The actor finds herself yet again amid a swimsuit storm. The actor stars Squadron Leader Minal Rathore, aka Minni, in Siddharth Anand’s high-octane aerial action film “Fighter”. The teaser, very similar to Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick, impressed many. After all, when Indian screens saw fierce dogfight sequences mid-air. But what seems to have caught the attention of the self-proclaimed moral police was a glimpse of Deepika Padukone in a black swimsuit, and the rest is history. She was being called out for insulting women fighter pilots and shaming them. But how is she wearing a swimsuit in what appears to be a beach sequence, offending the cadre of fighter pilots? She possibly could not be wearing her Air Force fatigues and meeting up with her on-screen boyfriend. Now, that would possibly seem objectionable.

As someone asked, is professionalism or what is seen as professional conduct determined by one’s choice of outfits? The male gaze has often objectified women, from raunchy item numbers to the male protagonist mentally undressing the heroine and being titillated. We have had the sexy school teacher in her backless blouses, revealing necklines, and chiffon sarees, whose seductive charms fuel the raging hormones of the young males in the class. The so-called purists have often reveled in these crass depictions.

On the other hand, they are quick to call out when an independent, read highly professional woman owns her sexuality and identity. So a woman in so-called public service is regarded as unprofessional and non-serious about her job if she chooses to flaunt her femininity. But how is her dressing and how she chooses to beyond “office” hours deemed as unprofessional? Why does it apply only to women in public service? Have they signed up to give away their rights to dress and socialize? NO! The Armed Forces have been democratic, and women who hail from the Forces background like Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma have been trailblazers in their professions. The upbringing in the services has always been one of equality. Also, in hindsight, how does the same not apply to the male? We have often applauded male officers, be it those in the police force or government jobs, flaunting their chiseled body and enjoying the adulation.

Recently, former Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin faced backlash when she was seen partying, so much so her competence as a leader was questioned. Young Indian politicians known for their fondness for designer bags or sarees find their clothes, rather than work, making headlines. Women have often faced the brunt of their sartorial choices, their style of dressing even being given as a reason for various crimes against them.

But it is high time we accept women can wear swimsuits, party hard, and even work harder the next day. It’s time the purists shed their bias-tinted lens and do a crash course in to live and let live.

 

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By David

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