Stereotyping is a part and parcel of womanhood. Every woman face the problem many times in their lives and there is no end to it. Sometimes I gape open-mouthed at the situations and comments that link to my appearance.
Not surprisingly, that is the case everywhere. Nielsen India conducted Nihar Naturals #IAmCapable survey and here are the startling figures:
a. 69% of men agree that their judgement of women is based on their looks.
b. 64% of women agree that the judgments passed on them have affected their ability to reach their true potential.
c. 70%of women agree that majority of judgments on women are from family members or friends rather than strangers.
d. 72% of women agree that working women face more judgments on their looks or their clothes than housewives.
The experiences prove the same too. It took me a while to change some of the perceptions. Yet many remain the same:
No Ornaments = Not Religious
“Where is your Bindi? And what will happen if you were a necklace? Why leave that neck barren? Women these days! They don’t have Bhaya Bhakti Bahumanam. They do not fear or respect Gods.”, an old lady in our temple said.
How I overcame the experience? By wearing ornaments when I met them. 😛 Old unrelated people have a way of spoiling your peace of mind.
Short/deep necked dresses = To tow Men
A friend had uploaded an image that she had taken for a magazine. She wore a deep necked top and the image was a beautiful one. She was bombarded with calls and texts asking her to take the picture down. They threatened to inform her family about this and ‘take action’ against uploading such exposing images.
How she overcame the same? She put up a status on Facebook about the calls and the texts. She got lots of support, followers and more appreciation for the image as well as her boldness. Her friends dared the ‘moral polices’ to comment right there if they had the guts. 🙂
Dusky Bride = Dusky Groom
My aunt was groom hunting for me and then she tells the details to my parents.
“There is this wonderful family. The boy is very nice. I told them about your daughter. I said that there is one problem. The girl is dusky. Anyhow, even the guy is dusky. So it is alright.”
When I heard this, I asked why was it mandatory to look at the color of people for which she replied to my parents.
“What is wrong. Your daughter is dark complexioned. Can you deny that? No. So only a dark complexioned guy can marry her. She can’t be adamant that she needs a fair guy.”
And the word spread that I wanted fair guys and I sat with my hands on my head. Relatives!
Modern clothes = Strong-headed
Traditional attire = Calm & Composed
“Are these your daughters? They are so adorable!”, Smiley aunty said. She said everything with a smile.
After a while, her husband walked in.
“These are her daughters. The elder one is very silent, calm and homely. Take one look at her and you’ll know. The younger one is a bomb! She is very smart, bold and sometimes strong-headed.”
My sister comes home and says, “How do they say that she-” she points at me.
“-she is calm? Composed? What atrocity is this? Her looks and clothing is what does it.”
Fashionable = Spendthrift
“Look at those eyes! You have a ton of black paint around there. With all those make-up stuff and fashionable clothes, you must be a spendthrift!”
I write, win vouchers and buy my clothes mostly using them at discounted prices. I calculate the average price of material, stitching charges and compare them with the clothes I buy and only if I feel it is reasonable, I buy them. I like trying out variety outfits even if it isn’t in trend in my hometown. I am anti-make-up and the only things I use are Kajals & Eyeliners that aren’t too expensive.
I looked at him and asked, “What brand is your shirt?”
“How much does it cost?”
“Around 1600 INR”
“My top costs Rs 100, the shrug Rs 150. My jeggings Rs 850. Eyeliner Rs. 80 and Kajal Rs. 150. I have only asked you the cost of your shirt yet. Should I continue?”
That was enough.
Decked up = To attract men
“What on Earth is that?”
“A Earring. Isn’t it beautiful?”
“What? You’ll wear that thing in your ears?” he asked looking at the pair of Peacock feather earrings a friend had given me.
“Yes.” I said. It was obvious.
“You think guys find it beautiful?”
I felt like something hit my head.
“Wait! You think women wear these stuff to impress men?”, he smiled to affirm.
I continued, “Seriously? I have quite a lot of crazy earrings and accessories and I wear them because I love dressing up. I have never thought of a guy while choosing my stuff. We dress to please ourselves and not guys.”
He stood there baffled and embarrassed.
Thin = Weak
“Oh yes! I learnt to ride a two wheeler when I was 13 years old. Soon after that I learnt to ride the bike.”
Arun choked on his Coke.
“Come on yaar!”
“Hey! Seriously! She used to ride a bike well before she came to the college. She was on the bike stunts team.”, I said proudly about my friend.
“What? She is so puny. The bike would have just crushed her if it fell on her.”
They all started laughing. I saw the glint in her eyes and I realized what she felt at that moment.
“Let’s go for bowling.”, I said changing the topic.
There have been many situations where we were able to overcome them, but in certain cases, it isn’t easy to change the ideas and perceptions that have been ground into people’s heads.