Is Mindy Kaling the new age 30 something Barbie doll?
I was introduced to “The Mindy Project”, which is a show about a 30 something second generation Indian American, who is an OBGYN with a private practice in Manhattan. She’s a size 8 or 10 (US). She’s a very successful doctor who is witty, funny, friendly and talks a lot. She might be more dramatic than an average girl of her age but heck, what do I know about American women. If I were to go by American TV shows, she might just be as dramatic as any average American.
There may be an element of her own personality in the character she portrays. So far, most Indian Americans I know can relate to her in someway or another, but the part which is a tad bit unrealistic is her incredible ability to go on a date with a different guy in every episode giving the 30 something single female audience of that age group a huge complex about their own single lives.
When I was a little girl with 7 Barbies (ok, 1 was a Skipper and the other was a Tiny Tot, but still same family), I was never fascinated by them. I never wanted to grow up to be like them. All I wanted to do was comb their silky hair, give them cool hair cuts and hope that my mum wouldn’t notice that these expensive dolls have been utterly maimed. Sometimes I would also like to undress them and toss them into a bucket and pretend like they were swimming. Ok, I’m getting carried away now.
While Barbie didn’t significantly impact my life, I’ve learnt that there’s been a huge debate in the world about the psychological impact of these dolls on young girls. Girls are apparently inspired by the “hour glass” figure, flawless skin, glossy lips, smooth and silky hair of Barbies and spend their adolescent and adulthood torturing themselves to somehow comply with this ideal woman image of Barbies.
So, over the years, Mattel (the company that invented “Barbie”) has been trying very hard to deal with the criticism constructively and has started using Barbie for educational purposes by creating “Doctor Barbie” and “Engineer Barbie” (“Entrepreneur Barbie” being the latest). They hope to inspire young women to look upto Barbie for the right reasons.
Not having ever looked up to Barbie for the right or wrong reasons, I guess I didn’t understand this debate until last night when I was watching the first season of the Mindy Project. Mindy manages to find a new guy to date (sometimes even bed) in every single episode just like hailing a cab in NYC. This portrayal attempts to destroy the stereotype of an American woman of colour in her 30s, while isolating the average woman in the audience, because this portrayal is far from the truth.
I was okay seeing Carie Bradshaw do this in sex and the city because I already knew that men are into women who are blonde, size zero and dress suggestively. Making it appear like it is super easy for women of size and colour to find single men is not fair since it isn’t accurate. This aberration can be scarring for 30 something single women struggling to find a partner.
I’ve single friends who are beautiful, smart, successful, witty, funny and the most wonderful human beings I know. Yet these women have had to scavenge the market for years before they can find a man who is remotely decent. This, my friends, is the hard truth. So, single women out there, if you’re obsessed or in awe of “The Mindy Project”, I agree it’s a great sitcom but don’t kill yourselves over it for it’s not a tiny bit real (just like the Barbie doll).