Why am I judged for my appearance? asks an Indian bride

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Saloni is 28 years old and is financially an independent woman. Since she turned 23, her family started looking for a groom so that she can settle with him as soon as possible. During the process, she faced lot of rejections. ‘After I completed my graduation, my parents started looking for a decent marriage proposal for me. And simultaneously I completed my masters and joined a firm. I was fine with the fact that I have to get married once they will bump into a fine man.’

In India, people prefer arrange marriages often over love marriages due to a very famous theory that love marriages hardly survive than arrange comparatively. According to the U.S news and world report, approximately 95 per cent of marriages in India are arranged that explains, parents search for a life partner for their child.

Arrange or love marriage? is an unending discussion that has not settled yet among Indians. But what is more problematic is that a woman is judged from every possible angle by, her to be in laws before the marriage. Saloni recalled certain events and told EAT news, ‘I was 25 years old when a family brought a marriage proposal and came to meet us. We were all sitting in our living room, when the lady suddenly said, nowadays girls follow a diet to get in shape early and I am sure your daughter will somehow manage if the marriage will be on cards by the end of the year, right? Thereafter, I started questioning about the conditions my parents were ok with, the men’s family were putting on the table.’

These instances are common in Indian households as India has a patriarchal society and is dominated by men. Whereas women are seen as a liability that family has to get rid of as soon as possible. A girl’s family prioritize financial condition of a boy or his family and believes it as a suitable match for their daughter, avoiding all other aspects that could be non-adjustable for a girl after a point. A woman is judged physically, mentally, her capabilities (of handling household chores), and is being neglected for her other appreciable traits like being strong minded and financial independency.  

Mrs. Harsha is a grandmother of two girls and proudly admits, ‘I brought a decent daughter in law than others in this neighborhood.’ When asked about, what exactly she meant by decent, she said, ‘Look at her, she is beautiful and fair, tall and never go against me. And she even does all household chores despite of working as a teacher. What else anyone needs?’

Usually, women are considered no less than a showpiece in arrange marriages. ‘We as women are judged for being outspoken because I remember my mother warns me to not have this habit of raising voice as it can be difficult for me to adjust after marriage, we should be in a proper shape, colorism is the significant feature that always pops up because daughter in law cannot have a dark color’, said Saloni. This mindset exists due to the contribution of specific content behind ‘Sunder and Sushil bahu’ (beautiful and intelligent daughter in law). A tag and norms encouraged by Indian entertainment industry, is now justified by Indian society subconsciously.

According to Saloni, rather than being a financial independent woman, she was judged for not being in a particular shape. She said, ‘I got rejected multiple times for my weight and being outspoken. One of the families told my father that your daughter is not so good looking and, on the top, she is quite free spoken even in front of us. We don’t think she is suitable for our family’. Saloni told what shocked her was that maximum families were well educated and were superficially modernized but their thoughts were conservative. It (Arrange marriages) is like Indian mother in laws finding daughter in laws particularly, and not the life partner for their sons.

Prachi is 31 years old and works at a beauty salon. She recollected her encounter with one such family and quoted Eat News, ‘I was 28 years old and was working in sales. A marriage proposal came for me, but they said, I was too dark for their son. After my father convinced them hard with promising dowry, they said yes. They showed us Parakh’s (groom name) picture only once. But on the day of marriage, we got to know that he was disabled and was on wheelchair.’ Prachi broke off the wedding. She further added, ‘That aunty needed a maid and not a daughter in law. She should get somebody who can support him mentally and loves him. But all she looked for, is a girl who can perform all the household work and can feed them. I am sorry, but this is not something I am obliged to do and want to do’.

Prachi is assertive that she will find a proper match for herself and that age is just a number. Women like her and Saloni doesn’t fear from the society and ‘what people will say?’ mentality. They have their own terms and conditions and does not hesitate in putting them on the table before men’s family does.

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Shefali Ranawat is an Eat News correspondent in India. She want to be the voice of people. Also, she aim to be a war correspondent.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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