L'Oreal Perfect Slim Anti-Cellulite Gel Cream promises you skin which “looks refined in 4 weeks and reduces appearance on ‘orange peel’ skin”. L’Oreal also makes A White Perfect Fairness Cream. Sonam Kapoor is one of L’Oreal’s brand ambassadors.
I am assuming that Kapoor hasn’t forgotten that the brand she endorses and makes crores of money from, propagates the very same “myth of flawlessness” which she decried so vehemently in an article she penned yesterday.
The article is titled, “I didn’t wake up like this”. Its descriptor is, “Even after becoming a movie star, it took me years to believe I looked the part (nobody buys tickets to see cellulite, right?). Now, I’d like to bust the myth of flawlessness for every girl and woman who, like I once did, believes her body is all wrong.” (The descriptor seems to have been tweaked this morning, and changed to third person.)
What a wonderful thought, isn't it? Other than for the small fact that Kapoor is not just a beneficiary of the very beauty and fashion industry which sells the "myth of flawlessness", but also one of its greatest proponents and brand ambassadors.
And I’m not just not talking about L’Oreal, but also all the fashion magazines which pay Kapoor to appear on their covers. Her photoshopped image routinely takes centrestage amongst headlines which tell us how to be fair, thin, balance our work and home, and have an orgasm while doing so. Not necessarily in that order.
There’s nothing wrong with working for a beauty brand or fashion brand which propagates unreal body types or expectations. There is something wrong though, when you claim that you do not want girls to buy into the fantasy. That you’re writing an article to tell them to believe in themselves, not in the miasma. And a lot of what Kapoor writes is indeed impressive and needs to be said.
We need actresses and people who are part of the beauty industry to shun and bust fashion myths. For example, Kapoor writes: “Nobody lines up to buy tickets to see cellulite. So I embarked on a series of unhealthy behaviours. I dieted serially; sometimes South Beach, other times Atkins. Once, in desperation, I tried a diet that had me eating pineapples all day. I pushed myself too hard at spin classes, did power yoga for hours at a stretch, and developed an unhealthy relationship with food. Some weeks, desperate to drop a couple of kilos, I would simply not eat.”
Or when she writes, “But where there’s a broken system, there’s a solution. The problem is in mainstream culture’s rigid definitions of female beauty...The ball is in the media’s court to celebrate fit bodies rather than thin ones, and to know the difference. I know now that there’s nothing wrong with stretch marks, cellulite, or scars. They’re markers of our growth. There’s beauty in their realness.”
And there lies the rub. It’s very easy to place the responsibility solely at the doorstep of the media, while you yourself are guilty of the same crime and are part of the problem. Which brings me back to L’Oreal and the absurdly designed dresses and clothes Kapoor wears. Kapoor is the proverbial slave to the fashion industry. And once again, let me state for the record, there is nothing wrong with that. As long as you don’t claim that you do not want to sell this fantasy, for the greater good of the gullible universe.
Kapoor’s claims of concern about unreal body images and their propagation, would be more plausible if she didn’t endorse these through every action of hers. This is a classic case of posturing.
It’s very simple. If beauty expectations concern Sonam Kapoor so much, she should say she’ll stop allowing fashion magazines and photographers to photoshop her images. That she’ll stop endorsing L’Oreal and other brands which make beauty products which tell us women we won’t have cellulite, dark circles, dark skin – and ultimately a brain, if we keep using these products.
If she is so concerned, she can do an Alicia Keys in her life off-camera. Keys has stopped using makeup totally – both on and off camera. But unlike Kapoor, neither does she take the higher ground, nor does she claim her colleagues are ruining young minds because they use makeup.
But for Kapoor to take such a stand, she’ll need to give up on some really big moolah, on being the darling of the fashion magazines and actually appear au naturel. Thereby, running the risk of losing out on future endorsements or films.
What she’s done is far smarter. Because as we all know, article-writing is much easier and will get you far more accolades without losing you any money, while ensuring you have your moment in the media sun. All she's needed to do is to strike a (pretentious) pose, because there's nothing to it.