Beauty standards are hard to keep up with and in a country as diverse as India, it is near impossible to live upto the conventional expectations. Grow your hair long and strong, even though we are living in a tropical country. Make your skin fairer so that you can get a fair marriage deal, and if some fairness cream ads are to be believed, you could also get successful in your career. And, sadly, this is the ugly truth.
Female representation in media is always the conventional beauty: the fair, lissome figure with long black straight-hair. There’s hardly a leading lady from the film industry who’s not been under a knife or undergone permanent feature-enhancing procedures. Our obsession with beauty conventions runs so deep that when our film industry wanted to make a biographical movie on Mary Kom, the boxing champion from Manipur, it roped in former Miss India and Miss World Priyanka Chopra to play the lead role!
So, when I looked at the latest in Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ initiative for India – “Let’s break the rules of beauty,” it felt good, ringed in hope and renewed a strong will within me to catalyze change in our society.
The 50-second spot has been directed by renowned screenwriter and documentary filmmaker, Pan Nalin. It showcases a variety of women from the length and breadth of this country: tall, thin, stout, short, old, young, dark complexioned, wheatish, fair, black hair, grey hair, straight-haired, curly haired, wavy-haired, long haired, short haired, tiny eyes, medium eyes, big eyes, saree-clad, salwar-kameez clad as well as dressed in maxis, tops, jeans and sporting bindis, jhumkas, nose rings and more.
None of them fit the Indian beauty ideal of “youthful looks, fair skin, long black flowing hair and a trim figure.”
The voice of a woman begins the story of nearly 631 million beautiful women in India, of all ages, shapes, sizes and skin tones. Yet, as a society, we’re often led to believe in a very limited idea of beauty. It ends with all of them smiling to the camera, while the voiceover says, “Let’s break the rules of beauty.”
The film is inviting women to join the conversations using #RealBeauty. One can also join the movement at the campaign website by uploading their own photos. The idea is to showcase the different faces of beauty in our country.
Dove India’s social media channels are engaging women with beauty polls and inviting them to apply with their pictures for a true representation of Indian beauty. People are also being sensitized towards this issue with brand survey results that throw light on how Indian women feel about existing beauty perceptions.
Bonding with the 631 M Indian women
‘Let’s break the rules of beauty’ has been created specifically for India. The last time the brand initiated an India-specific campaign was in 2014, with “Dove Self-Esteem Project.” It has already educated 300,000 young people to date, as reported by the brand, it aspires to reach 2.65 million young people by 2020.
“India is a country growing and evolving at a rapid pace and yet the traditional beauty ideal remains narrow and restrictive. In fact, our new research suggests 76 percent of Indian women believe that in today’s society, it is critical to meet certain beauty standards,” said Victoria Sjardin, senior global brand director, Dove Masterbrand. “This campaign is designed to encourage India to embrace its diversity in beauty, and spark change against the variety of pressures and influences that are keeping a narrow beauty ideal alive.”
Celebrating ‘Real Beauty’ in all its diverse forms fits like a glove for a diverse country like India. For Brand Dove, this is another marketing win in its decade-long journey of #RealBeauty powered by a simple collective thought – “Every body is beautiful.”