Freida Pinto - Today's best known Indian woman in the west.
Little girls want to look like whoever is trendy. If their skin and hair don't look like the generic IT girl's, your daughter may need help findng her own beauty.
Freida Pinto and the American Girl
My daughter Lola is a first generation hyphenated American. She is Indian-American. Lola at eight, on a diet of popular American culture longed to be blond. Lavish praise of her black, silky, wavy below shoulder-length hair brought no relief. It didn't cast a huge blight on her life, but you could see she had begun the time-honored journey of never being satisfied with the way she looked. Showing her pictures of bollywood celebs who were grown up versions of herself didn't help. When my Kim Kardashian-like nieces visited from India, she did derive comfort from seeing that young Indian women are gorgeous, and that she could grow up to look like them.
It wasn't till Slumdog Millionaire made it to the Oscars and Freida Pinto was in all the celeb magazines - People, US weekly etc- did Lola feel better about herself. She needed Indian good looks to be ratified by the media. My cousin Anjali, who grew up here and empathized with Lola's lack of a celeb look- alike, came home armed with magazines. Anjali and Lola put up a whole bunch of celeb pictures - most of them dark and beautiful on her closet.
I grew fond of Freida Pinto for showing up at the right time to do the heavy lifting for me. When Lola turned 10, I saw Freida Pinto on The Daily Show. I paid close attention. She looked fabulous, supremely confident. She disarmed and dismayed me at the same time. Her British-Indian-Ameican accent was weird, but then she is an Indian, living in the UK, and was at the moment promoting an American movie. She put her foot into her mouth - referring to Andy Serkis as 'trained' to do his monkey role; when caught at it, laughed at herself and shrugged it off.
Her ease with herself, and the naivete that let her do this was refreshing. Then she went on to confess that she had never seen the original Planet of the Apes. Does no one do home work anymore?
Someone told me that it is ok to feel two conflicting ways about a person. Lola is older and is able to listen and look at Freida.
Do I, or don't I want to have Freida as my Indian-American girl's role model anymore?
( The accompanying video is may not be viewable by some audience outside the US.)