I know you know my aversion to look beautiful stay slim scenario and its been some time since I voiced my inconsequential opinion and silent protest. Ok, now I have been moved and touched and felt excited about a lotta ads in my short lifetime. Ads like the Zoozoos, a particularly favourite tanishq ad, an avenger ad, an ICICI ad, most cadbury ads, but the new dove ad, got me thinking. Its a fabulous concept.
If you haven’t watched the latest Dove ad, it’s a web only commercial that made its debut in mid-April as part of Dove’s ongoing “Campaign for real beauty.” In the spot, which is presented in both three- and seven-minute versions, a forensic sketch artist draws several women, based only on their descriptions. (They’re concealed behind a screen.) Then he draws a different portrait of each woman, based on descriptions by relative strangers. The resulting sketches are displayed side by side; in all cases the portraits inspired by strangers are more flattering than the women’s own versions of themselves. The tagline reads: “You are more beautiful than you think.”There is one primary reason why the ad is so successful. It’s not that beauty is skin deep or that every woman wants to look beautiful (yawn). It’s because, unless you’re Megan Fox, all women are insecure about their looks. If you have a nice face, you believe your thighs are too fat or that your hips are too flared.
Sometimes there’s a chink in the membrane of your self-disgust and you have a flash of what you look like to others – in the slanted gaze of a stranger, a lover’s discerning touch or a parent’s blunt compliment. But most days, you live as a spectator in the courtroom of the self and if you’re a woman, the verdict is seldom favourable.
There are different kinds of beauty. There are those who suspect they might be beautiful. They belong to the planet of I-am-a-rare-species-on-the-brink-of-extinction. Then there are those with porcelain faces and Medusa smiles who wax unbearable about a cutely crooked nose. Those are the moments you wish their noses would have a chance encounter with a ball hit by Chris Gayle. Then there is the majority whose brains strive constantly for perfection and to satisfy their cranial thirst, they exist in a limbo of fairness creams and body mists.
What it all boils down to is this: women don’t believe beauty is subjective. Subjective is an airy and trifle insubstantial word: Beauty, on the other hand, is concrete, real. We don’t want any of that bull about inner tube lights lighting up. If you say we have beautiful souls, we’ll thwack you with the back of a cricket bat.
Why do we think the meaning of life lies in beauty? It’s because many of us believe beauty is the passport to the land of ‘The Other’. By the other, I mean the woman with Angelina Jolie’s lips and Shilpa Shetty’s erstwhile body – a lethal combination that women term ‘aspiration’ and advertising agencies like Dove call ‘marketing strategy’. In the life of ‘the other’ lies everything Good and Holy – hips that have no reaction to chocolate chip cookies, hair that gleams like a lit-up Christmas tree and Brad Pitt’s babies 😉
And let’s not forget the male gaze – the portentous gaze of the male specimen lathering on flattery like oil in an Ayurveda massage. The sisterhood of beauty seekers swears to each other that they don’t shave their legs for their men. Yet, razor sales witness an alarming high during dating season.
I once remember a friend commenting that you feel insulted if men catcall you when you walk by and you feel insulted if they don’t. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Which side are you on?!