Fair and ‘Dove’ly and the Asli ‘MARD’: More Harm than Good?

A post by Mrinalini Shinde on misguided feminism in recent popular culture…

The Intervening Female

In an earlier campaign by Dove, they released a Photoshop plug-in which would make edited photos revert to the original natural images, in cases where skin colouring, and slimming effects were used. I thought the earlier campaign was an interesting idea; exposing the reality of the images of cloned physical beauty of the CGI that occupies media; an idea executed in a unique, quirky manner. The message was clear, Dove was trying to distinguish itself from other brands in the cosmetics industry , as having a conscience for  appreciating real,and believable beauty. However, soon enough, if their campaign is anything to go by, Dove too at the end of the day, is another vendor in the billion dollar ‘beauty’ industry. If you’ve been on Youtube recently, you must have come across the Dove ‘Real Beauty Sketches‘ advertisement. Many of my female friends were sharing the video enthusiastically; the theme…

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Chikna

By Vikram Shah, NLSIU.

Nitin had a peculiar problem. Well, not as peculiar as certain other problems but peculiar nonetheless. Hair did not grow on Nitin’s face. Now this would not have been a problem, forget a peculiar one, had Nitin had been a child, or even a teenager. But Nitin was a full grown man. He had walked this earth for a little more than twenty-six years now, and there was still no sign of hair on his face. Not a single one. Not even of wiry strands similar to the ones that his fourteen year old nephew had begun to sprout on his mousy little chin.

At the bus stop on his way to work each morning, he found himself darting glances at the young men from the neighborhood who were on their way to college. Most of them, he noticed, had perfectly sculpted stubbles, like those fiery, bronzed foreign men he had seen on the travel and lifestyle shows on television. When he had been growing up, he had asked his mother why bits of hair had not started appearing on his face, like all the other boys at school. His mother had asked him to be patient, and said that soon he would have a moustache as glorious as the ones the thakurs in their village sported. He did not want to have anything that was like the thakurs, he had thundered in the judgmental rage of childhood, never would he have anything to do with them, look at how they had treated  his father and other members of their community.

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A New Year’s Message

By Antara Jha (National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad)

You could sit and judge the choice of typeface. You could also try and read this.

I don’t have a right to preach. I haven’t done anything that’s worthy enough. And even if I do something, it’s not going to amount to anything substantial. It’s not going to result in anything concrete.

We live in a bubble, so secure, so warm, lit by the fires on the BBC, that it’s comfortable not to know what’s going on, on the outside. Yes, I know, we don’t all own  television sets and not everyone buys newspapers. Along with BBM updates, maybe RSS updates might be worth checking . Stumble-upon is bookmarked on your browser, you could try looking at Google news too. But that’s so much of an effort isn’t it? And then we can sit, cosy with our coffees (with extra coffee powder) and discuss what a sham Indian politics is. Modi, won. Elections are over, how many of us have marked fingers? Cynicism is brilliant, jaded is in. We’re so cool that we can pretend to care, for the five minutes while we’re on that topic, then we’ll go back to discussing how sleek the iPhone 5 is. We could not care less.

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Defense

By: Mrinalini Shinde

“There are so many in this gathering who wish the candle well. 

But if the being of the candle is melting, what can the sorrow-sharers do?” 

— Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

I refrained from writing about the recent incident of rape in Delhi, because honestly, there wasn’t anything that hadn’t already been said. However, a conversation with my mother a couple of days back, gave me a renewed sense of perspective on the issue, and I decided to put it down.

My mother called me in the middle of the night, saying how worried she was. I’ll be interning in New Delhi this spring, and my mother was losing sleep over it. She said she was afraid for my safety, especially in light of my nature. I told her not to worry, both of us aware of the emptiness of that reassurance.

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Don’t leave just yet, my love.

By Mrinalini Shinde

I walk toward the sound of the water. Or maybe the sound of the water walks me to it.  I see the brook gush and dance with joy, and the stones laugh their crystal laughter. I make myself comfortable on a rock. Break the water’s surface with my feet, and watch the ripples crash against the tiny waves. I listen to the sound of the water, and a few dragonflies buzzing about. For some reason I decide that it is as perfect a setting as any to listen to some music. Put in my headphones. Turn on the shuffle.

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-Mrinalini Shinde

It was International Day of the Girl Child, a couple of days back. It hurts,  that we have to create awareness about something as fundamental, and it hurts, when even today, my anaesthesiologist mother regularly gets questions asked, like- “Two daughters? That’s it? No sons? Aren’t you a doctor? Didn’t you try?” There’s so much said, and that can be said, about sex selective abortion and discrimination against the girl child, that I’m not going to write about it today.  But it hurts, when a representative of the people, declares that child marriage is a solution to the crime of rape, and it hurts, when a fourteen year old girl is shot, on the way back from school, for demanding that girls be allowed to  go to school.

In the past couple of years, I’ve taken some assorted shots of girls I’ve met along the  way, and I thought I’d compile them as a short photo-essay, in honour of International Day of the Girl Child, and dedicated to the indomitable Malala Yousafzayi.

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Gender F

No One Knows Where The Ladder Goes

By: Vikram Shah

The Bombay Reporter

May in Bombay is a hot, but not brooding month. Brooding would imply a sense of lurking, of watching from the shadows. May in Bombay stings you straight in the nape. Sweat trickles like little geckos down the small of your back, leaving a ring of moisture around the waistband of your trousers.  How do I remember that it was in May that I was first put on the Kaleja Khooni case by Rustom Kharabjee, editor of The Bombay Reporter? Well, it’s because I remember there were geckos running down my back when I got off the bus at Fountain, and walked to our dingy offices on the third and fourth floors of Ghazal Chambers. The Bombay Reporter was a smallish publication, but there was one group of Bombay men whose days would not begin without scanning its grisly pages: the film producers. This was the seventies, a time when Russy Bhai’s desi version of gonzo journalism with the Blitz had lost its allure. Rustom’s particular interest lay in sensational crimes. His other particular interest was in blurring the line between fact and fiction. That explains why his pages were a favourite with the men who made movies. The seed for not a few blockbusters was sowed when a producer would peruse the headlines with his morning tea, wicker-chair seated, in a Juhu bungalow.

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