If you can believe it, Malaika Arora going braless became news headlines this week. The Bollywood actor and fitness icon recently stepped out in Mumbai for a morning walk with her dog. Photos of the often-papped celebrity reached the internet and it took no time for trolls to come swooping down on her for apparently going all-comfort in a grey tracksuit.
To add fuel to fire, media headlines too highlighted Arora’s bralessness, some in a highly sexualised manner. “Malaika Arora Goes Boldly Braless on Dog Walk, Sends Temperatures Soaring in These Viral Pics,” one declared.
In an age when news media and social media have great synergy in shaping public conscience, headlines that play on angles that have the sure-shot capacity to set off abuse are outright irresponsible. Why must the media sensationalise a woman’s choice to simply not wear a bra? Does it not further invite and legitimise internet trolls already attacking her?
Plain updates about Arora’s trips to the gym or the salon or outings with friends make it to some or the other paparazzi page online. The daily goings-on in a celebrity’s life, unfortunately, is the kind of entertainment many are seeking today. And so, the media gives it to them to keep their businesses running. To drive traffic, they add “sizzle” and “spice” to spruce up their stories.
Even if that means hauling along a whole army of sexists slandering and objectifying her.
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Between shouting matches on news channels and crafty yellow journalism celebrity headlines, us citizens are being made fools out of. Are these the shoddy brands of reporting we are keen on endorsing and enjoying?
Arora is a common target for trolls on social media. She is 48 and rocks her age. She has retained her glam factor far beyond the shelf lives female actors are allowed in Bollywood, she is a single mother once divorced, she has found a partner in a man several years her junior in a wonderful overturn of social convention.
A woman who signifies independence, basically, Arora is everything sexist trolls despise.
In the comments section of paparazzi pictures, Arora is often called ‘old’ and told to ‘act her age.’ Whatever that means in the trolls’ prejudiced vocabularies. A year ago, she was heavily shamed after cameras zoomed in on the stretch marks visible on her midriff visible between her crop top and tights. Read here.
We live in a misogynistic society. There are no two ways about it. People will continue to hold on to traditional belief systems that contain multitudinous opportunities to beat women’s dignities and selves down.
It is on institutions like the press, in the way they can exercise prudence in what is being reported, that a measure of responsibility and accountability lies in encouraging a sober tone of public thought. What kind of coverage does someone wearing or not wearing a bra warrant? Perhaps the kind that showcases how women have to face social scrutiny for making even the simplest of choices that go against the so-called fabric of our society.
Views expressed are the author’s own.
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