NasraSingle Mom & IT Consultant / ?????
"My 20s were about my career, my 30s were about my kids, and my 40s are going to be about me."
This beautiful woman came to my Toronto Boudoir Studio all the way from Vancouver, BC to do her Boudoir photoshoot. Among other things, she wanted to mark her 40th Birthday, a milestone birthday, which she has dedicated towards self-love and self-care. I would like you to read the following or watch the video where she tells her story in her own words. I would like to warn you that her story contains elements of a traumatized childhood brought on by sexual abuse, arranged marriage, and forced cultural conservatism. I hope you will find it in your heart to watch this story and fine hope and inspiration from how Nasra beat all odds and became this strong, independent, successful woman.
“My name is Nasra and I’m 40 years old.
I’m a single mom of two kids and I live in Vancouver, BC. I’m an IT consultant.
I’ve been very bitter about my upbringing and my marriage. Stories that I was told growing up about what it means to be a woman.
The first thing was that I would be protected by the men in my life. Primarily things like hijab, I was forced to wear hijab when I was 13. And I was definitely raised to be a modest Muslim Pakistani girl.
All of that was irrelevant because I was molested by 8 different people growing up.
From the time I was 4 till I was 16. And all of these people were the people that I knew. Some of them family members. One of them went to prison for a couple of years for what he did. And so, to me, you know, that protection was never there.
I was groomed to be a housewife.
I was not allowed to go away for university. I could only attend university if I paid for it myself, which was hard because I was not allowed to work. And I could only do it if it didn’t get in the way of me getting married.
So halfway through my degree, which I ended up going to my local university, even though I had opportunities to attend great universities like U of T, I got married to a man who had an engineering degree from the US. And he ticked all the boxes that he would make a great provider. And 17 years into the marriage, he never had an engineering job. For the first 10 years he didn’t work at all or had odd jobs. During that time, my career took off and the more I got promoted, the more he felt insecure about himself and the more insecure he felt, the more he put me down. So those last few years the gap had become so huge that it became unbearable.
Two years ago I decided to buy my own house and move out with my kids. And ever since I’ve done that, my life has improved by leaps and bounds.
And right now I feel free, I feel empowered, I feel like I’ve never felt better.
So this photoshoot was definitely a culmination of all those feelings.
When I first saw the proofs right after our session I was very critical of myself, like I always am, Like, you know, I wish I had lost a few more pounds before I had the shoot. I was very critical. But now, after, you know, a couple of weeks has passed looking at the photos now I’m like, “I look pretty good!” Being really analytical after I became single again I was like I need to look really good if I wanna have a chance finding love again. I had this really high bar that I had set for myself.
Looking at those photos I think I feel like I’ve met my bar.
I’ve lost 50 pounds over the last 5 years. I’ve been really into health and exercise and that shows in those photos.
I feel triumphant.
When I was young, I had no idea that I had a great body. Now that I have dated a few men, they’ve all told me that, “you have great legs!” How come I didn’t know I had great legs when I was young? When I could’ve, you know — it took away so much of my power. And you may think like, “you’re only validated when a man thinks you’re hot?”
(Sexual confidence) gives you confidence in all areas.
When you are young, that sexual power is very powerful. And to be stripped of that — That’s what patriarchy’s goal is, to strip women from that power from a very young age. So, yes, I’m bitter that I was not able to choose when I could have when I was younger.
I’m very hesitant to spend money on myself.
And for the last few months I have been telling myself that hey that I’ve met all my financial goals. I had a 20 year plan. You know, I have a house, I have a healthy RRSP fund, I have RESPs for my kids, I basically bought a house for my ex so that my kids have a nice place in the same neighbourhood to go to when they are with their dad.
So I checked off all those goals.
And now, it’s time for me.
So, my 20s were about my career, my 30s were about my kids, and my 40s are gonna be about me.”