The quest for a ‘gori’ (fair) bride has been one of the most enduring and demeaning aspects of the arranged
to conform to the ‘slim/tall/fair’ parameter leaves many women with lasting body image issues, finds a recent study by a beauty brand.
Of the 1,057 women who were surveyed for ‘India’s Beauty Test’ study, 68% claimed that such rejections impacted their self-esteem and confidence, and 74% of women admitted that they experienced immense pressure to look more beautiful during the arranged marriage process. An equal number said they faced rejections because of a beauty-related aspect.
As per figures available online, 90% of all marriages in India are arranged. And matches – whether suggested by individuals or websites/companies -- are primarily made based on beauty characteristics like skin shade, height and weight.
The study includes insights from matchmakers – both individuals and companies/websites. For example, if the girl has short hair then the chances of the match working out are 1 or 2 in 1,000 cases. A participating matchmaker said: “In one instance, the mother of a prospective groom had a list -- “ladki gori honi chahiye, face gol hona chahiye, naak lambi honi chahiye, lambe baal hone chahiye. V-shaped face bilkul nahi chalega.” (Girl should be fair, tall with a sharp nose and long hair. V-shaped face won’t be acceptable).
Then it’s not surprising that 9 out of 10 single women in India feel that they are judged and rejected based on their looks during the marriage process. The study which was commissioned by Dove and conducted in 17 cities across India found that 94% of women have been asked to work on their appearance – specifically for the marriage process.
“Beauty should be a source of confidence and pleasure for women rather than causing anxiety or being a barrier to success,” said
, executive director Hindustan Unilever and vice-president, beauty and personal care,
. “This anxiety comes through especially at the time of seeking a matrimonial match.”
Added Anupam Mittal, founder & CEO,
: “We want to encourage people to think of marriage like a lifelong partnership and not a beauty competition.” In the study, women admitted to being constantly pressured to conform to unrealistic beauty standards; 58% were asked to exercise or join a gym to reduce weight and 61% used make-up to appear fair.