The World Before Her Documentary
We have seen in India that female gender roles can be vastly different depending on which caste, religion, or economic status you are born into. There are females in India who are very similar to American culture and other females that are in no way like western culture. The roles and expectations of women in India are varied for many reasons. The females that live in the slums from the book Behind the Beautiful Forevers, definitely have more freedom and equality than the pageant or Hindu fundamentalist girls we saw in The World Before Her.
The pageant girls in The World Before Her had a lot of freedom. The freedom they enjoyed, however, did have limits. They were able to follow their dreams as individuals rather than conforming to the popular beliefs of many Indian people in limited ways.
The pageant girls highlighted in the documentary had the support of their families. Ruhi came from what appeared to be a middle class family who very much wanted her to win the pageant. Winning Miss India World was Ruhi’s dream, but she also knew that dream might not come true. She was realistic about the possibility of not winning, and stated that she would use the pageant exposure to move up and make a name for herself in the world. Ruhi’s forward thinking and future plans from the pageant publicity makes her role as a pageant girl less superficial.
The pageant girl’s freedom was impeded during the bikini portion of the pageant. The documentary showed a protest from 1996 of people who did not want any of the contestants appearing in bikinis. Protestors were still present in 2011 as told in the documentary. The girls were hidden away with tight security during the bikini portion of the pageant. It was stated that protestors believed that girls in India should be married by age eighteen, not have careers, and definitely not appear in public wearing a bikini. Although, the pageant girls had support of their families and more...