The Indian matrimonial scene is replete with examples of biases against women; whether it is the colour of their skin, their height or their dress size, women are often judged on parameters that are beyond their control. Through its #StopTheBeautyTest campaign, Dove is trying to fight this unjust societal pressure laid on women by bringing forth stories of real women who have gone through the rigmarole of matrimony and were left emotionally exhausted in the procedure.
Taking the conversation further, we had a tête-à-tête with one of our favourite women with a strong voice in the beauty industry — Prableen Kaur Bhomrah. The acne and PCOS positive influencer has been quite vocal about her struggles with her skin issues and how others have perceived her over the years. And now she is speaking up about her own experience of being judged in the matrimonial space. Here’s what she has to say...
- About facing prejudice while growing up
- About getting fit for herself, and not for marriage prospects
- About facing friction from the beauty industry
- About her idea of self-love helping her deal with marriage bullies now
- About beauty brands like Dove reinforcing an inclusive idea of beauty
About facing prejudice while growing up
“I have been overweight since childhood. No matter what I did, I could never match all the other girls who were very slim compared to me, even though I was very active. I was the head of the dance department, loved sports, headed the hockey and football teams for four years straight, but could never lose weight. I didn't even know the reason for my weight gain back then.”
As an overweight kid, Prableen revealed that she was subjected to unsolicited advice and comments from people. “At every family get-together, I had people telling me ‘Patli ho ja warna ladka nahi milega’ (lose weight or else you won’t find a guy to marry you).” Prableen revealed that the constant nagging triggered her to such an extent that she started overeating.
About getting fit for herself, and not for marriage prospects
Prableen revealed that her reason for shifting to a healthier lifestyle was for herself and not to attract marriage prospects. “For the longest time, I couldn’t lose much weight, and it came to a point where I started to have physical discomfort like back pain and other issues. That was the reason why I wanted to be fit, and not because I wanted to give in to the unjust notion that only slim girls are pretty and ‘marriage material’. I wanted to break that idea. As long as I am fit, I don't mind being chubby.”
About facing friction from the beauty industry
Prableen’s approach towards self-love is a lesson and something she learnt after many setbacks. She recounted a particular incident that shaped her current stance on beauty. “Since I am a beauty blogger, I have to attend a lot of events. A year and a half ago, when I was just starting out, I went to a beauty event that was attended by other bloggers as well. At the time, my acne breakouts were at their worst. My face was filled with blemishes, and I had applied minimal makeup to avoid triggering the acne further. But at the event, I was shocked as to how I was treated. Before even saying ‘Hi’, I got comments like ‘Look at your face, you have so much acne!’
They went on to say things like ‘But in videos, you look so different’ and ‘You shouldn’t use makeup’ and ended up giving me lots of unsolicited advice. I am a skincare beauty influencer; I know how to deal with my skin issues. Makeup doesn't ruin your face as long as you are doing good skincare prep. I know how my skin reacts to things. That incident is such a trigger for me because I remember when they said that, I was so upset that I started crying at the event.”
Prableen revealed that while the event left her demotivated, she didn’t let those nasty comments get to her. “I decided not to pay heed to these comments anymore and not let them break me. The next time I posted a picture, it went viral. I remember other body-positive creators like Kusha Kapila commenting on my post, saying that she was super proud of me for speaking up. This re-established my faith in my work. Posting pictures of my acne is now such a powerful feeling for me,” she says.
About her idea of self-love helping her deal with marriage bullies now
“I can answer this with a particular incident. Since my family is a big part of the Sikh community, are religious and actively involved in Gurdwara activities, I get marriage proposals from many relatives. They often send rishtas my way, asking if I would be interested. There was this one family in particular, who found me on a matrimonial site and approached me. The first reaction of my parents was to show concerns for my skin. I was breaking out a lot at that point, and they warned me that I needed to do something about my skin or this guy won’t like me in person.”
“This bothered me because I am not ready to give in to the idea that my acne will be a deal-breaker. The Indian mentality believes that women have to do things to please a potential groom or his family.” She went on to explain how she would never marry a guy who has such unjust expectations from her.
Prableen confessed that these comments used to bother her initially, partly because it would worry her parents. She revealed that her neighbours took it upon themselves to give her free advice for her acne. “Every single person would have an opinion on it, and give it out freely, without thinking about how it would affect me. And the main source of this constant attack of opinions is marriage.” So, how did she deal with it? “I decided to disconnect from this notion, and my resolve made me more confident about my skin. I still have acne now, but I am more comfortable in my skin and do not let anyone affect me in a negative way. I think, at some point, you have to develop a thick skin and get over it!” she states.
About beauty brands like Dove reinforcing an inclusive idea of beauty
“Being someone that deals with such issues myself, I could personally resonate with Dove’s #StopTheBeautyTest campaign on a whole different level. There shouldn’t be just a single size, height or complexion that’s considered ‘beautiful’. It’s high time we break this stereotype and accept and appreciate ourselves, because we’re all beautiful. I loved the message, and I hope we’re moving towards a society that is ready to accept women for how they really look and not just if they meet the stereotypical beauty standards set in their minds.”
Prableen’s is the voice of one among many women across the country who face similar issues. Dove, with its #StopTheBeautyTest campaign, is trying to help society break away from the unjust beauty test it puts its women through, and open up to a whole new world of beauty!
If you think it’s time to stop the beauty test, read all about the campaign here and share your story with us on Instagram by tagging @bebeautiful_india and use the hashtags #StopTheBeautyTest #DoveIndia.
Images courtesy: @prableenkaurbhomrah