My accidental no make-up day

The morning of the fateful day was a hectic one for me. In fact, any day that I need to leave the house by a set time in the morning is busy. Trying to feed two girls under 5 and myself, dressing us all to look presentable to the world, packing bags with nappies and spare clothes, locating shoes, debating whether it’s “dress day” or “pants day” with my eldest, deciding which toy to take with us and so on and so forth.

That morning though I needed to be out of the house by latest 10:30am and somehow do all of the above whilst cooking a meal for a friend who had recently had an operation.

I managed to get it all done on the condition that my personal grooming time was as minimal as possible.

BUT, the only clean and comfortable shirt I had needed to be ironed. An extra 5 minutes went to that.

Then I couldn’t find Z’s (my younger daughter) shoes.

5 more minutes was wasted.

Basically it was 10:35am and I needed to be on the road but instead I was frantically throwing on clothes and packaging food with double plastic bags to avoid spillage in the car and carrying everything plus children into the car.

So I threw on my clothes and ran out.

Once in the car and finally on the road, I realised that I hadn’t put on any makeup.

Look, I am not a big make-up girl. I buy make-up once something runs out. I don’t feel the need for eyeshadow in fifty different shades (ha ha), or three different types of mascara, or even the need for primer, bronzer and blush.

My daily makeup routine consists of:

  1. Wash my face.
  2. Moisturise face.
  3. Some light brown eye shadow and eye liner.
  4. Mascara.
  5. Fill in eyebrows because I was genetically blessed with eyebrows that thin out in the middle.
  6. Face on. Ready to present myself to the world.

And this very small routine is not something I miss. I do it EVERY DAY. If I need to sit the kids in front of the television for 5 minutes, I’ll do it.

Yes. I am ashamed that I just admitted that.

On that particular day though, in the rush to just get out of the door and all the extra things I was trying to squeeze into my morning, it actually didn’t happen.

Later in the day when in the bathroom I caught a quick glimpse of myself in the mirror. My eyes looked bare. My skin was dry and peeling. I looked tired.

But guess what? NO ONE CARED. And surprisingly, I didn’t even care. 

Instead I was more focussed on the things I needed to get through during the day, the struggles of the people around me, and getting home to squeeze in some rest before it started all over again.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think this one accidental make-up free day is going to spark some revolution within myself (like Alicia Keys) to consciously protest make-up from now on. But I think what today did show me was that yes, me without make-up, bare face, IS presentable to the world.

It can cope with my make-up less face. No mass hysteria of people fleeing in horror at the sight of my face.

My realisation that I had no make-up on was only a slight bump in my day, a sort of after thought. Then I simply got on with it.

I think if this had happened a few years ago, I would have struggled more. I would have felt more paranoid and insecure.

But lately, call it growing up, call it growing wiser, call it seeing more of the world and the true struggle that it can mete upon people (much much more serious than make-up dramas), I have only just begun to realise truly, fully, that my self is not, and should not be the centre of my world. That sounds simple and straightforward enough, the old adage to “life selflessly” but I really don’t think it’s something that we fully internalise and comprehend what it means for how we should live.

And so, one day, or a few days, without “my face on” does not spell the end of the world.

Do you wear make-up daily? Only for occasions? How easy/difficult is it for you to leave the house without it?

Featured image is Alicia Keys, sans make-up.

Great kid’s book

There are a plethora of kid’s books out there, though not all are equal. Here on The Modest Life we’ll be sharing our favourites for children (and adults as well), in terms of educational value, pure enjoyment, endearing qualities and beautiful illustrations.

Our first book in the series fulfils all of the above criteria and more. Written by T. J Winter (otherwise known as Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad) and illustrated beautifully in a style that is rare these days by Anne Yvonne Gilbert, this ‘Book of Rhymes’ is an incredible collection of seemingly nonsensical, humorous, moral and didactic rhymes and stories. IMG_2665IMG_2650 copy

There are rhymes that instruct children on vices that they should watch out for, such as greed and disobedience while simultaneously providing inspiration, relief and guidance. As it is in a nursery rhyme form, the lyrical quality of each rhyme is guaranteed to be met with enjoyment by younger children, and be memorised by older children.

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Reading it with my eldest has been very effective, as we discuss the meaning and lesson of each didactic rhyme, with their exaggerated, fantastical quality combined with beautiful illustrations. She has internalised these lessons and frequently refers back to them when the occasion arises, such as when she feels the need to down one sweet after another.

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I would say that this book is an absolute must for every children’s growing library. It is available here.

Best on the Net

I cannot believe that we are in the last few days of August, and that September is just around the corner. How did we approach the end of the year already?! It is simply incredible how fast time is flying.

Here are some of our favourite links from around the web this week:

  1. A photographer captures breathtaking photos of the milky way mirrored on the world’s largest salt flat.
  2. Speaking of time, and photos, here are 15 photos that show how our planet is changing. 
  3. I saw this video just before I went on holiday overseas, and I promise I made a conscious effort to get in those photos.
  4. There is hope after all… the burkini ban is overturned.
  5. My favourite cake baker made the most extraordinary wedding cake this weekend.
  6. Profound reminder on parenting by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin.
  7. The best advice for homeschooling parents. 

Rosa, Meet Siam

Written by Sevgi Yildiz. 

At approximately 6pm on the evening of Thursday, December 15 1955 in the heat of American racial segregation, a woman by the name of Rosa Parks finished her shift at work, paid her bus fare and sat in the first row of the allocated ‘coloured’ section of her bus. When the white section filled up however, the White bus driver (whom Rosa had experienced friction with in the past) moved the detachable ‘coloured’ section sign behind Rosa’s seat and asked all four occupants of that row to move. Three of the coloured passengers moved, Rosa, bless her heart, did not. Her refusal to vacate her seat for a white passenger and defy a 55 year old law, a law older than herself by 13 years, a law she was born into and had been her norm her whole life, a law she didn’t know better than, made her one of the most crucial figures of the civil rights movement thereafter.

Years later in an interview, she said “When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination to cover my body like a quilt on a winter night.”

Please, read it with me again and remember it. “…I felt a determination to cover my body like a quilt on a winter night.”

Approximately 6 decades later, on a sunny Tuesday on August 24 2016, a young mother of two by the name of Siam lays on a beach in Nice, France soaking in some rays as her children play when she is confronted by four armed police officers for “…wearing improper clothes that are not respectful of good morals and secularism.” Siam is then seen undressing, either by force of the armed police or of her own accord but still incurs the 38euro fine, a hike in comparison to Rosa Parks’s $10 not including the $4 court fee she subsequently accrued.

Witness reports state that fellow beach goers were yelling “go home” to Siam as they applauded the police while her daughter cried in fear.

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Image via The Guardian.

The fear here is what sends chills down my spine. The fear of law enforcement, our protectors; the police and state we look up to for justice and safety. The fear of our fellow people who applaud injustice and ridicule our rights.

The fear Siam and her daughter undeniably felt, drove her, unlike Rosa who wanted to cover her body like a quilt on a winter night, to strip. A bunch of men with guns made a woman minding her own business, strip. And people applauded them. In 2016. Not the 1950s. Not in an underdeveloped third world country. In France.

As a child, Rosa Parks watched her grandfather guard the front door of their suburban home with a shotgun as members of the KKK reeked havoc on their street. Siam’s daughter watched her mother strip in public in the name of obedience and respecting the ‘good morals of secularism’ as four men wielding guns surrounded her in open air.

I am bypassing the fact that the ‘good morals’ of secularism France is enforcing is completely and utterly immoral. I am bypassing the fact that a thin tunic is ridiculously being viewed as an item which ‘overtly manifests adherence to a religion’. I am bypassing the fact that this woman was simply laying there with “no intention of swimming” and is and was absolutely in no way a threat to her fellow beach goers. If I focus on the flaws in this blanket law and situation, I lose focus on what we need to do in light of such atrocious examples of law and power. I don’t want us to get caught up in the minutia of the situation.

When asked why she didn’t give up her seat, Rosa quite simply states that she was “…tired of giving in.” The thought of this scares me. That women and men, Muslim or otherwise will wait and oblige in obedience to laws made in the name of white supremacy, which to me isn’t too different or too far a stretch from secularism anymore, until we are tired of giving in. No single person or group of people, religion, race or sect should have to become tired of ‘giving in’. They should never have to give in in the first place. Because giving in means giving up your rights to be human in the way you have chosen and fashioned for yourself.

I don’t want to have to watch as secularist and socialist laws take over our world, introducing the new norm for our children to be born into and embrace as given. I don’t want to have to wait 55 years for Siam’s daughter or one of our daughters yet to be born, like Rosa Parks, to challenge the authorities and their forcibly imposed norm. I don’t want to wait for a revolution. I don’t want to wait for a ‘Muslim rights movement’.

I don’t want the brunt of our obedience, commonplace acceptance and years of ‘giving in’ to be placed on the shoulders of a sole, brave young woman yet to come.

I don’t want oppression. And yes, this is oppression. Whether you forcibly make a woman cover up or strip down, especially with guns at hand, it is oppression. No one should want this. No one should have to accept this. I believe that every day, we must stand up against oppression. Oppression manifests itself differently in each of our lives.

No matter what form it comes to you in, it is your duty for your sake and the sake of our future generations to recognise it for what it is, and refuse to give up our seats.

The floral print jacket

With Spring around the corner here in Sydney, what more groundbreaking way (yes, this is sarcasm) to step into the season than with floral prints, in the form of a jacket of course, rather than a maxi dress or skirt.

Seriously though, I’m loving these stylings of the floral jacket and can’t wait to try out my own pairing in the upcoming season…

*click images for source.

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Featured image via Zara.

Reflections

I have always been insecure about my appearance.

Being of Uyghur/Uzbek descent, culturally Turkic groups located in Central Asia wedged between China and Russia, my features are decidedly ‘Asian’. I carry my ethnicity on my face, for all the world to see, to puzzle over, or to label prematurely, ignorantly.

I grew up in the 90s and early 2000s.

The stock standard ideal of beauty was colored, wide eyes framed with long lashes, luscious hair and perfect skin. We idolized Britney Spears in her early, innocent, breakthrough years, the Spice Girls, Disney Princesses and Barbie was the doll of choice. Diversity was not really there.

Growing up in an Anglo society I was surrounded by people who mirrored the idols we looked up to.

All green and blue shades of wide eyes, set in white skin.

I have small brown eyes, with even smaller eye-lids, two front teeth that jut out slightly, beauty spots dust my face.

My excruciatingly shy self coupled with crushing insecurities and a need for approval by friends was a formula bent for a disastrous teenager who was riddled with self-hate based purely on what I looked like, or what I didn’t look like. These issues were to plague me well into adulthood.

I don’t think I need to talk about the culture entirely based on worship of the body and appearance that I was surrounded by as a teenager. It still is a culture based on worship of the body. Even despite all the attempts to appreciate diversity lately, the fact remains that the ideal of beauty held by most of society is very much stock standard.

It wasn’t until I had my daughter, my beautiful daughter, a creation that I could not have even dreamt up, a combination of my husband and I, a reflection of both of us, somehow perfectly crafted in one little being, that I came to a realisation.

One day in the not so distant future when she was a teen, or even younger, would she come to me dissatisfied with her appearance? With her dark eyes that hinted at her Asian ancestry, and even darker silky straight hair that only reinforced her heritage? Would she not see the beauty in the way her Creator had crafted her? How utterly heartbreaking would it be for me to hear the words,  “I think I am ugly” coming from her mouth, when I can only see the wit, the sheer intelligence and vibrant personality that abounds from her very being? Would she be able to recognise her incredible ability to understand good manners, to distinguish right and wrong, her patience, her strength, to listen with comprehension to our attempts to explain this world to a barely 5 year old?

Her essence is pure light, and as she navigates her way through this world, she is much, much more than her appearance. Would she fall into the trap that the world tells her that her appearance is her foremost quality?

As I thought about this, I realised that I myself had been, and was, guilty of falling into this trap. I had once been a teenager, sitting at the kitchen bench, crying to my  mum, hands pulling at my face, crying that I hated myself, I hated my face, that I was ugly. High school had not been particularly kind to me, and my weak character could not cope.  My mother who had carried me in her tummy, who had birthed me and loved me and thought I  was beautiful from the day I was born and every day thereafter, listened with utter heartbreak at the words coming out of her first born’s mouth. That the child crafted as a reflection of herself, hated her own image.

Indeed, how could I hate my own appearance when my daughter’s face, created as a reflection of my own, was beautiful? More importantly, how could I hate myself so when my daughter was created as a reflection and combination of my personality imbued with her own unique self?

More important than any of this however, was my horror in realising (along my path of seeking knowledge) that I had essentially been unhappy with the decree of Allah, with His creation. That my emphatic hatred of my appearance was in fact a reflection of my unhappiness with Allah’s decree. I thought that I knew better.

My dissatisfaction with my appearance reflected my selfish state, concerned only with myself, seeing the world through the paradigm of what others thought of me, of how others saw me, when the reality is that people do not spend their time thinking about me, they are caught up in their own insecurities, their own lives, their own problems. My selfish thought process prevented me from connecting genuinely with others, from seeing their own pain and their own struggles, and thus possibly trying to help them, to lend an ear to listen to them. 

Would my daughter also have the same thought  processes? Would she see the world through the paradigm of the self, dissatisfied with what Allah had decreed for her, influenced by the corrupted ideals of the world around her?

They say that when you have children, they teach you about the realities and truths of life.

In so many instances has this been proven true. When it came to my preoccupation and dissatisfaction with my appearance, having my daughter ultimately made me face the utter ridiculousness and destructiveness of my thoughts.

The beauty of this world is in its very diversity, but more important than beauty, is knowing Allah, and learning to be content with His Decree.

In a world that worships physical beauty and pushes this onto our children (both boys and girls) from a very young age, teaching our children the opposite is a monumental task. Teaching our children that the most important value of this life does not lie in physical appearance, but in our striving to be true servants of our Creator, and that this entails living not from the paradigm of the self, but the selfless. That yes we recognize and love the beauty (even of the human body) created in this world as an affirmation of the existence and qualities of our Creator, but this value of beauty is not the guiding compass, the ultimate end of this life.

To be able to teach my daughter that her looks should not be her ultimate concern, I know that I need to think, act and live this way. Because the best method for teaching is modeling values for our children. Our children can pick up hypocrisy from a mile away, and if I myself don’t espouse certain principles starting from my very thoughts, I know that she will pick up on it.

I’m being honest. I STILL have these struggles regarding my appearance. Old habits and old ways of thinking can be hard to destroy. But, along the path of seeking knowledge, along the path of being a parent to two little girls, I am trying to change. To learn to accept, contentedly, wholly and with certitude, the Decree of Allah, starting from my own face.

Best on the Net

Hi all! Here is today’s Best On The Net. From beautiful things coming out of very difficult situations to a book that teaches your little one (or you) ‘how to code,’ and something musical too. Enjoy <3

1. Strangers at Home: Uyghurs in the land of the Hui

“However, Fatima and Mohammad reflected a new kind of story, one that I hadn’t been familiar with before my journey to China. They showed me a life of a middle class, Chinese family whose home was not free and whose freedom of worship was restricted. And while they found home in their faith, because of their (Uyghur) ethnicity their faith didn’t find home where they live.”

 

2. The Secret Food of Afghanistan 

“She hopes that this book will help change perceptions of the villages, towns and cities of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, focussing instead on the many cultural riches – and delicious dishes – to be found.”

 

3. Rio 2016: First ever refugee team ‘have already won’

“I’m very proud to be here,” Rami said.   “But I feel a bit of sadness that I’m not participating as a Syrian. We are representing people who have lost their human rights and are facing injustices.”

 

4. Hello Ruby

“Hello Ruby is the world’s most whimsical way to learn about computers, technology and programming. The story started with a book, and now Ruby continues her adventures in exercises, games and apps. It’s suited for kids age 5 years and older (but even adults might learn something new).”

 

5. 5 Uplifting Songs by Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam

“The messages of belief, love, and peace in his songs are timeless. It was hard to choose just 5 songs, but here they are! These, and many other songs of his, speak straight to the soul—regardless of the time you may be born in.”

 

Header Image: Steve McCurry