How corporates minted money by using Miss World to sell the ‘Dark is ugly and fair is beauty’ idea

The Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb seems to have again stroked a controversy which wouldn’t die down anytime soon. From making comments that Internet was present during the Mahabharata era to calling Aishwarya Rai the face of Indian women and not Diana Hayden, he seems to have become the new motormouth for BJP.

The point Mr Deb tried to make was, the whole beauty pageant awards was manufactured and the results were rigged by marketing companies. Were Indians awarded with beauty pageants so that they could become influencers and opinion makers to sell beauty creams? This might sound like a crazy conspiracy theory, but we shall still take up data and analyse it from various aspects.

India in the 1990s

If you ask any of today’s youngster, they would call this the best phase of his life. India in the 90s was full of optimism as the economic liberalization had just taken place. India opened it’s economy for foreign investment, and we transformed from a socialist country to a pro-capitalist country. New international brands came to the country, who’s advertisements left the citizens in awe. From luxury cars to soft drink, India became the pie which every wanted a bite of. When everyone talks about India’s development, 1991 is always used as the benchmark which changed our country in terms of GDP. But what one hasn’t measured is the adverse changes it has brought onto our society. Economic liberalization meant opening up businesses for foreign funds, with the funds came a new set of problem as well. The media houses were loaded with foreign funds, thereby India slowly lost it’s control over the public narrative to foreign interests.

One feels that we as a nation still haven’t gotten out of the trauma that the British imposed on us. Aping the West in when it comes to accent, feeling bad about one’s own roots are all testament to the fact that we are still colonial slaves albeit mentally. This slavery in our minds created prejudices to dark skin, so much so that we started equating dark with ugly.

India’s performance in the Big 4 Beauty Pageants improves after the 1991 economic liberalization.

The 90s have been glorious years in terms of beauty pageants for India, where we won 7 titles between 1994-2000. But beauty recognition on a constant basis started right after the 1991 economic liberalization. We might have won 7 awards but when one looks back at the runners up, top 10 standings one senses a subtle propaganda used by the marketing companies.

  • 1992 : Madhu Sapre finished as second runner up for Miss Universe
  • 1993 : Namrata Shirodkar finished in Top 6 in Miss Universe & Pooja Bhatra finished in Top 15 for Miss International.
  • 1994 : Miss Universe – Sushmita Sen & Miss World – Aishwarya Rai
  • 1995 : Manpreet Bhar was the first Runner up in the Miss Universe category.
  • 1996 : Sandhya Cib finished in Top 10 for Miss Universe and Rani Jeyraj finished as third Runner Up in Miss World.
  • 1997 : Nafisa Joseph finished in Top 10 for Miss Universe and Diana Hayden won the Miss World title.
  • 1998 : Lymaraina D’Souza Top 10 in Miss Univers & Shwetha Jaishankar Second Runner Up in Miss International
  • 1999 : Gul Panag finished Top 10 in Miss Universe & Yukta Mookhey won the Miss World title.
  • 2000 : Lara Dutta Miss Universe and Priyanka Chopra Miss World winner.
India’s demographics in the 90s
India’s young population in the 90s

India’s total population in the 90s era stood at approximately 88 crores. Around 45% of the population fell under the age group of 10-35, roughly taking the number to 38 crores. When one looks back upon the 90s, we should remember that people used to be influenced a lot by international recognition. There was no Social Media back then, so these award winners seemed to be ‘intellectuals’ for us. Indians filled with inferiority complex about their own race and skin color, and giving paramount importance to international awards and believing in such award winners’ words as truth, looked like a perfect market to mint money for international companies.

There was no country on Earth with such young population with so many insecurities about skin color, looking to embrace foreign brands. The award winners then went on to endorse international ‘skin whitening’ products that made money out Indians’ insecurities and complexes. And from then on, there has been no turning back. Recent reports suggest that the Indian cosmetics is to grow to $20 Billion by 2025 and $35 Billion by 2035. With such a huge market, it only makes sense to create ‘Indian’ influencers who can sell the products to the Indian audience. The insecurity that ‘dark is ugly and fair is beauty’ is getting India many International beauty pageant awards!

Emerging Markets perform well at Big 4 Beauty pageants.

When one has a fine look at the data of the countries that have been successful at these international beauty contests, a pattern seems to emerge. The Emerging markets have performed quite well at these international pageants.

  • Philippines : 10 crowns, 21 runners up.
  • India : 8 crowns, 15 runners up.
  • Puerto Rico : 8 crowns, 11 runners up.
  • Brazil : 6 crowns, 35 runners up.
  • Colombia : 5 crowns, 21 runners up.
  • South Africa : 4 crowns, 17 runners up.
  • Mexico : 4 crowns, 12 runners up.

There seems to be a clear cut marketing strategy devised by the Cosmetic multinationals to mint money out of the emerging markets by creating an influencer in the respective countries. Award these personalities with an international recognition, get the press to cover them for another 1 year, get them to endorse cosmetic brands.

Now after going through all this data, the Tripura CM Biplab Deb’s seems to have put across valid narrative claiming that these awards were nothing just a ploy used by marketing company to validate a personality, so that she could sell some of their products. The Left leaning media created a ruckus out of a statement which makes sense, just because the one who said is from the other political camp. One wonders what their reaction would be, had Mr Shashi Tharoor said the same? I’m sure he’d have been celebrated as an intellectual for a fortnight.