Let’s just admit it, no matter how modern we think we are and how broad-minded we try to prove ourselves, ours is still a patriarchal society where a woman is considered as someone whose only priority is to put on a lot of make up and look beautiful anyhow, who is supposed to cook and serve us food, give birth to and take care of the babies, one who doesn’t have enough mind to acquire technical skills; and much more. And that is why the phrases such as “not a woman’s job”, “our society does not accept this”, “a woman can’t” are some of the most common things that a woman in our country gets to hear very often. But, thankfully, there are many women who decided not to pay attention to these people and broke all the barriers to reach new heights in the journey to their dreams and ambitions.
From challenging patriarchal mindsets to setting an example for all the other women, these five Nepalese women have broken the stereotypes about how they should look like and what should they do with their lives.
1. Kay Dangol
Kanchan Dangol, more popularly known as Kay, is one of the very few Nepalese natural bodybuilders and fitness models. The UK based bodybuilder who is originally from Nuwakot, started competing at the bodybuilding competitions in 2013 and has won various major titles at Miami Pro European Championships and Total Fitness Extravaganza among others around the UK so far.
She shared about her journey saying, “When I started competing in 2013, I was scared to tell my family or any Nepalese about my competitions as I knew that they would not like to see a Nepalese girl wearing a bikini and walking the stage. So I was compelled to hide about my competitions and go through everything alone but I never gave up on my dream. I carried on and followed my path because I knew that this is what I wanted to do in my life and I wanted to be around positive minded people. It’s sad that the Nepalese ladies, no matter where they live and what position they are in, they still have to worry about what the society is going to say about their every move. But that didn’t stop me as I did not just want to sit there and watch others achieve their dreams. I want to let every woman reading this know that she can do whatever she wants to do and achieve what she has always dreamed of. She just needs to stop worrying about other people and start working towards her goals.
2. Deepa Thapa Magar
Deepa Thapa Magar is a Behavioral Health Counselor based in Seattle, Washington. The 31 year old fitness model originally from Banasthali, Kathmandu has so far bagged runner up and second runner up positions at WA Ironman 2016, Northern Classic 2016 and Vancouver Naturals 2016.
Here’s what she has to say about the struggle, “The society is always going to be there to dictate, to judge and decide what’s good for a woman and what’s not. A woman gets judged by the way she looks, the way she presents herself, the way she behaves. But being a strong independent woman, I think that we should not let ourselves be defined by society’s standards. A woman must be strong enough to shield herself from these so called norms and strive to break the mold. She should do things she likes to do, pursue what she is passionate about , chase her dreams relentlessly even if it means going against society’s standards. Everyone in this world should get opportunity to do what their heart desire, everyone deserves happiness and just because we are women does not necessarily mean that our happiness lies in being a home maker (not saying it’s a wrong thing) taking care of household chores, bearing babies, instead some of us find happiness in building a career, pursuing higher education and forging a strong and healthy body. Either way, it is a woman’s choice to make what she wants out of life without being influenced or being pressurized by the society. Woman should learn to be courageous and pursue what they want without fearing a threat of consequence because it makes them strong and stand out in crowd.
3. Jharana Gurung
Jharana Gurung, a tattoo artist and piercer, is MOST probably the Nepalese woman with the most number of tattoos as 60% of her body is covered with them. The 23-year-old from Dhapasi, Kathmandu who is also the only Nepalese woman with a split tongue does get a lot of attention wherever she goes because of her different appearance, and unfortunately, she does have to encounter a lot of hatred as well.
She says, “I like getting tattoos and piercings more than wearing make up because I feel more comfortable that way. I am just a normal girl who wants to live her life the way she wants. And that’s the reason I don’t fear of getting judged by other people, and to be honest, I don’t actually care because I know I am not harming anyone in anyway and I am not doing anything illegal. I just want to appear the way I want to and that’s what I do.”
4. Kabita Pun
The adult nurse currently based in the UK, Kabita Pun is originally from Pokhara. The 29-year-old who is also a fitness model is the winner of Female Bikini Fitness 2016 competition organized by UK Nepal Federation of Body Building & Fitness earlier this year.
According to her, “Nepali women are restricted to do so many things in our society. There are people who still think women should stay at home behind closed doors, cooking pots of rice, cleaning and taking care of the kids. Behind closed doors, in the privacy of the home, where no one sees what skills they have and what they are capable of. We are still constantly stereotypically considered as weak, passive, submissive, spineless in our society. This is wrong. We as Nepali women, we tend to listen more what the society says. There is always that thought in our head “oh, if I do this or wear this what will people think about me or talk about me” which ruins everything. Its your life, do what you want to do because at the end of the day its about you. Prove yourself, if you have the capability and interest for doing something; Do It! Don’t get pulled back by what the society has to say. I started my fitness journey few years ago. Fitness plays a big part in my life. Even when I was in school I used to do lots of sports like running, volley ball, basket ball and many more. I have always been active. I have always done weight training as it plays a key role to tone up your body and gives that lean physique. Throughout my fitness journey I have been told that women are not suppose to do weight training because we will look like a man “Rubbish”. These sort of things never stopped me to do what I wanted to do. People don’t seem to realise how difficult it is to bulk and look masculine, as it needs intense weight training. We women, we don’t have testosterone hormone like men do therefore it is way too difficult to look and be masculine. I do weight training not because i want to be muscular and bulk but to reduce my body fat and maintain lean physique. I would like to encourage Nepali women to maintain a healthy lifestyle and look after their body. Its not only about looking good from outside but to be healthy inside. Being active has lots of benefit to your mental and physical health. For instance; reducing stress, increased self-esteem, feeling proud of looking after your body, maintain healthy weight, prevent high blood pressure and many more. A fun fact, according to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine; living an active lifestyle can add upto five years to your life. Being fit does not only mean trying to achieve a size zero body, but more importantly to reach that level of optimum health that will allow you to function to the best of your abilities. I know there are lots of Nepali women out their who are into fitness and they have absolutely amazing body. You guys! you need to come and show how hard you have worked to maintain that body, how disciplined you have been in maintaining your diet, how many times you have sacrificed your favourite meal in order to be fit. Also participate in fitness competitions and let people see how hard you have worked and how dedicated you have been to reach your goals. Don’t worry about what people says, think about your goals and how to achieve them.”
5. Prakriti Shrestha
Prakriti Shrestha, more popularly known as Pra, is a Sydney based Technical Manager who is also a natural body builder and fitness model. The 36-year-old originally from Kathmandu had won two gold medals and one silver medal at the championships held in Australia earlier this year and then competed at the World Titles at Budapest, Hungary. She will be competing at some other international competitions in Bali and USA later this year.
She says, “In this day and age; the world has not a single but many societies. Every area has its own society. Societies will love or hate you but at the end of the day what’s more important is to love yourself, have a respect for yourself. If you love, nourish yourself and your look, this will help you blossom in the direction you want to go. If you listen to yourself the more clarity there is. No one is perfect in this society. The perfect society would be one in which everybody got whatever they wanted, which is impossible to achieve. So we can only strive for the best possible society. I am not saying we shouldn’t listen to the society. There are limitations on whether we should or shouldn’t but always remember our time is limited, so don’t waste it living on what the society says about you. Don’t be trapped by dogma.If this society was perfect, then there won’t be War, Racism, Criticism and Poverty. So embrace and challenge yourself, listen to yourself because you are born to be beautiful. The good example is me – I listened to myself. So I challenged it which has helped to achieve my goals. 6 Gold and 1 silver medals in the fitness and sports model categories in Australia and 5th in the world. I am proud of my achievements and enjoying every bit in my life. My message to all the women in the world is to Embrace, Challenge yourself, be brave, Love and live your life. Listen to yourself and Let your heart guide you.”
Bold, brave, powerful and inspirational – that’s what these ladies are. Respect!
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