LIFESTYLE

Dear Shraddha Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, It Can't Be Too Difficult To Say No To Body Shaming Commercials, Right?

Not buying this.

04/11/2016 11:10 AM IST | Updated 04/11/2016 2:22 PM IST
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Images from Lipton Green Tea

Hey you, are you sitting cross-legged on your sofa right now? No sir, not you. You can carry on doing whatever you were--spread masala oats on your sofa and roll in it if you please--no one's going to be offended.

I am speaking to the women out there. Are you in a coffee shop and have leaned forward to take a sip of your coffee? Goodness, why? Or are you inside an elevator and have decided to breathe? Did you even consider that you cannot just do that in public? Oh you, person at the gym, I see you have stepped out without your invisibility cloak, again. Tch tch.

Now, don't look so puzzled. Is your stomach flatter than the phone screen you are reading this on? Okay, fine. Is it at least as flat as your chopping board? No? NO? Then what business do you have doing anything that will let the world know you have a stomach?

Because, let me... no, Lipton tell you, that any evidence that you have a human stomach--of the kind that rolls up when you sit, or strains against your top, or just moves when you breathe--is of great embarrassment. If you are a woman that is.

Fortunately, the kind folks that they are, they also have a solution for this unseemly stomach from making itself apparent to the world -- their green tea.

In a new commercial that helpfully beams before every second video I watch on YouTube, there are women looking mortified at the sight of their own stomachs. And the jingle, in a sugar sweet voice, asks you to not hide your 'belly fat'. Instead, it says, get rid of it. And finally, Shraddha Kapoor unzips her own sweatshirt with a loud, whooshing sound to reveal a flaaaaaat tummy. If body shaming was to have a wide-eyed, sweet, innocuous face, it would be hers.

Now, it is widely assumed that green tea helps you lose weight. But no one assumes that green tea and green tea alone is a magic potion, guzzling which will help you lose weight. But since logic isn't the strong point of Indian advertising, you can't expect Lipton to be a pathbreaker of sorts. But what it could avoid, along with logic, is the body shaming they resorted to, to drive home their point.

What it could avoid, along with logic, is the body shaming they resorted to, to drive home their point.

It would be a lot less offensive if they just had Shraddha Kapoor do that zip-whooshing thing and declare you need to drink Lipton's Green Tea if you want abs like hers. That would leave that very important space for choice. If you want a certain kind of body, you can use the product. And that's very different from saying 'hide your kind of body and use this product to get this kind of body, because this is more attractive'.

A few cups of adrak wali chai reminded me of the other horrifying ad Lipton had come up with, starring the same Shraddha Kapoor. Considering subtlety doesn't figure in their modus operandi, it had Shraddha Kapoor in a fat suit and prosthetics. After waxing eloquent about green tea and telling you how thin it can make you, she draws your attention to her fat-suit thus: "Ooooo yeh? Costume hai!" So her being fat is used as a trope to shock the viewers. The thing is, the ad talks about how many calories tea with milk and sugar has. Anyone with a human brain would get the point, but no, Lipton isn't one to leave anything to chance or intelligence.

The ad talks about how many calories tea with milk and sugar has. Anyone with a human brain would get the point, but no, Lipton isn't one to leave anything to chance or intelligence.

To be fair to Lipton (see Lipton, it's an easy human quality to display) they aren't the only offenders. Kellogg's, which has in the past declared itself to be the cereal-in-shining-armour for women ignored by their husbands, recently came up with an advertisement starring Deepika Padukone.

Here, Padukone is seen texting some friends -- who are busy in a salon -- that they must go summer dress shopping. To which one woman shrieks: "Iss aunty wala shape mein? NO SHORT DRESSES!" The other concurs, that they must wear short dresses when they are back to their 'college figure'. Padukone, who tops my list of smart, sensitive celebrities otherwise, chuckles at the suggestion that whatever this 'aunty shape' is, it isn't good enough for 'short dresses'. So she saves them from 'aunty shape-dom' by feeding them Kellogg's. How appropriate. Move over Jai-Veeru, the new best best-friends are here!

However, these ads actually did something good. Reminded me of real women, who aren't sucking their breath in at the very sight of a man, are shopping for short dresses no matter what shape they are, probably having green tea, probably burying their face in masala chai, eating oats, eating pizza, and staying happy. Just the way they are. Dear advertisers, women have brains. How about focussing on that, instead of 'belly fat'?

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