Thursday, June 01, 2006

Much ado about marriage

Any fool can say that a fairness cream ad is discriminatory and the fair skin vs dark skin gobbles up media space like a paid for advertisement. So does any kind of discrimination because it is a controversial word and most often has some story attached to it. I thought I had heard or known about all kinds of discrimination until I fell victim to the MWS or the Married Woman Syndrome.
MWS is when a person assumes that a married woman has no life on account of the marriage and willfully assumes that she will be unavailable for parties/get-togethers’ walks/ gym just to name a few. It is like being treated like a social outcast. A married woman who swallows up her dignity and asks why not me will be invariably greeted with pitying looks and ‘‘We thought you will be busy and would want to spend time with your husband’’ and whispers which you assume sounds like ‘‘ See, I told you, her marriage is in the rocks ’’ So that’s why when the husband has a night out guzzling beer with his buddies, the wife watches reruns of Friends. Single friends become merciless. They become your placards that say ‘‘ Sorry, she is married (underlined thrice) ’’. Every woman likes to get an appreciative glance or a compliment and that would be quashed by the talking placards. A colleague of mine introduced me to a particularly good looking DJ as ‘‘ Hi, I am so and so and Oh, she is married ’’. The DJ frosted like a popsicle and I spent the rest of the evening drawing circles with my mock tail straw, feeling like the third wheel of the bicycle. Being a victim of MWS means, you get a ‘Married’ tag with your name or worse you become married and soon they would even expect you to say, I am Married, applying for the post of Wonder why married rhymes with buried? Coincidence? Just when I thought I heard it all, my classmate from college calls me out of the blue and says ‘‘ Hi Aunty ’’. To my hysterical scream as to why ‘‘ Aunty ’’ when we are of same age, He quips,‘‘ But you are married ’’. Needless to say the conversation ended there.
Recently after a particularly good job interview, on retrospection I wondered why I didn’t mention that I was married. Was I scared that I would become a victim of MWS and watch my single counterpart walking away with the plum job only because of the assumption that she could put in longer hours? Single women are portrayed with independent ‘‘ she knows what she wants ’’ tags. There are even polls about what single women think, how they manage in this big bad world and how to them men are like extra baggage. Whereas any mention about married women and they talk about the ‘saas bahu’ serials. Married women get stuck with the stereotype that they have to don and drown in a sari with the cliched embellishments like gaudy black beaded chains and orange sindoors. When the single woman gets to make a point in the boardroom, the married woman gets to cry and sacrifice for the sake of her family. I wish somebody would tell the serial makers to stop propagating the MWS.
Maybe all married women should hold hands and start a METMA ( Married women for the Ethical Treatment of Married women Association) and stop watching the married women bashing serials or they could put on their discriminatory shoes and tell their single friends ‘‘ Yeah, I am smart enough to get a guy ’’. On the brighter side at least MWS is better than having a boyfriend with the MMS facility.
Where Are The Curls?
Long long ago when the grandfathers were young men and grandmothers were blushing girls and when there was no ‘Cosmopolitan’ to tell the latest fad, grandfathers and their mothers loved curly hair and grandmothers spent hours making their jet black hair twirl into coquettish curls. And when somebody said crowning glory, everybody assumed that it’s a long curly cascade. And those women who had straight hair looked at their curly counterparts and sighed. Long time ago. But today if somebody says crowning glory, it is assumed that it’s perfectly straight hair preferably in some asymmetrical cut with copper, blonde, plum or burgundy highlights. And curly haired women look at the straight haired ones and go to the nearest or the farthest expensive parlour where the stylist has diplomas and degrees like a medical practitioner and rebond their hair. What about those curly locks? Oh that’s so yesterday. Most of the shampoo ads show healthy soft lustrous hair as straight and when I notice a shampoo ad that by miracle features curly hair (mostly straight hair that is made to curl at the end), I want to open up a champagne. Nobody can deny that there is a wild obsession about straight hair and every other person is sporting the straightened look. A typical rebonding takes about four to five hours to do. And it’s not exactly fun having the hair pulled at regularly in chemical concoctions all in the name of perceived beauty. Yet even the actors like Sunil Shetty and John Abraham and cricketer Dhoni is also sporting the chemically ironed straw mane. Men are not shy of the hot iron anymore. The other day a friend of mine was complaining about her boyfriend. Her grouse was why couldn’t he accept her the way she was and not conform to his way of thinking. As she said this I couldn’t help staring at her straightened abused burnt hair conformed to the coercive fashion statements. Recently I saw a makeover tip in a reputed magazine that proposed Arundhiti Roy should straighten her hair and get a razor cut. I wanted to protest, do a Medha Patkar but the love of food got better of me. When people are talking about movie, models and fashion, I tell them Sheetal Mallar, Juhi Chawla and Tanaaz Currim have curly hair And then without batting an eyelid, they ask me ‘‘Ever heard of Aishwarya, Kareena, Kajol and blah blah?’’ One of the trickiest questions is, ‘‘Which shampoo do you use?’’ Refrain from answering this. It can make and mar you. A wrong answer would make you look like the poor country cousin. The right answer would be ‘‘Frizz free hydrating, intense repair, colour stay shampoo with any unprouncable name.’’ Another snob value question is ‘‘How much did you pay for your rebonding /straightening?’’ The true and right answer. A bomb. Is it a coincidence that there is a bombardment of the straight haired beauty in the media? I guess these are questions that will remain unanswered. May be the government should take steps and see that there is reservation for curly haired people in all Central institutions or give free education to the curly haired child. On second thoughts they wouldn’t really need it after all the theory of relativity did not come from a straight haired head.