By Pooja Dhingra
After years of working as a graphic designer, I decided it was time to pause and pursue things that made me happy.
Going solo wasn’t a smooth ride, given my rigorous personal filter that restricted the kinds of projects I should be working on. I was reaching a particularly stressful stage when a friend asked me if I was interested in doing a ‘ladies only’ project. Her query seemed well-timed as I was working on a series on visually interpreting my favourite feminist essays and was excited about finally getting a women-oriented project.
My joy was short-lived since the details about the project unsettled me. It was for branding a ‘Grooming School for Ladies’ — a very elaborate programme on ghar grihasti, personal grooming, sanskari manners, being an ideal bahu, kitchen management, table manners, social niceties, the art of conversation etc. There was nothing on the rights of a married woman, planned parenthood, financial independence, self determination, couple counselling or joint sessions on what makes a good marriage.
I did a quick search to find if similar schools existed for grooms as well. I got nothing. In fact ‘Grooming school for Grooms’ doesn’t even show up as an auto suggestion on Google. But it sure does for brides and pets. One such school has three levels of training… for a perfect lady, a confident bride and a celebrity wife. The target audience is mostly rich parents (with daughters who have just graduated), eagerly waiting to dispatch their daughters off to their ‘forever’ homes.
I am a happy unmarried (but in a live-in relationship), 37-year-old woman, who was obviously pissed off for being approached for such an absurd project. It’s really sad that such courses exist and parents put so much pressure on their daughters to become good wives.
So I decided to make a course for grooms at least in a comic strip — starting with beginners and obviously graduating to other levels once men get the basics right!
Pooja Dhingra is a conceptualiser and a graphic designer and worked as a creative lead for one of India’s first graphic design stores.