The last time I recalled my age, I cringed a bit. After all, I am a woman in my late twenties. I am supposed to have it all figured out in my life and whatever else people are supposed to do at this age.
I became an “aunty” for kids, way back in my early twenties. The first time I was called an “aunty” by some school kid, I was a bit taken aback. I mean, one doesn’t expect school kids to call you an aunt when you are barely in your early twenties, being silly, attending college and trying to be cool 😛 😀
Through the years, I have heard this term being used to describe someone: “Oh look at her, behaves like an aunty at this age” or ” look at her, she’s an aunty trying to look young by dressing like that. She should just accept she’s old now” or even “She’s a typical aunty who cooks and does household chores all day” or perhaps teenagers discussing among themselves “Oh why are you being such an auntie, chill mahn!”
I am sure each one of you who is reading this article has heard similar phrases in some context or the other. In fact most of us are guilty of using this term or word to describe someone.
In India, I guess people originally started using the words “behenji” (sister) and “aunty” to give respect to women, since we Indians have this tradition of giving respect to people and especially our elders.
In today’s times however, I find that these exact words are used to demean a woman. They are usually used in a derogatory context or with disdain or contempt. Quite completely opposite of what the words actually stand for. The word “aunty” has a negative connotation these days. It’s used so casually to describe somebody or someone and make fun of them, that most of us don’t even think about it.
When a woman wears traditional clothes or doesn’t do what her peers usually do, like say partying, she automatically becomes a “behenji” for her choices and attire.
And most of the times, it is women who are judging other women and calling them “aunties” Why blame men, ladies, when you judge other women yourself?
Similarly, when a woman dresses in a sari or is married or has had kids or even turns a particular age, in somebody’s eyes, she automatically becomes an aunt. This kind of perception has been so deeply ingrained into our psyches, yours, mine, your neighbor’s and everyone else’s. The media, the advertisements, the movies, Bollywood especially, have all kind of ingrained this “Aunty Syndrome” in our heads.
No sooner than we hear the words, we conjure an image up in our heads and if someone calls us an “aunty” either feel hurt, or get angry or end up feeling that we lack something. We judge ourselves. That’s what happened to me when I was called an “auntie” for the first time. I was suffering from the “Aunty Syndrome”
I understand where this image of “auntyness” comes from. It started because middle aged ladies were not as open minded or understanding towards the younger generation, which of course still happens. I too am against such kind of mentality and behaviour. These women (and men) are extremely critical of the choices of the generations younger than them and label them wrong for their lifestyle choices, their attire, their habits, etc. Here I will say, yes, these set of women do need to change their views, be more understanding, stop gossiping and learn to keep up with the current times.
But that does not justify judging people and labelling them as an “aunty” in a negative context for their attire or thoughts.
If you do that, is there a difference between you and that “orthodox auntie” you don’t like?
It’s just two different people being judgemental, negative and labelling each other.
I am not trying to preach here (okay maybe a little bit 😛 ) but mostly, I am writing this because of my personal experiences. I am as guilty of judging people, especially mentally, even if I may not have verbalized those thoughts at most instances, thinking they should or shouldn’t be doing certain things and realizing how wrong I was, until I reached the age they used to be.
What most people don’t realize is age is just a number. Just because a woman (or a man for that matter) reaches a certain age, doesn’t mean one cannot do certain things or “should be” doing certain things. There is always going to be someone older and someone younger than us. Everything is relative.
I have come to realize that life is a journey, we are not perfect and we are all making our own set of mistakes, learning new things and having different experiences.
Judging someone and calling them an “aunty” is the easiest thing to do. What is not easy is having an open mind and trying to be accommodating of other people’s choices. (I myself am working on it :D) It’s every individual’s choice to live however they want to and until and unless they don’t impact your life or harm people in any way, how does it matter whether you like their dressing sense or not, agree with their view or not?
The world is full of people with views that may not align with ours. And that’s okay. That’s it. It’s just okay, to be yourself and to let others be themselves.
As of today, I don’t mind anybody calling me anything. Aunty, grandmother, sister or whatever the heck they want to.
I am past that stage of my early twenties, where I allowed people’s opinion to define me or my life.
I am not against the words “aunty” and “behenji”; I just wish that the way these words are percieved and used, changes. I want the negative image attached to these words to go away.
That’s it for now.
Do check with yourself whether you are suffering from the “Aunty Syndrome” As you know, it’s quite contagious. You can keep yourself in check by not describing anyone you don’t like as an “auntie” Atleast; try. 😀
Hope you found this topic worth pondering upon.
I m going to log off and be busy being a “cool” aunty to some kid 😛
Till the next post,
Dream. Imagine. Be Crazy. Be You.