Friday, February 15, 2013

Tunisia 2012: A Transition Period

I know that physically, I look like a completely different girl to the one who left Edinburgh in March.  My level of attention to my appearance is probably about 10% of what is was.  Gone are the days of fake tan, false eyelashes and skyscraper heels. Gone, and good riddance I might add!

Even in my personality I'm told there is a change, but it's been harder for me to recognise.  I've always known who I am on the inside, it was being comfortable enough to reflect that on the outside that was difficult.

The pressure I felt as a young woman in the U.K was not only about aesthetics, although that in itself is enough to make anyone crumble quicker than a dropped compact.  It was the daily rat race to perfection, to have a dazzling night life, dream job, dream wardrobe, planned holidays, sporadic weekends and of course, not forgetting to photograph every single moment for Facebook, just in case others were in doubt that you do in fact love your life.  Or not.  

I probably fooled most.  Thank God I didn't fool myself.  Coming to Tunisia was one of the best decisions I've made in my life.

One of the first things that struck me about Tunisia, is the lack of advertisements.  Where on earth was all the stuff I HAD to buy?  And where were those perfect half naked woman that were put on this earth to make the rest of us mere humans feel bad about ourselves?  Everything that was so real, so part of my everyday life at home, had dissolved somewhere between the North Sea and North Africa.  There also isn't the same culture of celebrity and gossip magazines.   After 6 months without it, when I was faced with a copy of 'Heat'  magazine, I remember feeling genuinely offended by what was being said to me, both implicitly and explicitly.   Telling me 21 ways to have higher self-esteem whilst humiliating the poor reality TV star who has put on a few pounds.  

Now it goes without saying that there are pressures on women here too, each society has it's own problems. However as a 'westerner' coming here, it's like a cleansing of the mind.  I feel like I've regained a human sense of reality, with real human values at the core.  So what's important?  The same things that deep down we all care about in the U.K, family, friends and being a good person.  The difference is that here, these things take priority, without exception.  The western world teaches us to focus on the things on the surface and that that will make us happy on the inside.  In Tunisia, it's the contrary.

I watch teenage girls here going to school, in their trainers, jeans and blazer, looking liked fresh-faced children, which is what they are.  They're not plastered with make-up and dressed like girls in their twenties.  We need to take a good look at our youth in the U.K, at our young women and ask ourselves, how does our society nurture them?  Because as long as we continue to churn out images of unrealistic beauty and scathing attacks on women deemed 'too fat' or 'ugly', the '21 ways to better self-esteem' will be lost in the bottom of the make-up bag.  And I think, they deserve better.

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Lucia Spata.  'Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not discovered until they arrive.'

For futher stories from Kimberly, visit:

By Kimberly Davidson 
Edinburgh, the United Kingdom

1 comment: