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Incessant trolling on Instagram forced Abhishek Bachchan to remove an unedited no filter picture of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Isn’t it time we stopped having such an ageist mindset?
All my life, I faced sexism and racism and then, when I hit 40, ageism – Rita Moreno
Abhishek Bachchan had posted a no filter photo of his wife, Aishwarya Rai on her 46th birthday. But the vicious trolling that followed highlights the need to tackle the ageist mindset (discriminating and typecasting based on age) in our society.
We treat getting older as some kind of a plague which is why people try and do everything possible to avoid it. So it’s no surprise that we expect others to do the same. And that expectation peaks when it comes to women- be it celebrities or even regular women.
Anyone who wants to embrace the natural ageing process (that every living being goes through) will have to go through a never-ending process of being ridiculed for doing so.
And this is exactly what Aishwarya Rai and other celebrities like her go through every day. There will always be some smart-ass who would want you to apply more cream, colour your hair, remove wrinkles or lose weight even when you are perfectly happy with your appearance.
The problem is compounded, however, when it comes to women in general, and celebrities in particular. This is because we have a stereotypical image of women in our minds (think, fair and lovely). To deviate from that image is nothing short of blasphemous.
A lot of these trolls expect women to be dolled-up (at all times) to be eye-candy. And if they fail to match our so-called beauty standards due to any reason, (right from getting older to not giving a flying flamingo about what others think,) the troll army is always ready to teach them a lesson.
It’s hard not to empathise with Aishwarya when you see her being so viciously attacked on her birthday. And it’s equally hard to not be affected by the insensitivity that some people display online just to satisfy their egos.
She was made fun of for an unedited photo where the lines on her neck and birthmark on her arm were visible. I am not sure if Abhishek had to delete the photo because of the trolling.
But if he did, I don’t blame him at all. Put yourself in his shoes and try and feel the pain that he must have gone through seeing random people trolling his wife for being herself.
The fact is that these trolls are not alone in dehumanising women. The Indian film industry, (that both Abhishek and Aishwarya are a part of) has been infamous for promoting, endorsing and making money off of misogyny. And they do display their double standards by happily allowing men in their 50s to play the role of college kids. And at the same time, not being half as ‘generous’ when it comes to female actors who cross their 30s.
And then there are these so-called comedy shows where film personalities promote their new movies. It’s not just that they are unfunny but the manner in which they body shame women and shamelessly display their ageist tendencies is nauseating.
Both Abhishek and Aishwarya have frequented these places. And though they don’t always laugh at the crass jokes, just be attending these places, they are endorsing the shows. They are endorsing these shows that primarily earn their laughs and TRPs by spreading false propaganda and insulting women on a regular basis.
It’s time for celebrities to boycott such shows. Otherwise, they are sending an open invitation to their fans to humiliate and ostracise them when they grow old.
Finally, the cosmetic industry also is to be blamed for promoting a very narrow-minded mentality when it comes to women. The only USP here is to make women feel bad about their skin colour, hair, wrinkles, and basically their body. This just sends the message that only women with the so-called ‘ideal features’ can be considered worthy of being sought by men. And that the only way to seem attractive is to use these products regularly. A number of our film and TV personalities are brand ambassadors for these products which is equally abhorrent.
It’s high time we promoted the message that all humans go through the process of ageing in their own way. The process may differ for every person, and it may be outwardly similar. We need to understand that our bodies react in different ways as we grow older. And that there is nothing shameful about it. All we need to do is focus on embracing our true self regardless of where we are in the cycle of life.
Picture credits: YouTube
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Writing is my therapy. It helps me make sense of all that is going around
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