Recently in a wedding reception, I met a famous actress/model. My sister’s mother-in-law and her mother are childhood friends. We too were well-acquainted with each other. Her woman commando followed her conspicuously. As a young girl she used address me as uncle and often I cut jokes with her and I used to chide her as ‘Miss World’. She is so pretty and charming. She didn’t get the title of ‘Miss World’ but she is world-famous now. Since the status gap was too much and as she was a big celebrity now, I tried to avoid her. She was also surrounded by a number of her admirers. But from the distance she must have noticed me. I saw her coming straight to me and with the same mischievous smile, she said, “Uncle, Namastey, don’t you recognize me?”
“No”, I said, “You are wearing a sari today with a full sleeve blouse and a shawl on the top of it…….I have never seen you wearing clothes for the last several years that I have seen you in newspapers, magazines and wall calendars.”
“Uncle, you are always so funny…you have that sense of humor even now!”
“What’s wrong with you my child? Move this side. I wish to talk to you something in confidence. Your dress amazes me. Those semi-naked calendars, your cat-walk in bikini dress, oh my God! How your parents allow you such liberty? I know them as a very conservative family and tradition-bound.”
“Uncle, initially they did oppose. But with changing times, they too have changed. But uncle, it’s all about the profession. Even now, we are traditional.”
Her candid explanation impressed me. Yet I was discussing a serious national issue concerning women empowerment. I said, “What ails the present generation of young girls? Their dress sense is ridiculous.”
I noticed that my observation was not to her liking and yet she was composed. She said, “What to do uncle? We are professionals. We need to go by the advice of our dress designer. As for the outfit, in the next competition he says I have to reduce the quantum of my outfit by 20 centimeters.”
“He has information that my immediate competitor has reduced it by 10 centimeters.”
“What is your dress requirement now?”
“One meter and 30 centimeters, all things included.”
“With this reduction-spree what will be left after 3 or 4 competitions? Are we in for a naked culture, wherein the participants will walk on the ramp naked waving a colorful handkerchief”?
She blushed. My forthright condemnation of the dress culture must have amazed her. I too realized I should have not been that rude to the girl whom I knew since childhood. But I could not hold on—my love for her and her family was the cause of the anguish. But this girl was not willing to accept defeat as for the dress, and expressed her stand firmly and politely.
“I think uncle, we girls have the right to dress the way we want.”
“I agree,” I said, “you mean girls and women have the right to dress; not the right to undress!”
….she left at the call of some her friends, not before smiling mischievously and greeting with all the courtesy by saying “Namastey uncle!”
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What worries and amazes me is the sad pass this women empowerment movement has reached. Recently in a meeting of the senior journalists and bureau chiefs, I happened to interact with the top executive of a well-known English newspaper. She was a woman. That paper publishes (even now) daily, 4-5 pictures of scantily clad models/film actresses, who reveal their assets without any hesitation. “I can’t help it; the readers want it. Moreover I have to compete with other newspapers. To increase the circulation of my newspaper and reduce theirs is my business goal. The readers desire sensation!”
If this is the objectives of the Fourth Estate, the so-called defenders of human freedom and all such noble ideals, what more can I say? Wither women empowerment is heading for?