Tag Archives: beauty

Message In A Bottle That No One Gets – Because It’s A Bit OTT!

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If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, goes a popular saying.

It’s a pretty basic rule that I think most brands should really pay more heed to. But they don’t. Rather, they feel this need to better something that’s going well, or worse, make it deliver a social message. And then it backfires.

If you haven’t guessed already, I am talking about the new Dove campaign, which, hold your breath, is about “celebrating the many shapes and sizes of beauty”. And how do they achieve this noble aim? By releasing “six differently shaped bottles of body wash”. That’s right. It’s a part of its new “Real Beauty” campaign. Read on, it gets better.

The new ad declares that “beauty comes in all shapes and sizes”. The idea being that each shape sort-of correlates with a different body types. Needless to add there are all kinds of shapes shown to us – yup from the hourglass bottle and skinny one to the pear-shaped ones.

Not sure what Dove was thinking. That women are going to now go around buying bottles based on their shapes, by virtue of which they demonstrate to the world that they are proud of their bodies? Well, something like that, maybe. Except, that what sometimes sounds like a great idea in a power point presentation, does not really sound so great when the plan hits the ground!

It’s a classic case of a brand taking itself too seriously  – it’s ok Dove – you don’t have to send any feel-good messages – we women are doing quite alright – really, just sell your body wash. When I buy soap I want to know what it’s made of, at best, not what shape it is and the warm and fuzzy message it’s trying to give me.

Yes, they went too far with the whole celebrate-your-body-type thing. Quitting at the top is not something brands get right often. It was a good campaign – but now it reminds me of assorted bottles sitting awkwardly next to each other, trying to tell me something about my body that is totally lost on me.

Twitter was on fire and Dove’s UK Branch got the brunt of it (yup, their bright idea)

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So, the question to ask is? Why do brands, time and again, fall for it? For the need to appear sensitive and push social messages down people’s throats through their brands that is?

Maybe someone at Dove can explain.

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She’s beautiful. Truly.

What’s real beauty to me? Not a simple question.

Many clichés come to mind, but I reject them all. I think, till, I stop for a moment and think some more. Now thinking, most often, for me at any rate, has a positive result. What’s wrong with clichés? Are there any rules about them? Should one not use them only to sound intellectually superior? Nope, I think.

So, I tell myself, stop all this intellectual bravado, don’t worry, for a moment, about sounding trite, and think. More clichés. Sigh.

I know I want to say something about inner beauty, but what? I am not going to use a cliché!

Then, none other than Marilyn Monroe pops into my head. Gosh! Is that it? Am I so superficial? Fortunately, it’s not her skirt-flying-oh-look-at-me image that comes to mind, it’s what she said about beauty – “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring”. Ironical that she should have said something like that, and I could not agree more.

Imperfection is beauty. I like that. And this is my cue.

Let’s rewind a bit: 1994 Miss India Competition, we sit glued to the TV – little girls and beauty competitions, there’s a direct connection there. (Not that I was little, but the connection starts, much to the consternation of the parents, when girls are little)

I remember it clearly. The competition, it is now quite evident, is between the two, then unknown, aspirants – Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen. The former is blue-eyed, apple and peaches complexioned, straight from the never-written-yet-read-by-everyone beauty book. Yet, something seemed missing and I could not put my finger on it. Don’t get me wrong, I found her beautiful, not to deny that even in my most ah-beauty-is-about-inner-being moments. Yet, like I said, something was amiss, and it was not her puffy hairdo. The latter is beautiful too (they are all, just by the fact that they are at a beauty contest!) and yet, her beauty, for reasons I did not think about then, seemed almost tangible, like you could touch it. It seemed real.

Through the event Aishwarya wore a cat’s-got-the-crown look, something that, ironically, cost her the very crown she coveted. I remember thinking that she was beautiful, yet, I found it difficult to appreciate her beauty. Sushmita, on the other hand, may not have had the conventional looks (whoever defined those) but to me she was stunning. She had the spunk that, eventually, took her to the top.

Fast-forward to 2011: Now I think about those two women. Aishwarya has earned accolades, more than any Indian woman probably, for her physical beauty – her perfect face, her lovely eyes, her smile, et all. She’s probably forgotten that 1994 loss, or maybe learned from it. But that’s not the point.

Think, for a moment, about those two women today. Sushmita’s beauty has manifested itself in a way that Aishwarya’s simply cannot. How many women, and single women at that, do we know who have adopted girls and given them a loving home? Not many. Sushmita did not need to do that, she is rich and successful and could, like mostly everyone around her, live in her own little world, concentrating on herself and not much else. It’s easy to lose sight of reality when you are famous. But Sushmita seems to have her feet firmly on the ground.

Kudos to her, I say. She, to me, is truly beautiful and defines what real beauty is about.

And, I am sure she makes a beautiful mother too. Maybe we should ask Renee and Alisah about what Real Beauty means to them? They’ll probably have the perfect answer.

Here I quote Zadie Smith, who says that beauty is found where you would not expect to find it : “Pulchritude–beauty where you would least suspect it, hidden in a word that looked like it should signify a belch or a skin infection”.

Who would’ve thought that a former beauty queen would have so much beauty inside her that it would overshadow the one on the outside?

(PS: This post is written for a Dove Real Beauty Contest and may appear more relevant to people from India. My apologies to my readers from overseas, this one time!)

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