Advertisements are one of the biggest means of mass communication throughout the world. Since time immemorial, we have witnessed the obscene portrayal and commodification of women in advertisements. However, times have changed. Today, I am proud of people in Indian advertising industry. They are showing women as an independent, bold, strong, self-sufficient and intelligent. These modern advertisements show women multitasking.
There are several advertisements that portray strong women. It shows that our society has started accepting that women are equal to men. Here are a few examples:
Dabur Vatika’s ‘Brave and Beautiful’ campaign was on the struggle of cancer survivors, especially women who lose their hair during chemotherapy. It stressed on the social negation and hate they face in the process. This ad is one such effort which depicts one of these women foregoing her headscarf to go to work, and the support she gets from the people around her, regardless of how she looks has shown different outlook of our modern society.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QomoNyfkqvg]
The video shows a man deciding to take his wife’s last name after marriage, and the shocked but satisfied look, the female registrar gives the couple proves that little things go a long way! It is an effort to counter the patriarchy prevalent in India from times immemorial.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4Ix2_-_-sg]
The advertisement depicts two women who decide to take matters into their own hands by pushing a car out of a ditch while all the men stand around and watch helplessly. Their clothes get dirty but they don’t care. Nirma portrayed women change-makers and not just home-makers.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2FviMZkX5s]
This ad shows with a woman who wants to follow her dream of joining the army, despite her parent’s continuous objections.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adiLRA5kUTg]
This is a commercial for Scooty, a brand of scooters for women. This ad highlights independence.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAjDZWx96N4]The rise in the number of these kinds of progressive advertisements is an affirmative sign for feminist causes in India. India’s fast-growing middle class has no doubt contributed to the spur the development of higher levels of gender equality, with many of these progressive ads made to target the audience.
But, the target audience is very small. Essentially, these ads imply that a woman can only be empowered or achieve independence if she is young, single, and belongs to the middle to upper class, does not have family or home obligations or children etc.
So, we need a change in the mindsets of people. Freedom or equality is a right of every human, be it a male or a female, who could be married/unmarried/a widow/mother etc.
If, however, more women acquire a higher level of purchasing power, these progressive ads may well reach a wider audience with their message of empowerment and gain more strength. Better to be strong than be pretty and useless!