and it kinda helped me ‘snap out of it.’ Specifically, the part of the article that states that we need to “avoid feeling guilty about feeling guilty” and “focusing on what you love about your workout, rather than punishing yourself when you need to skip it.”

Overall, I’m just super proud that I was able to force myself out of this little rut because this is one of my 2022 goals: to not let toxic productivity or hustle culture rule my life.

‘Not All Men Are the Same’: The Telugu Song That Created Controversy Over Its Lyrics

A couple weeks ago, my family and I went to the theatre to watch a Telugu film, called Pushpa. Before the movie released, the song ‘Oo Antava Oo Antava’ (linked above) was released.

First off, Actress Samantha looks absolutely breathtaking in the song as she slays the moves and adds the right amount of attitude to keep up with the lyrics.

A week after we watched the movie, one of my aunts told me that there has been a lot of controversy over this one song from the film. Supposedly, men were offended by the lyrics and a Men’s Association even “filed a lawsuit against the makers of Pushpa and also filed a complaint against them for portraying men in a certain light.

Let’s Talk About the Lyrics

I’m going to breakdown some of the lyrics from this song on the left-hand side of a table, and I’ll breakdown another popular Telugu song (that wasn’t opposed against) on the right-hand side.

‘Oo Antava Oo Antava’ (received a ton of backlash from men for describing the ‘male gaze’)


Potti potti gowney vesthey Patti patti choostharu

When she wears short clothes, They’ll [men] drool all over them [women]

Mee kallallone anthaa undhi
Mee maga buddhe vankara buddhi

Your [men] eyes say it all. The male mentality is a twisted mentality

Thella thellagunte okadu
Thallaakindhulauthaadu
Nalla nallagunte okadu
Allarallari chesthaadu
Telupu nalupu kaadhu meeku
Rangutho pani yemundhi
Sandhu dorikindhante saalu
Mee maga buddhey vankara buddhi

When she’s fair-skinned, One man is mesmerized. When she’s dark-skinned, Another man goes crazy. It doesn’t matter if she’s fair or dark, They [men] just need a chance. The male mentality is a twisted mentality.

‘Ninne Ninne’ (received no backlash from men for sexualizing a woman)


Before breaking down some lyrics, let’s analyze the scene that comes before the song.

Notice at 1:26, when the girl asks “Do you love my heart or my body?” the guy immediately responds “the body because I don’t know your heart. You look gorgeous; a great smile, a fantastic skin tone. That’s all I need.

The girl tries to make him understand that our bodies should not define us and we are so much more than that. To that, the man vulgarly asks (at 2:26) “Will you have sex with me tonight?” to taunt the girl’s previous statement. He then breaks out into a song that essentially stalks the girl and sexualizes her body.


Devudichina andalu ayyo papam paruvalu
Cheyyamake matti paalu chuttukuntay papalu
Nuvvu leka ne lene ninnu vidichi polene
Neellu leni bavilona duki nenu chasthane
Inave nuv inave ose inave ehe inave..
Ninne ninne.. Ninne ninne… Ninne ninne… Ninne…

God has given you so much beauty, and yet you’re still a virgin. Don’t waste that beauty; you’ll become a sinner. I’m nothing without you; I can’t leave you. I’ll jump in a well without water, Listen to me, hey! Listen to me!

Note: There is a clear portrayal of sexism in both songs. In ‘Oo Antava Oo Antava,’ there’s a classic depiction of “men leering at a woman as she sways, slides and drapes herself over the hero, while a camera constantly cuts to bared bits of her body.” In ‘Ninne Ninne’ the man is aggressively yelling and, at one point even, pretends to hit the woman (4:00). Oh and let’s not forget him blackmailing the girl that he’ll essentially kill himself (i.e. “I’ll jump in a well without water”).

‘Oo Antava Oo Antava’ targets men for treating women the way they do; whereas, ‘Ninne Ninne’ is targeting women for not succumbing to the man stalking, verbally abusing, and sexualizing her. Despite this irony, the former song is the one that received so much backlash. Do we see how this is a clear problem?

Many men were supposedly offended that they were depicted as such people, leading to many to use the impeccable phrase “Not all men are like that.”

  • “So #NotAllMen doesn’t clarify anything. It doesn’t add to the discussion or develop it in any way. All it does is derail and dismiss the lived experiences of women and girls. And what the men who leap to remind us that ‘’not all men are like that’’, are actually saying is, ‘’I’m not like that.’’ Or to put it another way, they are letting women know that discussing misogyny makes them uncomfortable, and they’d like to be absolved of any blame before they will let women continue.
  • If you are a man and don’t recognise yourself in the behaviour described by women recently, then great. Our discussion of it shouldn’t offend you, or put you on edge. The men who are behaving like allies in this are the ones that are amplifying women’s voices, examining their own behaviour, and not drowning out our conversations in search of praise or validation.” – Medium

A woman is allowed to wear whatever she wants, dance in whatever way she wants, and look the way she wants.

Many aunties and grandmas I know have said “I don’t like how vulgar Samantha looks in that song” or “Why is she wearing that, exposing all of her body like that?”

It’s 2022 people; get over it!

If it’s okay for you to watch men, like Salman Khan, dance shirtless, then it is equally okay for a woman, like Samantha, to wear what she’s wearing and absolutely slay on screen!

It’s not okay, however, that men are seldom sexualized or taunted for wearing or looking the way they do, whereas women are constantly sexualized for doing the same exact freaking thing.

Conclusion

The point of this long-winded post was:

  1. The male ego got super butt hurt after ‘Oo Antava Oo Antava’ was released because it explicitly called men out on their behaviors.
  2. Create songs that don’t sexualize women. People fantasize and imbibe what they see on screen, especially in India, since the celebrity craze is extra hyped. Therefore, it’s crucial to send the correct messages through these films.
  3. Samantha is a freaking queen and should not be criticized for wearing what she wore and looking the way she did in the song.