Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why elitists like Deepika Padukone can never be a feminist icon?

To begin with, let me applaud Homi Adajania for this brave effort to portray the petrifying patriarchy existing in the Indian society. The message it carries is loud and clear. But why would I not buy it?

For an actress who was once the face of Garnier fairness cream, this is a message that confuses her fans and followers. She retorted to the same kind of publicity gimmick before her movie "Finding Fanny" when she had raised hell against the TOI newspaper for having published a picture of her cleavage. Elitist feminism as I call it. Who is even bothered to know what she feels about a woman's body and her choices? Her choices are solely based on the power of the moolah. Else why was it important for her to sue TOI for a provocative picture of hers during the time "Finding Fanny" was hitting the theatres, when a hundred times before that, she may have shown her skin, in the launch party of a movie or as a publicity stunt.
In her next "Happy New Year" she went about roving in the air, in skimpy clothes objectifying a woman's body. I was also terribly violated to hear the lyrics, which was out-rightly sexist.
Who can forget the garnier fairness cream advertisements? I've lost count of the number of times that her huge cut-outs of Garnier at the market have made me wanted to hide.
The movie would have packed a punch had a celebrity like Konkona Sen Sharma or Nandita Das endorsed it. I do not remember these women ever promoting fairness products or "size zero" to make money. I remember Konkona for being the petite Meenakshi Iyer in Mr. And Mrs. Iyer or for her realistic portrayal of an ambitious girl looking for freedom in "Life in a metro. I do not recall any advertisement of hers that might have endorsed fair skin, much like the Garnier advertisement.
Nandita Das is another kind of a woman. I will always thankfully remember her for launching the "Dark is beautiful" campaign, which got the racist Indians obsessed with Fair and Lovely, to think about inhuman and impossible standards of beauty that we shamelessly impose on women everyday, especially when in the "arranged marriage" market.

Celebrities trying to strike a gong for women's empowerment in a violently patriarchal society  like ours, is a brilliant start to a long road that lies ahead of us. But to hear it from someone like Deepika who for feminists like me is a money-minded elitist, who tries to cash in on every opportunity that she gets, this is like jumping on the feminism bandwagon to look cool and empowered. So that, the urban India can give a nod to every role she plays. 

Feminism for the starters is not elitist. How many of these celebrities launch real campaigns like the one by Vidya Balan, where in she is seen applauding a woman in a village for walking out of her natal home, because it didn't have a toilet?
Meanwhile in the west, Angelina Jolie is showing women the way, by being a real feminist icon. After a double mastectomy and removal of ovaries and fallopian tube, she is going about telling women like her who carry a BRCA1 gene, ways and means to prevent cancer.

Remember, campaigns like these are the need of the hour. While this video of Vogue will have many takers, all thanks to the misguided interpretation of feminism in India, I would like to urge Ms. Padukone and Bollywood celebrities like her to stop advertising "size zero", "fairness" and other impossible standards of beauty, before we get to believing in their preachy messages. 

I liked the video for these three messages
1) To marry or not to marry
2) To not have sex
3) To have your baby or not (His baby, really? Isn't it the woman's baby first, because he/she came out of her body?) Wrong message.

As she said, a man is a woman's choice, not his privilege and yes vice versa. Let these choices hold true for a man as well, as long as equality is practiced. 

Here is a link to the video, watch it if you want to. Your choice it is!

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