Bollywood Star Fires Back At Indian Paper Over Cleavage Photo
Deepika Padukone, 28, is one of the biggest stars in Bollywood, and her many fans came rushing to her support after she slammed the country's leading newspaper, The Times Of India, over comments and a photo on its website about her cleavage.
The ensuing storm on social media has revealed how many women are no longer accepting entrenched sexist attitudes in India.
Padukone has starred in such blockbusters as last year's Chennai Express and the just-released Finding Fanny.
She came out swinging at India's biggest daily after it published a dated overhead shot of her, zeroing in on a low-cut dress. The caption read: "OMG, Deepika Padukone's cleavage show."
Padukone ignored the bad grammar and went for the jugular.
"Yes!" she wrote on Twitter: "I Am a Woman. I have breasts and a cleavage! You got a problem!!??"
The Times replied that it was meant as "a compliment," which only added fuel to the controversy. The newspaper has now removed the online story and the photo.
But Padukone's tweet sparked the hashtag #IStandWithDeepika, which was soon trending on Twitter.
Fans and fellow Bollywood big shots rushed to Padukone's defense and criticized the paper:
Indian film critic and commentator Anna Vetticad says the paper's rejoinder that it was only showing the world Padukone's beauty reveals how deeply engrained "misogyny" is in the global mainstream media.
"Across the world women get told don't object to whistles and catcalls because it is an indicator that you are attractive," Vetticad says. "You should feel flattered by sexual harassment because men are complimenting you. So this was no different. The fact that it came from a major mainstream publication is a matter of shame, of course."
Vetticad says such instances raise issues "firstly, of consent; secondly, crassness; and thirdly, objectification" of women.
Objectifying women permeates Bollywood to Hollywood, but this time Padukone took a stand.
"It is just unusual for an actress to have spoken up about it, but I'm glad she has," Vetticad said. "People who are in professions where they need the media to cover them would tend to hesitate to speak up against the media."
When Kate Blanchett found herself the object of a cameraman sweeping a shot of her from the hem of her gown to the crown of her head, she pointedly asked, "Do you do that to the guys?"
Vetticad says calling out sexist behavior is a start, but that Bollywood itself needs to change the way it portrays women.
"The truth is there are many, many films that objectify women in a disgraceful fashion," Vetticad adds. "And so it would be nice if these same industry people who are supporting her would also condemn the objectification of women by their own industry."
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