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We all have set ideas about how people should look and behave. Here’s a note about why this author does not look foreign-returned and how it empowers her.
I am writing this, somewhere around the same time as the video for Vogue empower series, featuring Deepika Padukone, is finding its share of critics and admirers; more critics than admirers at least from the reactions I have witnessed in the cyberworld. As for me, except for some questionable ideas, I don’t in particularly think the video is as ‘silly’ and ‘fake’ as lot of men and women have found it to be, and I definitely don’t have a problem with Deepika Padukone being its face.
After all, we live in a country where Amitabh Bachchan had been the good-old ambassador for polio eradication, and Vidya Balan in a multitude of well-meaning get-ups has been preaching the importance of having a ‘shouchalaya‘ inside one’s house. All forms of empowerment, in their own ways, make use of popular and well-regarded celebrities. Why then should Ms Padukone be targeted for doing her own ‘bit’? But, this piece is not about the video or Ms Padukone. This is not about feminism, or an attempt to say that women are inherently superior creatures than men. None of that. This is only about that one aspect of the word that makes up the title of the video, the word ‘choice’, and the other big word ’empower’.
I did not feel the need to become a different person just because I happened to live in a different geography for a while.
The ones that are more disturbing are the ones where people give me a “Oh-darling-I-can-see-that-you-are-lying-I-mean-look-at-you-haa-haa-who-are-you-kidding-stayed-in-US-it-seems” look.
Clearly people, I’d like to think I am empowered enough to make my kind of choices.
Writer and technologist currently based out of Bangalore
Very qwll written 🙂
Wow! You have nailed our Indian mentality. Seriously!!! I too have faced the same questions. We tend to imitate others rather than knowing one self. When other nationals do not have any problem in accepting us the way we are, it’s our people who have problems in accepting us. It’s a good write up Prashila!
Woow..u hv written about something am dealing with…i did my schooling abroad and after marriage and kids stayed in Swiss but as u said ….i have a behanji look still and not even interested in makeup at all..people do ask me whether I really stays abroad …may b because was merely brought up like tat and I do like our indian styles and culture so am comfortable in indian wear .but am happy .
Heheheheh this wasn’t the problem I faced. Sadly When I returned from abroad, suddenly all the men I know felt I am “westernised” and would not have anymore problems with sleeping around. Even the ones I thought were decent !
Very well written …on a practical note people in our nation do expect such things…I guess one should owe to the country…its quite hilarious when people expect someone who visit abroad for a certain period of time to be ‘westernised’.
Absolutely resonates . It is not even foreign return, there is a stereotyping everywhere and certain expectation of how u should be
Just to add to the supportive voices, Prashila – I have lived in England now for forty years or more, and for twenty five of those been married to an Englishman. I still don’t look ‘foreign returned’ – I still wear salwar and kurta when I go home to Kolkata, or a Sari. People still say that I look like a style-less villager – (no, not originally from any village). Has it mattered? Yes and no. Yes because whatever we say to ourselves, it is hurtful to hear criticism.
No, because after they have made their judgments they go home, and I stay with my little family, and it all goes back to normal. Your strength lies in what you decide is your normal – what is important to you, how you dress, what you spend your time doing, how you react to situations, what work you choose to do, how you bring up your family – it all defines that ‘normal’. You are creating your own ‘normal’ – good for you !
How are we supposed to change the world? One person at a time. If as a result of your actions one person admires what you do, and how you live, and changes one thing in their lives to reflect what they have learned from you, then consider yourself successful. One or two of my relatives say the opposite ‘look at her, just like she used to be, and married to an English boy’ ! As if that is remarkable in itself 🙂
As many young women take up your position, feel empowered and ACT as if they are, other women will start to value their girl children in India, as people who are worth knowing as individuals…. it will take time, but the tide is turning. Stay yourself, and keep writing. And keep smiling – anger does not change hearts, but a smiling acceptance of life can be infectious.
Kudos to u ! 🙂
Hi, love ur writing! I’m an indonesian married to an Indian and I would say that this kind of mentality is not only for Indians…. but Asians in general. Its sad to see that we Asians thought that foreign countries are much better than ours. Having a british or American accent is better, having a ‘westernize’ clothing looks more ‘stylish’ than our own traditional dresses, etc.. etc…
Its not easy to stand up against the social mindsets but to know that other women have the same way of thinking is surely relieving 🙂
I have read so many articles on feminism, empowerment but at the end of the day this is what I believe in ,from deep inside. True empowerment is silent n complacent. Which I strive to practice. U do what u want to , n be fine with it becoz u know ur reasons n not worry abt opinions . This article though well worded , is a lot of noise n more seeking out validation that comes from insecurity abt oneself. Why sport ” US Return ” to begin with. Change is part of life and u accept it on your terms based on what’s at stake. Countries don’t do it.
So true….i have heard comments like…oh you wearing a dress…I thought you will were this and that…
When in India they expect heels, short hair, long nails to be forin, and in LA I am afraid to wear kurta pyjamas for being mistaken for a Moslem in my white neighbourhood. I just stick to my grey undyed hair, authentic kumkum and lovely desi sarees. It’s easy for me as I am a senior citizen and comfortable in my skin.
I feel its the color issue again. May be you aren’t distempered enough to look western. The fault in us is we barely see that being modern and being western are two very different things. Unfortunately we see all as one and the same. Sad! But hey then you write this article and I feel there are people who think like me. I’ll dress as I wish . be it shorts or sari
Thank you for being the new face of feminism. Being bold doesn’t always mean to retrace the west. We can strengthen our roots and still feel empowered.
You nailed it Prashila !
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