Two ads deserve scathing comment.
The first, a Tuc (Lu) biscuit ad featuring the VJ and model Mahira playing a cute girl about to be married. In between shopping for bridal dowry, she feels the urge to snack. She complains to us in pouty faced and put on innocence that her mother disapproves of her eating because her clothes may not fit, and she may look "bigger" than her groom. But now the problem is solved because Tuc offers a light snack for in between shopping cravings.
The second is an ad for Candyland chocolate bars featuring another cute girl about to be married. Her even cuter brother teases her about her changing status, and how she won't be able to cook for the family. She huffs and scowls. Later when she is leaving with her new husband, her brother, now sorry, makes it up to her and leaves a candy bar for her in the car. The siblings exchange tearful glances.
What exactly is the not so subliminal messaging here? Promoting a culture of childish brides who are trying subconsciously to hold onto their baby fat, and with their stashes of candies and cookies?
Messaging 1: We like brides to be young - the younger, the smaller, and 'fresher' the better. In fact right out of A-levels will work too; and its so cute that they lisp and talk like babies because we tacitly approve of our subculture of paedophilia. Not of the indictable type but where women are condemned to enact a life of childlike imbecility in the hope that it will win the favor of people in power. And when the act gets old, we can just condemn them for being pathetic.
Messaging 2: Girls are hesitant and apprehensive about marital life yet submit to its coercive nature. The tuc girl is pressured by her (invisible, overbearing) mother. Instead of questioning why it matters that she is bigger than her groom, and asserting her right to delay marriage until she's held down a few jobs, she acquiesces to it with coyness and "mommy knows best" attitude. A small spirit shines through, but she's not ready to challenge the status quo, and she succumbs to futility of resistance. The chocolate girl is about to leave the comfort of family, and her brother reminds her of the unpredictability of life ahead. Instead of having a talk with her brother about how they'd split their book collection over a pina colada, or who will water the plants (like normal people), she whines and complains about his teasing like a 12 year old. Also, playing into a playful, sexually tense brother-sister relationship rather than a casual, caring one.
Messaging 3: Welcome eating disorders and substance abuse when life won't look so cheery. Turn to food and drugs and hopeless diets.
Ultimate messaging to girls: Get married young when you're plump and shy (sly). Be tender and sweet and you will get what you need from a patriarchal culture. No wonder you see grown women flitting around bosses, superiors and men in power, acting like little girls (and batting lids) -- but really they want jobs, promotions, and benefits, or a short cut from male bureaucracy.
Who are we to judge call girls when we are intent on raising girls in a culture where marriage is rape, and sexuality stripped of agency.
This is disturbing messaging, and violence of an insidious type, and I sure as hell don't want my daughter preening herself for marriage, and then getting bulimic, and expecting a Rs.5 lakh jora as a rite through cuteness. It ain't happening. I am protecting her from this teenage obsessive shaadi culture for as long as I can, and if the system beats me to it, it sure as hell won't be because I did not try.