For longer than one can remember, women have been recommending fairness routines to each other, because God forbid your skin tone is anything but creamy. Oh, and that blemish on the cheek, dark circles under the eyes or discoloured lips are considered equally hideous. For ages, beauty of a woman has been equated to her physical make over.
Many actors, models and other pop culture influencers are often guilty of peddling the notion of ‘flawless’ beauty. And many who are not able to fit into this narrow definition of beauty often end up in self-deprecation. It is this concern that India’s homegrown cosmetics and lifestyle brand Nykaa is addressing through its new brand film, ‘What Makes You Beautiful’.
The film sends out a message that one should not look for external validation to feel beautiful. A woman should be able to endorse her own beauty. “We wanted to create a more fluid, open and inclusive narrative of beauty. You should buy that lipstick or kajal because you want to look beautiful for yourself; not to please someone else or live up to their standards of beauty,” says Madhavi Irani, chief officer – content, Nykaa.
Designed in-house, the film features acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, who has surmounted unbelievable odds and made a significant impact on the society. “Laxmi's voice could reflect the message that we wanted to carry to women everywhere. That one can be any kind of beautiful and makeup is simply a tool of expression,” adds Irani.
The film begins by juxtaposing Agarwal’s physical makeover session with her narration of what makes a woman beautiful – her smile, the twinkle in her eyes and her innocence. The film abruptly stops when Agarwal says that she feels something isn’t right. She then requests to resume the shoot, but she will not be wearing any makeup. She wipes off the foundation and kajal, takes off her jewellery and says, “You are beautiful the way you are.” The film ends with a series of powerful statements that convey that the society, social media likes, filters, followers or makeup do not define a person. “Only you define, what makes you beautiful,” it asserts.