I’ve been a woman for 28 years and I’ve heard my share of stereotypes. ‘She so fat, bet she is a glutton,’ ‘She’s married for four years and still doesn’t have a baby. Bet she has a problem,’ ‘She is coming home post 10 every night. Bet she doesn’t have a respectable job.’ Been there done that. What irks me is not the stereotyping, rather the fact that almost all of it comes from women themselves. We might be all about the girl code when it comes to people we love, but we can also be a woman’s nightmare when it comes to being judgmental. And the worst part? Criticism coming from a woman can really get us down. A mother-in-law complaining that we can’t cook can at times move us to tears (of frustration), a coworker pointing out that our LBD is too short can make us conscious the whole day long.
Well, it really has gone on long enough. It’s time we stop judging and also stop apologising.
If you identify yourself as a woman of the 20th century then it’s about time you let go of the gender stereotypes and be whoever you want to be. Because that’s the whole point of being a woman; giving other women the right to make their own choices and doing the same for yourself, without judging or apologising. In fact, here is a list of things you should stop judging and stop apologising for, right NOW.
Domestic chores: You could be that woman who comes home from work, cooks dinner for her family, cleans the house, spends times with her child and then goes to bed, early. That’s fantastic for you. But if you are the woman who comes home from work, orders in, and then spends the remaining time watching TV or reading a book, that’s okay too. For a person who works hard all day long, it is up to you to decide how you want to spend the time off from work. Don’t let anyone shame you into swinging either way.
At home or at work: Our friends and relatives are made up of two types of people: those who will criticise you for not sitting at home and being overly ambitious, and the others who will criticise you for sitting at home and not working a ‘real’ job. And you know what, you need to ignore both of them and do what suits you best. Opting to work or be an at-home woman is all about your preferences not societal expectations.
Guilty mom or guilty at-home mom: There is no middle ground here. Either some people will judge you or some people will judge you. The truth is that there are no wrong choices here. My cousin opted to work from home and inconvenience some people in the process to care of her child, while my sister-in-law opted to do the opposite and took a work sabbatical in spite of a lot of people telling her that it’s almost like ‘giving up’. I applaud both of them and I wouldn’t be able to choose if you ask me who made a better choice. So no matter what you choose, make sure you stick to your decision and not say sorry for it. And if you know someone who has made a choice like this, don’t judge them either.
Change your name: This might not sound all that important in this list but trust me I’ve heard so many friends shame people who opt to change their surname and take on their husband’s surname post marriage. Why is it such a great thing to not change your name? I for one have both my maiden and married name on Facebook but when it comes to my official documents, I have taken my husband’s name. Why? Because it’s just easy. Taking my husband’s name doesn’t make me a pushover and not taking it doesn’t make me some sort of horrifying feminist either. Both ways it’s okay!
Body: Oh boy, this has plagued our lives and how! Too thin, judge her. Too fat, judge her. Perfect body, judge her some more. Given that we are living in the age of #BeingBossy and asserting our rights, stop apologising for the way you look. As long as you are happy and comfortable and healthy, the world can go take a walk. Don’t say sorry to other women for being yourself.
To be or not to be, married: One of the biggest downsides of growing up in an Indian household is the importance we give to marriage. The moment you turn 23, you are marriage material. And it’s not only about getting married. You are also expected to churn out kids from the next day itself. If you fit in this mould and got married right after college and had kids, it’s okay. Don’t let people shame you and call you everything from ‘no goal in life’ to ‘baby machine.’ Having a child and being in a happy marriage is one of the joys of life, so enjoy the feeling! But if you aren’t in that space, you are single at 30 or childless after four years of marriage, enjoy that too. Because there is no right or wrong here either. Do what you want and don’t get pushed into getting married or having a baby, unless it’s your own choice.
About the author Ainee Nizami, Team iDiva
Ainee is a true blue feminist who loves to write about fashion and people. A self confessed bookaholic her other passions include visiting beaches, watching no-brainer Bollywood comedies, shopping and drinking endless cups of tea. She also has a not-so-healthy passion for reality TV shows (Read Bigg Boss). Her dearest ambition includes owing her own tea shop cum bookstore haunt somewhere near the beach, without a phone to distract her, and getting a letter from Hogwarts.