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When Manju Warrier came in a white shirt and short black skirt for the Chathurmukham press meet, at least one man wrote a viral post about how it was about men’s schoolgirl fetishes. Should we care?
I saw a viral post (by a man) and several supporting comments criticizing actress Manju Warrier for coming for a press meet wearing a white shirt tucked into a knee length black skirt and white sneakers.
The criticism basically was that she dressed as a teenage school girl and should dress and look her age, which is now 42.
Who the F decided how women should look and dress at specific ages?
I am now 43 years old, one year older than her. When I think back to how my mother looked when she was 43 (I was then about 17 years old), I can see she never looked like how I look now. She always had a graceful, mature, serious, ‘mother’ look to her.
She would only wear sarees and salwar kameezes outside and nighties in the house. Even now.
Me? I have worn sarees only on a handful of occasions in my life, only for functions. I have worn a nightie only for a few days after my delivery.
Rest of the time, at home, I am in shorts or three-fourths/tracks with a camisole or t-shirt. When I go out, I only wear jeans and tops, and very rarely leggings with kurtas. I have dresses and skirts too.
When I was 25, I dreaded turning 30 in 5 years. I thought at 30, I would look and feel officially ‘old’.
Then I turned 30 and didn’t feel any different in my head. So I thought I would feel and look officially ‘old’ when I turned 40.
Then I turned 40 and still didn’t feel ‘old’.
Ironically, I started liking the way I looked at 40 even more than when I was 20. Even though I was much slimmer in my 20s, I was always insecure and self conscious about my body shape back then because I was never “slim” the way they showed in movies and advertisements.
But at 40, I finally started accepting my body shape for what it was, and actually loving myself fully, even my nose, which was previously the bane of my existence!
I also came out of my marriage when I was 37, got a divorce when I was 42, and that contributed, ironically, to my self confidence even more!
Why? Because I didn’t have listen to stupid comments about how I should lose weight. I didn’t have to hear how good I would look if only my tummy was a little flatter or my hips were a little narrower. I didn’t have to feel self conscious and guilty about wolfing down an entire slice of black forest cake.
I never felt liked just as I was in my marriage, either by my husband or by my in laws, even though it was an arranged marriage.
I didn’t leave because of that though. There were so many other reasons.
But after I left, I found that the voices in my head started reducing from many people to just one. Me.
I never lost the weight by more than 5 kg. But I started enjoying eating whatever I wanted without any guilt. I started going for yoga classes. I started buying and wearing clothes that I really liked, not what my mother would like or what my father would approve of.
I noticed that people, especially younger men, would admire and compliment me, even ask me out, and frankly I liked it, but would also be so surprised!
Then I just stopped even being surprised. It didn’t matter anymore what people, even men, thought about me, what even my family thought about me.
It didn’t matter what my weight was. I put down people who commented on it. I even stopped asking people close to me how I looked.
I was happy when I got toned after months of yoga, but even that was a pleasant side effect.
Now, at 43, and soon to be 44 next month, I have far more confidence in how I look. I have more clarity in what I want to wear.
You know what the biggest irony is? I take care of my skin, hair, and body much more now, in an enjoyable way, since I don’t care what people say about me than when I used to care.
Earlier, I would mindlessly eat all kinds of sweet, cheesy, fatty foods to feel better when I felt low. Now that I feel better about myself, I don’t even have those cravings except when I am PMSing!
So when I look at Manju Warrier, I see a woman who, beyond her talent and beauty and wealth, is just like me. A woman in her 40s, divorced, creating her own identity, wealth, and name in a deeply F-ed up patriarchal world.
Wearing what she likes, revelling in her freedom, shining with confidence, and happy with the relief of having escaped from the patriarchal system of a less than happy marriage, for whatever reasons, that so many women don’t have the courage or privilege to escape from.
Such a woman is always a threat to the custodians of patriarchy.
Such men are afraid she will inspire other women to follow suit…what a frightening world it is where women just do what they want and no longer care for their approval, isn’t it? They aren’t prepared for that.
So they spin a yarn about how such women are a danger to society and are damaging its moral and social fabric.
Yes, you bet we will damage the fabric woven by the patriarchy and weave a brave new world.
One yarn, one woman at a time.
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Karishma has been writing short stories since she was 8 and poetry since she was
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