Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

We need to reevaluate our values

Today I am taking the easy way out by reposting an artcle from the Sunday Star which contents i wholeheartedly agree with. I hope fellow Malaysians who read it will get something for you to think over.

Sunday May 6, 2007

Time to evaluate our values


We all love success. We chase after it, we cheer it, we celebrate it. But, should we really be redefining it?

WHEN she won the Nescafe singing competition 12 years ago, I was one of those superficial teenagers who wondered, “How could she win? She’s so fat?” And then I saw Adibah Noor again on Astro recently and I beamed with pride with the realisation that we still have a gem among us, a real gem – natural, original and unpretentious. Walk down any shopping mall these days and you will find young teenage girls walking around looking like sticks with a pair of toothpicks for legs. Talk to them and you will find that most of them are high achievers – they are top scorers in their schools, they play music in the state orchestra, and are probably presidents of their school's uniformed bodies. Talk to them some more and you will find one trait in common – they all come from the upper middle class or even upper class income backgrounds, with divorced/separated/almost-separated parents. They may have siblings, most of whom are high-achievers themselves, but not siblings whom they could turn to in times of trouble.
The unhappy parents (mostly the mothers) have decided that they should live their broken lives vicariously through their daughters. They set out to create perfectionists out of their already almost–perfect daughters. The young girl will totally lose control of her life because of her domineering mother, and the way to get it back is to take control of the one thing which she still can – the way she eats. If she has all the wealth, the beauty, the brains, yet she is still unhappy, surely there must be something else? Perhaps it’s her weight. If only she could look like those pencil-thin models on the glossy magazines, then perhaps she could be happy again (if she can remember being happy at all, that is). I was never an aneroxic child, but I have always battled with my weight. I was never even fat, but I was never model-thin either. To this day, I struggle to fight off the guilt feeling after every satisfying meals. But I have a close-knit family, and that is probably the reason I have not gone to that end. I married a man who tells me daily the good heart never ages but a pretty face and perfect figure will. I am lucky, I tell myself.
But what about those hundreds, maybe thousands, of girls out there who are at risk of health problems either almost immediately or in the near future? Isn’t it time we come back to our traditional values? Why do we have to be high achievers all the time? What is wrong with being a size “L”?

Every time families gather for a reunion, the small talk remains the same throughout the years.
“Wah, so lucky you, your daughter is already a lawyer.” Or, “Wah, you lost weight, ah? So lucky.” Or “All your kids very sui (good-looking), unlike your sister’s (whispering)?.”
Hey, what about the daughters who may not have graduate degrees but are happily married to honest men with lovely children? Shouldn’t that make the old man happy as well as he can be assured of young children filling up the loneliness of his household every weekend? What about the son who is not a high-flying banker but a small time executive who gives love and attention to his aged parents? And, what is so lucky about losing weight? And, why shouldn’t the plain kids get the same kind of attention as the aesthetically blessed ones? We are so caught up with material and superficial things that we are probably considered preachy freaks if we try to bring people back to the path of God. Material wealth and superficial good looks are considered so important these days. A woman in her 60s is considered “lucky”, or “successful”, if she still has body of a 20-year-old, hair neatly coiffed up all the time, and driving around in a Mercedes-Benz. But to me, my mother is probably more successful. She’s 63 and looks every bit her age. She has a doting husband, five loving children and eight boisterous grandchildren who visit her no less than once a week, without fail. This, plus happy laughter all the time, minus the designer shoes, handbags and hourglass figure. It’s not easy to change our perspective of life overnight. A lot of us may try, but watch out for self-hypocrisy. We may be able to accept “imperfections” in others, but not ourselves. Some of us may pretend to be happy for someone’s child who scored 3As out of a possible seven in the recent PMR examinations, but quietly tell ourselves that next year, our kids are scoring nothing less that straight As. Or a young girl who pretends to tell her slightly plump friend that “You are all right” but quietly tells herself “I’m never going to be as fat as you.” I remember reading somewhere, a child who runs up to his mother after school would prefer to tell his friends that his mother is the most loving mum in the world, rather than to brag that his mom is the prettiest. So, as parents, maybe we should live up to that expectation, and at the same time, emulate a child’s basic, yet most natural definition of “success”. Feel proud to tell others about your daughter’s achievement in helping out with the daily household chores, even though she may not bring home a string of As. Or bask in the glory of your son’s achievement in participating in local gotong-royong work, even though he may not be a heart specialist earning a five-figure income (who then may not have time for such volunteer work anyway).

We have to rewrite the definition of success for the sake of the younger generation. Let us, as adults, do something about this before it is too late. We want more like Adibah Noor among us.

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