There are always so many questions about Saudi women, but the one I get the most is about travel. I am going to tell you the truth about if Saudi women can travel or not.Read More
Yesterday, I spent three painful hours in a laser hair removal appointment at the local clinic. Through the burning sensation, the irritated skin and the gushes of cold air, I realised that women have to endure so much! Forget all the cultural baggage and the social issues and let's focus on how much physical pain Saudi ladies -all ladies worldwide in fact- need to go through to be "pretty." Saudi is no different from the UK, the US and the rest of the countries, where the majority have the weirdest sense of beauty. Saudi ladies are undergoing lots of media pressure as well. I think impossible beauty standards are a universal problem. Most people here -men and women- are obsessed with Kim Kardashian, Haifa Wehbe, Nancy Ajram, Myriam Fares and few others and their hard to achieve physique.
You might think Saudi women are just covered and are not concerned about any of that, but you are mistaken. The covering part is only outside when the ladies are on the streets, but indoors, where non related men are not present, those ladies wear whatever they please. A Saudi woman wants to look fabulous for herself first and for most then she wants to impress her friends, relatives and future suiters like every other girl in the world.
There is a pressure for a certain type of body like the ones above, skinny with a flat tummy and curves all at the same time, skin that is flawless, hairless, soft as baby's butt and a long luscious *preferably* straight hair. Not to mention the face's features as well, where a small, skinny nose, high cheekbones and full lips are preferred. You see how hard women have it. Obviously not everyone can achieve all of that, so everyone here has gone for the hairless smooth skin, straight hair, contoured face option and even then it is still hard. Wanting to be pretty is every girl's dream including Saudi girls.
It's a whole package that women want to achieve because that is what the media feed them. I am not above it all and I am as pressured by the media as anyone else. There was a time of my life where I was in complete content with everything I was, but everyone around me at that time saw differently. Sometimes people think they are being helpful when they make comments on someone's hair and body. It didn't take me long to go to that insecure place that I am trying so hard to take myself out of.
Of course having a wonderful personality and other good characteristics is crucial, but having the look helps the confidence go a long way. Hopefully, we will be able to focus on the inner beauty as much as we care about the outer.
More posts from Saudi:
With the death of King Abdullah –RIP- many royalties, presidents and important people came to mourn the king and attend his funeral. From those people who showed up were the Obamas and man oh man the news just went crazy. The past two days I read more article about Michael Obama and her “stand” to keep her head uncovered than about the king’s death. It was really funny to see how people reacted to the way she chose to dress in the Kingdom. The funniest part was reading about that "imaginary" outrage Saudis felt towards the matter. I did not even realise it was a big deal and I am Saudi! The amount of articles that made her sound like a heroine for standing up there without a headscarf were really weird. The tweets were even weirder especially the ones about equality. The media really made it sound like she liberated the “poor oppressed Saudi women.”
Do not get me wrong. I loved what the first lady was wearing and I really want that outfit by the way my only objection was how the media made it all sound, which is another sign why we shouldn’t follow media blindly because they found a whole propaganda out of nothing because Saudis truly did not care. No Saudi I knew had anything negative nor positive to say about it . In fact, 99% of Saudi were too busy wondering if they are going to get two salaries as a gift from the new king than anything else. The normal Saudi man and woman were indiffrent to the whole thing. Saudis did not even notice it as something weird because news flash she was not the only one without a headscarf there -notice the other lady in the photo above- and nor the first. Let's take a look down memory lane for a second.
Yes it surly happened previously, lots of times and it was never a "thing" to speak of. The whole topic is extremely pointless.
Which brings me to the whole messed up view of the headscarf. Part of me doesn’t even believe that I am posting about this discussion. This topic should have been resolved years ago under “people are free to wear whatever they want within reason” and one fabric placed on the head or the lack of is seriously not that big of a deal for anyone to get outraged about. We have more important matters to attend to, say world peace for example?
More on the matter:
Today is the 26th of October, known as the Saudi women driving campaign say. Some women actually took the action and drove today, and some started two years ago like the the first woman who took the driving initiative seriously, Manal Al Shareef. Women driving in Saudi has been one of the most controversial issues recently. If you want to start a fiery conversation, just mention women driving. In my own family this topic is the start of many fights. Some strongly agree with it, and others can't stand the thoughts of it.
First, watch this video by the lady who started it all. Followed by a story of my own struggle. Then read on for the most common pros and cons people discuss.
Isn't it just inspiring? It actually brought tears to my eyes!
We all agree that driving is important because without it we won't be able to go anywhere. Especially in Saudi since we don't have a public transportation system. Local shops that are walking distance are dominated by men, and suitable shops for women are all miles away and are mainly located by a highway, which makes it even more impossible to go there on foot. Not all families have a willing male guardians who want to take them out. By going out, I don't only mean going shopping, but going to work, school, visiting family and other important things.
With more Saudi women working, the need for drivers is increasing! There are many working class families struggling with this issue. Let me tell you quickly about
my own struggle
with this issue.
After I graduated, I started working in a local university *mashallah*. Even though, the university is local to me, but its about an hour drive. My family has a driver (who gets 2000 SR a month excluding the car, the gas, his housing, car care, and everything else), but he drivers my aunt to her job, which has the same start as my job. So, I had to find another private driver. Finding him was a huge issue, and private drivers in Saudi take total advantage of the women's needs because they know their choices are very limited. So, he charged me 2000 SR (330 GBP) for a month five days a week. My mother also works, and she pays about 1000 SR for her driver. As three working females, we spend a minimum of 5000 SR (825 GBP) and thats without considering other charges for going to other places, gas or car maintenance.
Not to mention the million issues these drivers bring to our lives, and the fear women suffer from the whole driver. What if this driver stops in the middle of the desert and assault the poor woman in the back of the car? He is a stranger after all.
My mom's coworker's driver got a better offer and he decided to leave her. One morning, after he dropped her to university he texted her saying he is no longer interested in working for her and told her to pick up the keys from the outside guard. When she went outside, she received the keys, but the car was GONE! Who would want to deal with this? If only she could drive herself.
Exception to the general ban of driving:
There are some establishment within Saudi that allow women to driver, such as Saudi Aramco campus, which started half a century ago. Recently, the King Abdullah University city allowed women to drive as well.
Here are some of the Pros and Cons people discuss when they talk about women driving:
- Driving will give women more freedom, and make them less dependant of their male guardian.
- Having less foreign drivers who charge so much
- Making the car journey safer instead of being under the mercy of a strange man.
- A women will be able to get to work and other places without begging all the males of her family to take her to one place (even her own sons).
- In case of an emrgancy, or the need to go to the hospital, a woman should be prepared to take action. What if her male guardian got injured, and she can't find another driver?
- It's a human right. The right of mobility.
- Driving will give women more freedom, and make them less dependant of their male guardian.
- Some Saudi men are not respectful towards women, and some will go out of their way when they see a women driving to harass her intentionally. Especially, teenagers and uneducated, close minded men.
- Saudi men and men who drive in Saudi -generally- don't follow any rules and they just drive not caring about any one on the road. There are all sorts of violations on the street and women might not be ready for that.
- The Saudi roads are so messed up and they are not fit for more people to drive.
Speaking of the Cons, here is a comical song that shows the perspective of some men who are against women driving:
Other Important Issues in Saudi:
Driving is certainly not the only problem that people should focus on. There are issues of housing, starting a business, medical care, education, women employment and the laws of women travelling outside of Saudi. Like any country, Saudi has room to develop and improve. The good and the bad is present everywhere, and there is not a perfect country out there. Each one has issues that its dealing with.
Feel free to share your struggles/thoughts in the comments bellow and please remember to be respectful and kind to each other.