People are so good at unsolicited advice. Unlike common sense, it comes naturally to everyone. Women of course, are the Nosey Uncleji’s favourite targets – everything about our clothes, our careers, and our choice (gasp!) of men, sets them off into giving friendly, “well-meaning” advice.
I reached out to women around me to ask for pieces of such friendly, well-meaning, yet entirely unsolicited advice they had received. The following are 10 such examples of unsolicited advice received by various women, at various times about various problems that may or may not have been on their mind.
One fine evening I decided to pop out to meet my friends, I did what anyone would do and hail and auto. “Malleswaram,” I said and got in. The auto driver looked at me a little worried. “Are you doing home?” he asked me, his voice quivering with concern. “No.” I replied (though in retrospect, I don’t know why I obliged him). And with all the genuine worry in the world, the auto driver said: You should go home only at this time. Don’t go out. Why are you doing out?
Smoking is unhealthy. We all know it. But did you know it’s worse for women? That’s the impression I have after constantly being told that smoking is not good for girls.” For girls. For men, it’s fine. So if you’re a man, go ahead and smoke as much as you want because apparently, only women get lung cancer. Thank you world, for bringing this to my attention.
During a bout of flu, I went to meet the doctor. Coughing and sniffing, I waited at his office, hoping that he would just give me a prescription that would knock off my cold and fever. But to him, my presence in his office was about so much more than my red nose and watering eyes. “See,” he said, with such seriousness in his voice, “If you take care of your skin now, you’ll look so good when you’re married.”
I decided to tag along with my parents to the temple one Sunday evening. As I stared at the long pillars and decorated ceilings, the priest came around with his offerings. He dropped something in my hand, stared at me with all the concern in the world, and said, “If you eat this now, you will definitely have a boy child.”
We all have moments when we’re unsure of our future. It can be unnerving at times. So I decided to talk to the person who’s supposed to make me feel better: my therapist. I sat across him and pouted my heart out about my hopes and dreams and my need to study further. “But why,” came the stellar advice, “Why waste your parents money by studying? What use is it to you?”
Like anyone else, I assumed that standing in public was acceptable social behaviour. I also assumed that personal conversations, especially about my body, weren’t exactly the topic that strangers felt comfortable talking about. But I can be naive. As I stood, in public, minding my own business, a considerate stranger came up to me and gave me some incredible advice on my “health”. “Do more squats, it will make you sexier.”
Speaking of bodies, people always seem to have my health and well-being in mind. It’s just so heart-warming> I could be walking on the street, sitting in a bus, waiting at the bar, or even just lying in my bed, and I get so much advice about my health. “If you just lose a little bit of weight you’d look so good!”
One hot morning I waited for the bus under the scorching sun. The sweat was pouring down my face, my arms and my legs. It was no surprise that I was wearing shorts. It was just so excruciatingly hot. As I sat there, shrivelling up in the sun, a group of boys passed me. One of them looked back and sneered, “Did you leave the rest of your pants at home?”
Theres this secret code between women that I was never told, but apparently just had to know. You’re never ever supposed to show your bra strap to anyone. So no matter where I was or what I was doing, if there was even a slight hint of that damned strap in the vicinity, it would be pushed away into the depths of my clothing. Sorry, woman-kind, nobody ever told me they were evil!
(Body-shaming, slut-shaming and moral policing is very often conducted by women over other women – a consequence of internalized misogyny. Read our piece on internalized misogyny to better understand it.)
Relationships are complicated. There’s a lot of compromising in them. But did you know that as a woman, your word doesn’t count as much as your body does? At least, according to this gentlemen, who was heard giving another woman some amazing marital advice: “You need to have sex with your husband every day and keep him satisfied if you want to have any say in the relationship.”
I hope these pieces of unsolicited advice transformed your life radically, just as they did mine!