Over the last one year, there has been an increase in certain kinds of articles going around on the web. “Reasons Not To Get Married At 25,” “Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged At 23,” “Things To Do Instead Of Getting Married,” and so on and so forth.
If you look at it from a distance, they serve as a great inspiration telling women, especially Indian women, that there is more to life beyond marriage and there is nothing wrong being single at 25. But a closer look reveals a not so rosy picture.
The content of these articles is often silly, with points such as “travel instead of getting married,” or “get a pet” or “experience a heartbreak”. It also talks about how marrying early at 23 or 24 is like leaving a party at 10 pm. It’s almost as if we’re telling women NOT to get married at 23 or 24 or 25 instead of telling them to get married when they are genuinely ready. The truth is, these articles have brought about a new kind of phenomenon in the society – marriage shaming. We just don’t want to be happy for a girl getting married before 26-27 anymore!
Pooja (name changed), explains it well, “When my best friend announced, at the age of 24, that she was engaged to be married soon, my first reaction was horror. I was horrified that she wanted to get married so early! Of course I put a happy front for her, but inside I felt bad that she was going to miss out on so much! Until one day, I sat and thought about it and realized she hasn’t been pressurized or forced into getting married. She’s happy and it’s a decision she has taken after much thought. It was at that moment I realized that I had been marriage shaming her in my head all this while.”
Radhika’s (name changed) experience as a young bride has also been similar. ” I got married at 23 after dating my now husband for a few years. When I first told my friends, a lot of them tried to actually advise me to wait it out a few more years, because I hadn’t experienced enough in life. I understand that they were looking out for me, but even after repeatedly telling a lot of them that this is what I wanted, they continued to tell me that getting married so early wasn’t the way to go about it. A year later, I’m loving it. A lot of things my friends thought I’d miss out on, I’m actually experiencing with my husband which makes it all the more better experience. However, a lot of my friends till date, take subtle digs at me at how I married young,” she says.
Why is it that many individuals instantly resort to shaming anyone who decides to marry early according to our standard? Why is it assumed that their sole aim in life was to get married and now they are going to be boring individuals who won’t travel or do crazy things or have a girls night out (actual points from some of the “must do before you marry” articles)? Where did the choice, and the respect for that choice go?