Minor Annoyances: Indian women and Beauty

A rather hypersensitive part of my head gets a bit agitated when random people feel free to tell you that Asian women look hot, or Indian women are pretty or some damn variation of the same theme.

Never mind the fact that it exoticises, trivialises and does a thousand other unacceptable things in the grand scheme of post-post-colonialism.

The reason it annoys me is that it makes Indian/ South Asian women sound like some sort of breed of dogs. Like we are all Labradors, with minor diferences in colouring, temperament, eye shapes and fluffiness of coats.

All labradors are beautiful, not all Indian women.

13 Comments

Filed under Self, wtf

13 Responses to Minor Annoyances: Indian women and Beauty

  1. I should make some serious comment, but all this post made me think of was a former colleague who was very much like a Labaradoggie in temperament – highly enthusiastic, very friendly, not all that bright. If he had had a tail, it would always be wagging.

  2. Kuppakkara Saibu

    But then I suppose it could also to do with somehow (men in general) thinking of women from cultures other than their own looking ‘beautiful and hot’.

    How else could you explain all those exotic beauties one saw …some literally ‘face less’…(at least when I was young) on the posters hung in hair cutting salons (or is it saloon?)

  3. It is not just men and it is not always post-post-colonialism or whatever label you wish to put on it. I am neither.

    But now that I visit India and do not live there, I find myself seeing things in ways I never did before. And it is my considered opinion too that (compared to the average woman in Britain/ Europe/ USA), Indian girls are more beautiful and more feminine than any other women I come across. And before you object, I do not include myself in this complimentary description, which is precisely why I find them so awesome and amazing. Despite all the leching they experience, they are also quietly confident in their being and that is quite something to observe.

    This beauty and this femininity are mentioned in a traditional sense; there is no suggestion that they have Victorian compositions that faint in the face of hardship, or for that matter, boys. Character is not a function or a derivate of beauty.

    But if it annoys you so much, try and defend the poor average English woman next time you hear “oh English women look like horses” which too I have heard. And I have no doubt you have done too.

    And stop getting annoyed so much. Sometimes people are just trying to be kind, or make small talk. You once described me as having a “pleasant face”. I don’t recall my wanting to punch you :-)

  4. Think I would defend against most generalisations. If it be horses = English women or otherwise. What hits me is the generalisation that comes usually within the context of not beauty but money and development. Like a dear friend who is white, while discussing development economics and poverty in India, suddenly commented that at least the women were beautiful. Like it was meant to be some sort of saving grace.

    It came up again in the context of inter racial relationships – when a woman commented that it was okay for asian/ black women to be in a relationship with a white man, because women can marry up, but it wasn’t alright for a brown/ black man to be in a relationship with a white woman, because even if he was richer, the woman would be marrying socially downwards. When I pointed that out to her – it was neatly shut with a ‘what I mean is asian women are so pretty’. Yep. That’s what she meant.

    When I call your face pleasant – I don’t indicate that all Shefalys are pleasant, or that all brown women are pleasant faced. My annoyances are minor, and only when generalisations are used to hide something deeper, darker – like this invisible racial ladder. :)

  5. Actually a lot of people who say this are women, and not men! Though I guess the different culture thing could applying to either sex. It’s usually the context of the statement that annoys me a bit, morethan the statement itself. As for the beauties in the salons.. well, it appears to me they would be considered beautiful regardless of their skin colour by young men!!

  6. My real observation re your comment on my “pleasant” face is that it really is like calling someone “nice”. It is non-committal, unspecific and unhelpful. It is “safe”. People take safe positions. To keep social interactions going. I bet (and know) you do, which is why you have probably a hundred times more friends than most people I know.

    Making an irrelevant argument like your friend did, the chances are your friend was likely convincing him/her self than you. To me it shows how desperate (s)he feels about India’s development situation. (S)he was trying to redeem the argument. It is not uncommon.

    As prejudices go, the “pretty” argument is no different from a situation where a client says to me “Oh easy for you Indians to say; you are all numerate and smart”. I smile and remind him if we were, we wouldn’t be so desperately poor as a nation. Clearly not smart enough.

    In the discussion on which inter-racial relationships are deemed “we can understand that” and which are not, there is plenty of disagreement. If you have the patience, read the comments on Chris’s blog post that tried to address the question: http://bit.ly/5V4EX At least you know where your friend stands on inter-racial relationships. That is a “safe” place to be.

  7. I could not agree more. Never saw an ugly lab. They are the best.

  8. PC..well they are just being kind..
    but seriously, why should it bother?
    beauty is subjective…no two pair eyes can read beauty the same way.
    so you can have your opinion so can they.

  9. Anjali

    I guess the context is important. I can imagine being angry at how that lady used the line to cover up a racial bias. But I recollect a personal memory: My friend and ex-colleague from China is sweet, gentle and quite dynamic, and loves all things Indian. He also said that line.

  10. Harish

    Haha..be happy that you hear such kind comments about Indian women..I sure will like it if someone says ‘Indian men are good-looking’ or something of the sort, but more often as a man I end up hearing ‘Men are so insensitive’ , ‘Indian men are MCPs’ etc etc…:)

  11. It is more like a flirty pick up line. I’ve told australian or romanian or iranian women all the time – women from so and so place are hot. The intent is not to trivialize, or be condescending, but to flirt.

  12. tajji

    and I think this is just human nature – to generalize, and yes it annoys some of us, whatever be the context. It is usually just an attempt to simplify things and our thoughts about how we perceive people and other things. Indians have generalizations of Europeans and Americans, North Indians have generalizations of South Indians and vice versa, and the list could go on.
    But I’d agree that to generalize and commit to it is not a smart thing to do. If one must generalize, one should do so in an appropriate context and understand the implicit disclaimers that come along with it. Also, it is annoying when someone who you’d expect is up close with a situation and then generalizes over it. In this case, I’d agree wholeheartedly, that all Indian women are not hot/beautiful, ;)
    Sometimes I find myself wondering, in a flock of hundreds of houseflies, I can’t tell one apart from the other, and the flies themselves must have a difficult time. But then, I guess they don’t.

  13. subbuki

    Indian women are beautiful. There. I really, really feel that way. I dont have an opinion about labradors.