I must say that Newsweek Pakistan has outdone itself with its list of the 100 Women Who Shake Pakistan. Never has such an extraordinary list been created. I bow down.
Some of the women listed here have “shaken” Pakistan on such a large scale that it’s a wonder that they haven’t had a street named after them yet. The most commendable of the lot, also very well known to all Pakistanis as our very own Estee Lauder, is Mehrbano Sethi, who introduced cosmetics in a country where makeup was largely unavailable. Her contribution to Pakistani womanhood is unparalleled in the history of the country. Let’s bow down.
Sethi has, incredibly, shaken Pakistan with lipstick unlike the no make-up Hina Jillani who was left out of this list for surely a life-long, country-wide, feminist struggle is nowhere near the empowerment women get from layers of foundation. Nothing feels better than sticky lipgloss which gets stuck in your hair. Undoubtedly, nothing is more empowering than nailpolish. Pretty hands stand above and beyond women’s shelters & justice. Only a “jealous” non-elite fool would deny that.
And the women agree. Women from all over the country travel to our major cities where it is available, often in droves, cleaning up shops as they go along. News of Luscious has spread so far & wide in the land that poems based on the products are being memorised in order to advertise to the illiterate. Women in Thar dance to the tunes. Activists have volunteered hours of their lives to translate them into all our national languages. They are jingles so powerful that Abida Parveen herself wouldn’t be able to do them justice. Near eid, our shopkeepers can hardly keep up with the large demand. Medora, Swiss Miss & all the other local beauty brands are seriously considering shutting down. “Even though we’re cheaper, poor people are more than willing to spend money on a product that puts Estee Lauder to shame,” said an employee with tears in her eyes.
“It’s true,” said a woman in a store in Peshawar who had come all the way from Waziristan looking for things she could use to empower the oppressed women of her area with. “We are willing to spend more. Look it’s simple. Medora nailpolish chips in 2 days whereas Luscious lasts me 2.5 days.” In front of my very eyes, she bought everything in the store. “This is the best present I could give to the women living under the Taliban. I don’t care about these rights groups or shelters etc. Women aren’t interested in this funny concept of freedom or equality you silly city fool! They want to look pretty. Don’t you know that’s the only way to feel good?” I hung my head in shame & instantly decided to get a manicure. It didn’t make me feel better, so I’m wondering if I should get my sex changed to male officially…
But in all seriousness, although what Sethi & the other women who I don’t think should be on this list have achieved is commendable, and should indeed be lauded, they are not a patch on the worthier ones who were left out. I admire them for their resolve, but they are not known to most Pakistanis. The only ones who do know them well are those who are catering to their own elite crowd through a publication. It’s something we’ve all witnessed before: sycophantic elite self-love, giving each other way more importance than necessary & making an erroneous assumption that they can speak for Pakistan without knowing the ground realities. How many people even know who Selina Rashid is for example? I do but only because she happens to be related to me & knows the same tiny circle. Much as I admire her & laud her for creating a company that is definitely praiseworthy, I do not think she has “shaken” Pakistan. Her market is a tiny elite circle or those who can afford her services. What she has done is commendable & I sincerely hope more women follow in her footsteps instead of sitting home or baking cupcakes. What I object to is the fact that too many worthier women, who actually represent Pakistan, were left out.
Honestly, I often wonder what planet our elite live on in general, but that’s another story.
And let me state here, again, like I have so many times in the past, that the elite self-love circle will probably be out for my blood for even daring to say this. And I will indeed report all their hilarious comments back. I will be accused of being “jealous” & “insecure” (which is basically the following wail: “WHY DON’T YOU LIKE ME DAMN IT?! WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME BLINDLY LIKE YOU SHOULD?!”) because, after all, who on earth would voluntarily make the decision to be a low-life teacher? This is the only way they know how to deal with valid & logical criticism which makes me sad, especially as a teacher, to see so many parhay likhay jahils. What makes this whole song & dance the Lahori elite and I have going is the fact that the more they hate me, the more confident I become as a writer for, after all, being detested by those who lack brains is sometimes a bigger compliment than critical acclaim. I won’t deny that I find it all terrible amusing and when they do the whole drama, I thoroughly enjoy watching them drive themselves up the wall for no good reason whatsoever. It’s comical, really.
Let the witch hunt begin. I’m quite used to it and I have elephant skin. But first let me bow down to this shameless display of irresponsible “journalism”.