Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Jess Bhamra

When I saw Bend It Like Beckham for the first time ten years ago, I laughed so hard, I never thought I’d recover. Thankfully, I did and now I’m able to tell you about the star character for Women Who Wow Wednesday. Her name is Jesminder “Jess” Kaur Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) and she likes football—soccer here in North America. She likes watching it. Playing it. Breathing it. She’s a regular fan.

Parminder Nagra & Keira Knightley
Parminder Nagra & Keira Knightley

One day, Juliette “Jules” Paxton (Keira Knightley) watches her play against the boys and she decides to approach her about an offer that may very well change her life. Jules wants Jess to come along and have a trial with the Hounslow Harriers, an all-girls football team. Jess doesn’t know what to say. She asks Jules if she thinks she’s good enough. Of course Jess is good enough, otherwise Jules wouldn’t have asked her.

There’s one problem. Jess is Indian playing English football. Under normal circumstances, this would be acceptable, but Jess’ parents are very strict about what their daughter can and can’t do with her life. One thing she can’t do is play and horseplay with the boys in the park. This is off limits. They also do not like their daughter to wear shorts, which amounts to revealing too much of herself to the opposite sex. In other words, they do not like her “running around half naked in front of men”. Did I mention her parents are strict? Yeah.

Parminder Nagra as Jess Bhamra
Parminder Nagra as Jess Bhamra

Adding to Jess’ list of “things I hate my parents do to me when I want to do something else,” her mom wants her to learn how to make a full Punjabi dinner—meat and vegetarian. Her parents wouldn’t be able to show their face in the temple otherwise. Did I mention that her parents also forbid her to continue with her football career? They want her to start acting like a real woman, settle down, think about the future and kids, just like her unhappy sister who also follows their traditions in these modern times.

So what does Jess do? She sneaks around, going against her parents’ wishes in order to fulfill her dream of playing in an all-girls football team. Why? Jess feels that if she didn’t try her best with achieving her dream, despite her parents’ wanting her to keep their traditions, then she’d feel like a total failure for the rest of her life with nothing else to live for other than cook, clean, do the dishes, laundry and look after the kids.

Remember, all this is on top of her being the only Indian girl on her team.

If anything’s certain, Jess has a will to overcome. She doesn’t allow the negativity in her life to rule her sanity or her motivation to accomplish her goals.

Jess is a true achiever who is better than “good enough”.

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Have you ever heard of the movie Bend It Like Beckham? If you have, what did you like about Jess?