Hey ladies — just in case you forgot: even if you jump through hoops, soar over hurdles and work your ass off for your career, when you finally succeed, you should really make sure to shut up about your accomplishments! The recent criticisms of Mindy Kaling, who presently co-writes, co-produces and stars in Fox’s new The Mindy Project, attests to this.
First of all, Mindy Kaling is damn talented. Not only did she write for and act in an acclaimed series, write a successful memoir, graduate from Dartmouth, writes insanely funny Tweets and probably shits diamonds, Kaling is unapologetic with her personality. She doesn’t pretend she somehow just got really lucky and her ambition, talent and intelligence had nothing to do with it. Many people who work with her agree that she’s truly special: Fox’s Kevin Reilley stated, “She’s really smart about how open she is to being a mixture of both vulnerable and strong; she’s a woman that I think other women relate to.”
However, not everybody is so impressed. There are those who feel Kaling’s success is not only undeserved, but that her confidence is downright unsettling.
She’s self-effacing to inflate her ego via ensuing audience laughter when she isn’t being flat-out arrogant… Many people are in love with themselves and little in today’s culture would have them ashamed to express as much; however it takes a certain kind to be in love with her own narcissism. Mindy Kaling truly is exceptional. She backs it up, though. “I feel like I can go head-to-head with the best white, male comedy writers that are out there,” she said.
Um, yeah, she’s exceptional: she’s 33 and has her own television show. Yet as Jezebel points out, “in an industry dominated largely by white men, Kaling is a threat to the status quo: she’s young, a woman, and a minority.” Plus, she’s 5’2″ and probably a size 6-8, so she’s even more dissimilar to 95% of young actresses on television. But by calling her names like “smug,” people who wish to find something, anything to criticize her on can do so while still acknowledging that she’s successful.
Kaling is playing a character that appears similarly to her public image: silly, hilarious, unapologetic, occasionally sexual. Writers like Lena Dunham have also been criticized for being similar to the characters in their shows, but why? If we looked at every book written by a male that was a “classic” and used the writer’s own personality and life as an inspiration source, it would be difficult to find reviews that criticized it primarily for being “too similar” to the writer. Yet a woman doing the same, even in 2012, is still seen as something to be frowned upon.
It goes along with the way ambitious men in the workplace are seen as determined and serious whereas women are seen as cold bitches. Men who are proud of themselves are confident; women who are proud of themselves are conceited. Female success is something many men have yet to adjust to; the success of a young non-white female? Hmm…
So next time you’re planning on offending people through your success, ladies, don’t forget to shut up and curtsey to remind them that they’re big strong men and little ol’ you ain’t no threat! Or just take their jobs and do them better than they do.