Pop Culture Thursday: What We Can Learn from Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is the bubbly star of the show The Mindy Project on FOX. She isn’t your stereotypical star: she’s a woman, she’s Indian, and she’s not a size zero. Mindy was recently interviewed for Rolling Stone about gender bias, and this is what she had to say:

“More than half the questions I am asked are about the politics of the way I look. What it feels like to be not skinny/dark-skinned/a minority/not conventionally pretty/female/etc. It’s not very interesting to me, but I know it’s interesting to people reading an interview. Sometimes I get jealous of white male showrunners when 90 percent of their questions are about characters, story structure, creative inspiration, or, hell, even the business of getting a show on the air. Because as a result the interview of me reads like I’m interested only in talking about my outward appearance and the politics of being a minority and how I fit into Hollywood, blah blah blah. I want to shout, “Those were the only questions they asked!”

I totally get caught up reading interviews like that, but what Mindy says is so true. Even interviews acknowledging how great it is that “this star is a minority!!” are inherently sexist and prejudiced. We shouldn’t even have to talk about how different someone is from the norm. We should be able to ask women questions that show some of their intelligence! Their thought process! We should be able to talk about women with BRAINS! Asking Mindy about how she feels about being “not skinny” just reinforces the thought that all women who are in the public eye/are confident/are HAPPY should be teeny tiny. Asking her how she feels being a minority or being a female is reinforcing the fact that if you ARE a minority/woman and you work in this kind of job market, you’re an oddball. If you’re an oddball, we all need to constantly check up on you to see if you’re about to fall to pieces from the stress. 

Moral of the story: Let’s start interviewing women about their accomplishments, not the things that make them “different”. Focusing on these differences is really just widening the gap between what is socially acceptable on the big screen and what isn’t.

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One thought on “Pop Culture Thursday: What We Can Learn from Mindy Kaling

  1. Pingback: Take Five | University of Minnesota Women's Center Blog

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