Have You Been Called ‘Aunty’ By A Young Something? Time To Take Offence, For These Reasons

Age is just a number, and branding a woman as an 'aunty' because of her marital status, presence of children, greying hair, looks, etc., is just not done.

Age is just a number, and branding a woman as an ‘aunty’ because of her marital status, presence of children, greying hair, looks, etc., is just not done.

It is rather irksome. Take my word for it. This trend has been doing the rounds quite some time now. It brings people’ s age factor into the picture into the tiniest of social interactions and conversations. Yes, I am talking about the ‘aunty” syndrome that grows rampant with every passing day.

As you enter your 30’s, add a few extra pounds to your girth, marry and raise a kid or two, you are bound to notice the boy-next-door hailing you as aunty implying that your are no longer young, even if in your heart of hearts you don’t feel a day older than 18.

If you begin to wear spectacles and a few silver strands appear in your hair then your ageing is further strengthened with more and more using the appellative.

It would tough to explain to such dumb witted morons that greying of hair and change in vision are merely physiological processes which can manifest at any age, and not necessarily post 30.

Personally, at age 35 I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knees. A decade and a half later my gait, a tad waddle-like, elicits remarks as diverse as buddhi amma, bechaari aunty, kaafi azed lagti hai etc etc.

Before I crossed the half century mark, I contracted cataract in both eyes which was subsequently rectified through surgery. The moment these so called ‘young things’ got wind of it, more snide comments followed. They thought I was lying about my age, because earlier on, only individuals aged 60 plus or near about underwent a cataract operation.

Becoming an ‘aunty’

So there you are. Surplus years being heaped on me for no rhyme or reason. I often suppress my urge to scream at the fatheads for harbouring warped information and shallow awareness. Wish I could drill it into their cerebrum that despite hurdles I am as energetic and buoyant as them, can endure physical strain as much as they can. I can pack my bags and go off on a tour at the shortest possible notice, while they may recoil at the idea.

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There is a massive confusion in the ‘aunty’ syndrome.

Firstly, there is no specific age bracket.

Secondly the not so elderly are bracketed as didi/sister.

Thirdly how does one differentiate between a didi and an aunty?

Mostly, a woman is judged by marital status, offspring, physical fitness, and overall appearance. A 65 old ‘spinster’ aunt of mine remains a didi while years ago at 30, when I gained weight following childbirth, I became an aunty forthwith! The tag has stuck on till now.

The advocates of the trend proffer this logic

We respect your age and seniority. But many of my peers have often noticed when youngsters address women as aunties, pity, scorn, and disgust become quite palpable. The targeted individuals instantly sense that it is more derogatory than affectionate or respectful.

How about using the polite address forms i.e Sir and Madam?

To this, the ‘aunty’ wallahs glibly reply, Angrezi is a phoren tongue, and they would prefer ethnic and desi instead. Ahaa! So “Uncle- Auntie” is Sanskrit? Gujarati? Malayalam perhaps? Such idiosyncrasies make your blood boil. Or may it doesn’t for that breed who believe in Sab Chalta Hai.

‘Uncle’ and ‘Aunty’ are not for acquaintances & strangers

Honestly, I cannot for dear life figure out why can’t people (irrespective of their age), be simply called by their names? It’s much more comfortable that way I, will wager you.

Some will smirk: That’s western culture. We are Indians. Well, when Indian lifestyle fashions are rapidly undergoing globalization (read Westernization) why should this aspect lag behind?

I gather from friends and members of extended family residing abroad that ‘uncle’ & ‘aunty’ denote familiarity, intimacy and close ties. Accosting a total stranger and going the aunty uncle way is an absolute no-no.

Dear God, if there is a God, why can’t generation X , Y and Z – who ape the West in more ways than one – get rid of this odious habit?

So what other alternatives are there?

Emulate the southern Indian practice of addressing females – from seven to seventy – as Amma. Trust me, the term exudes affection mingled with respect. Or else try the Bengali way. Teenagers, middle-aged and the old are all Didi. No aspersions on an individual’s age, hence not offensive. Fairly good options.

To the millennials and young things: instead of using an ageist term, learn and draw inspiration from our achievements, accomplishments adventure, knowledge and experience. Today, fret, flutter and gloat about your youth as much as you like. But remember, in a not so distant future you too shall pass through the twilight…

Image source: YouTube

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Am a trained and experienced features writer with 25 plus years of experience .My favourite subjects are women's issues, food travel, art,culture ,literature et all.Am a true feminist at heart. An iconoclast read more...

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