The Ideal Indian Women – Then And Now


Who exactly is the Indian woman? Is she the sari-clad, tradition-embracing and culture-steeped stereotype featuring in most ‘K-serials’ or the booty-shaking, skimpily clad glamour doll heroine of the modern Indian cinema?

As   Bollywood  toys with the identity of the modern Indian woman, there seems to be a radical shift in the social and cultural context too. Courtesy  Bollywood , the average urban Indian is more tolerant towards conversations involving sex, homosexuality, sex education and the likes. The image of the perfect Indian woman too has transformed. Here are a few observations.

Back Then:

  1. ‘Women from good families’ were supposed to be shy, demure and covered from head to toe. Any expression that had the slightest tinge of sexual passion was a strict no-no. And yes, no sex before marriage!
  2. Women were ideally supposed to marry the very first man they met or fell in love with and consider themselves doomed if that does not happen for some reason. Suicidal attempts resulting from unrequited love/betrayal were not uncommon.
  3. Wet saris and rain dances were the farthest you could go to look sensual or sexy (until Zeenat Aman trotted across the screen in a bikini)
  4. If you touched alcohol or tobacco or even hung around with people who did, your reputation was in dire straits.
  5. Nice girls were the ones that shunned fashion, partying, clubbing, fast bikes and naughty boys. A simpering, helpless miss was every man’s dream.


  1. The limits of modernity are defined by partying, negligible clothes and loud behavior. It is perfectly acceptable (and rather normal) to switch relationships and partners every few months. That’s life on the fast track!
  2. Pre-marital sex and live-in relationships are as acceptable as the song and dance routines.
  3. Conservative clothing is only for wimps, doormats and victims of abuse.
  4. Wet saris have given way to thongs, bikinis and what have you (and they are not an exclusive forte of the vamp or the ‘other woman’).
  5. Women have become increasingly independent though it still helps to simper and act helpless every once in a while.

But can skimpy clothes and a footloose lifestyle be counted as sole indicators of women’s liberation? Aren’t we missing an important point here?

Source by Padma Hassaram

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