Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Guest post by Harleen Vij, a trendy plus-sized activist in the process of launching her first book:

Read a post last night about Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jefferies’, reason for not catering to plus sized women and was urged to write down this post.

In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either”

                                                                             -Mike Jefferies

Such comments coming from clothing brands can sabotage women’s confidence forever. It gets difficult to deal with such comments in real life. I myself have been through this and thought of sharing my story to motivate other women like me.

I am a 25-year-old, confident and bold 21st century woman but I wasn’t like this always. The world is filled with people like Jefferies and from time to time, I have had to encounter such narrow-minded people.

Being a fat girl, in India, wasn’t easy; I used to believe this until I read this post. I’ve come to realize now that a fat woman isn’t acceptable anywhere around the globe. People fail to understand the plight; the mental trauma people like me go through. I used to be the laughing stalk amongst my peers. Whether it was school or junior college, I was teased for being fat on every damn chance they found. I went through this trauma even within my family. My cousins and relatives too used to make fun of the way I looked. To top it all, I had a dark complexion, which was another reason for being teased and bullied.

Wherever I passed by, people especially boys; used to pass lewd comments and I couldn’t reply back. I was an innocent, under confident, self-conscious girl. People and their behavior towards me made had me like this. I had lost all confidence. I used to feel shy and hence remained in seclusion always. My peers used to feel ashamed of having me in their group or calling me their friend.

I was good at academics up to grade 6th, after that my grades dropped. My mother could never find a reason to this. She only thought that I am careless and not interested in studies anymore. But this bullying was the reason that affected my grades and me. Despite being fat I was physically fit and into sports. I was a good runner, swimmer and badminton player. I had participated in various other sports during my school days. I still play badminton and go for swimming.

Plus sized clothes were a huge problem. I used to wear ordinary trousers with kurtis that I got stitched from a tailor. Fashion was not meant for me, I used to think.

With time things began to change. I met my best friend (won’t name for personal reasons) who was fatter than me but had a  fair complexion. She was a beautiful blue-eyed girl with a flawless complexion but fat. She was like normal fat people- bubbly and chirpy. She too had this complex but she had learnt to face it with confidence. She wore stylish clothes and was very trendy.

My complexities were within me. Nobody ever noticed or realized them; Neither my parents nor my friends. My best friend came as a blessing in my life. I learnt a lot from her. Unknowingly she had taught me how to live fully despite being fat. In her company, I gained confidence and learnt about fashion too. My clothes too became quite fashionable and there was an evident change in me. I became confident and smart.

This change started taking place when I was in 10th grade and by the time I started my graduation, I was a super confident smart girl. After that I never looked back at those days. They were a nightmare, without a doubt, but I learnt a lot from those days.

Today, I am a smart and stylish woman all set to make a mark in this world with my first novel. I have left those voices way behind me. I believe in my dreams and myself. Being fat isn’t a curse (physical concerns being a separate thing) you just need to accept yourself the way you are and you need to believe in yourself. If you won’t believe in yourself, no one else will. And if you do, the world will believe in you.

I wear clothes that I want to wear, that I feel good in; irrespective of what people think/say about the way I am dressed. I just make sure to wear confidence with whatever I am wearing. Don’t get bogged down by such comments ever. Styling is meant for us too, after all we do have curves and flesh at the right places to flaunt. If you like a dress or a top in a showroom and didn’t find your size, don’t worry, get the same design stitched from a boutique. And bang there you have that beautiful piece of clothing you always eyed.

People will suppress/overrule you if you’ll allow them to do that. Confidence is the key. Being fat is just a state of mind. Put it behind you, put the discouraging people behind you and walk forward towards a new, confident and happy you.

The article can be read here:

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Explains Why He Hates Fat Chicks


 Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles. She has worked with Oltarsh & Associates for several years and has an extensive understanding of issues faced by immigrants (specifically women) today.

Women that immigrate to the United States do so looking for opportunities to live healthier, happier lives for themselves-and oftentimes for their families, too. But a transition into a new life and country isn’t always easy.

In 2011, more than half of all the people receiving a green card were women. These women immigrants in the US have suffered abuse at home and in the workplace, been victims of sex trade and have been denied health care, and the use of federal Medicaid.

Some have even been denied the right to work at all.

Through my association with an immigration lawyer in New York, I learned a lot about the struggles female immigrants face that I had never even heard of before, in particular the H-4 visa. The facts that I found out about these immigrants in interaction with the lawyer are mentioned below in the article.

What Is The H-4 Visa?

The H-4 visa is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to the immediate family (spouses and children) of non-resident immigrant workers. People holding H-4 visas are not given social security numbers and are ineligible for employment, which is usually a surprise to them.

This means they cannot legally work in the United States. No matter how educated, skilled, and deserving these women are, no company can hire them for employment.

This can leave tension in an immigrant household. With no employment, many H-4 holding women are beaten by their highly skilled spouses and because divorce is still a kind of taboo, most of these women do not speak out against their abusive partner.

H-4 visa holders are allowed to study, but most women immigrating to the U.S. have already studied in their country and would like to seek full-time employment.  Some resort to reinvesting in their education when they arrive in the United States. However, H-4 visa holders are not allowed to take any student loans, which then leaves their spouses responsible for massive personal loans.

The immigrants coming to the United States are usually skilled workers eager to work and/or start their own business. At least 25% of tech start-ups in the United States in recent years have been founded by immigrants. Unfortunately, H-4 prohibits immigrants from owning their own business, yet again leaving a family in financial turmoil.

The Effects of an H-4 Visa

In most cases, Indian women are issued an H-4 visa when they come to the United States to meet their husbands, generally as part of an arranged marriage. Some are united with husbands they met through online websites, found by their parents.

These marriages are arranged with complete strangers, and it isn’t until they arrive that they realize the H-4 visa they are holding makes them unqualified to work once they are living in the United States. They are in a new country, starting on a new family, and this leaves many women stuck “fulfilling” their duties of playing the conventional female role in the marital relationship.

This is the cause of confusion, depression and in rare cases even suicide.

In response to this problem, Indian women all over the U.S. have created tight-knit communities for themselves where they take up hobbies together like shopping, cooking and working out. These groups create a sort of safe haven for these women, harnessing the abilities of the individuals since they are unable join the U.S. workforce.

Unfortunately not all Indian women are fortunate enough to locate these groups or have one in close proximity to their geographical location. But with the new wave of technology and social media, it is becoming easier for women to unite and take action.

On Facebook there is a group called “H-4 Visa, A Curse”, with over 2,300 members and counting. They share stories, advice and political tactics, in an effort to change H-4 visas to something more useful like the L-2 visa, which gives the spouse a right to employment.

Purpose of this article is to raise awareness on the issue of immigration in the United States, specially for Indian women so they know what they are stepping into, before they decide to move to the country. An informed decision can make that much more difference to your life.