The women’s majlis: What you see isn’t what you get nowadays

Shamma Al Suwaidi suggests that we should stop projecting fake versions of ourselves.

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As years go by and we grow older, we come to realise that appearances can be deceiving and, in some cases, what you see is not always what you get – but it hasn’t always been this way. If you take a look at history, you’ll see that appearances portrayed reality in a more accurate way than they do now. At that time, things seemed to be ­simpler.

Now we live in a world where we don’t know how to truly identify what’s real and what’s not. We live in a society where the majority of people are just trying to fit into the highest societal standard or at least appear to, because they don’t want to be cast out into a lower category. Is it really that important, though?

When I think about the measures that people take nowadays to appear to be “successful”, living a luxurious life or of a “higher” class, a saying comes to mind: “Monkey see, monkey do”. Why? Because they can get so occupied by the appearances around them that they would do anything to be a mirror image of what they see, without weighing out the ­consequences.

For example, an average person, with an average income, goes to the bank and applies for a loan that amounts to 10 to 15 times of their monthly income. With this loan, they buy a plane ticket to a “famous” city in Europe, along with a few expensively branded outfits. What seems to be important to them is people’s knowledge of them being financially able to travel to that city and the designer clothes they strut around in that give off a specific appearance. On the other hand, they’d be staying in a standard hotel, or maybe even motel, and eating out of fast food places that aren’t costly for their entire vacation. In reality, they’re knee-deep in debt for the next year or two. Is it really necessary to spend money that you don’t have on things that you can’t afford to pretend to be of a certain societal category?

The point is, we live in a time where we give priority to life’s trivial things and forget about what really matters. People appear to be of a certain type, but in reality are the complete opposite. Women pay thousands to look like what was once a toy on a shelf called Barbie to appear more beautiful. What happened to values such as gratitude, humbleness and modesty? Every generation that passes seems to want more than the last and is not satisfied as easily. The simple things disappear and all that’s left is what seems to be an empty frame on a ­pedestal.

Shamma Al Suwaidi is a 23-year-old graduate with a bachelor's degree in business and is currently studying for a master's in international business law and diplomacy at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi.

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