Bollywood star Sridevi was reported to have died on 24 February, 2018 of a heart attack. Her death has left all her fans deadened and thunderstruck.
Today as the world grieves, shares sorrow and offers prayers for Sridevi, one message is being circulated, which is scandalous and mean, as the person behind figures out something about Sridevi, which particularly seems like shaming a woman after her death for making her choices in her life. This particular act has been described as inhumane and intolerable by a number of right activist groups. Here’s what Piyali Ganguly wrote in her message on Sridevi’s death:
‘“While we are all mourning the untimely demise of Sridevi, it is important to remember why this may have happened to her. Society demanded that she stay slimmer/look younger than a 40 year old, 50 year old and plus 50 woman needs to be—hence, the continuous surgeries. When I met her about 5 years ago, she was beautiful but a sad version of that self that we loved so much in a movie like Chandni. What a lot of pressure to keep her weight down, to make sure that her face had no wrinkle lines....continuous clinic visits in Southern California. A friend of mine wrote this morning...do we need a #metoo movement in fashion, #notsize0? Milan has already implemented this but these patriarchal implants were in her head — the husband, who claimed to love her so much should have intervened, did he love the way she looked as his arm candy more than he loved her? She herself did not trust in her own beauty — she was a clothes horse for whoever would care to dress her. What I conclude is such a lack of love for oneself that one’s own lips don’t suffice, one’s own face is not good enough, one’s flesh and blood have to be sucked out of her so that she can wear the best of couture. That is the sadness of a life that could have been lived so much better not just for her but for her daughters. She took a lot of hydroxyl drugs trying to keep her weight down. These drugs kill your hunger, heighten your metabolic rate and makes heart beat faster. Luckily for her she died of a heart attack. Most people get a sever stroke and survive and live like a vegetable. May she rest in peace!”
A death is an unfortunate incident to happen, which takes our loved ones away from us. But the reason for this is unknown and lies on our creator.
I find myself being a little strait-laced about this message. The social sites like Facebook are flooded with posts on the death fact of Sridevi. Why she died so early? Did she die so early because of her overprotective beauty concerns? Did she sacrifice her life to meet the society’s expectations? And most of the people are doing so in the name of creating awareness.
I know that many of us think that we should give women a break. Now people like me would think that Sridevi chose to remain beautiful and it’s her choice and there can be thousands of reasons behind it. And we must respect a woman’s choice. However, some people are trying to justify their criticisms as they claim that they love Sridevi. Should we be judgmental in the name of love? She lived her life exactly how it pleased her. Some people may still argue that being judgmental is justified if it adds value to life. They go on saying that the rule “Don’t be Judgmental” applies to anonymous people not to celebrities, who carry huge responsibility to their followers. Some people are also trying to justify Piyali Ganguly’s comments through stating that someone chose to commit suicide does not mean we should respect that person’s action. They think that they are creating awareness among women through saying what Sridevi should not have done in her lifetime. In their view, women like Sridevi are heading towards death every single day by choosing to remain beautiful or fulfilling people’s expectation to be beautiful. They are telling Sridevi’s story to create awareness as every celebrity is thousand’s idol. So, fans have the right to know the consequences before worshipping the star blindly.
It is very easy to make comments on women. The one thing that did stand out even in this message is this- how we can assert that a woman’s choice is given priority in our society which has a majority of right conscious people when we don’t stop to make comments on a woman’s choice of life even after her death?In the current world, the misogynistic attitude of our society does not allow a chance to be missed to weaken, if not totally destroy the confidence of a woman who stands for her right, who speaks up for what she thinks and does not want to see failure in her life. A new dimension is added with this confidence-hurting mission when a blemish is found in that woman. In such a situation, the family where the woman was raised cannot even come to her help. Her own family gets trapped in the social customs and traditions dictated by so called binding norms prevailing in this man’s world. It’s not the outsiders rather her very own people who start putting limits and bars on all that she calls her happiness.
Women need to sensitise or educate men around them and they should start with the males of their own homes. The necessity for women to become outspoken about their rights, imposed duties and imaginary limitations of our society both at home and outside is quite evident. Thus, becoming determined and vocal about her own perspectives may be the first attempt that she can take to establish herself as self-empowered. She should raise her voice to establish that she was not born to live the life others prescribe for her. An enabling environment is all that a woman needs to break free. A girl should put all her efforts to remove these so called social barriers.
Families should teach their girls to be courageous, more inspirational in pursuing their goals and ambitions in order to ensure that they pave the way for a smooth journey for the next generation.
Now coming back to Sridevi’s story- according to Khaleej Times, Sridevi fainted in her hotel bathroom and was rushed to Rashid Hospital in Dubai, UAE. Conducting a postmortem of a deceased person from a different country is a routine and the Dubai police on 25 February 2018 completed the autopsy on actress Sridevi. Most interestingly, ALJAZEERA on 26 February 2018 reported that the Bollywood Actress Sridevi died from an accidental drowning, according to forensic report. Dubai-based newspaper, Gulf News, reported on the same day that the iconic actress fell into the bathtub of her room and drowned.
Therefore, it is so easy for us to jump into a conclusion that we feel right but the truth may be otherwise. Pointing at a woman highlighting her wrong choices in life is not at all a difficult task. But the question lies where we do stand then? Can we go forward keeping the women of the society at gunpoint all the time? We, women, find it easier to criticise each other instead of building each other up. Let’s respect each other’s choices and stop shaming each other.
The writer is an Advocate, Bangladesh Supreme Court Research Assistant (Law), BILIA.