Without attempting a perfervid take on this incident, I found it prudent to expatiate on Sachiniti to bring the issue to light. Its time we make wrong doers answerable.
A recent shopping experience left one feeling quite disgusted at the dictatorial attitude of cosmetic companies Revlon and Lakme towards their female staff. A casual chat revealed that married women at the respective counters, while expected to be ‘made up’ to the hilt were permitted to wear neither the ‘sindoor‘ ( vermilion mark on the forehead indicating marital status) or the ‘mangal sutra’ ( a sacred thread of black beads donned at the time of the marriage ceremony) as a matter of policy.
It got my goat and I have mailed them my views on the issue reproduced below:
I am appalled and taken aback at your policy of disallowing female staff at your counters across stores in India from either wearing sacred vermilion (sindoor) or the much revered ‘mangal sutra’.
Despite my sincere intention I fail to find the rationale behind this travesty. In fact all I do conclude is an attempt by you to exploit poor underprivileged girls who due to financial constraints have no choice but to pander to your ridiculous demands.
What are we to understand by this? That you under rate married women or is that you consider marriage a deterrent to the sales of your products? Or that Indian symbols of marriage are below your accepted standards?
What of the female staff in other parts of the world? Are they
enforced to do away with their wedding ring before they man Revlon
counters? Surely not. Then why India? Why is vermilion a taboo? Are we
a third world country therefore open to your didactic strictures?
Despite being a company that caters to women I find your stance discriminatory, arbitrary and exploitative to women.
Having been a consumer in the past, I henceforth vow not to purchase any of your products till I do not receive a satisfactory explanation and a withdrawal of this rather draconian rule.
sent to : email@example.com
Email addresses received from a their respective websites.
What will be the outcome is something one cannot predict. However if they choose to perfunctorily ignore, I will continue my tirade till a satisfactory response is not received. Hypocrisy should not and cannot be condoned. Gloss and glitz on the marketable outside masks a rather capricious notion of women’s rights and inequitable company norms.
P.S. Incidentally this is what Wiki has to say about ‘sindoor’ sold by Lakme:
Branded sindoor and kumkum, even the liquid sindoor marketed by the reputed cosmetic company, Lakme, does not carry the mandatory label of ingredients. Adding to the toxicity problem are a flood of unbranded products on the markets. Even big shops in urban markets sell spurious or unbranded products without a list of ingredients.
Its okay to sell it but not wear it. Brides dressed in their finery adorned with ritualistic symbols of marriage may be great marketing gimmick and thats all there is to it.
Neither do they wish to show even a sanctimonious respect for our culture but expose dubious claims of their quality as well.
Update 6th September 2008: As expected, even after ten months there has been NO response from lakme.
Meanwhile Indian nurses of South African origin have after a tough battle and protests won the right to wear Bindis and nose rings while on duty.. Bravo!! Wish lakme and Revlon saw the inhumanity of their norms!! Wishful thinking??