PhD student Jerusha Mather calls out to Netflix to include the voices of people with disabilities in their reality TV show, Indian Matchmaking.
I am Sri Lankan, so my culture is quite similar to Indian culture. Matchmaking is very popular in these countries, however there are some things that I disagree with.
The sad thing is that people with disabilities experience discrimination in the matchmaking process. And they should be allowed to share their stories on reality TV shows, such as Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking.
Some people in this somewhat toxic culture usually identify disabilities as problems or burdens, and do not recognise those with disabilities as equally contributing citizens. They sometimes put you in a box and imply “you should only date someone with a disability” or “you don’t deserve to be loved by someone due to your differences”. We already see this in western culture, but in Asian culture, it’s worse. We are not seen as humans, but as aliens.
There’s an expectation that we should be perfect to be in a relationship, when the reality is that nobody is perfect. Everyone has flaws and weaknesses, and that’s perfectly okay. I say this from overhearing conversations with people in my culture.
Indeed, we are all attracted to different people. However, people with disabilities are attractive. Even more, it annoys me that dark-skinned girls are not considered beautiful in this culture. We always see Indian movies feature fairer-skinned actresses. And some idiotic men and their families think that’s what defines beauty. If only she had fair skin, was slim, and was a housewife, she would be considered a beautiful girl. And an ideal match.
In reality, there is a lot about people that makes them attractive. Their smile. Their beautiful soul. Their way of life. Their energy. Their humility and gentleness. I think all these things matter more.
I want to change and challenge some people’s perceptions about disabilities, especially in the culture, hopefully by raising awareness on the show. I probably wouldn’t want Sima to be my matchmaker, but I’d prefer to work with someone non-traditional, whose values align with my own.
Despite all my achievements, I’d hate if someone told me I wasn’t worthy of finding a partner due to my physical differences.
These conversations need to be bought to the table and discussed. Although uncomfortable, it’s necessary. These need to be confronted and dealt with directly and personally.
I would love to become a primary cast member for the popular Netflix show Indian Matchmaking and represent people with disabilities. I’m from Australia, so I think it would also be nice to have someone from this country on the show. I am the queen of real-life drama and wit. If you are an executive producer, come and get me – wink, wink.
About Jerusha Mather
Jerusha Mather is completing her PhD at Victoria University. She is investigating strength training and non-invasive brain stimulation in adults with cerebral palsy. Jerusha received a career development grant from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. She is a recipient of the Bridge Create Change Award and the prestigious L’Oréal -UNESCO Women in Science mentee program. She was also an outstanding finalist in the Women’s Agenda Leadership Award (in the Health category) and is a profound motivational speaker and poet who recently published her poetry collection ‘Burnt Bones and Beautiful Butterflies”. She is also a leading disability activist, particularly for medical students with a disability, inclusive immigration, and accessible packaging and fashion. The Australian Academy of Sciences acknowledged her as one of the STEM change makers. A portrait of her is on Questacon ( the National Science Centre) as one of the most outstanding female role models in medicine. Her petition on change.com regarding increasing accessible packaging received over 13,000 signatures. In her spare time, she enjoys music and travelling.