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Stop judging a book by its cover

10 Sep

I was sitting at a community table at a coffee shop today, waiting for my friend to show up, when a woman came and asked if she could sit by me.

I thought the gesture kind and a sign of being brought up right, for of course she could, it was a community table after all!

As she sat down, we started conversing, and the flow of it was so good that we did so for a good thirty minutes at least-the time it took my friend to arrive (seriously, though I need to stop getting to meet-ups on time).

However, although the conversation was fun and it felt like two like-minded individuals were talking, she said something towards the end that left me feeling less than great, and yet I realized it wasn’t something new that I was hearing.

Her exact words were ” I am shocked to find out that you are completely different from what I thought you were when I saw you, I wasn’t expecting this kind of thinking from you nor this type of a conversation with you.”

Let me rewind a bit.

You see when she came to me, I saw only a woman. When we were talking, for me,  I was a medical student and she a practicing doctor.

But here is what she, and I think most of the world, saw when she approached me.

She, a burqa clad woman with a niqab covering her face, saw a girl in three-quarter jeans, a top and, (as she pointed out) a made up face and stylized hair. (For the curious ones-I was wearing eyeliner and lip balm and had walked out right after a shower-it was one of my most laid back looks.)

She saw a woman who was everything Islam represented, going and starting a conversation with a woman that in her head embodied everything Islam resented.

And yet, to her shock, when we started conversing she found out that I didn’t only have enough brain cells to hold up a conversation about politics, the rights of women and the importance of career goals, I also had morals as strong as her, a stronger knowledge of my religion and a better realization of the distance we had developed from our religion.

So let me decode her words for you-what she meant was, when she saw me she thought I was a shallow girl with no moral code and no idea of my religion, and thinking back to the conversation, I could see the points she had already tried to prove that to me.

A tiny example, when she tried to make me agree that the girls from my high school have the worst reputation in Lahore, there must be a reason to that, I wouldn’t agree no matter how much she pushed. I might have spent only two years in LGS Defense, but they were enough to prove that those girls were nothing like the reputation that preceded them-but do you know what they had in common?

They were strong, opinionated, ambitious girls who were-you guessed it-fashion forward. Just like I was. Just like Islam told us not to be (in her head, at least.)

However, while I failed to persuade her that most of what she had heard about the school’s girls wasn’t true, I will give her this much though, that she changed her view on me at least. By the end of our conversation, we exchanged numbers and she urged me to stay in contact because she liked me that much.

A small win? Yes, too small in fact and hence, the bad taste left in my mouth wasn’t done away. And although I can’t blame her, I am tired of this.

This perception that because I dress a certain way, my religion is bound to be worse than yours.

I respect every woman who covers her head, those more who follow the rules of dressing in Islam down to a ‘t’, but to the same women, I want to say this-don’t judge me because I am not practicing my religion the way you think it should be practiced. You don’t know how much I pray for the strength to gain that level too, you have no idea of my struggles on that and most importantly, I believe, you don’t know whose way of practicing religion God prefers.

But, just for the sake of perspective-if your Islam was honestly as good as you deem it to be, you wouldn’t be busy judging me.

Honestly, I have been at this end of the conversation times too many. People see me from far and think of me (and even go as far as to call me) an amoral girl or a slut (excuse the language). Till one of them somehow gets to know me and realizes (admitting said realization to my face) of how wrong they were.
But the ones who don’t get to know me, continue on their tangents-with me, with other girls like me.
They see the jeans and the tops and assume we are sluts, assume that we have no sense of our religion, assume us to be below them hence, and the chain of assumptions goes on. If the girl in jeans goes and talks to a guy, he must be her boyfriend. If she goes out with male friends, she must be sleeping with them.
If she doesn’t talk to you, another man, it must be because she is too proud.

If she does, then she is trying to get you in her bed too.

If she wears make up, she is a slut trying to seduce you.

If she dresses fancy, it is to attract you.

Stop. Stop. Stop.

Stop labeling us and putting us in a box just because you don’t get us. We don’t fit the box you are trying to put us in to.

You know how you lie? That is a sin too-oh, I can almost see you smirking as you think to yourself that showing my skin is a bigger skin. Well staring at it is an even bigger one, isn’t it? Gossiping about it is even worse. Spreading rumors, is probably the worst.

But of course, you get to judge me because we sin differently.

‘Sinners judging sinners for sinning differently.’

I learned a lot from this quote, but mostly this-I can’t judge someone for something I deem religiously or morally wrong because I can’t see the whole picture. And I definitely can’t see who God prefers amongst us.

It taught me the need to focus on my own religion, for how can I judge a thief if I am a liar? How can I judge a sinner if I am not a saint?

In short, I am not saying my religion is perfect-but is yours? And yet do you see me pointing fingers? How are you sure yours is better than mine, stronger?

Just because you cover your head makes you so sure you are better in front of God than me, then please continue to bask in that ignorance and judge me endlessly.

But if you can, consider this-what if my morals are better than yours?? What if I am closer to God? What if I do something on a daily basis that God likes more than you covering your head daily?
Do you have any guarantees? Because I don’t.

Consider this-what if not covering up as Islam instructs is my one sin (or amongst a few), and one that I ask for help on a daily basis, one that I regret the most. Look at your list of sins, how many do you have?
Look at that list and shorten it, and stop looking at mine, because that in my head is the most important thing Islam teaches us-no judgement on anyone’s religion, just attempt to perfect your own.

Learn the basics. Learn to be tolerant. Learn to stop judging a book by its cover.
And remember that Islam isn’t about sitting in groups and bashing others on what they wear and how they live their lives, and using that to make yourself feel good about your religion.

Islam is about practicing good deeds, and that too so well that you force the people around you to be impressed and inspired by you to work on their own personas.
Lead by example, that is the basic teaching of our religion!

Hence, I repeat, learn the basics. And remember, that Islam puts women on a pedestal in every way, in every walk of life, then who are you to try and pull them down based on outward appearances? 

More importantly, Islam taught us repeatedly to to look into the hearts of people, not their actions.

The whole concept of intentions is so clear in our religion-a good intention is almost as good to our Lord as a good deed. That in itself shows how important the goodness of our hearts is.

And if you think you can’t know how good someone’s heart is just by looking at them, then how can you judge their whole religion based solely on what they wear?

I end this post on a heartfelt request.
Stop judging us just because we dress differently from you.
It hurts. Me yes, but your religion even more so.

 

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Twenty-something lessons learned

21 Aug

As I turn a year older this week, I sit back and reflect on the year that has gone by. And as I do so, I can’t help but notice all the lessons life has taught me in it. And although some of them were more bitter than not to live through, they were nonetheless important experiences for me to face, to learn from.

Today, I want to share some of those lessons with you, in the hopes that maybe they will aid someone out there in some way. After all, its best to learn from others’ mistakes than to go making your own, right?

  1. Sometimes you will trust the wrong people. It will hurt but you have to realize that it was not your fault and you will have to forgive yourself for it.
  2. Words can hurt more than you realize, so be careful with them.
  3. No one is irreplaceable, except your mother! If someone leaves your side, it is only to make space for another person. So stop fretting over the ones who walk away!
  4. On that note, remember this-hold your family close to yourself but your mother even closer. She is God’s greatest gift to you!
  5. Stop thinking about what others think of you and stop trying to see yourself from their eyes. Don’t re-type that text. Don’t reread what you sent! Learn to see yourself from your own eyes, learn to love what you see. Celebrate every part of yourself!
  6. Believe in miracles. That girl with the three rounds of failed pregnancies will call you from the hospital nursery post the birth of her twins. Your friend will get to marry the man she always loved. The class fellow who seemed to fail at everything will finally meet up with you and brag about all that they have achieved.
  7. Absolute honesty can at times hurt more than you can imagine. Don’t learn to lie, but do learn to identify the exact point where you need to, well, shut up.
  8. Love freely, but expect none in return. If you do, that is recipe for disaster. If you don’t, you shed half of your troubles.
  9. Buy those Stan Smiths. They never go out of style!
  10. Use the words that broke you the most as your biggest strength. Let them drive you to be your best self!
  11. Humility is the sexiest attribute to possess. That and intelligence.
  12. Opening about your insecurities isn’t easy, but if you talk to the right people about them you will be fine. If you choose the wrong person, don’t worry. The right ones will come along soon enough and help erase any harm done.
  13. Don’t pick up that call your instinct tells you not to. F**k your heart. Trust your mind in this one,
  14. Put your strengths in a box, block out everything else and focus on just them. Everything will then fall in place.
  15. Also, block every form of hater and hatred from your life. Don’t be mean, but just don’t give space to negativity in your life.
  16. Being young means you will make mistakes no matter how careful you are, so cut yourself some slack and enjoy life a bit.
  17. You can’t control every situation, it is just not humanly possible. So if things don’t go according to plan, don’t beat yourself down on it. Instead let yourself go with the flow for once!
  18. It is okay to have dreams different from your peers, you don’t have to want what others around you want.
  19. If your career is your number one priority, not only is that perfectly fine, but anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t have your best interests at heart. If they love you, they will support you no matter what, that is how simple the equation is. No ‘raised to the powers’, no variables in this one!
  20. Some people will hurt you no matter how much you love them and some will love you no matter how much hurt them. Cut out the former kind from your life, and start valuing the later group. Those are the ones that will be sitting proudly in the front row, cheering you on for every single one of your accomplishments, because they will be part of the reason you got on the stage in the first place!
  21. Your mom was right about there being a specific way to fold your laundry and to do the dishes and to dry the dishes. She was also spot on in her ways to identify and avoid fuc*boys. In fact, she was right about almost everything. You are old enough now to admit that.
  22. But maybe not old enough yet to admit how much like her you have become!
  23. Don’t let yourself be walked over by anyone, no matter how important they are to you or how much you love them. No one should have that kind of power over you, period. 

 

Friday Five

12 Aug

Travelling isn’t easy. 

There. I said it. 

I love travelling, honestly. But like all good things, it has its cons. And for me one of the biggest con is  packing. 

Somehow, every time, no matter how much I try, I end up leaving behind at least one very important thing. And mostly it’s not that I forget to pack it, it’s usually because in the past trips I wouldn’t have needed the item so I skip packing it this time. And by some law, it’s always that one thing I end up needing the most in the particular trip. 

One thing though that I no longer compromise on, and hence never leave behind, is my small collection of skin care products. Simply because you need to take extra care of your skin while travelling. Plus, no matter where you are travelling to, the chances of not finding the exact products that work for your skin are always higher than not. 

To avoid the risk of them bursting into my luggage though, I always hand carry my skin care products. Which essentially means I have to get travel sizes for all of them but thanks to shops like Sephora, it is so easy to get my favourite items in mini versions that it seems like no trouble at all!

Since I just got back from travelling abroad, and having packed my must haves again proved to be a great decision (for my skin), I figured I’d share with you the five travel sized skin care products I always have in my carry on and that I wouldn’t risk travelling without, ever!

1. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate® Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash 

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again. This cleanser is the best-especially for acne prone skins. I tend to break out more while travelling, but since I’ve begun travelling with this my breakouts have reduced marginally!

2.  First aid beauty Ultra Repair® Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 40

I’ve combination skin that dries up even more when I’m travelling, so this is an essential travel item for me. If a strong (long lasting) moisturiser isn’t enough of a pro for you, the fact that this one comes with an SPF 40 should have you running for your credit card. 

3. Ouai Morning After Kit

Once you begin using this on your travels, there will be no going back. Trust me!

4. Dr. Jart+ Pore Minimalist Black Charcoal Sheet Mask

I love a good sheet mask. Especially when I’ve been out all day being a tourist. However, this charcoal one by Dr. Jart is probably the best one out there! Easy to use and very effective!

5. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15

Just like the rest of yoir sun-exposed body parts, your lips deserve a little extra protection too and this sunscreen is here to save your day while keeping your lips moisturised and tinted!

Till next time,

Gull. 

Letters to you

9 Aug


What a month July was!

I fell in and out of love ten times a day, I did things I had never done before, ate foods I had never heard of and made memories that will last me a lifetime. You guessed it right, I spent the month of July travelling.

And I absolutely loved every minute of it.

And now that it is over and I am back in my country, back with my loved ones, I am living through a bittersweet haze made more confusing thanks to my jet lag!

I have so much to share here with you, so much I am bursting to tell, but I am short on time and feel terribly guilty knowing my posts here will be more infrequent in the upcoming month than ever before!

However, I do promise to try and write to you all as much as I can before my final exams get so close that opening my laptop will become impossible. For that upcoming inevitability, I apologize in advance, but until then here is a sneak-peak into what I am going to be sharing with you in August

As my base camp for July was Chicago, a detailed guide to Chicago will of course be coming your way intermixed with fun stories of my time in the city. Along with that, I will also be sharing with you the best weekend road trip destinations close to Chicago and will share my tips on how to enjoy your weekends in Chicago to the max.

Also, because it took me a trip to Orlando and two days in Disney to figure out how to make the best out of a trip to Disneyland, I will share that with you too in as comprehensive a guide as I needed when I was headed there (and failed to find).

The Friday Five posts will be coming your way too and because I have my birthday coming up in a week, be prepared for a partly corny post on what I have learned in this past year.

There is a lot more on the agenda for what I plan to post here from my trip to the States, but with exams so close, I can’t promise as to when the posts will be headed your way. Hence, keep your eyes peeled to this place (aka, follow my blog here or on Instagram) and watch out for when they go live! Trust me, there will be some crazy stuff in there that you do not want to miss out, especially if you want to hear about some of my most embarrassing moments from the trip!

Really looking forward to writing all these posts for you, even if they will be fewer than ever before-quality over quantity though, right?

Till next time,

Gull.

 

 

 

 

Friday Five

1 Jul

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the lack of posts this past week. I’m currently travelling which makes sitting down with my laptop to write a post really hard!

However, I had been really looking forward to write this week’s Friday Five. Why? Because it marks the start of the 4th of July weekend and (drum rolls please) it also marks the start of some amazing sales. Listing down my favourite five for you right here. Do check them out!


1. 50% off at Ann Taylor. I’m in love with this top. And how cute is this one. Use the code JUSTBEACHY at checkout to avail the offer. 


2. Up to 70% off at ASOS! Look at this top! Perfect for summer, no? And now perfectly priced too. 


3. Anthropologie is offering up to 30% off at select items. This top is perfect for this summer-on trend and just so cute!

4. Upto 60% off at the entire Old Navy online store! Now I can get this whole look at less than half the price! Ten minutes dance party? 


5. An extra 50% off on sale items at Banana Republic. What could be better? Maybe a 40% discount on regular priced items? ‘Omg’ indeed! (Seriously crushing on on this neck-tie top though!)

Happy shopping! Love,

 Gull!

How to perfect your airport look

27 Jun

Airport style has intrigued me since well before the age of Instagram and Snapchat, kids. (God, that makes me feel ancient!)

The main reason? I always wondered how all those celebrities looked so good even after having been stuck so long in an aircraft where the air will end up getting as stuffy and stale as in a semi-functional refrigerator. How did their clothes never look crumpled? How were their hair always so perfect?

Over the time, via a lot of hit and trial, I’ve found answers to some of my questions and in doing that, have improved my own personal “airport” style. 

Here is the first lesson that I have learned though-your “look” needs to have a perfect balance of chic, comfy and laid back. Something that looks great when you are boarding but also allows you to relax once you are on that plane!


Finding that perfect balance was the hard part but over the last few years I’ve found a go-to look for travelling and even though I still don’t manage to look as fresh as Victoria Beckham when I get off my flight, I can achieve blogger status in my post flight looks and for me that’s good enough. 

Here are my tips for getting your perfect airport look. 

Don’t wear light colours. 

No matter the length of your flight, even when you are super careful you will end up getting off the plane to find specks of stains of things you probably didn’t even touch. Even if you are super lucky and avoid that, every crinkle gets magnified in light colours and your clothes look like they have never been ironed. And have never been washed (from the overall stale air)!

Wear sweats or tights/leggings. 

Your legs, and your body needs to be able to have breathing space. Tight clothing doesn’t only cut down on that but also keeps you restricted and feeling uncomfortable. Plus, it definitely doesn’t help in your circulation to the lower limbs which is always a major concern for me on longer flights where I know my venous return is already getting compromised from the decreased activity and my posture (ok, too much medical jargon coming in). So for long flights I stick to comfy leggings or sweats!

However, for shorter flights stretchy jeans or cropped boyfriend jeans are my go to. They might not give me the space in long flights but they are “roomy” enough for shorter/domestic ones. 

Later, Layer, Layer 

For me, this has been so helpful. Because I either feel too hot or too cold while travelling. No in between. So, my go to is a loose tee with a light weight sweater , which I can remove or wear as the need be. And a jacket to layer. Stylish yet practical. 

Moreover, carrying a jacket thus has too many advantages-it warms me up when I am feeling too cold. Plus, I usually carry my heaviest jacket thus to cut down on my luggage weight. And, as my jacket collection is one of my favourite things in my wardrobe, any jacket that I fear wouldn’t be able to travel well in the luggage, I board with it. 

Most importantly, slip into the jacket when you get off your flight, and it will hide any imperfections in the rest of your look. (That’s why so many celebrities get off their flights with those cute but well covering jackets.) You will look put together no matter what the state of the rest of you is!

Keep socks 

They will keep your feet warm on the flight. But most importantly, when you walk through the security checks, slip them on and avoid having to walk completely barefoot through the line (and on that carpet)!

Keep your carry on light. 

I used to have so much in my hands I wouldn’t have the time, energy or enough free hands to focus on myself. So, now I keep it all minimal. An easy to manoeuvre carry on and a hand bag. That’s it. I keep the jacket on till I’m in the plane and then remove it or not depending on the temperature.

The girl who looks like she just walked out of the spa, not a flight? That’s one of her secrets. And I say that from personal experience!

Tie your hair. 

I used to think everyone boards the flight with their hair perfect, stays so through out and gets off thus too. I was so wrong. All I have learned is that the easiest way to keep my hair looking presentable is two tiered. Keep them in a loose bun through out (which, as a person with long hair, makes my life easier). And then brush them out and use a little dry shampoo right before landing. Because that is the only way you will look like you’ve showered in your life. Ever. 

Keep an extra pair of shoes 

And that’s the secret to all the heels you see in the “airport looks” done by your favourites. Smart girls always have an extra pair of heels on them that they pull on for boarding the flight and leaving it. Other than that, comfortable flats are all you will see them in. Always. 

Change out of those clothes 

Here is my favourite tip. It might make you feel a little extra, but, keep an extra tee in your carry on and change before landing. Especially if you know someone important is going to greet you at the airport and it has been a long flight. 

Your clothes aren’t the only factors that make up part of your airport looks, general hygiene and how fresh you look are equally important parts of the equation, so here are some tips on them!

Right after take off

Wash your face with a cleanser you prefer (get a travel-sized pack) and ensure that there is zero make-up on your face. Follow that up with a good moisturiser and an under-eye mask. 

In the flight 

Keep yourself well hydrated and avoid coffee and (if you drink) then keep their number minimum too. Drink loads of water, keep moisturising yourself and ask (nicely) for a hot towel or two to keep your hands and face completely clean. Keep breath mints with you and keep using that travel-sized perfume you brought along!  

Right before you land.

Wash your face . Brush your teeth and, if you can, floss. After refreshing yourself, use a little under eye concealer to instantly refresh your eyes. Swipe some mascara and a bit of eye liner. And you will look so much more presentable that even you will be surprised by the change! 
Cheers,

Gull

Friday Five 

24 Jun

Happy Friday everyone! This week went by in the blink of an eye and the realisation has left me with mixed emotions. Although I’m excited for what the future holds but I was having so much fun enjoying my vacations that their end is making me sad too!

However, bittersweet or not, I came across a lot many fun things this week which I’m too excited to share with you. Picking my top five was the hardest ever this time around but here they are, just for you!

1. These feminine lace-ups with the cutest details are available at the craziest (read:-ridiculously cheap) price! They are on sale though, so hurry up and get them while stocks last! (P.S. Express has an ‘up to 70% off’ sale going on so do check the whole sale out!)

 

2. This gorgeous H&M one-off-shoulder crop top that is on sale! And on trend too- we covered them in our June Style report in detail. (H&M has an ‘up to 60% off’ flash sale for today so hurry on over before you miss it!)

 

 

Kendra Scott earrings 

3. I’m in love with these Kendra Scott earrings! Honestly, they are cute but crazy, (just like my soul)! Get them here if they speak to you too!

 

 

 

J. Crew skirt

 
4. This ruffled skirt that I’ve seen on all of the best (and my favourite) fashion bloggers finally went on sale. And I couldn’t be happier!

 

Stella Sneakers

 


5. We all know white sneakers are here to stay, then why not add a little heel to them while staying comfortable and stylish? These sneakers by Stella do all that and more, giving any outfit an instant dose of edge. Get yours here!

 

Love,
Gull!

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