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Dove takes on India's matrimonial ads with #StopTheBeautyTest

The ad calls out the stereotypes associated with Indian matchmaking

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NEW DELHI: We have all come across them- matrimonial ads screaming “Bride Wanted: Fair, slim, tall…”. These labels have become so ingrained and embedded in our collective psyche that we cannot visualise beauty in any other form or size. It is this beauty typecast that Dove wishes to challenge with its new campaign. Taking Dove’s core messaging of real beauty as against unrealistic stereotypes of beauty even further, HUL has launched its new ad campaign exhorting us to ‘Stop The Beauty Test’. Questioning ‘How much beauty is enough?’, the campaign urges one to look at the beautiful aspects of a person’s personality and not their shortcomings. Khoobiyan dekho, khaamiyan nahin says the ad released across print, television and digital media in multiple regional languages.

Conceptualised by Ogilvy India, the ad film captures what women go through during an arranged marriage matchmaking setup. It highlights society’s fixation with certain beauty ideals, wherein anyone falling short of those standards are made to feel rejected or undesirable. Through real-life stories of five real women chosen from cities across India, who have undergone similar experiences in their lives, the film showcases what every woman endures when she is put under the scanner at a momentous point of her life. Each of the scenarios depict women being judged for their weight, height, the shade of their skin and even hair type or birth marks, which do not meet society’s beauty standards. It goes on to talk about the impact this relentless judgement has on her self-esteem.  

The print ad, written in long format, tackles how a girl is subjected to these beauty stereotypes and biases right from childhood. And how it only gets worse as she becomes of a marriageable age and enters the ‘marriage market’. “They will weigh you with their eyes. They will try to match the colour of your skin to the colour of your expectations,” it reads, while illustrating how a female is constantly looked at and judged through the marriage lens. It talks about how the pressures and anxieties around conforming to a narrow ideal of beauty in the run-up to arranged marriage diminishes a woman’s self-image.

Dove strongly believes that a woman’s looks should be a source of confidence and joy for her, and not a way to demean her or run her down. Through the years Dove has strived to drive in this message via their campaigns. With this new, hard hitting campaign that makes us question our own inherent prejudices and preconceptions of what beauty is, Dove attempts to provoke conversations around our shallow perceptions of looks that nullify a woman’s self-worth. And delivers a powerful appeal to stop putting women through this unjust, beauty test.

To further this important conversation and to ensure the campaign objective is sustained where it matters most, Dove has partnered with leading matrimonial platforms. The tie-up is based on the shared belief that the matchmaking process should be free of beauty biases. Dove and Shaadi.com have also come together to encourage users on the platform to look beyond body type, size or complexion, and to inspire acceptance of new sizes and shades of beautiful.

In addition, Dove intends to help rewrite matrimonial ads free of beauty biases to drive substantial change in this direction. It also plans to partner with leading women magazines in India, to celebrate the beauty of women who were not seen as beautiful enough in the run-up to marriage. The campaign is a progressive step of a larger change that HUL and Dove intend to herald. And the message Dove aims to deliver is loud and clear: When you look for beauty you will find beauty. When you look for flaws, you will find flaws. To foster this mindset change, Dove exhorts us as a society to take it upon ourselves to stop this dreadful beauty test.

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