Crown The Brown: Bollywood, You Do NOT Represent Me!
Bollywood birthed some of my worst insecurities, so much for true Desi Representation! I spent most of my childhood watching every single Bollywood film that I could get my hands on. If I saw a 3 hour Hindi film on the shelf, it had to be MINE. I am sure many of us had our own Bollywood phases. We certainly became obsessed with certain heroes and heroines. But, were they really heroes?
What if we were just so obsessed with the infatuation and dance moves, that we completely forgot about the actual Bollywood performers. We believed that they were our heroes because they were a representation of us right? That’s what we were told, that’s what we believed… Until one morning when you are old enough to experience the harsh realities of life and realize that you look NOTHING like the person on the TV screen.
We spend half of our lives living up to the expectations of family members. Their knowledge pertaining to old school tradition and the Bollywood standard of beauty. We are told to stay out of the sun, to get rid of any body hair and act in such a decent manner. We are told that marriage is the biggest achievement. How dare you become well-educated yet unmarried!
WHAT A SHAME IT IS TO NOT BE MARRIED BEFORE 30!
Bollywood never made it easier. We were told to look after our physiques because men like slender, well-groomed, fair Indian girls. Oddly enough, I can probably count how many times I have actually seen that combination of a woman apart from the TV screen. It has honestly awakened many of my insecurities. I would starve myself to have the ideal body, get rid of all my visible body hair and try so hard to find ways to look fair. I never thought that I was beautiful, well not for an Indian girl. How would I ever feel beautiful when I am not even represented in the media in any way possible..
We are told that Indian cinema is for us. It is there to be able to represent the world of Desi people but what is it truly representing? All we see are fair-skinned, slender to the near extinct women that we all know never actually looked that way. Many of our actresses had trainers, surgery and even used products to be seen as good enough to grace the big screen. It is a sad reality that we end up admiring women who weren’t even happy with themselves to begin with.
I spent years thinking I wasn’t good enough just because I was bigger in size, darker and had weird features. I picked on every single feature because people that depicted me on screen did not have those problems. They were “PERFECT” to me. Until I saw their transformations even after we thought they were perfect on screen. Complexions changed, noses, faces, lips, waists and more!
We spend so many years fighting for diversity and representation in the Western World that we forgot to fight for representation in our own! We have a cinema filled with impossible standards of beauty. A cinema that believes that marriage and love triumphs education and equality. One filled with the idea that men are superior to women and a cinema in which gender roles are established and executed unfairly.
Bollywood, F#%$ your standards!
I wish I had the power to tell the younger me that I did not need to look like those women on screen. If only I told myself that playing outside in the sun is the greatest feeling and that melanin is POWER! The darker, the better! I wish that I told myself that having more Jalebi was not a punishment and that food is frikken amazing even when having a second helping!
It took me years to accept the person staring back at me and I am proud of that person. That person on the screen is not the only representation of beauty, the person staring right back at you in the mirror is your OWN representation of beauty.
So Bollywood, thank you for the killer playlists but I think I will be dancing them while staring at myself rather than a screen filled with your idea of what beauty is. I know what my idea of beauty is and it is most certainly not surgery, fairness creams or photo-shop! It is me!If you won’t truly represent people like myself, TRUST ME, I will represent my damn self!
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