Thursday, September 18, 2014

Open letter to TOI: OMG, Deepika Padukone's cleavage

Dear TOI,

I am wondering why men and women are so furious with your story stating: ‘Omg, Deepika Padukone’s cleavage.” I am sure you are regretting that you didn’t talk about her legs instead: ‘Omg, Deepika Padukone's long legs.’ Everyone would have loved that. Some portals would have even got a cue and uploaded stories like: Ten things only women with long legs can understand. Or: How to date a woman with long legs.

You see, the problem was not with your remark: it was with the body part you chose.

For us, breasts are a personal topic, a secret best not spoken about. When our daughters start to ‘grow’ we teach them how to sit properly, talk politely, laugh softly, dance appropriately, walk gracefully, eat & cook healthy, work passionately, love endlessly and care boundlessly. We introduce them to their five senses, legs & hands and back & stomach. And knowingly and unknowingly we ‘fail’ to acknowledge their breasts. It is personal.

When we feel our teenager needs a bra, we just hand over one to her. Her world crashes down. No more bouncy. If her boobs are allowed to play freely, she can damage the world. Does she know that? Of course she doesn’t. Do we tell her, ofcourse not. It is personal.

Our little girl doesn’t even know that the word ‘boobs’ denotes flirtatiousness, that ‘breasts’ are restricted to brochures about ‘cancer’ that most people type ‘bust’ instead of ‘busy’ when in a hurry (T and Y are provocatively placed next to each other on the keypad) and that grown-ups giggle inwardly when she says ‘titbits’.

When she grows up and one day walks up to us and tells that a man tried to feel her breasts at a railway station, we ask her to ignore it. When an aunt urges her to bend down with caution, we ask her to follow the advice. When a salesman at a bra shop stares at her, we ask her to remember that he is just doing his job.   

I think it is ridiculous that you didn’t know this. Breasts are personal: we don’t flash details about them or the periphery in national dailies.

When she becomes a young adult, we watch her giggle looking at delicate lacelike lingerie. When she gets married (or dates, if we decide to acknowledge: when we learn about it) we watch her buy some stuff. When she becomes a mother, we watch her with pride as she feeds her child. When she dies of breast cancer, we watch her fight it.

I think it is ridiculous that you didn’t know this. Breasts are personal, we laugh at crude breast jokes in films (juicy apples, oranges). We don’t raise an alarm when we spot a rash on the left or the right one (we only wear pink ribbons). At times we even forget that men die because of breast cancer too: we think it is a ‘woman’ thing.   

How else do I explain this to you? You see, not only are our breasts personal but even our bras are. We don’t leave bras unattended in the washroom or on the bed, couch or cupboard: this is to avoid embarrassment or appear ‘suggestive’.

Weren’t you the paper that flashed stories on the Pink Chaddi Campaign? Come on, didn’t you think that why was there not an equally bigger Pink Bra Campaign?

It’s really personal.

It’s a body part that exists and we all know it does.

Look at Facebook and Twitter, people are proving just that:
Deepika Padukone: “I have a nose and nostrils.”
Others: Deepika, you have a spine too.

It’s just that we really can’t talk about it. Unless ofcourse it is the month of October. Wait, did you confuse September with October?

Okay, this is really exhausting and unnecessary. I am not sure if you are really getting the point: So let us for the sake of mankind and womankind pretend that while the men have chests (and breasts) and wear vests I’m roaming the streets sans boobs and ‘vest-less’. I have nothing to ‘hide’.

But just one more thing before I go and put my bra to dry on the clothes line (And yes, the women in my family told me to cover it with a towel: my balcony faces the neighbours): Was there no woman colleague on the desk that day? May be, she would have stopped you, warned you.

I am really feeling sorry for you. So here’s a little tip for your future pieces: Don’t talk about bras. And not even periods. But feel free to talk of bra straps and underpants (panties) I think we’ve been okay with that in the past.

Purva Grover

Image: here

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