Indian women celebrities are now redefining pregnancy
Tennis ace Sania Mirza recently said it does not matter how many Wimbledons she wins, it would be her motherhood that would define her as a woman. Bollywood celebs Kareena Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai have also faced the brunt of media speculation about their pregnancy. But these strong women are sending out their messages loud and clear
Indian tennis star Sania Mirza recently did not take it too kindly when news anchor Rajdeep Sardesai asked her on national television when she finally plans to settle down and have children.
Sania replied: “You sound disappointed that I’m not choosing motherhood over being number one in the world at this point of time. But I’ll answer your question anyway, that’s the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face — the first is marriage and then it’s motherhood.
“Unfortunately, that’s when we’re settled, and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or number ones in the world we become, we don’t become settled. But eventually it will happen, not right now. And when it does happen I’ll be the first one to tell everybody when I plan to do that.”
Sania said this when Rajdeep asked her that in her recently launched biography Ace Against Odds, there has been no mention of children or retirement plans.
What Sania said puts into perspective how Indian women celebs, no matter what field they belong to, are expected to be the quintessential Indian woman aspiring for motherhood and wanting to be everything that an ideal Indian woman should be despite being on the top in her own field of work.
Like Sania, another person who is extremely annoyed these days is Kareena Kapoor. Since the announcement of her pregnancy recently by her husband film star Saif Ali Khan, good wishes are pouring in along with the question whether Kareena plans to take a long break now and how she plans to balance a career and a child.
While the baby is expected in December, Kareena’s latest film goes to the floors in August. She plays the lead in Veere Di Wedding produced by Rhea Kapoor. Industry insiders say that because of her pregnancy, the shooting has been advanced but unlike the rumors going around, Kareena is in no way dropping out of the film.
Along with this, there are speculations whether motherhood would eventually affect Kareena’s career, a speculation that would probably not take place in Hollywood where, as we have seen, marriage and babies have no impact on a woman’s stardom.
But Kareena is totally miffed. And she has reason to be so. Since she got married to Saif in 2012, there have been questions about why she is not getting pregnant and they seem to have been married too long. Then when she got pregnant, the question is whether that would end her career or would her 18 lucrative brand endorsements pull out?
In an interview to Hindustan Times newspaper, she said: “I’m pregnant, not a corpse. And what maternity break? It’s the most normal thing on earth to produce a child. It is high time the media stops treating me any different than I ever was.
“Anybody who is bothered shouldn’t work with me… but my work goes on as is, like always. Stop making it a national casualty. We are in 2016, not in the 1800s. Probably, even at that time, people were way more civilized and normal than the way the media is behaving and speculating now.
“I’m just fed up of people making it (her pregnancy) to be a death of some sort. In fact, it should be a message to a lot of people that marriage or having a family has absolutely nothing to do with my career.”
Another person who had to face the brunt of media speculation pre- and post-pregnancy was Aishwarya Rai. The former Miss World got married to actor Abhishek Bachchan in 2007 and gave birth to a daughter, Aradhya, in 2011. In these four years Aishwarya was constantly harrowed by questions about when she would get pregnant.
One Mumbai-based daily even went on to do a speculative story saying she could not conceive because she was being treated for stomach tuberculosis. This they had even tied up with a blog post her father-in-law and veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan had written earlier that said the disease was not a poor man’s affliction, it made the rich suffer too.
Aishwarya in a letter to the newspaper wrote: “I read your article. I am completely shocked, appalled and extremely upset with the contents of the article. I completely deny the report. It is fabricated and false. It is very disappointing that your office did not even bother to verify this article with me, my family, my spokesperson or my office. I would think it only ethical and correct to get the person in question’s side of the story or verification before printing such news.”
Her supposed stomach TB was quickly forgotten when she conceived but little did she know then that she was getting into a new level of media harassment post-pregnancy. When it came to shedding off her pregnancy weight, Aishwarya took her sweet time preferring to take it slow. A much fatter Aishwarya even walked the red-carpet at Cannes unabashedly sending the media into a tizzy.
Aishwarya did go back to her previous shape but it took her two years and she did it not until she sent out the message that it was okay for a new mom to be fat, it was okay to give your own health priority.
Amrita Mukherjee is a freelance journalist who writes on social issues in India with focus on women. She divides her time between Dubai and India and blogs at www.amritaspeaks.com
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