What does life as a woman or girl look like in your country / city / town / village? Any issues / challenges / exciting milestones?
India has always treated its boys and girls differently. Girls are taught from a very young age to be obedient to their male counterparts and they are prepared to be compliant, demure wives, and thus, whenever a girl decides to take her life into her own hands or put her happiness before other people's, she is ostracized as a "rebel", her character is put under question and the girl herself cannot have dreams of her own or be passionate about anything without feeling guilty, because of the way she has been trained to think and believe by the patriarchal society.
What would you like the world to know about YOU? What life experience, challenge or achievement do you want to share?
I've been writing from when I was 6. All my school essays were marked excellent and I won every literary prize at school. I got published when I was thirteen, I wrote my first book when I was fourteen but I was discouraged by the principal of my school from publishing it, because he thought it'd make me feel privileged and lose out on my education (I wasn't very good at anything other than Literature and Creative writing). I later got my first book published when I was 21. I fell in love and got married pretty young, this was again an act of rebellion because Indians still see "love marriages" as taboo.
The day I got married, my relatives told me :"There goes ambition down the drain." I swore to myself that I'd prove them wrong and that a woman could have a career, a rewarding life, be able to make her own choices after marriage, and I think I'm doing just that.
I completed my Masters post marriage, I was the topper for both years and I received the "Academic Excellence Award" for both years consecutively. I won over 25 medals and laurels for creative writing and public speaking during the course of my Masters degree.
I was one among 20 poets chosen from all over India to represent Delhi Slam Poetry in Goa in 2014, and I, along with the other 19 poets, was mentored by Ottawa's Poet Laureate, Jamaal Jackson Rogers and Nicole Sumner in the Art of Spoken Word poetry.
I took up boxing (because I always wanted to learn boxing as a child and I was not allowed to) and I've been training for the past two years and I hope to represent my district in a boxing tournament someday. I published two other books (collections of poetry) after marriage and I am currently working on two novels at the moment. I am pursuing my PhD in English Literature.
I have been speaking in schools and colleges on the techniques in writing and the importance of reading and about the importance of empowering women in my community and I was the youngest resource person to have ever spoken at a college in Tuticorin in 2017. I am working on a short film in Tamil about women's empowerment and the importance of self-defense for women, which will be released on YouTube in late 2018.
I set up my very own entrepreneurial venture in 2015, called SPEW SkinFood which is an online store that is exclusively for homemade organic skincare products, that are made from ingredients that are either locally sourced or grown in my own backyard. A month ago, my business gained acclaim when it was awarded "The Unique Product Award" by the wife of Tuticorin's collector, Adyasha Paridha Nandhuri.
I am a perfectionist and I believe in giving nothing short of my everything, in all that I do.
What are you most passionate about and what are you doing with that passion?
I love boxing and I hope to represent my district someday.
I have high hopes for SPEW SkinFood, my brainchild and first entrepreneurial venture and I want to serve people quality skincare products that are truly organic, free from parabens, chemicals and harmful preservatives and live up to its claims.
I am passionate about writing and women's empowerment in my community. I have always been writing, from when I was six. I am a woman of diverse interests and I believe that women should begin to expand their horizons and start putting themselves first, without feeling guilty about it.
I am also passionate about educating women in finding their dreams and working on them, carving their own niche in the society and in motivating them to grow beyond the walls of their kitchen space. I hope to write a book about this someday.
I am also into film making and I hope to make more films about women empowerment and women's strength that they themselves underestimate sometimes.
I aspire to be a motivational speaker someday after completing my PhD and touch lives, move mountains, spread love and heal hearts through my poetry, words and by example.
If you are an entrepreneur, tell us all about your business and how you got started.
I started SPEW in 2014 and I wanted to branch out SPEW into a lot of little wings. In 2017, after I recovered from a severe acne breakout because of a night cream mishap, I hopped from one dermatologists' chair after the next, unsatisfied. After having lost all my self confidence, I decided to take things into my own hands and turned to Holistic healing for my skin health and healing. I started making my own skincare products with help from my mother and grandmother, from locally sourced and homegrown ingredients and I watched my skin transform beautifully in under a year!
This sparked the idea to start my own organic range of products that would be chemical free and preservative free, be entirely handmade and true to its claim. That's how SPEW SkinFood was born. SPEW SkinFood has been catering over 250 happy customers today and the happy reviews we get, truly makes my day. I just want to share what I found, I want to scream from rooftops that skincare can be easy and affordable and incredibly safe and still be 100% efficient in working your way to healthy skin, all the while being eco-friendly, against animal testing and supporting local market.
How have the women and girls around you helped you to get to where you are today?
To be very honest, I got very little help to get to where I am today. I am a self-made woman and I am proud of that, however, my mother was a fighter herself. She fought the rules of patriarchy to work her way to being one of the top government executives in Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. She taught me by example to be my own boss and achieve all that I wanted to achieve without letting marriage (or anything for that matter), be my stumbling block.
Because I got less help from women around me, I realized that I needed to empower the women around me when I reach a position of power, and that's one of my dreams too. To make every women in my community, aware of the opportunities around her and to motivate her into achieving anything she puts her mind and heart into.
Describe yourself in one word: "I am...
a Warrior. There's no battle I can lose "just because I'm a woman."
Complete this sentence: "To be a girl or woman today, is to be..."
a breaker of stereotypes and patriarchal standards. To be a girl today is to be everything a boy can be and more.