When it comes to the men we see in movies and TV shows, there is a fair share of variety. Some scratch their balls in public, while others defend women's rights. Some dress like a model while others are content living in sweatpants.
But you know what is common among them all? These on-screen men are a near accurate reflection of the men I've seen around me in real life. However, when it comes to the women I see on-screen, most of them don't remind me of myself, or other women in my life, or any real woman.
In fact, here's a list of things that women do in movies and TV shows that are unrealistic AF:
1. Hair never getting stuck in a rubber band.
Seriously, how? I wear a rubber band and I lose half my hair to it. But women on-screen wear rubber bands and not only does hair never get stuck on it, but their hair also flows in perfect waves when they take out the hairband or open a bun. Where are the million bobby pins you'd have needed to secure the bun? What sorcery is this?
2. A full face of make-up in the morning.
I wake up in the morning with a bed head, and raccoon eyes, courtesy of the kaajal I forgot to wipe off. But in the fictional world, women get up in the morning with make-up that could give even Runway models a run for their money. Whatever happened to eye gunk, splotchy skin, and messy hair?
3. Not wiping off make-up before sleeping.
Even if I were to believe you were the type to get up before your partner and wear a full face of makeup (which, might I say, feels like a lot of effort), I still don't get how can women sleep without even washing their faces once. And this is not blackout we're talking about here!
4. Always wearing heavy jewelry.
Whether it's sleeping, getting groceries, or cooking food at home, the women in our Hindi TV shows are never without their jewelry - which would be believable if they weren't wearing their weight in jewelry. The problem isn't just the amount they wear, but the fact that they wear so much jewelry all the time. Don't they get tired of carrying around all that extra weight?
5. No pimples. Ever. On anyone.
I spent my teenage years learning all the myths about pimples (no toothpaste does not work), half my salary as an adult goes in treating adult acne, and I've given up on not getting a pimple when I'm on my periods. But I can't remember a single movie or TV show where the women, or hell, even the men, had to battle pimples. Forget dealing with one popping up right before a major event!
6. Walking around in heels, all day, every day. Worse still, is running in high heels.
While there are women who are comfortable walking around in heels, I don't think there is any woman who would wear them every day - especially in physically taxing jobs. Or roam around the house in heels. Also, running in heels is only done when you're drunk and have to pee. And then too, it's a totter. So how exactly are women running full throttle, in heels, on the silver screen? And why are they never in comfortable heels? Why are they always stilletos?
7. Limited depiction of period cramps, period stains, or anything related to menstruation.
We have entire episodes and movies dealing with childbirth but the only time periods get a mention on-screen is when the protagonist is trying to get pregnant, or accidentally gets pregnant. We have sexist jokes on PMS, but hardly any depiction of it that is both, relatable and accurate. Our on-screen heroines never have to deal with early periods and no pads or tampons or period cramps ruining a perfect date or spotting ruining yet another pair of white panties. It's almost as if periods are a mythical concept in the world of movies and shows, especially Bollywood.
8. Sharing their sexual trauma while giving a public speech.
Okay, let me just start by saying that there is no right or wrong way of processing sexual trauma, and if a speech is how you want to process it, more power to you. However, when every second movie or show uses a public speech to show confessions of sexual trauma, it appears far more performative than perhaps intended. Because people deal with sexual trauma differently, and not everyone may pick a public platform or speech to confess about a traumatic experience.
9. Where is the oily hair look?
Seriously, whatever happened to not going out because you've already put oil in your hair? How is it that when someone turns up at your house unexpectedly, you're not in oily-haired plat? Are you even Indian if you don't put oil in your hair? Or have it forcibly put on your hair when you visit your mom? C'mon, give me my oily-haired heroines, please.
10. Rains leave you looking like a goddess.
I love rain. But every time I end up going out in the rain without an umbrella, I look fit enough to star as an extra in a horror movie. But not our on-screen divas. They battle rain just like they battle bedhead - in a fantasy world!
11. Wearing a bra or covering their chest, while having sex.
Breasts are a pretty important erogenous zone and one that even men seem obsessed with. Why the hell would they be covered? Other than conservative patriarchal beliefs, I can find no reason why a woman having sex is shown with a bra on, while a man lays with bare chest, in all his glory.
12. Outfits are never repeated. Like ever.
Remember when Poo shamed a girl for repeating an outfit? Yeah well, guess what Poo, that's the reality for most women (unless you're Rihanna on MetGala). Now, if only we could see that reality get reflected on-screen too, it'll be fabulous! Also, fast fashion is killing the planet and there is no closet big enough to hold enough clothes that you never have to repeat an outfit.
13. Glasses make you ugly, lenses make you pretty, and other flawed beauty lessons.
Simply removing glasses and straightening hair does not cure years of insecurities. If it were that easy, the beauty companies would have gone bankrupt, ages ago!
14. The world can be ending, but women will still shave and wax.
I stopped waxing the moment the pandemic started. But in movies, the world could be invaded by bloodsucking aliens or born-again dinosaurs, and women will still have well-shaped eyebrows and not a single extra hair on their bodies. Body hair is natural, and seeing it on-screen will not shock us.
15. Fighting crime with hair flying around their face. And yet the house, bed, cushion, and floor, are not littered with hair strands.
Whether they're fighting monsters or running away from them, women hardly ever tie up their hair in movies. Is all the flying hair not obstructing their vision? Also how come they never crib about split ends or hair fall? I literally discuss hair more than I discuss men or career choices, with my friends.
16. Crying beautifully.
I am not saying women always bawl uncontrollably. I am saying there is no person who looks beautiful while crying, except for the women on-screen.
17. Orgasming from penetrative sex alone, every time.
This is so far from the truth, I can't even find the right words to explain it!
18. Being scantily dressed when it is snowing.
Hindi movie songs would have you believe a woman never needs warm clothes. Not even in winters, in the middle of a snowfall. Men, of course, are always dressed for the weather!
Of course, there are movies and shows that are exceptions. But realistic female representation should not be an exception, but rather, the norm. It's not that difficult to write female characters with relatable traits if only, one makes the effort to break down flawed standards women are forced to ascribe to.