I see Hispanic/Asian/White/Black women portrayed as attractive in the US media.
However, I rarely see Indian women fetishized in the media. And I never see Indian women with non Indian guys. Why is that?
And I never see non Indians go to India to find a wife, unlike in Japan or Colombia. Why not?
Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
I believe that in the west, there is this strong notion or stereotyping of Indians in general that they are (or rather we are) very conservative, very religious, very orthodox, and very uncompromising when it comes to values and culture. I don’t say that this is entirely false. A majority of Indians are like that, especially when they leave their comfort zones and move to foreign lands. They are seen putting extra effort to keep their traditions alive, for back home, traditions are a part of a person’s identity. They are what keep people fixed to their roots.
So western media feel uneasy portraying Indian women in a sleazy manner. It’s not that they don’t think Indian women look attractive. They way they present themselves before the media is also equally important. For one thing, excessive sleaze is looked down upon in India, unless it a part of the woman’s job (as in, she earns a living by exhibiting her body). All other women are expected to maintain certain levels of modesty, the said levels being decided by society as a whole. So most Indian women who appear on the media appear modestly dressed.
There have been mainstream Indian actresses who have made a foray into Hollywood – Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai, etc. And I heard that Deepika and Priyanka have been featured in Maxim’s Hot 100 list yet again.
Priyanka Chopra’s character in both Quantico and in Baywatch aren’t explicitly declared as being Indian (as far as I know), and yet the makers never portrayed her as they portrayed other actresses on the show…
No excessive skin show, no racy costumes, no nothing. Ditto for Deepika in xXx: Xander Cage…
Aishwarya Rai is a known face in Hollywood…the world over, in fact.
She is a media favorite and her Cannes appearances are something that are looked forward to every year. And being the queen that she is, she totally ruled the red carpet this year too…
Despite all this media attention, they are never objectified. Why? Because all said and done, there are certain lines that they would not cross because of their upbringing.
Generally speaking, an Indian woman considers her body to be one of her most precious assets and does not believe in posing in the buff for magazines. It’s hard to come by a popular Indian mainstream actress who has posed completely nude for a photoshoot. That’s just not a part of our culture. But if you look up nudes of any mainstream Hollywood actress on Google, 98% of the times you’ll find them. So they don’t really give as much importance to their bodies or shielding it from the public eye as Indian women do. It’s not a big deal at all. But in India, it IS a big deal. Cultural differences. That’s about it.
Western media, hence, are unable to even picture an Indian woman in such a way, let alone suggest for a photoshoot in that way.
As to why inter-racial relationships are rare with Indians being one of the partners, I believe that it’s because love and relationships and marriage means different things to people in the west and to people in India. There is a perception (very generalized, I know) in India that in the west, people are not as serious about relationships as Indians are. In the west, if a relationship is not working out, one or both partners see it best to end it rather than fill their lives with bitterness. But in India, any romantic relationship between a boy and a girl is expected to end in marriage and the relationship is held sacred not just by the couple but by their families as well. When a boy takes a liking to a girl, the automatic thought process goes like this…
- will she like me back?
- will my family like her?
- will we get married?
- how many children will we have?
- where will we buy an apartment?
So you get the drift of how people look at relationships in India. I wasn’t kidding when I said they take it very seriously. For an Indian girl, it is even more so. Most girls grow up dreaming of a wonderful wedding and a prince charming who will love her for the rest of her life. Relationships are expected to be permanent. Marriages are expected to be permanent. A divorce is still a matter of shame. It’s changing now, but people still find it a tad uneasy to talk about it, especially if it has happened to them or to someone in their family.
In the west, I don’t think any guy or girl would think like this. They’d be more than happy if the object of their interest would be willing to at least go out on a date with them. People back home still talk of the dating culture as an undesirable thing. Even in this day and age, it is a matter of pride for any set of parents if their daughter or son did not get involved in any romantic relationship and went in for an arranged marriage fixed by his/her parents with a girl/boy of their liking. I see nothing wrong in that. They are just Indian things. Many families think beyond all this and leave it to the kids to decide their futures. But they are rare to come by.
Many Indians are unwilling to marry outside their culture for fear of having to let go of what they grew up with. Why do you think arranged marriages are still so popular in India? There are so many communities and each one has a different set of customs and traditions. Unless two individuals are as close as possible to each other culturally, they would not be able to pass on the traditions in an unadulterated manner to the next generation. When there is so much hesitation to marry outside one’s community, marrying outside their country into another culture is often out of the question.
I have many Indian girlfriends who have married Americans, Frenchmen, Brits and (*touchwood*) they are very happy. Their children look adorable and their husbands look every bit like happy and content men as well.
So it cannot be generalized that western men don’t believe in real ‘forevers’. A lot of them in fact seek that in relationships. Blame it on western cinema and how the west is portrayed in the media for the way most Indians think about them. Just like western media thinks that all Indian women are traditional homebodies, Indian media portrays Western men as players, thereby making average Indians wary of them as potential life partners.