Like all stereotypes, AUNTY is also unhealthy.
If you are 25+ and you look your age, what really goes in your mind when a 5 year old kid calls, “Aunty, can you please pass the ball?” or if a 13 year old girl tells you, “Aunty, you look exactly like my teacher.” If you have kids, you must be used to this but if you are an unmarried independent woman, there is a high possibility that you will take offense in it. Not a big offense, not enough to not smile at the kid next time but offense enough to be upset over it the whole day
Why does this happen? Because for a simple reason of a picture of stereotype Aunty. For most of us, a woman is called Aunty, when she looks old, fat and wears old fashioned Indian salwaar suit or a saree. She is a woman who is not very independent and spends most of her time working for her family. She gives up most of her interests to give preference to her kids and husband’s interest. More importantly, she has no fashion sense. For most of us, this is the picture that comes to our mind and the most important question in the world is “Do I look like Aunty?”
I have seen people make fun of an old fashioned, fat woman as “Aunty”. I have been a victim of it myself. I have always loved wearing Indian salwaar suits and was teased a lot given that my built is also on heavier side. It is a different thing when kids call you Aunty, not when your age group people call you just to make fun of you or tease you.
I have never felt bad when a kid calls me Aunty. Rather I feel good. Because for me, Aunty is also somebody who is responsible, has an authority and someone I would look up to for inspiration and support. I grew up in middle of some amazing women, for whom fashion and looking young wasn’t a priority but welfare of people was. In my early 20s, I met and worked with women double my age and doing just very brilliant work in all kind of areas unimaginable. I couldn’t help but draw inspiration from them.
The era of size zeros’ and ‘beat the ageing’ has done more damage than we can imagine. Being unfashionable and heavy is simply not acceptable and we brand that as “Aunty”. No doubt, it has become a derogatory term. A word that is supposed to be inspirational and respectful has turned into a negative word.
I know women and young girls hate wearing Indian sarees and salwaar suits. For the simple reason, that they do not want to be branded as unfashionable; because they believe that these clothing are for uneducated slave women. Clothes empower us a million times but they can also disempower us equally. It depends on what power you give to your dressing. Whether it is just your dressing sense that defines you or is it also your character strength, thoughts and ideas. I find Indian dresses absolutely beautiful and I find Indian look the best in the world. I just hope that all women and men can see this beauty of being an Indian woman. I don’t mean to say that we should give up western clothing; I am saying that we should also accept our own Indian dressing with open arms.
So, next time a kid calls you Aunty, look at him/her in the eye and try to see why that innocent head thought of you as an Aunty. Is it because s/he thinks that you are unfashionable or lifeless, or is it because you are elder to him/her and that is the way kids are taught to pay respect to the elders? Is it because s/he thinks that you are fat or because s/he looks at you as a responsible and authoritative person?