Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Burst Media Bubbles :Behind every woman’s success there is a fairness cream

The grip of advertising on media strengthens as it become more and more dependent on advertising revenue for survival in the market. This has lead to the growing proportion of advertisements in all media channels and their ever increasing influence on the mainstream ideology of the society.

Advertisements reinforce the stereotypical definitions of gender where traditionally established male and female roles in the Indian patriarchal society are emphasised over and over. Indian advertisements still consider looking after children, washing, cooking, cleaning, and other domestic chores as the domain of women. Most advertisements show women as ‘objects of beauty’ or as representing the ‘glorified womanhood’. This idealisation put tremendous pressure on women. The repeated exposure to these advertisements especially through visual media has profound psychological impacts on the audience.

The message that the myriad of cosmetic advertisements, irrespective of their brands, perpetuates is that for attaining social approval and success in life, women should have a fair, flawless complexion. The ads of popular brands like Fair and Lovely, Lux, Garnier, No marks repeatedly reinforce this notion.
[Check This out:Part1, Part 2 ,Part 3,Part 4,Part 5 ]
Here is the recent example of the ‘Ponds cream’ ad that features popular Bollywood actors Saif Ali Khan,Priyanka Chopra and Neha Dhupia.This advertising tells young girls how important it is for them to be fair and beautiful so that their boyfriends will not leave them and go in search of fair-skinned beauties. The lengthy ad fashioned in a Bollywood movie set-up with 5 parts depicts the relationship between a young girl and her boyfriend. Her boyfriend dumps her because she was dark complexioned and therefore ‘not beautiful’. The desperate girl came to know about his new girl friend and laments over her dark skin. In the meantime, she came across a Ponds cream ad and started using it. They happened to meet again and she couldn’t conceal her love for him. As guaranteed, the seven weeks continuous use of Ponds Cream gives her skin a ‘radiant pinkish-white glow’. Finally Saif left Neha and came back to Priyanka and she is all happy again.

The ad reinforces the ‘absurd notion’ that for a woman to be successful and happy in life she should be fair and beautiful. It implies that women are powerless and at the mercy of men if they are not ‘beautiful’. On the other hand Neha, Saif Ali Khan’s new girl friend is portrayed as a fussy and evil woman .

The racist and gender biased implications of these kind of ads have profound impact on popular ideologies in society. These ads glorify the concept of ‘fair-skinned beauty’ which would help women to win men’s appreciation and they show men being mesmerised by women’s gorgeous looks. The ad indicates that men choose women for their physical attractiveness and not her character and inner qualities. In order to enjoy loyalty and fidelity in love, women should always look good and pleasing and the brand offers its fairness creams as a means to achieve this.

Check out the original version of the ad here: -

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