Dove’s latest film walks us through hard-hitting, real stories of beauty-based judgement and rejection faced by women during the matchmaking process, and the impact this has on their self-esteem.
The search for beauty can often be ugly and diminishing. A recently conducted “India’s Beauty Test (2020) Report” reveals some unsettling statistics about the pressures and anxieties around conforming to a narrow ideal of beauty in the run-up to arranged marriage. An alarming nine out of 10 single women in India feel they are judged and rejected based on their looks during the marriage process. Furthermore, 68% claimed that rejections based on beauty during the arranged marriage process impacted their self-esteem and confidence.
Dove’s #StopTheBeautyTest, a film born out of conversations with women from across the country, captures some raw situations where women are judged during the matchmaking process for not being beautiful enough. It goes on to emphasise the unspoken impact of these judgements on their self-esteem and body confidence.
Through real stories enacted by real women, Dove sends out a powerful message— we must stop putting women through this unjust beauty test. Dove wants to start and sustain this important conversation now.
The need for systemic change
Acting upon this, Priya Nair, Executive Director, HUL and VP, Beauty and Personal Care South Asia, said, “In a country of 631 million women, it is unfortunate that there is such intense pressure to adhere to one definition of beauty. As owners of some of the largest beauty brands in the country, the onus to make beauty more positive and more inclusive is on us. Dove has always believed that beauty should be source of confidence, not anxiety. With #StopTheBeautyTest, we want to go one step forward in that direction.”
Supporting the campaign objective, Dove is partnering with leading matrimonial platforms, based on the shared belief that the matchmaking process should be free of beauty biases. Dove and Shaadi.com have come together to encourage users on the platform to look beyond body type, complexion, scars on face or hair type and length, to see new sizes and shades of beautiful.
In addition, Dove will help rewrite matrimonial ads free of beauty biases to drive significant change in this direction. To foster change with media, Dove will 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.
In an exclusive partnership with UNICEF, the Dove self-esteem project aims to reach 6.25 million girls and boys in schools by 2024 to improve their knowledge and skills so that they enhance their body confidence and self-esteem through education materials to realise their full potential in India.*
This comes in conjunction with Hindustan Unilever’s overarching effort to evolve the definition of beauty across its portfolio of brands. The campaign is a progressive step of a larger change that HUL and Dove intend to herald.
About the report
The “India’s Beauty Test” is a Dove report; an outcome of an independent survey conducted by Hansa Research and commissioned by Dove in December 2020. 1057 women in the age group 18-35 were interviewed from 17 cities across India through an online questionnaire. The sample was representative of the women and girls population in each city in terms of age, region and social grade.
Hephzibah Pathak, Vice-Chairperson and Chief Client Officer, Ogilvy India, said, "With this campaign, Dove, along with some brave women, provokes a conversation around the practices during the marriage process which diminish and chip away a woman’s self-worth. Dove believes beauty should be a source of joy for women. For this intention to have meaning and start getting realised in our culture, we had to choose the moment that matters the most, to inspire change. This is a small step towards achieving the brand’s beautiful ambition of a world where women can enjoy beauty on their own terms."
Zenobia Pithawalla, Senior Executive Creative Director and Mihir Chanchani, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy India, said, “In India when it comes to a woman and her beauty, she is at her most vulnerable when she is of marriageable age. 90% of single women in India feel they are rejected for marriage because of their looks. We decided to intervene at this point, where the woman needs us most.
“For a young woman the journey of finding a life partner doesn't have to turn into an ugly beauty test. Thus the Dove’s #StopTheBeautyTest campaign.
“Staying true to the spirit of brand Dove, we worked with real women who were actually rejected on the basis of their looks. But were brave enough to feature in our campaign as they wanted to do their bit to stop this beauty test.”
Agency: Ogilvy India
Chief Creative Officers: Harshad Rajadhyaksha & Kainaz Karmakar
Vice-Chairperson & Chief Client Officer, Ogilvy India: Hephzibah Pathak
Office Leader: Ogilvy India (West): VR Rajesh
Senior Executive Creative Director: Zenobia Pithawalla
Executive Creative Director: Mihir Chanchani
Chief Strategy Officer: Prem Narayan
Vice-President, Planning: Abigail Dias
Executive Vice-President, Account Management: Walter Noronha
Vice-President, Account Management: Dharal Goshalia
Account Director: Sanam Chowdhry
Account Executive: Freea Bhikhaji
Client: Hindustan Unilever Ltd.
Executive Director, HUL & VP, Beauty and Personal Care South Asia: Priya Nair
Vice-President, Hair Care, Dove Masterbrand: Harman Dhillon
Brand Manager, Hair Care: Sonam Kothari
Senior Brand Manager: Lipsa Das
Brand Associate: Raheja Om
Production House: Chrome Pictures
Director: Amit Sharma
Executive Producer: Abhishek Notani