Please Leave Prachi Nigam And Girls Alone!

Recently, the results of 10th grade exams conducted by the UP State Education Board were declared. Prachi Nigam, aged 15, topped the exams securing 98.5 percent marks out of 5,500,000 students who wrote the exam. But her feeling of euphoria on this fantastic academic accomplishment very soon turned into distress after her picture was posted on social media while celebrating her achievement. Along with congratulatory messages lauding her achievement there were hordes of trolls who were more concerned about her looks and facial hair and bullied her for the same.

She was trolled for having facial hair, and people were sharing her photo with comments like, “Shave off”; “Why doesn’t she save herself from embarrassment?” etc. In an interview given to BBC, Prachi said, “If I had scored just one or two marks less, I wouldn’t have gained this social media popularity and wouldn’t have faced such trolling for my appearance.”
With the advent of social media, people troll anyone for anything without any accountability whatsoever behind the security that the anonymity provided by these platforms offers, without realising the trauma and emotional distress that the targeted person must be going through due to their insensitive and thoughtless comments. People were so busy trolling her for her facial hair that they didn’t recognize her achievement of scoring highest in the 10th grade board exams.
While many people were trolling her, others also came in her support. A user on X wrote, “The best moment in her life is now a painful memory. Social media can be very toxic and cruel.” Another wrote, “More than society, the people who trolled her are the real losers. We are a society filled with losers who are ready to bark at every successful person, more so if that person is a woman.”
Prachi mentioned that she has been subjected to such comments for a long time and does not bother about this situation. “People see girls with hair and feel weird about it because they have not seen this before.” She further added that it obviously feels bad, but people write what they think and can’t be stopped. The 15-year-old bravely responded to trolls and said, “I want to focus on my studies and become an engineer.”
Women have always been stereotyped by society to behave in a certain way, talk in a certain way, and appear in a certain way. And if they don’t conform to the demands of the society, they are abused; considered ‘not feminine enough'; and told to change themselves to fit-in the societal expectations and stereotypes. These stereotypes are not only created by society but are also reinforced and promoted by the movies, literature and advertisements. When movies and advertisements and other elements of popular culture depict these stereotypical portrayals of female protagonists for a sustained period of time, the general public considers that as the ideal and is influenced by those even if reality is very different. Because in the real world, each and every person is born unique and is not slotted into any category or box that a society tries to place them in.
Insensitivity and cruelty of trolls notwithstanding, a shaving products startup tried to capitalise on the opportunity in the name of moment marketing by releasing a full page print ad seemingly trying to congratulate the bright teenager. But the company ended up trolling her when it cheekily tried to integrate their shaving product for women in the advertisement. The advertisement's reads, “Dear Prachi, They are trolling your hair today; they’ll applaud your A.I.R. tomorrow.” With the small subtext in the bottom it said, “We hope you never get bullied into using our razor.”
When this ad was released, the company got a severe backlash from several users for using a teenager in an impressionable age to promote themselves. The critics of the ad schooled the company on how this teenager must have already been going through a lot due to trolls and how they tried to stay relevant on the cost of the trauma of a teenager.
Such advertisements also perpetuate stereotypes about girls and overshadow their achievements. We are living in a patriarchal society where women have started speaking up in the last few decades, and there is a long way to go for them. Women have to listen to such comments because the representation of women in our society is seen only from a physical beauty perspective. In order to possibly get rid of such trolling, we have to get rid of such thinking. One way of doing that is by normalizing body hair in women and stopping thinking of women as beauty queens or fairy queens. A woman is as human as a man is. They both can look their best at times, according to the beauty standards we created, and sometimes they cannot look their best by the same criteria. Just like a man has body hair, women also have some body hair but are not equal to men as they are physically different from each other, which is a very normal feature in them. At times, due to medical conditions such as PCOS, women can get more than normal body or facial hair. And these are not the features by which we should consider someone beautiful or not. Beauty is subjective, but beauty standards are man-made criteria that change with every decade, every generation, and every century.
Anything that appeals to us is beautiful, but that doesn’t mean we have to create a box around it and don’t let humans be who they really are. And push them to the extent that they can’t show their real selves to anyone and have to always cover up for what is not considered ideal in our society. Let humans be humans, not a toy of your choice.
( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
Next Story