Monday, January 11, 2010

A poster that set things straight !

First of all, I would like my readers to open their minds and not think I am complaining and whining !! I am and will always remain the quintessential INDIAN woman. Those fat Parsi arms, the big Punjabi face, the dark Bengali eyes, the big gujrati belly, kutchi thunder thighs and those strong flabby south Indian calves ! And at all times of the year I am very confident that life is beautiful. But a recent road-trip changed my life.

I was with 4 guy friends. 2 , well over 6 feet, big built – can almost pass for bouncers. 1, who if was in a loongi and topi sitting on a low table with his one leg over the other would pass for the wicked zamindar of the 1930’s and the 4th one, a very sweet Konkani – with a big beer belly and short body frame. The description is for a reason. So hold that image. We are cramped into this one car meant for 5 –but thanks to our sizes we are cramped. We are travelling on Andheri-Malad link road. We pass by the million posters that SEASONS has bought along this patch of road.

As we pass each one of them, 4 pairs of eyes keep following this poster. These eyes roll, become big, twinkle, flash… and then the poster has gone. Their lips twirl a bit… you can tell they are thinking about the poster. Poster 2 spotted on the other side of the road… the beautiful Italian/ greek super model is standing on the beach… her sexy bodice clinging onto her bony frame. She is looking out at eternity. Her spotless skin catches the same 4 pairs of eyes. They roll, become big, twinkle, flash and then the same lips twirl.

This was just DAY 1. I thought DAY 2 would be different. They have seen that poster. They would just look at it with plain boredom. So wht, yeah its there ! Move on feeling would come. But DAY 2 was same. On DAY 7 I couldn’t help but ask… what is it about this poster. The same 4 pair of eyes roll their eyes away from this very poster. They fall on me as though I had woken them up from a beautiful dream. I could tell, each one of them was secretly hoping that woman was looking out for them. And then I blurted out, without resisiting any further – “Whats wrong with you guys ! Stop staring !!!”

The minute I said it – I knew I had woken up an angry bull – in my case 4 angry BULLS !! I had just locked my horns with the ultimate MALE DREAM – THE SEXY WOMAN ON THE POSTER !!

This is never what an Indian bride is ever going to look like !! Who walks in that awfully expensive saree from season onto the SAND !! Why would a company which caters to making women feel good make them feel bad ?? I talked to a few woman, some who are confident of the way the look, some who weren’t. But I found out something really startling, and hence thought I will share it with everyone.

Thin models make women feel bad, but they like it. They have higher evaluation of the brands. With the more regular-size models, they don’t feel bad. Their body image doesn’t change. But in terms of evaluations of the brands, those are actually lower.” What I am yet to understand is Why would something that makes us feel bad also motivate us to buy?

Which also makes me wonder - On the other side of the scale (pun intended), the “big girl” section of the department store has traditionally been filled with low quality, unfashionable clothes made out of cheap polyester. The association between bigger models and crappy quality may not be accurate, but it’s already in our heads.
The problem with polls and studies being done about “how women react” is that there often seems to be an underlying assumption that it’s somehow set in stone, that women are somehow genetically programmed to react to these starvation victims.
The truth is exactly what @Linda Bustos says: that which women’s bodily shapes are considered attractive is culturally-based, and has changed dramatically just since the 1950’s, and even more if you look back hundreds of years.

By only focusing on the size of the model, you leave out entirely the entire creative range of expression of how retailers could speak to/with women. When retailers point to simple-minded studies like that, they are abdicating responsibility for the culture they are helping to shape with their millions of dollars in marketing. I don’t believe hiding behind “well, that’s what women want, what can we do?” relieves them of the responsibility to find ways to speak to women without contributing to the alarming level of eating disorders and other health problems, such as binge dieting, that their models have helped to create. To add to this men, and how their desires rise from zero to max in less than 13 seconds after seeing this ADD.

Well, I don’t know what response this piece of blog is going to generate and how many angry men are going to charge at me and make fun of me… !! But I know I speak for my girl friends at the moment !!! Not all men are Hrithik Roshans on the PROVOUGE posters- and not all women will be the much envied the SEASONS POSTER girl.


  1. Great perspective.... totally agree with you. But I feel It would be slightly difficult to generalize what men are really looking out for....

    If I was with you in the car, I wouldn't even have noticed the poster for sure ;-)

    But I'm so glad to read your fresh perspective through your blog. Glad to reconnect! :-)

  2. I agree with you completely! Thin is in, big is out, and we girls torture ourselves by hankering to look like airbrushed models with their sexy curves!

  3. what an observation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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