Shruti is a freelance journalist and poet, who writes about the intersection between gender, politics and art.
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Growing up, I had short hair or what was called ‘boy cut’ back then. I used to love wearing shirts and pants, instead of the frocks my relatives would gift me each birthday. On TV, I’d watch Sachin Tendulkar hitting sixes rather than play with dolls. Hence, I was termed a “tomboy”.
For a lot of us, gendered appearances, behaviours, and norms were defined at a young age. While shopping, for instance, there would be two sections in each toy shop: one for boys and one for girls. The former would have plastic guns, bats, balls and action figures. For girls, there’d be dolls, glittery miniature accessories and of course, kitchen sets. All of them wrapped up in shiny pink paper.
Continue reading “The rise of gender-neutral parenting in India”
I pen down everything and anything that gives me a little bit of hope and inspiration.
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Growing up, I would dread a visit to the beauty salon, but my mother simply enjoyed it. She would blow up a fortune on each visit, because somehow her skin was never soft enough, her hands too rough, her hair lacked lustre and shine, and her eyebrows unshaped. I didn’t understand it, the 9-year-old me thought that she was so pretty. But the parlor aunty differed. Every time my mom went, the salon aestheticians would pass a battalion of deprecating judgements along with ‘valuable’ beauty advices to make her ‘beautiful’. As a result– dozens of herbal and cosmetic products would end up at my mother’s old wooden dressing. I figured my mom had rather grown used to this unsolicited criticism. It was difficult for a young girl to understand why her mother kept on visiting a place where people said her skin was dull, and her feet too cracked.
However, in an interesting but sad turn of events, I grew up to be this very woman that my mother was; I started visiting beauty salons to become beautiful. Slowly, the casual remarks laced with criticisms by the aunties started appearing normal to me. As a teenager, I would often partake in the jokes that would go around about the parlor aunties as me and my friends told each other of our most recent ordeals at the salon. Before we knew it, looking down upon someone with unkempt hair, bushy eyebrows, body hair, and open pores slowly transgressed from the walls of the parlours to our minds. We normalized this behaviour and in return became a passive contributor to the toxic cycle. Continue reading “How Indian parlor aunties contribute to insecurities in young women everyday”