A reality television series that has recently come out with its second season has also crafted its own level of absurdness. Matchmaker Sima Taparia has once again dunked herself into the pool of controversies, with the release of Indian Matchmaking season 2. Her remarks on actor Priyanka Chopra and her husband Nick Jonas in the second season have drawn a lot of attention as she has called them a mismatched couple.
When a prospective client gives her the example of Priyanka and Nick being a nice couple the matchmaker doesn’t hold back and says, “I don’t feel it’s a good match. Just they have married, but it’s not a good match. He looks so small and petite in front of her, and she looks older.”
Sima Taparia approves of men being older than women in an alliance but not the other way around as she believes, “There is bound to be a clash in maturity levels." The show blatantly promotes gender inequality as it highlights all the sad realities of Indian arranged marriages where the entire onus of making adjustments and compromises falls on women.
The idea of a mismatched couple is quite prevalent in the orthodox sections of our society. Many families ensure when two people get married the man gets to have an upper hand. Be it financially, educationally, or via age or height, all criteria of arranged alliances revolve around putting men in a dominant position in marriage. This is done both for the optics and to establish a code of conduct betwee husband and wife.
In the show, Taparia reminds her women clients more than often that if they are over or of a certain age, skin tone, size, or divorced, they would not have many choices and thus cannot afford the luxury to be picky. However, many of these specifications (so-called apt qualities) are ignored in her prospective male clients.
Why are we okay with the normalisation of sexism and objectification of women in the name of finding "perfect" matches? Why can't a woman be older than than the groom in an arranged marriage? Why must she be shorter, leaner than her prospective match? Why are women with dark complexion dismissed as "poor" matches?
Indian Matchmaking glorifies the mono-chromatic ideas of marriage that are both outdated and problematic.
Perfect couple: How the myth limits women's choices
The show persistently portrays that a woman must be submissive in a marital relationship. Strong and opinionated women are portrayed in a negative light because they kneow what they want in their lives and from their partners. These women are called “adamant”, “fussy”, “stubborn” or “picky”. Further, if they refuse to cast their expectations in a set mould, they are warned about the notion of “mismatched couple”.
For ages, women and men have born the brunt of this "perfect couple" stereotype, which prioritises looks and traits that society approves of, but not personal priorities. For a marriage to work out, isn't it more important that two people are compatible emotionally? That they understand and accept each other's priority? Why aren't such matches hailed as "perfect" then? Why are we so focused on optics? Also, why must women be forced into obedience in a marriage by telling them their husband is older/earns more or is better built than them, and thus is better of the two?
Unless we rid matchmaking of these stereotypes we will continue to push couples into marriages that look good on the outside but are struggling with unwanted adjustments and dissatisfaction on the inside.
The views expressed are the author’s own.
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