During a conversation with A in which we complain (and then complain some more), she broached the topic of Homely Girl, and its meaning in present day Tamil society. Now I don’t claim to be a language expert, but I shall lay claim to some amount of subject matter expertise.
Who is a homely girl? A homely girl isn’t glamorous or typically good looking. To simplify further, she may not be fair/tall/slim (fair, tall, slim: adjectives commonly used to denote beauty). She may need glasses for perfect vision. She wears clothes that are not considered ‘modern’ (relatively speaking, of course – what is modern in Anaikatti may not be modern in Chennai). One special young man seems to have gotten the meaning right – Homely girls don’t wear leggings, he declared. Homely girls speak when spoken to (no talking back, no snarky comments), do not hang around in restaurants/beaches/parks, otherwise known as the immoral ground Tamil movies love to lampoon (they may do so occasionally in a group, but never by themselves). The number of male friends they have is inversely proportional to their homeliness, and the number of romantic relationships in their life will remain one at most (and always end in marriage). They know to cook and to draw a kolam (I hear this is important). They are hesitant to travel alone (be it buying groceries or taking a bus to another city) as they have no experience dealing with the variables these events may throw up (however, this is seen as an adorable indicator of the sheltered life they have been leading). Their language is rated G, and so is their choice of movies. The homely girl is considered an ideal candidate to be someone’s wife, any other talents she may have are irrelevant at this point. Most importantly, homely girls are against consumption of alcohol (they may relax this rule for their male partners).
Here are two examples for you from the past year:
- Keerthy Suresh whose homely girl act in Rajini Murugan set the golden standard for 2016, if popular opinion is to be believed.
- Samantha in Thanga Magan (please note that homely girls do not usually look like Samantha, but she otherwise matches the description). Being homely is about attitude and attire, in equal parts.
If you are still reading, let it be known that contributions are welcome.
P.S. Why is there a war on leggings? I admit it took me some time to warm up to them, because I spent a year with the absurd idea that leggings are manufactured for girls with thigh gaps, but thankfully, that kind of negativity is a thing of the past. Also, this means that all chances I may have had of gaining acceptance to the Homely Girls Club were successfully eradicated about seven years ago.