Zaid Ali's wife Yumna has been the center of social media hate ever since the YouTube comedian introduced her to the world, and it has all been targeted towards her physical appearance.
Since their marriage a year and a half ago, Yumna has featured in many of Zaid's videos but the hate just hasn't stopped. In fact, it has only become more aggressive.
To highlight this issue, the duo made a video My Wife Is Ugly in which they read the worst comments directed towards Yumna on social media. Unfortunately, the comments expose more than just our gora complex.
We break down some of them to explain why one should never say such things to anyone, ever.
"This girl looks like our maid, by the way, good choice."
.... nothing negative here, except the person's obvious use of the word 'maid' as an insult. Ridiculing people based on their job is not okay. Equaling their job to their physical appearance is absolutely not okay. Why is it that maids are not seen as good looking? Or smart? Or ambitious? Or even... human. A person's social status in society should not be parallel to the respect they're given.
Let Momina Mustehsan explain: "... resembling your maid isn't offensive, I'm glad I have lookalikes who work hard, even if it's a maid at someone's house #RespectAll."
"This is how she looks cute? Cheap, black monkey."
Our society thrives on colourism. From childhood, girls and boys are told that their skin colour, which they have no control over, is one of their ultimate defining traits. If you happen to be born with dark skin, it sucks to be you. We equate beauty with fairness despite the fact that it's not genetically possible for many of us to be born with light skin. This kind of self-hatred is symptomatic of our deeply ingrained colonial hangover that causes many to suffer from feelings of inferiority when there's no need for it.
Also, using words like cheap and monkey is just plain crass and reflects poorly on the person using them.
"This girl is too skinny, please feed her otherwise she'll starve to death. Skeleton."
Body shaming is far too common in our society. It's unfortunate that people with different shapes and sizes are not celebrated; instead, they're ridiculed for looking the way that they do. One is either too skinny or too fat, there is no in-between and there is definitely no winning.
It's also important to know that weight fluctuations can be caused by many reasons like depression, anxiety, PCOs. If one is terribly concerned about someone's weight, the first question should be pertaining to their well-being, not tips on how to work on their weight.
"I hate Yumna not because she's ugly, but because she took Zaid away from his mother."
If this was a sorry attempt at a joke, there was simply no need to introduce the saas-vs-bahu narrative here. Society has long been pitting the two against each other, even though any reasonable person would recognise that the two have important but different roles in a man's life. Our plea at this point is: Stop demonising daughters-in-law. Period.
These comments are just a narrow window into how we perceive women in our society and shred their self-worth to pieces by shaming them for their appearance.
Yumna was criticised like every Pakistani woman in the marriage set-up. Her ambitions, knowledge, personality were all disregarded, instead she was evaluated solely on the basis of her looks. But what we admire most about her is how she brushed off those comments and laughed them off with Zaid.
However, some do not have the same coping mechanism and tend to internalise these hateful comments.
Unfortunately, this toxic rishta culture runs deep in our society and these perceptions of women are constantly reinforced through dramas and films which equate dark = ugly, fair = beautiful, submissive = good, assertive = bad.
The scales will remain tipped against women unless we fight against this narrative. Women are not born to receive approval from all of society. They do not need validation from men. Understand this.