Dove’s Latest Mission? Revamping Beauty Ideals in India

Brand hopes to spark change with new short film

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Dove's got a new short film, Let's Break the Rules of Beauty, which champions a more inclusive approach to beauty for Indian women. 

The 50-second short, from Indian film director, screenwriter and documentary filmmaker, Pan Nalin, showcases a variety of women whose look and style doesn't necessarily fit the Indian beauty ideal of "youthful looks, fair skin, long black flowing hair and a trim figure." 

"[This] is the first Dove Masterbrand campaign created specifically for India," said Victoria Sjardin, senior global brand director, Dove Masterbrand. "India is a country growing and evolving at a rapid pace and yet the traditional beauty ideal remains narrow and restrictive. In fact, our new research suggests 76 percent of Indian women believe that in today's society, it is critical to meet certain beauty standards."

According to the brand's research, the pressure to comply with Indian beauty ideals comes from external, traditional and societal factors and 80 percent of India's 631 million women believe that they need to look a certain way to do well in life. 

"This campaign is designed to encourage India to embrace its diversity in beauty, and spark change against the variety of pressures and influences that are keeping a narrow beauty ideal alive," said Sjardin. "Our hope is to genuinely start a conversation about expanding the beauty ideal and embracing the varieties of beauty that come from a country with 631 million women, 29 states and 22 languages." 

The digital campaign isn't the brand's first effort in India. Hoping to raise the self-esteem of young women in India the brand launched the Dove Self-Esteem Project in 2014. It has already educated 300,000 young people to date and, according to Sjardin, the brand aspires to reach 2.65 million young people by 2020.

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.