Family, History, Life, Opinion

Balik kampung

kampungAs I write this, Irfan and I are getting ready to visit my family in Melaka. I’m excited to visit the place where many generations of my maternal ancestors were born. Migrating at a young age can disconnect families from extended family and our heritage, and I’m glad that I’m able to reconnect with mine, after so long.

I haven’t visited Melaka in years! I think the last time I visited was when I sixteen or seventeen, and I came with my parents and siblings. Today, I’ll be introducing my husband to my grand-uncle for the first time.

On another note, Love InshaAllah posted my “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” article. I’m still so amazed at how much my story connected to readers around the world. Being vulnerable can be scary, but also very, very rewarding.

Beauty, Beauty myth, Life, Opinion

Going under the knife

knifeCheck out this Daily Life article by Kasey Edwards – The Beauty Pageant Where Everyone Has The Same Face.

It’s scary to think that cosmetic surgery is now perfectly normal in South Korea. With all that carefully constructed beauty to compete against, au naturale seems to be a gigantic faux pas. Double-eyelid surgery, specifically, is a big hit in Korea. Inner beauty doesn’t seem to take much priority when pitted against the supposed perfection going under the knife. My fellow Asians sisters! You are already good enough as you are!

Imagine the pressure of growing up in South Korea and looking, well, like an ordinary South Korean. Which evidently isn’t good enough, so off you go to get some plastic surgery done. And then you look like what you’re meant to – really pretty, like everyone else.  I wonder if there’ll ever be some kind of plastic surgery revolution, where South Korean women (and men) kick off the gauntlets of societal expectations and just boycott plastic surgeries altogether.

Meh. I can dream.

Real conversation:

Australian Friend: Wow, where are these good-looking guys in Korea?

Korean Friend: I have no idea.

ON THE FLIPSIDE: I found something fascinating on Tumblr. Yes, of all places. Blowfishbubbles writes:


I hate it when people say that Asians get plastic surgery to look like “westerners”. It’s just wrong. Completely wrong. I saw this Aussie interview a while back, and the woman was like “I think they’re denying their heritage.” Seriously, woman? Have you seen the descriptions of the ancient beauties of China? “A long straight nose, big, bright, and clear eyes, with folds, a cherry pout, and an face shape that was oval, and strong, but this lady needs soft brows that were shaped like grass, accentuating her proportioned forehead.” Those are what we base our plastic surgeries on. Not you, you narcissistic bitch. We don’t want to look “western”, we just want to look like what we’ve been told by the ancient emperors was the beauty standard. We only want plastic surgery to look like what we know as the golden beauty points. I wish the TV shows would stop mentioning us as “western wannabes” and “denying our heritage” because clearly, it’s not true. If I get plastic surgery, I want to look like 赵薇. I want to look like 杨贵妃. I don’t want to look like Megan Fox. I don’t want to look like Miley Cyrus. I want to look like people who were predecessors of MY HERITAGE. MY HERITAGE. Not yours. MINE.

Interesting. I guess some Asian people DO want to look Western, while others want to reach the Asian golden beauty points. That’s some food for thought.

I just think that some inner work and self-acceptance would save a whole lot of money, grief, pain and break this cycle of excessive physicality. Easier said than done, living in a world where there’s so much emphasis on the outward form.

(Note: I have watched a documentary in which a young Asian woman on TV had plastic surgery because she wanted ‘Megan Fox’s nose’. Dude, Megan Fox’s nose would look so weird on my face. Because I’m Asian.)

Islam, Life, Love, Opinion

How do you find a partner if 99% of the population are a no-go? – Mamamia opinion piece


Hop on over to this brilliant read: How do you find a partner if 99% of the population are a no-go by Zeynab Gamieldien. Zeynab is a fantastic writer and her blog, Love Haqtually, is a great place to read all about the quirks of the Australian Muslim community, especially on the topic of luuuurve. Man, there’s so much stigma when it comes to love and Muslims, yet we’re the ones with the exponential birth rates *facepalm*

Kudos to you, Zeynab, and to all Muslim women out there who are brave enough to tell their story. It’s refreshing to see Muslim women demonstrating agency by speaking out about their own experiences. It’s not cool to see people talking ABOUT Muslim women (“Free her from her oppressors!” etc), and it’s often the woefully ignorant who are the most opinionated. And who get the most air-time. It’s wonderful to see that Zeynab has added her unique voice to the tapestry of Muslim voices in the media, and I pray that many Muslim women will do the same. The world needs more compassion, understanding, and acceptance, and the best way to humanise the other is to give it a face, and a voice. Muslim women, for better or worse, are constantly in the limelight, and I hope that with the passage of time, more of us will be proud of the faith which us brings life, and tell our story – with a smile 🙂






Islam, Life, Love, Opinion

On Being A Hybrid Australian Muslim of Malay Descent – my lip mag piece

8-handsCheck out my latest article on lip mag – on being a hybrid australian muslim of malay descent. Ha, yes, a mouthful. This was a fun piece to write, and it was inspired by my brother Ahmad.

We know a lot of different kids and adults who also balance different cultures and expectations, and who probably experience all the ensuing mini (or major!) social gaffes. When you grow up in Australia, going back to visit Singapore or Malaysia (or your country of origin) is a combination of meeting family, getting teased about your ‘funny accent’ and having that delicious plate of nasi lemak/nasi ayam which just doesn’t taste as good, anywhere else!

Islam, Life, Love, Opinion

The Ways I’ve Worried – Huffington Post opinion piece

1069213_endless_greenThe Ways I’ve Worried is an exquisite and heart-wrenching piece on the fragility and beauty of life. The author writes about her relationship with her first husband, who had cystic fibrosis, and how that impacted on the way she lived, loved, and lost.

Mortality is one of the defining characteristics of humanity. That’s one thing we all agree on. Everyone has different ways of coping, and for me, it’s my faith and the love of my family and friends. The next life is better than this one, and that very yardstick of eternity puts everything into perspective.

Health, Opinion

My article on DNA is up!

DNACheck out my latest article – Investigating Our DNA.

It’s amazing to think how much of our destiny is already pre-programmed into our genome. Someone told me once that everyone was born a blank slate, with the potential to be imprinted by the environment alone. In reality, our unique genetic makeup influences us from the beginning, from the colour of our eyes right down to our inheritable diseases. With the advances in genotyping technology, there’s also so much we can learn about our genetic ancestry. Our past, present and future are clearly impacted by many unseen factors – one of them being our genetic code. This really flies in the face of the concept that we’re all in 100% control of our lives, because really, from the minute we’re born, we’re given a set of cards that are beyond our control.It’s a reminder for me to rely on Allah because He’ll look after me, and everyone around me.

Islam, Life, Opinion, Writing

Being a Muslim Single Mum

Muslim Mum

Check out my latest Daily Life Article: Being a Muslim Single Mum

Here’s hoping that my article will shed light on the everyday battles faced by single mums in general, and Muslim single mums, in particular. One of my close friends is a long-time convert to Islam, and she finds it really puzzling when Muslim families skirt uncomfortably around the topic of divorce, even if that’s their reality. It’s only as awkward as people make it out to be. Accepting the reality of divorce doesn’t make people more prone to it. Rather, I think that acceptance generates compassion and understanding, which is never a bad thing.

Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her), the wife of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), was a single mum! My seerah (Prophetic biography) teacher in Jordan taught us that in pre-Islamic Arabia, single mums were desirable because everyone knew they were fertile. Now that’s an interesting twist on single mums….

On another note, it’s a crying shame that the government has made drastic cuts to the welfare payments for single parents – single mums are the ones left with raising the kids and juggling jobs with less money coming in to help them. Isn’t the Labour government meant to help the most vulnerable segments of society?



Life, Opinion, Writing

The 25 best stories for women this year – and mine’s included!


I’m thrilled to share that Daily Life has included my first article on their list of 25 best stories for women this year!

Working as a freelance writer isn’t easy. Anyone who tells you it’s a piece of cake is either well into the trade, or trying to sell you something. Writing for Daily Life was one of the best writing decisions I’ve made, and I’m still figuring out the right kinds of article to pitch! I’d like to thank Sarah Oakes, the Daily Life editor, as well as Candice Chung for being so encouraging and for helping me shape my articles into what they are today.

Some stories, like Clem Ford’s opinion piece on Jill Meagher and victim blaming, became national talking points. Others, including Raidah Shah Idil’s essay on what it’s like to wear a hijab, stayed with us because of their frankness and steadfast bravery.

Perhaps most importantly, each of these fresh female voices reminds us of the joy of sharing good writing. They inspired, challenged, and artfully reflected on the female condition in a way that only women could.

And another one…

What it’s really like to wear a hijab , By Raidah Shah Idil 
“I wear a hijab so when I’m in the public eye, I am unmistakably Muslim. If you look at me, you’ll see that I’m Asian. If you talk to me, you’ll see how much I love fantasy novels.” Shah Idil reminds us that the rest of the world, there are layers to her you can’t immediately see.

Thank you, Daily Life team, for brightening up my day 🙂