By Dhriti Mehta
With the recent controversy stirred by Gilu Joseph’s cover for Grihalakshmi, the media and the Internet is abuzz with opinions about the Malayalam magazine’s decision to feature the 27-year-old actress as a breastfeeding mother.
With people fretting over the picture being ‘lascivious’, Kerala advocate Vinod Mathew Wilson has gone a step further by filing a case against the magazine by alleging that offences under Sections 3 and 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 have been committed.
Ironically enough, the ones who oppose the decision to show a breastfeeding mother on the cover by citing that the cultural and societal norms of India do not permit such acts, actually seem to have forgotten that India as a country has been fighting to break away from these shackles of tradition since a long time- since the 1980s.
What started as a Reddit thread soon became a viral tweet with the accompanying hashtag #HypocrisyGalore highlighted the unfair manner in which legal proceedings have begun against Grihalakshmi. By placing the image of the postal stamp and the magazine cover side by side, the tweet attempts to point out the striking similarities in the image, but the equally contrasting reception of both by people.
In 1980 Indian Postal Stamp was released by Postal Department for promoting breast-feeding but in 2018 a legal proceedings have been initiated against the breast-feeding cover picture of Grihalakshmi Magazine. #HypocrisyGalore pic.twitter.com/SY4p0uMbYy
— Raminder Jit Singh👳 (@ramindersays) March 4, 2018
Leaving aside the issues of using a non-breastfeeding woman to model a breastfeeding mother and the other complaints that people have made about the cover, the main issue is simple. Women in India, or, in fact, the world, should not be stigmatised because of something as natural as breast-feeding. Be it on a magazine cover or on a postal stamp, the fact remains that a woman should be able to do something as normal as feeding her child without constant judgement.
Just like beauty, even shame lies in the eye of the beholder.