All posts by ananya111222

A student with a penchant for writing

the brontë sisters

The Brontë Sisters: Anne, Emily and Charlotte were some of the greatest contributors to the literature we love. Their books didn’t abide by the norm. Instead they were original and creative. The sisters had a talent for giving their characters depth and complexity which only few writers could pen down. They created a legacy which has been passed down for generations. Yet, their lives weren’t always perfect. Tragedy was regular for the Brontë’s, with the deaths of first their mother, and then of their two older sisters.

Emily Brontë

“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

-Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Emily is best known for her only piece of work ever published- Wuthering Heights, an original and exciting book, portraying the dark and twisted face of love.  She published her works under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. Her inspiration could be found in authors like Percy Shelley and Lord Byron. Emily was described as the shy and mysterious one in the family. The second youngest, she found occupation as a teacher in Law Hill School.

Yet, she had to return due to her fragile health. Her book, Wuthering Heights, was published in 1847, yet she didn’t live to see the success of her novel. She died at the age of 30, a few months after her brother Branwell’s death. It is said that she had grown so narrow and small that her coffin only measured 16 inches wide. Her work is now regarded as literary classic.

Charlotte Brontë

“’I am not an angel,’ I asserted; ‘and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself.”

-Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Charlotte was the oldest of the surviving Brontë sisters, who published her works under the pseudonym of Currer Bell, to veil her gender from the public. She was employed as a governess, a job she didn’t like, due to the abysmal treatment she received from her employers. Her first manuscript, The Professor, never found a publisher, but her second one, Jane Eyre, was her most famous and well known work. She was one of the few authors, who wrote the book from a female perspective. A governess, who falls in love with her employer, yet discovers that his crazy wife has been locked up in the attic the whole time. It was dramatic and ground-breaking, and found great success as well as positive reviews from critics. She published her last book, Villette, in 1853. The last surviving member of the family, she lost all remaining siblings within a span of ten months Brontë died at the age of 38, along with her unborn child.

Anne Brontë

 “What a fool you must be,” said my head to my heart, or my sterner to my softer self.”

-Anne Brontë, Agnes Grey

Anne was the youngest member of her family, and the least known, partly due to the delay in the re-publishing of her book The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. She too worked as a governess, but was later dismissed by her employers. Her debut novel, Agnes Grey was published in 1847 under the pseudonym Acton Bell, which was based largely on her own experiences as a governess. She drew inspiration from real life for her writing. This concept of realism was common amongst the sisters. Her second work, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, is described as a shocking and disturbing contemporary Victorian novel. Yet, it was well received and an instant success. Anne died at the age of 29, shortly after her sister Emily’s demise.

thank you for your insecurities

Take a look in the mirror. What will you cry about today?  Is it your big nose, or those pimples? Not good enough.  How about those stretch marks, or that awful cellulite. While you’re at it, maybe be mindful of those hideous hip dips, or that unattractive hairline. Congratulations, you’ve just discovered some brand new flaws in yourself. What’s that, you love yourself just the way you are? Hmm, maybe take a look at this effortlessly gorgeous supermodel we’ve hired to advertise our product, and all these insecurities are sure to come flooding back. So what’s the solution? Buy our brand new futile beauty product, to fix these horrendous faults in you. Once you’ve bought them, we’ll just point out more and more blemishes in you, so you keep giving your money to us to hide what you cry over each night, while we peacefully sleep in our multi-million dollar mansions, made with your tears and powered by your defects. Whatever your insecurities are, we will always have something to market to you. Thank you, for being insecure.

What you’ve just read, is a satirical example of present day marketing and media. In today’s world, there is an array of beauty products in the market, ranging from skin whitening creams to anti-aging shampoo (yes, that is a real thing).The idea of spending your hard earned money on something as superfluous as this, is completely barbaric. Yet, somehow their clever marketing tactics have convinced you that if you don’t have the latest Kylie Jenner lip scrub, your life is insignificant. In the patriarchal society we live in, the modern day woman holds herself to incredibly high standards, and resents the fact that every aspect of her life is not effortlessly flawless. Her worth isn’t tested by her qualifications, but by how she looks and presents herself, because god forbid a woman be anything but attractive and perfect.

The millions of creams, gels, and powders manufactured every day are not only made by poor children in third world counties for minimum wage, and tested on animals , but also packed with harmful chemicals like parabens , phthalates ,BHT etc which have been linked to different kinds of cancers, reproductive issues, and even liver damage. Alas, why would billion dollar companies care about any of this when they can successfully alter the perceptions of millions of young, impressionable children about their bodies, so that they hate themselves enough and  are compelled to buy more and more of such products to “fix themselves”.

Speaking from personal experience, such campaigns and commercials slowly chip away at your confidence, and lower your self esteem to an extent from which recovery is difficult. They convinced teenagers all around the world that their knowledge and credentials are worth nothing if they don’t live up to a certain beauty standard.  The idea that if you don’t look like the charming super model, who they so eagerly cast in their advertisements, then your existence is meaningless is genuinely one of the worst things you can ingrain in a young child’s mind.

Is this the best we can do? How can we prevent further damage from happening?  Our main weapon in this fight is education. Educate yourself about what you buy, watch documentaries, and read books to avoid falling victim to such sneaky tactics. Work towards being less materialistic and superficial. Remember, every flaw you point out about yourself means more money for the  corporations living to profit off of your insecurities. So the next time you see such a commercial, pay no attention to what they say , you’re beautiful just the way you are.

how to live more sustainably

“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, designed or removed from production”

~ Pete Seeger

Sustainable living is something which needs to be adopted  now more than ever. It can be defined as a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources, and one’s personal resources. Our current methods of living are far from sustainable. Our planet is slowly dying; we’re the ones killing it. It has been talked about a lot, but not always taken into practice . If we are to preserve this Earth for the future generations, we need to switch up our lifestyles and make them more eco-friendly. Here are a few ways to achieve it:

  • Go Vegan/Vegetarian 

The Meat and dairy industry are one of the greatest contributors to climate change. If you want to reduce your carbon emissions, then try going vegetarian or vegan. Research has shown that a vegan diet can promote weight loss and reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. Even if you cannot completely give up meat and dairy, then try reducing your intake of them. Remember, it is better if a 1000 people practice sustainability imperfectly, than if 3 people do it perfectly.

  • Be mindful of your purchases

If you can afford it, then choose to buy fair trade, organic and non plastic goods. Fair trade certified products promote environmentally friendly production method, and safe working conditions for the works for goods like coffee or chocolate. Also, we all know the adverse effects of plastics, and how beneficial it is to give up plastic. Similarly, watch what materials comprise the clothes you purchase. Or, you can try thrifting and fixing up old clothes. So, making better purchasing choices can promote a sustainable lifestyle. (However, I understand that not everyone can afford to buy such products. So don’t worry about it, there are still many ways you can lead a sustainable life.)

  • Go for reusable options

You might not realise it, but the little plastic bags, straws and water bottles you purchase really add up. In the long run, it is crucial to give up plastic, a material which has damaged much of our oceans. Carrying around cloth bags, having a glass or metal straw, and keeping a reusable water bottle is not only much better for the environment, but also a much cheaper option as it saves you the hassle of having to buy these products whenever you need them.

  • Switch up your modes of transportation 

Greenhouse gas emissions emitted from the millions of vehicles driven around each day, and the flights which fly everyday,  are of no help to the environment. Substituting your car ride for a walk or cycling drastically reduces your carbon footprint, and keeps you in great health. Try limiting the number of flights you take in a year, or even replacing them with a train ride can prove to be far more sustainable.

Sustainability is not just limited to these practices. Don’t feel disheartened if you can’t always buy ethical produce, or completely quit meat and dairy. Planting trees, replacing our light bulbs, composting etc. can all be done to promote a greener way of living. The smallest of changes can sometimes have the largest of impacts 

How to avoid procrastination

Let’s face it, procrastination has affected us all at one point or another . No matter how much you try to be punctual and productive, once in a while you’ll end up delaying your tasks for later. Chances are, you are procrastinating right now. (Is there something more important you’re supposed to be doing?) As a student, procrastination is a daily occurrence for me. As much as I try to finish up my work, the lies of “just one more episode” or “just one more chapter” always win. According to research, the reason we procrastinate is due to our brains being overwhelmed with conflicting emotions, and struggling to prioritise the task at hand. We fear we might fail. So we just don’t pick up our tasks at all, and convince ourselves we’ll do better tomorrow. Some days we’re just feeling down, and might not feel at our best. Occasionally, a day or two’s rest is totally fine. However, if you find yourself putting off your tasks every day, then here are a few ways to avoid procrastination.

Create a list
If we write down our goals we are much more likely to achieve them. So trying creating a list of all the important things you need to do throughout the day, and put it somewhere you can see it. Chances are, if you can see your goals, then you’ll be more motivated to go through them. Start of with small goals; don’t write down too many of them at one time. Be mindful that a day only has 24 hours, and you can only do a limited number of things in a day, so don’t stress yourself out trying to do a lot at one time.

Remove the distraction
Lets face it, it has become a lot easier for us to procrastinate. Our tendency to procrastinate only increases if we have simpler access to Netflix or social media. The best way to combat this is to take measures to remove said distractions. Delete the applications on which you waste your time on, set a screen time limit or just put your devices in a different room. That way you can focus on the important task at hand, and avoid procrastination.

Break down the task into smaller parts
If a task seems massive to you, try breaking it down into smaller doable parts. If you’re trying to study for a test, then divide the chapter into smaller sub sections, and take a break after doing each one of them. Once your momentum starts building up, then you’ll find yourself not needing to take any breaks and finishing the task as soon as possible.

Reward yourself
It is proven we’ll convince ourselves that a chore is worth it if we’re rewarded for it. So reward yourself for any goal that you accomplish. It doesn’t have to a big, expensive reward (although it can be). Sometimes the smallest of things can provide us a lot of joy. Try rewarding yourself with a candy bar, 15 extra minutes for reading or an extra episode of your favourite show.

If it’s a small task, do it right away
Often times it is the small tasks that pile up and prove stressful later on. If a task takes less than 10 minutes, then do it right away, so that you can focus on your major goals without any worry.

all the light we cannot see

So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?” 

Anthony Doerr, All the Light we Cannot See

World War 2 has been one of the most written about topics. Over the years, we have seen a lot of books, movies and documentaries about it, each more intriguing than the previous. It was a dark moment in our history, and it is obvious why all of us can’t stop reading about it. Just when we thought that we have read it all, fiction and non-fiction, we were proven wrong. In 2014, Anthony Doerr released his “All the Light we cannot see”. This book highlighted how both the sides tried to survive the devastations of the war.It went on to become New York Times Bestseller, and even won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015.

This book talks about the war, but not just in the way you think. Often times, literature about World War II focuses on its soldiers and leaders. Seldom it is when a book talks about its impact on the common folk. The book shifts between two points of views, one of a blind French girl trying to escape from occupied France, and another of a German boy, who gets recruited at an extremely young age. For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of 6, life hasn’t been easy, with her father as her only support.For Werner, an orphan, initially destined to labour in the mines, life takes a turn when he fixes an old broken radio, and tunes into a a radio show by a Frenchman who awakens a life long interest for science in him. Doerr’s impeccable vocabulary, and the smooth transition from Marie’s life to that of Werners makes it completely worth it to read the book. 

We all know what a difficult time that was. However , after reading about the many trials and tribulations they both had to face at extremely young ages, we come to realise exactly how cruel it was. How it stopped at nothing to take away every possible shred of happiness they possessed. Another theme constantly highlighted throughout the book is family. Both of them eventually lose all their family. This was a detail which couldn’t have been overlooked, as it was crucial to prove to the reader how innocents will always suffer when two sides fight. Doerr perfectly managed to capture the desperation one feels when losing their family, with the incapability of being able to do anything. It tugs at one’s emotional heartstrings, and definitely does the fail to provoke a tear or two.

Doerr’s hauntingly beautiful description of events not only helps you visualise the scene, but also feel the emotions the characters were going through. When Werner wins a spot into the Hitler Youth Academy, his only escape from a life in the coal mines, you can visualise exactly how he must have been feeling, being presented with two options for his future, neither of them better than the other. Both these options will lead to his separation with his only family alive, his sister. You can sense his inner turmoil at this very moment. This book is also a great read for those fond of science. Every page in this 634-page work of art is bewitching. This is one book you won’t be able to put down.

should billionaires exist

No matter how much one dislikes it, they can’t deny the fact that the world is divided between the top 1% and the bottom 99%, and the rich, no matter how small in numbers, run the world. People are hoarding the worlds wealth, while the rest are left to find comfort in the scraps. These past few years have seen a massive rise in billionaires, currently their being 2095 of them. However a question that has been going around for years now is that, should billionaires exist?

A lot of people have different opinions on this. Some believe that billionaires have earned their keep, so they should be able to keep it. According to me, no one gets that rich just by working honestly.Imagine trying to save a billion dollars, and start by saving a $100 each day. If you, and one descendent per generation, saved $100 every day, and each of you lived for 90 years, it would take you and 304 generations of your descendants to save up one billion dollars, more than 27000 years. Take Jeff Bezos as an example. The owner of Amazon, with a net worth of $114 billion, he is undoubtedly one of the richest men on this planet. Yet, many of their own workers have unionised against the company. In a statement during the announcement of the union push, picker Rashad Long claimed workers are overworked, pressured with frivolous disciplinary actions and security lines at the exit cut into breaks and extended work shifts, unpaid. Exploitation of the innocents is a major step towards their billions.

The worst part about this is that there are problems like climate change and world hunger, which can easily be solved if proper money is invested in them.  These billionaires can definitely contribute a lot and possibly even solve such issues, without facing a major loss, but they choose not to. They sit comfortably with their riches and watch the world burn. If you make the argument that they are not at all obliged to donate their money, then capitalism has fooled you. No one needs that much money, but they do have it. And people actually need food, housing etc, yet they can’t afford it. Even if they choose to help them, they’ll still be left with a lot of money. So you can see for yourself why billionaires shouldn’t exist.

The COVID 19 pandemic has had the world under lockdown. There are people losing their jobs, people who don’t even know how they’re going to pay rent or buy food for their kids. During this, the top 1% have the audacity to sit in their million dollar mansion and say that “quarantine is like prison”. This is an extremely privileged statement, coming from those who don’t even have any responsibilities, who are not directly affected by this pandemic.

Currently, 2% of the world’s population is homeless. People are dying in the streets, whilst billionaires are buying their 10thmansion. It’s truly saddening to see how many people will rush to defend the top 1%. The common people need to be educated of their exploitative nature. Only then will they be able to say, “No. Billionaires shouldn’t exist.”

Sources: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/01/amazon-fulfillment-center-warehouse-employees-union-new-york-minnesota

how to read more

We live in the golden age of content.Nowadays, there are a lot of entertainment options. A click of a button can bring you thousands of shows, videos, podcasts and movies. But, amidst all this, it seems as if we have forgotten about our former favourite, books. People probably don’t love books as much as they used to, which is indeed saddening. A lot of the times, even if one wants to read, they find themselves constantly distracted by something or the other. Reading can be extremely relaxing, and has multiple benefits. It can enhance creativity, boost your vocabulary and so much more. So, here are 4 ways to read more

  • Pick up your reading material.

Yes, this might sound obvious , but often people have trouble just getting started on reading. Pick up any reading material, whether it is a book, an article, a newspaper, anything that interests you. Start by reading short segments or paragraphs, then gradually work your way up from there. This can help develop a habit from reading, especially if your reading habits are a bit rusty. Remember, every little step counts.

  • Reading what interests you

Often times, we hear our friends or family talk highly of a particular book or book series.So we give it a try.  But when we read it, we might not find it compelling or interesting . Still,  we force ourselves to finish the book, no matter how much we hate it. After we’re done, we lose our interest in books and don’t read for days or months on end. My advice on this is that if you don’t find your reading material interesting, then don’t read it. You are under no inclination to finish a book that you don’t find captivating.Find something that genuinely absorbing. Whether it be YA novels, classics or plays, it doesn’t matter.Literature is not just limited to Shakespeare. An interesting book will not allow you to put it down and will motivate you to finish it, maybe even start a new one.

  • Set up reasonable goals and deadlines

Procrastination is a huge waste of time, and it is more common than you would think. To stop wasting time, set up goals for yourself which you would like to accomplish in a day. For example, try setting up a goal of reading 50 pages, or one chapter in a day. It gets the momentum going, and allows you to not put off reading. Slowly, but surely you will see progress. Remember to set up reasonable goals, and not aim to finish the whole 850 page  book in one day (unless of course, you can do that. In that case I say go for it.)

  • Always carry a book with you

You might not realise it, but the 10 minute breaks you take throughout the day, or the time you spend between classes, is time which can be put to efficient use. In  such cases you should try carrying a book with you, and read it in any free time you find. Even reading 2-3 pages in between breaks can really add up throughout the day. Now of course I’m not saying to spend every minute away from work reading. You definitely should know when you want to read, or when you just want to watch Netflix.

Happy Reading!

the influencer epidemic

If you told someone back in 2010 that Youtube, a website where one can do nothing but watch cat videos, and Instagram, a newly launched social media app nobody had heard about,  could be someone’s source of income, they definitely wouldn’t have believed it. Fast forward to 2020, there is no shortage of so called “influencers” who make more money within a month, than most  people will ever make at their day jobs (sad, but true). Anyone who has a platform and an audience who’ll listen to them can be deemed as an influencer, and it is a much sought after career nowadays.It is no surprise that the present day youth is gravitating towards creative and flexible digital occupations. They get to do what they love and not have their lives dictated by anyone, and the rising relevance of social media has made it possible. It is even common for people to drop out of school or quit their jobs to pursue social media.

However there is nothing inherently wrong with having a platform to express your views and talk about your life, no matter how peculiar it sounds. If used correctly, a large platform can make a huge difference. It can be used to educate the people about what’s right and what’s wrong, as well as to throw light to important issues at hand.  The problem arises when these platforms are used in the wrong way. With a massive outlet and huge audience comes the  great responsibility of recognising your influence and using it the proper way to educate the masses about the right thing, no matter how difficult it may be. Sadly, many choose to go the easy way than the right way. Recently, I have seen a massive surge in clothing hauls on Youtube. Not only do these videos provide free advertising to fast fashion brands, but also  promote reckless spending habits on stuff one doesn’t even need. Similarly, content creators whose audiences are predominantly young kids, end up ingraining harmful ideas like disrespectfulness, and sometimes even racism and misogyny in them, which is extremely damaging.

 The recent Black Lives Matter movement has shown us that many of these influencers don’t actually care about issues at hand, they just see them as an opportunity to display themselves as woke to the audiences.  I can think of  hundreds of people who posted one black square on their profiles in solidarity with black lives matter, and then went back to their regular posting schedules, instead of maybe talking more about it and raising awareness about why the movement is necessary. Many of them even showed up at protests just to get their photos taken, showing that this grave and important issue at hand was nothing more than a trend for them.

Every rose has its thorn. If someone wants to be an influencer for the fame and the money, they have to deal with the hard parts of the job. Having a huge platform is a privilege, one very few have. They should recognise their privilege, and use it in a way which is best for this world, best for humanity.

Source: https://medium.com/@mnfst/why-do-people-want-to-be-influencers-bf1c6b42b36f

The despicable face of fast fashion

In the present times, everything is fast paced, and what might be trendy one day, is kicked  to the curb the other. The most common example of this is fashion, specifically fast-fashion. Fast-fashion is used to describe cheap, trendy clothing, which makes the journey from the runway, to your closet and then to the garbage dump, in the blink of an eye. These include brands like, H&M, Forever 21, ASOS, ZARA etc. They  pump out new designs regularly to stay relevant amongst the younger generations, and you cannot escape it. Chances are, the clothes you’re wearing right now are from fast-fashion brands.

Now why is this problematic? By putting out new clothes every month or so, and using extremely clever marketing tactics, they’ve convinced the average consumer that their clothes are “outdated” and they need to keep purchasing from them to stay in trend, thereby maximising their profits every single time. But that isn’t even the worst part. To quench their never ending thirst for money, these brands utilise sweatshops for production of their clothing. A sweatshop is a factory where workers are severely underpaid, and the working conditions are inhumane, ranging from excruciatingly long working hours, to unsafe and unhygienic work environments. Sweatshops are usually placed in third world countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia etc. where worker’s rights are minimal, where rich brands can get quick, inexpensive labour at the cost of actual human lives.  

Since these clothes are mass produced and cheaply made, it is not surprising to know that they go bad after a couple of washes, and are no longer wearable. Each year, the average consumer throws away about 32 kilograms of clothing, adding to the already over filled landfills . It is estimated that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than international flights and maritime ships combined. It also takes thousands of gallons of water to produce one cotton shirt and a pair of jeans, as they are made from a water intensive material-cotton. Further, textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water, leading to the fashion industry being responsible for 20% of the worlds water pollution.

As more and more people get aware of their malpractices, fast fashion brands resort to greenwashing, which is basically presenting a company as more eco friendly than it really is. They make false promises about making their products with organic cotton and recycled polyester. However, they fail to provide sufficient and definitive information, and refuse to specify how much of a garment is made with recycled material. Brands like LuLuLemon and H&M have been recently accused of greenwashing, yet their sales remain high.

It is saddening to see how many people are unaware of these evils, and those who are aware simply turn a blind eye to such issues. How can we prevent this? Our strongest weapon in this war against fast fashion is education. Educate yourself and those around you. Watch documentaries, read books and articles, and convince others around you to quit buying from such brands. Try reducing the number of shopping trips you take in a year. Another thing which can help is mending your old clothes, and wearing them at least 30-40 times to make the most out of them. Remember, every little step counts. Gone are the days when we were blind consumers. Now, the time has come for serious reforms.

Sources: https://www.businessinsider.in/science/news/the-fashion-industry-emits-more-carbon-than-international-flights-and-maritime-shipping-combined-here-are-the-biggest-ways-it-impacts-the-planet-/articleshow/71640863.cms

https://www.greenamerica.org/blog/factory-exploitation-and-fast-fashion-machine