This article comes on the heels of a recent gaffe by the Times of India newspaper, India’s most read national newspaper. Visiting state guests are the Duke and Duchess of the British royal family. A few days ago, Times of India’s front page carried a photo of the Duchess’ skirt hiked up a notch, and called it ‘Kate’s Marilyn moment’, comparing it to a famously racy photo of the late Hollywood star, wherein her short white dress was hiked up her thighs. This sleazy picture earned the newspaper a lot of brickbats from readers. The picture was in bad taste and voyeuristic in nature. But for those of us who read the newspaper regularly will know this is not the first time this has happened. Neither is Times of India the only newspaper which uses women’s bodies to titillate readers and sell copies.
Last year, the same newspaper published a picture of Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, deliberately focusing on her cleavage in a suit which wasn’t that low cut. When she protested, the paper published pictures of her, in racy clothes, in her modeling days and accused her of exposing herself shamelessly.
There is no denying that women are objectified in the media.
Fashion magazines regularly airbrush pictures of models and actresses to erase moles, pimples, extra layers of fat and other such ‘discrepancies’, so they can be mistakenly represented as perfect. Racy photo-shoots are used, time and again, in which models reveal their cleavage, hips, midriff, legs etc. This is obviously done to grab more eyeballs, especially male.
Newspapers, tabloids, celeb magazines and the ‘fashion police’ judge women actors time and again for their weight and their clothes. All they seem to care about is which actress has lost or gained how much weight, who all have had breast implants or facelifts. This is a huge problem, especially when it comes to actors who’ve had babies and have a lot of pregnancy weight. The media, especially tabloids, scrutinize their weight like they’re their dieticians. If the actress loses weight quickly, she becomes the ‘yummy mummy’ and that’s breaking news. Women actors who aren’t the ideal ‘size zero’ Bollywood heroines are heavily criticized for, well, being ‘overweight’. Ayesha Takia and Katrina Kaif are perfect examples.
Every wardrobe malfunction of models and female actors is documented. The camera deliberately zooms in on the parts of the anatomy being revealed- those parts that must not be revealed. Even that becomes front page breaking news. A bra strap peeking out, sheer dress worn the wrong way, cleavage or the hem of a dress riding a bit too high on the thighs-every little detail is zoomed on upon and amplified for public appraisal.
Everything women wear becomes a talking point for the ‘fashion police’- these are present in every tabloid, newspaper, fashion magazine and TV news channels. They notice what every actress and socialite is wearing to award functions and charity dinners and movie promos and judge their sartorial choices. If the actor happens to displease the fashion cops, that female celebrity is chased and hounded till she becomes a control freak about every detail of her clothes and appearance and shoes when she steps out of home.