Did you know that three out of four women are rejected because of looks during the arranged marriage process in India? Unsettling, isn’t it?
We’ve seen the classifieds section in the papers ‘Bride Wanted: Tall, slim, fair…’
Too many times have we heard the words ‘too short, too dark, too ugly’ used to describe women.
Dove’s new campaign is challenging the status quo by unveiling real stories of five Indian women who have experienced rejection from potential suitors due to ‘flaws’ in their physical appearance. It provokes pressing questions around the practices involved in the Indian matchmaking process and makes us introspect about our own perspective on beauty.
Conceptualised by Ogilvy India, the film highlights the story of Mahak, Noor, Rajeshwari, Hemali, and Deeksha – five brave, strong and undeniably beautiful women who were put under the scanner to pass the ‘beauty test’ during matchmaking. They are shown to be judged for their weight, complexion, height, the texture of their hair, to birthmarks.
Hemali’s curly hair came in the way of her finding a suitable groom. Let’s get something straight— getting married isn’t a test, your beauty cannot be measured. Let’s #StopTheBeautyTest. Join the movement.#DoveIndia #RealBeauty #BeautyInclusivity #BodyPositivity pic.twitter.com/n67cpOkkt6— Dove India (@Dove_IND) March 5, 2021
The film asks a simple question: How long will the ugly quest for ‘beauty’ go on for?
The brand aims to rewrite the narrative around stereotypical standards of beauty and encourages society to look at merits and talents, instead of looking for flaws – ‘Khaamiyaan Nahi, Khoobiyaan Dekhiye.’
Noor's complexion would have never stopped her from lighting up her in-laws home. Her marriage is not a test, her beauty has to pass. Join the movement. Take the pledge. #StopTheBeautyTest #DoveIndia #RealBeauty #BeautyInclusivity #BodyPositivity— Dove India (@Dove_IND) February 28, 2021
It’s a hard hitting campaign, one that hits close to home for many. But the message is one that is powerful and needs to be heard – there cannot be just one definition of beauty. Beauty is not one-dimensional.
So, what worked for them?
They did their homework
Hindustan Unilever commissioned a study to understand where these standards of beauty and sexism came from. The findings revealed shocking statistics such as about 80 percent girls are pressured to stay ‘beautiful’ or ‘attractive’ so they can be married, 60 percent were told not to play in the sun to avoid tanning.
Based on insights from their research, the company rolled out a film that would resonate with every Indian woman. It’s difficult not to relate when the cast is so diverse. The stories feel personal. Even if you aren’t a woman – you know these things to be true.
They’re walking the talk
Rather than just launching a preachy ad campaign, HUL is actually partnering with matrimonial sites to chime for change in the arranged marriage system in India. Dove will help re-write matrimonial ads free of beauty biases. On shaadi.com, brand ads encouraging both advertisers and users to look beyond physical features and focus on personality traits will be displayed.