Thursday, June 18, 2020

Higher Heels, Bigger Dreams

I want to introduce my readers to Fatima Mohammed, author of "Higher Heels, Bigger Dreams." I must say that Mohammed's book will hit home for us women around the globe who fight for equal love and equal rights. This is a book that all women need to read. It is straightforward and honest and a tribute to the many faceless and nameless women who are still governed by silence, shame, and fear. Thank you Fatima for writing this book.

Higher Heels, Bigger Dreams: To Be a Woman, To Fight for Equal Love and the Right to Thrive, a Curse or a Bliss? (High Heels Book 1) Kindle Edition

by Fatima Mohammed (Author)

In a world that calls for equal pay, I, a girl born in a family that wanted a boy, had to fight for equal love. In a time when the talk is for major rights, I, and many a woman, raised in a society that favours men, have to fight for the right to thrive.

Each day, women around the world wake up to fight battles that may go unheard of, undocumented, and unwon. The war may stretch from birth to death, for equalities that are so freely granted to the other sex. How long do we have to do this for?

Higher Heels, Bigger Dreams comes as an act of defiance to all those norms, rules, customs and traditions that hung around me, and many a woman, from infancy like a dark cloud. It is a worded rebellion against the double standards that rule a society which is so obsessed with unrealistic ideals, which is so absorbed in hypocritical standards that sickens me to the depth of my soul. I have, thus, granted this book all green lights to take me back down memory and dreams lane, to instances and moments I thought I have forgotten about, to some secrets that I buried too deep, and others I never dared to write about: Honour, virginity, domestic violence, sexual harassment and all the atrocities that go unheard of, unspoken about, and unseen are given a voice in these pages.

It is a breath of fresh expression of the stories that many a brave soul has graciously shared with me. A tribute to the faceless and nameless ones still governed by silence, shame and fear. May you find your voice within these pages, may you rise to break the cycle of wrongful abuse, to dust off the shackles of outdated customs. It is an invitation, too, may you assume your gender with dignity, wear your scars with pride, slip in those super heels, and march on, head caressing the skies, towards your dreams.

Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.

I was born, raised, and educated in Algeria, North Africa, in an Arab-Muslim family and society. I grew up playing football in heels, giving advice that was too wise for my age to other girls, interpreting the magical worlds that lived within me into enchanting words, and provoking controversy among family for being independent and outspoken. With an outstanding record at school, I always thought my path would lead me towards becoming an Ambassador or some other prestigious position. Little did I know that the men in the family had other plans. While I was denied that chance, and many others, new doors opened for, and I was able to serve differently, through teaching, and I realised I could always represent, not a nation's interests and affairs, but a generation's hopes and dreams.

What inspired you to author this book?

This is my first full book; I had always imagined it would be fiction, a novel, or a collection of poetics. The calling came from a desire to set myself free, to unload the past on paper, and to give voice to others at the same time. I knew countless atrocities were happening behind closed doors, that endless tragedies are passing in silence under the pretext of taboo, forbidden, okay, common. Higher Heels, Bigger Dreams is my way of healing, rebelling, and extending the chance to other women to live, to dream, and to just be.

Where did you get the inspiration for your book's cover?

The cover has been chiefly inspired by the title and my passion for heels. It has a playful, provocative, and inviting feel to it, so the reader is both teased and lured to have a closer look.

Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?

This is by far one of the most challenging questions I receive, and it is never easy to answer. Personally, I have been my greatest influence; I looked at people around, my mother included, I detected all the things I did not want to have, and I built myself independent from their influence. Writing-wise, that list could go on forever. I have been an avid reader since childhood, and I believe each author has left a unique imprint. If I were to pick one, and that is never an easy task, I would name Elizabeth Gilbert, a combination of delicious language, delicate expression, creative manipulation, and inescapable truth.

What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?

This book has taken me down memory lane, some not so great experiences and moments. It took courage and a few deep breaths to go through my family's fall from grace, my father's family unjustified hate, his passing, stories of sexual abuse, particularly one that involves a young girl and her 'father.' Here was this sense of bitterness as well as helplessness that accompanied the account of some parts, mainly due to the conscious knowledge that there was nothing I could do to help; I so badly want to.

Tell your readers about your book.

Higher Heels, Bigger Dreams
is a worded rebellion against a society that advocates for gender inequality, education systems that promote sexual ignorance, hate and violence, and unrealistic media ideals that torment, belittle and trap my sex in an endless circle of scrutiny and judgment.

The book comprises four chapters; each deals with a topic and an issue that concerns women, gender being the very first. I, and many a woman, are born into the realisation that our sex is not quite as welcome and celebrated in the family; had it been a boy, there would certainly have been a party. The dilemma follows us as we grow. The education we receive from our mothers and teachers never seems to demystify the mystery that enshrouds our sex and body, and we are left with half-truths, patched answers, and loads of questions.

In chapter two, I go very personal and deep into the toxic family drama, the inexplicable animosity, and inexcusable pain my mother, siblings, and I were subjected to from my father's side. Instead of being a source of love, support, and compassion, they dedicated their life to seeing us down and drown in misery, which we did. Even the loss of our father was not enough to quench the evil fires of envy flaming within their nefarious souls.

Honour and its intricate complexities are the centre of chapter three. Arab society is obsessed with the preservation of honour, that of its daughters only. As part of their non-education instruction, they are taught to protect the family's honour at all costs. Is it ironic, then, that most cases of sexual abuse happen in the family, at the hands of fathers, brothers, uncles...?

Stepping into the outside world may not be an easy task for the ladies, either. Constantly harassed, cat-called, touched, and at instances raped and brutalised, women are still seen as the primary reason, always guilty, never a victim.

The wickedness reeking from the world around us occupies chapter four as I bring out topics of body image and shaming, social scrutiny, rightfulness of dreams, and the soundness of a career. Each comes with a hefty ransom of judgments, self-consciousness, and heaviness that weighs on our lives as women.

The book pushes you to pose the question if you have not done so before; had I been born a boy, would my birth be more joyous? Would I be entitled to a more comprehensive education, shame-free? Would my family harbour less hatred towards me? Would society give me a chance to breathe, live, and be?

Who is your target audience, and why?

Every curious soul is welcome to delve into the pages and chapters of my book. However, I had mainly thought of other women who have been through the same experiences, who are looking for support, and a sign to stand up for themselves. It is likewise for the ladies plagued with a self-conscious reflection in the mirror, body-shaming family, and unrealistically-scrutinising society, so they could come to terms and embrace their imperfections and treat themselves with compassion.

I would hope men would not feel left out, as they are still a major part of the solution. Openness and readiness to see things from the other side's perspective help push conversation forward. Paging through this book will give men an insight into what countless women go through and how it feels from their end.

Anyone who is dedicated to the empowerment of women, the advocacy of their dreams and the prosperity of their futures may find inspiration in this book as well.

What do you consider your greatest success in life?

My greatest successes are yet to come, but I believe that the ability I am endowed with to read people, to hear them, to feel their pain without them uttering a word, and to offer them a helping hand, a comforting message and an assuring promise that I am wholly devoted to your assistance. To restore hope within those who lost it, to believe in others when they give up on themselves, to ignite a light down someone's dark tunnel, as a teacher to students, as a coach to clients, as an author to readers, is something I can never be grateful for.

What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?

I am the sensational combination of raw, unfiltered, cynical, truthful, creative, and literary. My writings give you a feel of Austen Wedding Wilde, and giving birth to Gilbert.