Photos of some of the billboard advertisements here in Ahmedabad…
Monday November 26: After an overwhelming, amazing, eye-opening experience in Ahmedabad our class has now arrived in Goa and I think the large consensus amongst the group is a general feeling of culture shock. It is so different here in so many ways, the biggest thing I have noticed (and appreciated) is the silence (well for the most part 😉 ). In Ahmedabad there are so many things that evoke your senses from colours, smells, tastes, stares, pollution, sights, noises including honking, lots and lots of honking. Goa is a whole new experience on some many levels, I feel it is a bit of a Costa Rica meets Portugal in India. I think for the most part it has been a welcoming change for all of us; the European influenced architecture, palm trees, blue sky and laid back vibe.
I have had a few days to reflect on the last two weeks in Ahmedabad and have made a few conclusions and general findings on the billboard ads that I noticed. Generally the ads were what I anticipated I would see. They were very similar to western billboard ads, the female models they use are very typical; beautiful, young, glamorous women and the models elude to an image of flawless, unattainable beauty. This was apparent in the ads that featured women in traditional Indian fashion and in western fashion. In Ahmedabad we were advised to cover up and not to show a lot of skin, yet the models in the advertisements had very minimal clothing compared to the average Indian women walking down the street who would be covered head to toe in a beautiful traditional sari. However, even though the ads did show a lot of skin and focused on portraying the primary features of the women (hair, breasts, eyes, skin) with some including a few sexual poses, for the most part they are not as suggestive or shocking as the ads I have noticed back home in North America.
The most “provocative” or revealing ad that I noticed that I can compare to a North American ad is the picture above. The woman is in a red sleeveless dress (something that you would most definitely not see in Ahmedabad) and the featured product is chocolate. The focus of the ad is certainly not on the product but the beautiful, young, very light skin, not very modestly dressed Indian women.
I touched on this in another post but something that many of us noticed and commented on was this reoccurring obsession over white skin. I am reminded of the irony in this as it appears most cultures are trying to achieve the opposite of our natural features. I think the media has very large influence over this white skin fixation, to sell, influence and create an image of “the ideal women.”
I am looking forward to examining the billboard ads here in Goa and making note of similarities and/or differences in the models in comparison to the models in the Ahmedabad billboards.
Below is a link to a very interesting documentary that further explains how women are represented in Indian media.