Bendr Magazine

I have always struggled in finding my place in society. I have been judged, ridiculed, bullied, catcalled, fat shamed, laughed at and been reduced to a position where my insecurities precede any decision I make. Yet most people don’t see that about me, “you’re so confident” they say. Little do they know that each decision I make requires layers of overthinking and constant self-assurance that it’s going to be okay. You may wonder why, it’s simple really; being a woman comes at a price in our society.

The perception of women has always been based on cultural restrictions and social norms that have made us have to ‘speak louder’ and ‘work harder’ to get our voices ‘heard’ and actions seen. Too often, social rules and regulations for women are restrictive and opinions are controlled or misinterpreted. The disparity and discrimination I encounter has led to this photo essay addressing the taboo of being a woman in Sri Lanka.

 

I believe that limiting a woman’s ability to express themselves and to work within one’s “place” has become an accepted stereotype. Break the stereotype and a woman is seen beyond the societal expectations of her defined role. This is considered unethical and abnormal. The backlash we face for breaking the norm and attempting to achieve a goal beyond being a silent woman, dutiful housewife and caring mother is because we push towards achieving equality in the system. My photo story attempts to challenge these definitions by depicting the strong women we live amongst. It is a story of accepting women in their raw selves, for their history, identity, race, colour, beauty, virtue, shape or size!

 

Our future as women is volatile, it is unknown and transitory, our identity is always questioned, undermined and misunderstood. We live by constructs that define our worth and question our beliefs. Yet as I struggle with my own identity as a woman, I am also proud to be a part of this spectrum that has the possibility of accepting change and I hope to showcase a journey to the core of being a woman in Sri Lanka. I am a woman with a hopeful voice, that is who I am. I am strong, I am bold, I am confident and I will fight to be heard until the very end.

Suhela Abeynaike

Suhela Abeynaike works in Media and Advocacy and is a book lover and freelance photographer in her spare time. She is an alumna of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and the London School of Economics and Social Sciences and has over six years of working experience in the Communications and Media Field. As an advocate of breaking the stereotype and fighting for gender equality, she is "The Girl Behind the Camera" who provides people the tools to tell their stories through her pictures and helps inspire, empower and reveal humanity in an inexplicable moment! ​