Whether it is in matrimonials, drawing rooms or classrooms, fat girls are taught to hate themselves for the bodies they have. Pop culture reduces the representation of fat women to a comedic trope or a pitiful sexuality. If it is indeed about concern and health, then why do millions of women suffer from eating disorders and self-loathing because of it?
As women become more aware of our rights, it becomes harder for society to control our behaviour through the law and so it is done socially. It’s okay if you have boyfriends, it’s okay if you drink, it’s okay if you are divorced, it’s okay if you are ambitious but just don’t talk about it. The reason we can write about the “secret lives of women” is that we are actively discouraged from having open lives.
Arranged marriages still compromise over 90% of marriages in India, while this is often ascribed to women trusting their parents or just Indian culture, the truth is likely less rosy. Socio-political conservatism and the online dating meat-market often create an environment that is so hostile to and unsafe for dating, that arranged marriage still remains the safest and most reliable choice.
Women in India are often told that they don’t look married when they don’t wear bangles, vermillion or gold jewellery. This practise not only undermines the aesthetic agency of women but also limits the representation of marital symbolism to only Hindu culture. The married “look” encourages both conservatism and the objectification of women as showpieces on a mantle.