“A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
One of the most courageous things a person can do is identify who he or she is and follow that path. If there is one person who has proven this for me it’s my mother in law. She was born in a time where women were restricted to home, behind closed doors and mostly in the kitchen.
She never got education of any kind, belonged to a family of limited means but she never let any of that come in her way ever. From an early age, she liked to paint. When she did not have the means to buy colors and paints, she would use anything that was available, including leaves, walls or floors. She painted landscapes, people and objects. She used watercolor or crayons. Nobody knew from where the inspiration was coming, when she dreaming of all those things, where she came to know of all that she painted, but she just went on and on. When I met her, she was forty five and by then she had painted almost two hundred pieces that she kept neatly in her cupboard.
One day, around six months after my marriage, I asked her about her story. She told me that while she was growing up, there were strong biases about women. I asked her if she was talking about the painting, and she said no. I looked at her very surprised.
She told me it was about looks.
A dark woman cannot get a good husband. A woman with short hair is loose. A woman who wants to wear western clothes is too fast.
She said that though it was the 1950s she always wondered why this prejudices existed. Why women could not be seen as things beyond their appearance. Why they had to constantly worry about what they were externally. Women don’t just have to worry about looking presentable, but also have to worry about how they will be perceived. Every outfit carries a subtle message for people who pass judgments, and women are forced to adhere to the image that their appearance creates.
Hearing my mother in law say all of this had a very deep effect on me. I realized that subconsciously I had made my own set of biases about her. The fact that she was middle aged must mean that she was orthodox, the fact that she wore saris must mean that she was backward and the fact that she was a housewife must mean that she was not very intelligent.
That day when I looked at her telling me that beautiful story I realized that that change begins with oneself, biases need to stop with you first and of course more than anything else, appearance is absolutely no parameter to judge anyone. What made her inspiring for me was her flame of inspiration that ignited many hearts in the family, not just women but also men. Since that day not only I encouraged my mother in law to show her paintings to more people, but took it upon myself to educate the young and old boys in my family about the importance of judging a woman by the depth of her personality and not just her looks, by her potential and not just how presentable she is.
You will be surprised by how rampant such stereotypes are. Take a look at these shocking statistics...
It will be great if you can spread this important message around you, whether you are a man or a woman. Do share any stories you have, stories of being stereotyped into the light by blogging for the #IAmCapable activity at BlogAdda. Let’s remove this disparity from the world around us, stop women from facing judgments based on stereotypes related to their appearance and reach their full potential.
“The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.” – Susan B. Anthony
I’m breaking stereotypes based on appearance by sharing my experience for the #IAmCapable activity at BlogAdda in association with Nihar Naturals.