Felt like writing this after reading Purba Ray's post here - "A dark cloud over Nina Davuluri's win"
Nina Davuluri is a house hold name now. More than her Miss America 2014 title it's the twitter which made her victory more special. She is the first Indian to be crowned Miss America. Nina tasted the victory just after September 11th which in the history of America , is a sad day. To that matter it is a sad day for all of us. Few ignorant folks imagined that she is an Arab , a terrorist or a member of Al-Qaeeda and got offended by her victory in the beauty pageant . The hate tweets followed like below.
How ever Nina didn't flinch. She says that she’s grown up with so many stereotypes about her culture that she just knew that it was something that she needed to advocate for. Even if she was slammed by tweeple it didn't effect her much. Few nincompoops can't take her title away. She sure made us all proud but the fact which I felt funny is few Indians raising their voices against the ignorant Americans. The same Indians who always stereotype others by what they wear , what they eat or how they look. We get united when we have to fight the foreigners but in our own country we have many stereotypical images strongly imprinted in our brains.
Every one who hails from North East is a chinki. If you are from Saawth you have to be dusky / black with a flat nose coz Dravidians were believed to be short , stout , dark with flat nose where as Aryans who are descendants of the Northies are supposed to be tall , fair and beautiful. I myself have faced this question in college , office , in the neighborhood and every where. Are you a Punjabi? Are you from North ? The only reason is I am fair/ white. When I say that I am from Andhra Pradesh people stare at me due to two reasons. One is my complexion and the other is my fluent Telugu. I am a Muslim and it is a norm to not understand Telugu and speak a broken language as per few ignorant souls who surround me! I am "used to" these kind of questions. If you are from Saawth you are a Madrasi. If you are from North you are mostly a Punjabi. It doesn't matter if you are from Mumbai , Bhubhaneswar or Goa. They all come under North in the customized maps hanging on the hazy walls of many fellow Indians. Their visions are blurred by their ignorance which is a pain in others asses!
There are many more age old beliefs people have which if I discuss here it may become a sensitive topic. One example I can give here is about Indian marriages. Various places have various cultures. Ultimately every one is getting married to start a new life. I was asked many times by many puzzled Indians that if mother in law is tying kalipoth (an ornament worn as part of the wedding ritual) then how will that marriage hold good ? Seriously other than giving a "I pity you" look I can do nothing when I am asked these questions! In a land of diversities it is a very common scenario to come across a bunch of people who believe that their traditions are sensible and everyone else's are weird! I love exploring and understanding others traditions. Different beliefs and rituals never cease to amuse me and my smile broadens when ever borders vanish during marriages. I enjoy attending a inter religious or an inter-regional wedding but I can never say , "Oh ! You do this like that. Will that hold good?" Gosh! I sound XS- Xtra stupid even when I type it here :)
A country where fair is considered as beautiful and dark is considered beautiful only when it is a mole that shines on the fair skin it is astounding to see the way every one supported Nina Davuluri. Had she not won the Miss America title she would have been pitied by fellow aunties and uncles that a little fair complexion would have helped her. I have a strong feeling that she would have faced such comments in her life. Nina Davuluri smashed all the stereotypes and won the title of Miss America 2014 which anyway will not change the attitude of many towards black / dark complexion and the practice of stereotyping a person by his appearance.
Nandita Das is running a "Dark is beautiful" campaign to imbibe sense in to people. We have to wait and see how much change this campaign will bring!
From centuries the fairness cream ads are ruling the TV where a girl uses the cream , becomes fair in ten days and wins the Miss India title. The above campaign is also protesting against the un-fair ads.
I hope people like Nina Davuluri should act in an ad and show it to people that it's not just the complexion which helps one to win the crown. The other skills do matter. 24 year old Nina Davuluri is from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh and I felt glad to see that she is born on April 20. No I am not stereotyping that all Aprilites are witty and charming ;)
Nina's Bollywood fusion dance -
Have a good day
PS: All images are googled. I don't own them