'Women aren’t funny'—and other stereotypes we’re sick of - Elle India

‘Women aren’t funny’—and other stereotypes we’re sick of

And how 21 incredible women smashed them (and the patriarchy!)

BY MAANYA SACHDEVA | March 19th, 2019

The idea behind Levi’s’ #IShapeMyWorld campaign is to challenge stereotypes that women battle on an everyday basis, and empower them to shape a world that gives them happiness–regardless of whether society approves or not. Through the voices of 21 inspiring Indian women, the brand hopes that women across the country will be able to find theirs. To take this further, we asked each of the women who are a part of this campaignfrom all walks of lifeto tell us about the one stereotype that they challenged to find success and happiness. The larger goal? To remind you that no stereotypeno matter how sexist or offensiveis insurmountable.

Here’s some inspiration:

Anjali Lama, model

That the transgender community could never go mainstream and be successful in the fashion industry. Lama continues, “There was no one who believed I could do it and sometimes I doubted myself but I kept telling myself to try everything I set my mind on and keep trying till I find my ground. As a transgender model from Nepal doing shows and campaigns for indian and international brands, I think, is something I would’ve never thought has happened before.

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Swara Bhasker, actor

“Friendly girls are easy lays.”

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Prashasti Singh, comedian

That you’re too old to chase your career. The comedian says, “I think with my work I have shown that there is no time or age to go after your calling. Of course every life stage has its own stakes, but if we are able to grow out of how we are conditioned to look at our careers, there is so much more we can do with this life.

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Kubbra Sait, actor

The fact that you have to be a heroine before an actor. “And you will only get noticed if you do big roles.”

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Srishti Dixit, content creator 

That women aren’t funny. Dixit says, “Apparently, we weren’t supposed to be funny.”

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Malini Agarwal,  media entrepreneur

“For me it wasn’t about battling stereotypes, it was about carving my own path, shaping my own world. Creating an industry that previously didn’t exist. I’m proud to say MissMalini.com was the first of the bloggers/influencers in India and it opened the door for so many young men and women to follow their dreams. That will always be my proudest achievement.”

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Natasha Noel, yoga instructor

When you have a mental health issue, you can’t achieve anything. “Through all the self loathing and my insecurities of my anxiety and depression it actually connected me with so many other people who in some way felt less alone. No matter the high level of my anxiety and depression and the fear that I am never going to be good enough I challenge myself everyday to do something I fear. That’s me breaking my own mental barrier and that’s how I’m growing!”

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Gurmehar Kaur, writer and activist

That families of martyrs are constantly in need of external saving and that they are constantly demanding governments for revenge for them to feel at ease. “I have always hated how politicians and media people use out identity as a tool and exploit it for political gains. I’m glad I spoke out and stuck to what I believe in.”

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Sonal Giani, LGBTQ activist

“Indian queer women do not exist.”

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Neena Gupta, actor

Being boxed in to a certain kind of role, depending on how you look. “I, Neena Gupta, can look different and do a variety of roles.”

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Sandhya Menon, journalist

“That once women become mothers, they automatically stop being interested in the world. People are always surprised by mothers who are engaged with the world, curious, passionate about things other than their kids.”

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Kaneez Surka, actor

“That women aren’t funny and that the only reason I get any work is because I’m friends with the male comedians.”

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Akanksha Singh, sportswoman

Girls can’t beat boys. “Through my career, us girls have worked harder been more disciplined and achieved more than most men’s teams in history.”

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Pratima Singh, sportswoman

“So many!” Girls can’t play sports, “our whole family broke the stereotype!”, girls shouldn’t lift weights, and that periods mean that you are at an emotional and physical disadvantage. The basketball player says, “I have played my best when i was on my periods.”

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Prashanti Singh, sportswoman

“Sport wasn’t an accepted extra-curricular activity for girls; creating a way to make sport my profession and identity as well is breaking the stereotype of that time.”

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Divya Singh, sportswoman

Women are inferior to men. Singh says, ”Women are no less than men in any situation, and I have always believed that. I have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with them everywhere without feeling inferior.”

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Kanchan Daniel, singer

“You cannot do two radically different things with a passion and be content doing both.”

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Toshada Uma, model

“Short people can’t model. You need a full head of hair to be beautiful. You need an agency to be a model.”

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Anushqa, singer

That Indian artists can’t make it big internationally. The singer says, “I think it’s definitely the fact that I want to be the first Indian artist that breaks into mainstream international pop and achieves worldwide success, fame and a Grammy for it! I’m very proud of my country and where I come from, and the culture of music that our country has to offer and I want to bring it to the rest of the world.”

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Hard Kaur, rapper 

“Simple! Women can’t rap.” 

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Deepti Asthana, photographer

That women are only suitable for a certain kind of job. “Girls can do anything and everything, only if we let them spread them their wings and let them fly.”

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