Academic excellence vs. unrealistic beauty standards: The story of Prachi Nigam

Karishma Jangid
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Prachi Nigam

Social media's response to Prachi Nigam's academic success marred by body shaming over her facial hair underscores the pervasive gender bias and societal pressures faced by girls and women.

Yet again, we wake up to the same old story: people mocking girls for not fitting unrealistic beauty standards. In the latest episode of body shaming, there's Prachi Nigam, a teenager from Uttar Pradesh. She aced her class 10th boards with a whopping 98.5 percent. But instead of celebrating her success, some folks on social media decided to shame her for having facial hair. Nobody knows where this trolling spree begins online, but recently, a tweet making fun of Prachi's 'grooming skills' went viral. The tweet in question suggested that even though Prachi excelled academically, she should 'work on her grooming skills.'

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The man who posted this tweet justified his ‘opinion’ in the comments.

When someone suggested that Prachi might be suffering from PCOS/ PCOD, he still emphasized grooming.

The original tweet spread on Twitter with many giving similar ‘opinions’ on Prachi’s facial features. Some questioned her gender while some had (unsolicited) advice for her. The creative ones, on the other hand, used AI to create a picture of her without facial hair.

A girl tops the boards but even that isn’t enough for society. Nobody asked Prachi or considered her voice but everyone had an opinion on her. A more pressing question is that when a girl as academically successful as Prachi isn’t safe from gender-based trolling, sexism, and body shaming, what happens to the rest of the girls and women in this country? What about queer folks? What about women who have facial hair simply out of genetics and cannot blame PCOD/PCOS? Hell, what about women who choose to flaunt their facial hair? While the situation seems and is bleak, there is some hope in knowing that a lot of social media users stood in support of Prachi. 

It is exhausting to be a girl; everyone has an opinion about you and no matter how hard you try, you always end up falling short. Perhaps wisdom lies in acknowledging that we cannot and should not please everyone. Academic achievements, no ‘grooming,’ whatever makes YOU happy, should be and is enough. Here’s to many more Prachi Nigams who continue to inspire us with the radical act of being themselves.

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Body Shaming Prachi Nigam