Draped in a green sari, she lies quite comfortably and rather seductively on the floor, a book held in hand. Her shoulder-length hair is lush and shiny. This is a typical late ’70s print advertisement with the caption “A happy relaxation”.
As she intently gazes at us, I leave you to guess what the product could probably be. Sari? No. Shampoo, maybe? No again. The advertisement is for Linoleum, a floor-covering material. Such was the flagrant objectification of women in back in the late ’70s.
Fast forward to the golden ’90s. Women in the advertisements of this decade were largely ‘housewives’ (we mean homemakers), brides, girlfriends and daughters who did not really have much to contribute to the ad than being present in all their cuteness and hence please the audience.
Thankfully, the portrayal of womankind in our ads and commercials has crossed leaps and bounds ever since. Today, with advertisements revolving around social issues, struggles of gender inequality and stereotyping are addressed. The advertisements of Tanishq, Anouk’s Bold and Beautiful series, Ariel’s Share the Load, Airtel’s Boss TVC and Fab Alley’s What the F*** Should I Wear, are some popular examples of the positive change.
Telugu film director Nandini Reddy believes we are at a turning point. “For years, we’ve been seeing Hema, Rekha, Jaya and Sushma washing clothes and doing household chores. I am glad we’ve come a long way ahead in terms of concept-based advertisements. We still have a long way to go.
The audiences these days are less ignorant and more sensitive towards such issues and they express their opinion over social media. The brands also try to position themselves as socially responsible,” she says.
Let’s keep up the good fight, then.