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“YES! I am a woman. I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??”


Deepika Padukone, one of the most well-known and appreciated actresses of Bollywood, has fueled – and rightly so - a controversy on the way Indian media treat women in general. And her cleavage was the spark that started the heated debate.

It all began last week, when the online version of the daily newspaper The Times of India tweeted an image of Padukone with the caption: “OMG: Deepika Padukone's cleavage show!”. Attached was a photograph taken during a public outing last year, in which the beautiful actress gave a glimpse (and not even a shocking one) of her curves.

Padukone, irritated, fired back on Twitter:

“YES! I am a woman. I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??”

Followed by:

“Don't talk about Woman's Empowerment when YOU don't know how to RESPECT Women!”

That obviously refers to what is happening right now in India. All those media campaigns – with The Times of India at the forefront with its usual preachy tone – standing up for women’s rights, respect and public awareness on the appalling conditions of women in India were wiped out by the mere opportunity to get quick hits using Padukone’s curves, duly highlighted in red in the picture.

This is yet another way to fight the battle in favor of women's dignity in India, rather than waiting for one more heinous crime of rape to be committed to start expressing public outrage.

The news, therefore, that a big movie star is personally engaged in the struggle to raise public awareness on such a prickly issue is a great sign of change that gives a glimmer of hope for the future.

Padukone, just as Priyanka Chopra before her, has decided to stop ignoring the issue, demanding that her private life and her image as a woman be publicly protected, setting apart her sexy onscreen characters from her off screen personality.

The actress brilliantly expressed her thoughts in a post on Facebook, reacting to the response by The Times of India, which (lamely) attempted to defend its cheap sensationalism with a tweet that read: @deepikapadukone It's a compliment! You look so great that we want to make sure everyone knew! :)

You can read here the letter that Padukone posted, from which I’ve selected a particularly striking passage (by all means go ahead and read the whole letter!):



“I have no issue celebrating my body and I have never shied away from anything on-screen to portray a character. In fact my next character portrayed is a bar dancer (sorry Farah for the spoiler!) who titillates men as a means to support her livelihood. My issue is you propagating the objectification of a REAL person, and not a character being played. Sure, dissect my characters if you wish-if it is of so much interest then discuss the character's cup size and leg length if it is relevant to making the role convincing. All I am asking for is respect as a woman off-screen. It is not about breasts, penises, or any other body part being reported. It is a matter of context and how out-of-context the reportage is just to sell a headline. And more so during a time in dire need of an attitude shift towards women.”

It may be a drop in the ocean, but something is definitely changing. The debate is broadening, engaging nearly every newspaper in India, for the most part supporting Padukone’s position.

Soutik Biswas, writing for BBC, has gathered here the reactions of the Indian press. I don’t think that such a debate would have been possible just two years ago. Along with the Jadavpur University protests, episodes like these are heartwarming and, in the long term, good for the country.

Traduzione a cura di Sayuri Romei.

Deepika Padukone, one of the most well-known and appreciated actresses of Bollywood, has fueled – and rightly so – a controversy on the way Indian media treat women in general. And her cleavage was the spark that started the heated debate.

It all began last week, when the online version of the daily newspaper The Times of India tweeted an image of Padukone with the caption: “OMG: Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show!”. Attached was a photograph taken during a public outing last year, in which the beautiful actress gave a glimpse (and not even a shocking one) of her curves.

Padukone, irritated, fired back on Twitter:

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