An Open Letter to Sushmita Sen: ‘Auntie’ Is Just Another Word

"Auntie" is not a shameful word, Ms. Sushmita Sen. Please learn to embrace it. 

‘Auntie’ is not a shameful word, Ms. Sushmita Sen. Why do we fear this word so much? 

Dear Sushmita,

I know you love to be called as Sush. But today I call you Ms Sen. From 1994, the year of your crowing as Miss Universe to this current date, I adored you for every good reason. You never ever gave me any chance not to follow you and your thoughts.

I was around 18, in 1996-97, when I saw you in an interview with Farooq Shaikh Saab in a show, Jeena Issi Ka Naam‘. I heard your story and I started liking you from that very moment. From that very day, I accepted one of your life mantras as my life’s mantra, ”Be answerable to yourself only. If at the end of the day you are able to answer yourself and your answer leads you to sound sleep that is what matters most, nothing else.”

In the later years, I applauded you when you adopted your daughters. You are gorgeous, pretty, independent, jovial, kind-hearted, as well as a philanthropist. You are raising two strong and beautiful young ladies, Renee and Alisah. You give all the single mothers and young ladies, motherhood goals. You have shown us that it’s not necessary to be a biological mother to embrace motherhood. You are giving all the women living out there reasons to live on their own.

I have been following you on social media. Today, I feel sorry for myself as I’d forgotten that no one in this world is perfect. You too are not an exception! You must be thinking why I’m saying this. What is it that disappointed me?

So, this is about the latest video you posted on social media from a Republic Day Celebration. Your words in the said video really disappointed me.

No doubt, that day too you were looking gorgeous, as usual. But things went wrong when the anchor and organizer of the event introduced you to the little kids. She introduced you as ”Sushmita auntie”; You immediately interrupted her and asked the kids, “Main auntie dikhti hun?” ( Do I look like an auntie?) “Main kaun? SUSH aur yeh hain Rouble auntie.” (I am SUSH, and she is Rouble auntie.)

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‘Sush’ is the name given by your fan and admirers to you and I know it’s close to your heart. But …Ms Sen!

There are already several kinds of shaming prevailing in our society for women and this ”auntie’ shaming is also one of them. Surely, you are aware of the fact that several women follow you, whether for fashion, fitness or for your thoughts. And if you give such statements, then what kind of impression will this leave on others?

The kids you met in the school were almost Alisah’s age, some might be of Renee’s age. What would be so wrong if they had called you ”auntie’? Hey, not to forget, Alisah was also present at that time. Think what she will learn from this? That if a woman does not look glamorous, then call her ‘auntie’. Really? And also, how come the word which you find objectionable to describe yourself is justified for describing a lady standing next to you and looking as beautiful as you?

I am sure you have the knowledge about the literal meaning of this word ‘Aunt/Auntie’.

Yes, it says,

The sister of someone’s father or mother, or the wife of someone’s uncle or aunt.

So, it is clearly a word that shows the relational connection between people. Which makes me wonder why the words ‘Uncle’ and ‘Aunt’ are so offensive to some people.

Your statement gave me an impression that women who are not as fit and beautiful as you but still younger than you can still be called ‘auntie’, you’re fine with that. This means that if you are calling any of your loved ones ‘auntie’ then it is not because you have a relationship with them, but because they might look like ‘aunties’. Ah! So pathetic!

I am confused by why this word ‘auntie’ has become a term of shame for women. They don’t like to be called ‘auntie’ even by the people younger than them. Why? Because somewhere it has a stigma attached to it. Women feel like if someone is calling them ‘auntie’ then it means she/he is teasing her or it means she looks like an old person.

I remember after my marriage I met a 3-year old kid who called me ‘auntie‘ for the first time at the first glance. I felt embarrassed. But then after a few seconds I became used to it as that kid was almost 22 years younger than me. Later, I met ladies who are elder than me by almost a decade and have teenage kids. But then I had a feeling that I could not call those ladies ‘auntie’; however, I had accepted the word ‘auntie’ as a symbol of love and respect from their kids, as they might be thinking of me as their ‘Maasi’ or ‘Bua’.

I remember an incident, where I was wearing Chura, Mangalsutra and Sindoor; a man who looked like almost my age referred to me as auntie’. Men generally call women as ‘auntie’ just to tease them. They have the sense that if they call us ‘auntie’, we women feel offended about this. But I kept myself calm and did not give him even a look, as his words held no meaning for me.

Over the years, I continued with this attitude. I never felt offended when anyone called me auntie. In fact, I felt respected as they are considering me as their own biological aunt. At present too, I am a mother of a teenager and when his friends call me ‘auntie’ I no more feel like I’m being teased. This word now gives me a sense of respect, which is nowhere related to my age or physique.

I accept this word wholeheartedly because for me it’s just a word.

The irony is, we women too use this word ‘auntie’ as a teasing weapon. The word has two meanings: one is used for those who have narrow-minded thinking and the other is for women who look old. This word has lost its literal connection.

You might blame my wits or my sense of understanding but then, so shall I. It is not about wits. It’s not a funny thing at all. Hey, by the way, I’m only 2 years younger than you as you have completed 42 and I, 39. So not a big difference in terms of the number but in terms of looks, certainly yes. And for this again you might call me auntie, as per your perspective. No worries, because I believe that age is just a number and though you might look younger than me, no one can hide the truth. Remember, even an old tree provides shelter and shadow.

You are a shayar…so am I.

So, I’d like to conclude with this phrase:

“mana ki jawa drakhtoin par hi phool aate hain

mana ki jawa phoolon ko hi log chumte hain

rakh kar dekho kabhi uss shokhe gulaab ko

saalon baad bhi usse yaadon ke pal bikhar jate hain”

Image Source:, Twitter

First published here.

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Nirali k dil se

Myself Pooja aka Nirali. 'Nirali' who is inclusion of all good(s) n bad(s). Not a writer, just trying to be outspoken. While playing the roles of a daughter, a wife, a mother, a read more...

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