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Monthly Archives: December 2009

Ugly best friend? Living TV to the rescue!!

Do you think your best friend is ugly? When you meet her for a shopping session, do you have to have to excuse yourself to discreetly hurl into a bush upon seeing her face? Do you often mistake her for your neighbour’s chihuahua? Well, your poor eyes need fear no more because those kind people at Living TV have thought long and hard about this common dilemma plaguing the lives of so many woman, and are presenting us with the solution – a reality show called ‘My ugly best friend’ offering generous women the chance to makeover these unsightly mates of theirs.

As if the trailer to the programme isn’t enough to hook you in!  A hollow-eyed brunette with red lipstick and a choppy bob proclaims “Well I think I’m fabulous, but as for my best friend…” before the camera cuts to her less-than-fabulous ginger chum who is already snivelling away and blubbing that she’s always thought she was ugly (Hmm maybe having her ‘best friend’ constantly pointing this out to her didn’t help?) and it would make her life complete if she had a tummy tuck / dental work / complete facial and body reconstruction.

Wow, Living TV. Not only are you the home of quality inspirational viewing for women like ‘Make Me a Supermodel’ , ‘Extreme Makeover’ and even ‘Dating in the Dark’ but now you are showing British women that our constant obsessing over our body sizes and images need not end with ourselves. So listen up all women out there,  for those days when you’re just not really in the mood to mouth ‘I hate you’ over and over again to your mirror reflection after eating that chocolate muffin, just do it to your best friend instead. And it saves you that awkward conversation you were planning when you were just finally going to sit her down and say, “You know what, I just can’t hold this in anymore, you’re just a minger. I’d rather look at my dog’s leftover dinner than you. Either do something about it, or be gone from my sight you offensive heifer.” It means that when she’s finally received that makeover that she just so desperately badly needed, you can actually be proper friends and just, you know,  sit and talk about how fabulous you both look and stuff.

Oh Living TV, is there any insecurity or stereotype about women that you won’t exploit and regurgitate for vacuous entertainment? No, didn’t think so.

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Posted by on December 11, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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What is a coconut?

I wasn’t surprised recently when someone, with a bit of a self-satisfied smile on his face, told me that I’m a coconut.

For those of you not in the know, he wasn’t accusing me of being a brown and hairy fruit (although yes admittedly there are resemblances) but that I had a brown outside and a white inside. That I was a white person, masquerading as a brown person. That I was an Indian who wanted to be White. Quick, get these fraudsters out there, these coconuts with brown masks on their faces when their blood and veins are coursing with white, alabaster, Cliff Richard-loving fluid!!

I wasn’t surprised because it wasn’t the first time I’d been called a coconut. Growing up in a nearly-white school and being one of very few Indians on my course at University, I’ve ended up with mainly non-Indian friends. I’m telling you this because when I asked other Indian people what the definition of a coconut really is, one of the main answers was:  ‘Someone who doesn’t have a lot of Indian friends.”

I do actually have Indian friends. I also have non-Indian friends. But what I never understood is how I’m supposed to go out on an expressive mission to accumulate more Indian friends, so that I can rid myself of my ‘coconut’ title. Am I supposed to smile at any of my fellow Indians on the street and follow them home, hoping to add them to my growing army of Indian friend collectibles? Or am I supposed to aggressively corner any Indian that I do meet in my life ?

Or aren’t I just supposed to befriend people who make me happy, whether they’re brown, white, jaundiced or vertically striped?

What is also implied by this word is that I’m actively avoiding making Indian friendships, holding up an imaginary kalashnikov to wannabe Indian friend suitors and mouthing the words ‘Don’t even think about it.’ and chanting  ‘White is Right’ on my way back to my oppresive brown-resistant fortress, cleansed of all residues of ethnicity. It’s a word that skips past all the blending, mixed, vibrant, cacophonous cultural fusions of our multi-ethnic society and heads straight to a junction pointing to either ‘White’ or ‘Not-White’ – make your choice and stick to it, for you will be judged with that label for all your life.

I have to admit, that part of me feels very wounded and angry when that word is thrown at me. It’s hard enough for British Asians without words like these holding us back. Our identity is often pulled in many directions, and while this can be wonderful it also means we’re asking ourselves lots of questions. Words like ‘coconut’ do nothing except hold us back from finding our place in this ever-shifting, multi-cultured, multi-layered society. An Indian person who does nothing to integrate in his or her society is like a White person who does nothing to integrate in his or her society- they simply don’t know and they remain uninformed. Maybe they’re happy in their bubbles, but I certainly would not. I want my coconut, chocolate, vanilla sundae, whatever, with a nice dose of beautiful, multi-coloured reality.

Has anyone else ever been called a coconut, a Bounty Bar or even a Walnut Whip?

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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