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Dear Dabur, Your Patriarchal New Ad Is The Reason I Won’t Be Buying Your Honey

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By Lipi Mehta

As a child, I often asked my mother if the necklace she was wearing was her mangalsutra. None of the necklaces she owned resembled the black and gold mangalsutras I had seen others wearing and this piqued my curiosity. She would always answer ‘no’ and I would be left dumbfounded. When the married women in most Hindi films and television shows were wearing one, why wasn’t my mother? After seeing the new Dabur Honey ad, I feel even more stupid about ever asking her or rather, accusing her of not wearing a mangalsutra when what she was really doing was not conforming to what society expected her to do. Why? Because the ad doesn’t treat the mangalsutra like my mother did—it portrays it to be a much more than a Hindu ritual, much more than being a symbol.

“Tum Meri Ho”

The ad starts with a woman asking a man how she looks before she steps out of the house. He says “Lovely!” but is shown to be a bit flustered. Before she can leave, he prominently places her mangalsutra on her top. (Ah! So he’s her husband!). He then says that now she looks even better. This bit should have been subtitled as, “There, now my possession of you is signified by this mangalsutra. You look good, but let me ensure that people don’t think you are ‘available’. It is clear that you are taken. No one can hit on you now.” (I can really go on)

‘Mangalsutra’ literally translates to ‘auspicious thread’ and is worn by Hindu, married women in India to signify that they are praying for their husband’s long life. It is just a symbol of belief, just like many other symbols such as applying sindoor, wearing mehendi, etc. I personally have a problem with these ‘symbols’ as they are regressive and practically speaking, one-sided. I don’t know any men who would consider or be told to wear a mangalsutra as a symbol of their commitment or to pray for their wives’ long lives! And in a country like India, where the ‘possession’ of a wife by her husband is actually a reality, let’s not use our mainstream communication channels to spread such messages!

“Main Kaisi Lag Rahi Hoon?”

The woman in the ad is shown exclaiming at the end that having Dabur honey ensures fitness, which in turn ensures that she will look good, thereby making her partner jealous of how she is suddenly ‘more desirable’. First of all, if your partner is jealous, it is not cute, it is a sign of being controlling because no one has the right to dictate how you should look or behave. And secondly, yes, fitness is great and looking good makes anyone feel more confident but let’s do this for ourselves and not for how someone else will perceive us.

The idea of looking good for society, for your partner or just to fit in, is making lives much more difficult for many across the world. Meaghan Ramsey, the Global Director of the Dove Self-Esteem Project says in a TED Talk that 6 out of 10 girls choose to not do something because they don’t think they look good enough. This is a dangerous notion that makes self-acceptance more difficult and even causes eating disorders and mental health issues in many people.

This ad could have showed how the couple doesn’t ‘need’ a mangalsutra to establish the overarching idea of commitment. If the point of the ad is to show a connection between fitness and Dabur honey, there could have been many other ways of making this it, but Y U did dis, Dabur? I would gladly consume Dabur honey if it can really contribute to my health, but I would never buy it if it is to look better for my partner or anyone else! As of now, as a responsible audience, let’s make wise consumption choices and not give in to what this ad propagates.

You must be to comment.
  1. The Game

    From the Swayamvara in ancient India to the current dating sce, men have to propose, and require to see who is available. Even on Valentine’s day, it is men running around buying flowers, gifts, chocolates, teddy bears, rings, etc.

  2. B

    Feminists never talk about the fact that women always marry men richer than them, earning more than them, men who are well-settled.

    Get rid of your double standards.

    1. Aafia

      Do you have any statistics to support this statement that women “always” marry men richer than them? In reality, that’s not true. The majority of people marry within their own socioeconomic class. Before you tell feminists to get rid of our “double standards”, you should do some research so you actually know what you are talking about.

    2. B

      Statistics? LOL. Look around you. Have you EVER seen a woman marry a man who is poorer than her? Look at all the martimonials wanting men who are ‘well-settled’. Look at your female cousins, aunts, friends, and tell me how many married men earning less than them? Kamata kitna hai, gaadi konsi hai, ghar kaisa hai, etc.

  3. Batman

    The biggest proof of sexism against men is that men have to spend their entire life earning for women. Men are bondaged in slavery.

    1. Aafia

      You’re an idiot.

    2. Batman

      What can a feminist do but abuse? The truth is bitter, I guess.

  4. B

    Women certainly don’t complain when men house their wives, let them drive their car, take them to restaurants, on vacations, holidays, buy them jewellery, take them shopping, spend on their clothes, cosmetics, sandals, purses, spa, beauty saloons, pedicures, manicures, etc.

  5. Jigsaw

    Going by your highly repulsive article, posting wedding pics must also be a sign of slavery. Countless women feel proud to wear the mangalsutra and it entails dignity and respect, while many wear it for its style or as a fashion statement. ‘Belonging’ to one man is better than opening your legs to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Go see a good doctor and get a life.

  6. Avinesh Saini

    No wonder people like Babaar come here to troll you guys. You just take political correctness to the next level. Kudos.

  7. Veda

    I Don’t know why this ad is such a big deal. Lets assume if the same ad was made with a
    character of a Jealous Wife doing something and trying to show “TUM MERE HO” to the world.
    Then I am sure you would have definitely buying the honey.
    @Youthkiawaaz When you wrote something I was eager to read it because it made sense but by this post now I can clearly see where your future is going.
    Its not for you to decide what should the couple do or what if a brand showed some reality(funny)
    stuff to get connected with customers. Not all traditions are good but not all of them are bad either.
    If a husband is jealous and brings the MANGALSUTRA on top with a smile and showing his Jealousy and love to his wife then it does not means that you have made your point.
    Jealousy is just a human weakness that we feel not only when it comes to our Gfs/Wives but it can also be seen when a kids mom is holding some other kid and the kid starts to cry by seeing this.
    Oh I forgot that the moms kid is a boy and he is crying because his mom is holding a girl kid.
    Now write an article about that and present it as what you think is a society changer.
    The couple love each other and thats it.
    You are just trying to be a brain washer and start a huge gender war in INDIA in upcoming future.

  8. Sam 1996

    Author! I dont understand what you are implying? Really? I am a girl also. This is ad is more misandric actually! Why are you crying feminism???

    1. Shivani

      I agree with you completely Sam (y)

  9. Vaibhav Agarwal

    I understand and acknowledge that this ad is Patriarchal but I believe this ad is set in a very light mood and in just an ad, they have to use some/any tactics to catch eyeballs.

  10. Avinesh Saini

    Mangalsutras are indeed pretty regressive, though.

  11. B

    Every since the commencement of the feminist agenda, divorce rates have shot through the roof. Below are comments from feminist leaders, revealing the motive of the feminist movement:

    In order to raise children with equality, we must take them away from families and communally raise them. – Dr. Mary Jo Bane, feminist and assistant professor of education at Wellesley College and associate director of the school’s Center for Research on Woman.

    Women, like men, should not have to bear children. The destruction of the biological family, never envisioned by Freud, will allow the emergence of new women and men, different from any people who have previously existed. – Alison Jagger, Political Philosophies of Women Liberation: Feminism and Philosophy (Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams & Co. 1977).

    No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. – Simone de Beauvoir, Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma Saturday Review, June 14, 1975, p.18

    Marriage has existed for the benefit of men; and has been a legally sanctioned method of control over women. We must work to destroy it. The end of the institution of marriage is a necessary condition for the liberation of women. Therefore it is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands and not to live individually with men. – The Declaration of Feminism, November 1971.

    The nuclear family must be destroyed, and people must find better ways of living together. – Linda Gordon, Function of the Family, Women: A Journal of Liberation, Fall, 1969.

    We can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage. – Robin Morgan, Sisterhood is Powerful, 1970, p.537.

  12. G.L.

    I’ll think about this blog post when a woman gets on her knees to propose, and after a divorce she pays alimony, child support, and parts with half of her property.

    1. Shivani

      Agree with you (y). That will show equality.

  13. G.L.

    Patriarchy is a scapegoat.

  14. Sambit Mishra

    The ad sucks big time, censorship is worse.

  15. Shivani

    Are you insane woman??!! They probably didn’t even think of all the bullshit you just wrote up their. You know you are then kind of lady who makes a big deal of everything and all tiny little things have to be feminist. Don’t we ever do stuff like this to pur boyfriend/husband. Some sort of action to show others ” he is mine’ (taken). Grow up and get a life. This add was made with simple, beautiful feelings of a caring husband who thinks his wife is looking too gorgeous. Not that he is telling people that’s his property. And even if he is, he is doing it in a beautiful way.

  16. Sarah

    Who cares whether you will eat their honey or not or what is your take on mangalsutra …. There are war widows awaiting compensation and girl child awaiting adoption …. In short there are more important things to be pissed about than Dabur Honey’s ad

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