Did seeing a 50+-year-old at a discotheque make you do a double-take? Does an older woman laughing heartily at jokes make you uncomfortable? Do you believe that women after a certain age should behave in a particular way? Do you feel your grandmother should wear clothes of a particular type, for example, saree or salwar kameez and not jeans and t-shirts?
Welcome to Social Conditioning!
Social Conditioning means the things you have been hearing since childhood and have been internalized so much that you feel they are true. In India, there are a lot of rules a woman must follow. When young, they shouldn’t talk to boys. Later, they should get married and have children. Women must not concentrate on a career. For women, children and family must always be the top priority.
Unfortunately, these rules do not end even when they grow older. Everything from how an older woman is dressed to how she talks is analyzed and judged. Many women over the age of 40 stop doing the things they like best for the fear of being judged, which subsequently results in several mental issues, including depression, anxiety, etc.
Also Read: How to Prevent Depression in Elderly
Time to Change
With development happening all around us in every field, it is now imperative to change our mindset as well. We see women all around us excelling in every field, be it academics or sports, research and development or home management. Indian women have adapted to every change and are now looking forward to conquering new heights.
Meanwhile, these same women are bound up in chains just to satisfy societal norms.
It is time to change. Our thinking. Our mentality. Our behaviour.
Women Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Earlier this year, HappyAging met a number of superwomen who have proved that age is just a number. Defying age-related norms and standards, they have followed their heart and their passion.
- Smita Kulkarni – This 47-year old is a celebrated Marathon runner. Despite early menopause and ulcerative colitis, this feisty woman took up running to combat her mood swings and body changes. She has participated in various marathons, half marathons, and races and is quite well known in the running circles.
- Preetida Dixit – This single mother overcame one of the most difficult mental disorders – depression. After being for 11 years in an abusive marriage, she decided to call it quits. But a load of separation along with the stress of dealing with abuse for so long and the sudden responsibility of managing a household and a child inevitably led to depression. However, she sought help and overcame it. Now she is a successful entrepreneur, fashion designer, and an awesome mother.
- Sangeeta Bahl – While elsewhere, women over 50 are advised to be at home, 53-year old Sangeeta Bahl broke all norms and conquered the Everest. It all started when her husband took her to Mount Kilimanjaro. This image consultant entrepreneur then realized that she had a huge interest in climbing mountains. From then on, she put her mind into training herself to be able to climb the seven summits. The rest is history.
- Rajani Pandit – Meet India’s first woman detective! This 55-year old has broken all gender and age stereotypes. Her endless passion and tireless work have given her the name of Indian Sherlock Holmes!
- Shatbhi Basu – What if anyone says that a 59-year old woman is a bartender? Your first reaction would be a disbelieving laugh. But it is true! Shatbhi Basu is a 59-year old bartender who has been bartending for the last 40 years! We rarely get to see such passion!
Let’s Bring the Change
A few days ago, Amitabh Bachchan and a contestant on Kaun Banega Crorepati 11 were discussing the way women were forced to follow rules in India. “I have seen women as old as 60-70 years old going to bars and discos in foreign nations,” Mr. Bachchan said. “While in India, a woman is supposed to do certain things otherwise she is judged,” he added.
Such words from a veteran actor on a popular show brings hope to our hearts. Maybe we will be able to overcome such prejudices and let older women live as they wish to. Maybe we will take over the responsibility of the home and family while the woman goes about living her life as she wants.
Change is in our hands. Can we do it?
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