From the badass body positivist to the adventurous woman who loves to explore and the helicopter parent who juggles her responsibilities with singular success, the modern Indian woman has manifold shades. We discern nine eye-catching silhouettes and the layers beneath.
You’d probably chuckle if we tell you that women are the world’s largest and most influential consumers, driving the majority of household spending with their buying power. It’s a #truestory indeed–gone are the days when the Indian woman’s purchasing power was limited to groceries.
The ‘perfect homemaker’ making way for a ‘perfect balancer’, the ‘focussed corporate woman' is transforming herself into a ‘woman who’s constantly discovering’ and the ‘unattainable sex symbol’ is embracing her voluptuous curves. Even then, stereotypes still exist, and women are type-casted into a pre-defined, archaic grid.
The woman comprises 50% of the Indian population and is known to exert an influence of over 85% of all products and services. However, it’s always the man who has had a huge head start in the advertising world. The woman, on the other hand, is often depicted as the ‘domestic obsessive’ and the ‘selfless nurturer and sacrificer’. There’s an urgent need for marketers to address the evolving Indian woman and uncover the facets of her behaviour that are probably hidden due to years of conditioning.
We take the lead and take notice of the many segments, traits, and behaviours that are now defining women. A small yet substantial attempt to view the Indian woman through a different lens—the woman who doesn’t feel alienated because she is different; the woman who’s finding herself a community, a sizeable bunch of like-minded women who speak her language and share her worldview.
The dream weaver
The four walls of the house smother her and compel her to look out of the window. The world outside entices her with sparkles of self-worth and value. And so she chooses her calling from an assortment of passions—baking, party planning, make-up artistry, and healing, among others. Establishing her identity outside the one defined by her home gives the newborn entrepreneur a sense of power and the flexibility to do things her way. Social media becomes her BFF in no time, and yet she has a strong foothold on her home and family; multitasking and juggling roles to the best of her abilities.
Kissing goodbye to the superwoman is a new breed of empowered, but highly realistic women who are ready to embrace their imperfections with ease. The ‘perfectly imperfect’ woman won’t go after the illusions of perfection in the glossy oasis of social media stories. She’ll rather relinquish the fancy titles that require her to constantly keep up with the pressure and project a more realistic view, without being so tough on herself. ‘Letting go’ is her mantra as she finds it liberating to assert her individuality through her imperfections, even if it means dropping the ball and taking risks on the way.
The helicopter woman
You must have seen her at the supermarket, the mall, or the school. Yes, there she is—the one cheering the loudest at the school concert, standing on the finish line at the sports race, and shaking an energy drink in her hand. Her family is her world and she wouldn’t delegate her responsibility even for a million dollars. Mrs. No-One-Can-Do-It-Better-Than-Me is often tough on herself because she needs to accomplish so much in a short period of time. And although she’s prone to criticism for not letting her kids face danger and flounder without steady guidance, she does believe that there are problems in the world that her children kids are growing up in, and is determined to change it for the better by being on their side.
No strings attached
Did you know? In a country obsessed with marriage and childbirth, nearly 12% of the overall female population comprises women who are single, separated widowed. Also, this population is also expanding every year, thanks to the ‘no strings attached’ phenomenon. But well, The Times They Are A-Changin’, and there is an increasing cohort of women in our cities, who want to live my life without anyone thrusting down rules and conventions. The single woman is liberated and independent—financially and emotionally in equal measures. She breathes blissfully in her solitude.
Curves are beautiful
The faces and forms of oppression are many, but the worst of all is that of the ‘ugly’. Haven’t we all stood before the mirror at some point in our lives and pinched the tyre of fat on our waistline or wished that our skin was a shade lighter? Enter in the body positive movement—a revolution that aims to shed years of feeling worthless and redefining the way we look at beauty. A reminder that our bodies are equally valuable; irrespective of their shape, size, or colour.
The modern-day Nur Jahan
…or the woman who ‘wears the pants in the house’ (pardon the stereotype). Just like Nur Jahan, who, along with her political acumen and powerful ambitions, was a poet, a hunter, and an architect, the alpha woman occupies an admirable position in the society—be it exuding her power in the boardroom, taking finance-related decisions at home, or mending a flat tyre. She strongly believes that there are no role divisions, and gender boundaries are a thing of the past. Mind you, she ain’t a juggler of any sort; she’s just doing everything in her capacity to blur the divide between men and women.
The rebellious kid
You don’t always have to drape a pink saree and represent the 'Gulabi Gang' to eradicate gender violence and women’s issues. They are everywhere in the complex societal matrix. However, slowly and steadily, their influence is spreading as more and more women are speaking up, fighting through and demanding that they are heard. The crusading woman has no inhibitions about coming down on the street and raising her fiery voice raging with urgency and capitalism. She’s often seen at the very epicentre of a heated debate, trying relentlessly to turn the conversation in their favour. Her only agenda is to use her voice to be able to influence change and fight injustice.
Set me free
We all have been there, done that—pretended to cook a meal for the family in our toy kitchen. Because that’s probably the first sign of a well cultured girl. All along, we’ve been cocooned in a society that normalises the thought that it’s a woman’s job to make everyone happy, which in turn made us believe that our identity came second. Well, not anymore. Meet the adventurous woman who travels solo and is learning to be self-sufficient. She’s unafraid to indulge in the newest fashion trends, nurtures her hobbies and believes that her happiness comes first.
The urban nomad
Think Katrina Kaif in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara or Anushka Sharma in PK. Defining her own destiny is the modern, educated urban Indian woman. A sassy lass who refuses to tame down, she is uninhibited, unrestrained and almost always takes the road less travelled to unravel her true self. Material ownership doesn’t define her because she chooses the understated over opulence—be it a biking expedition or a spiritual journey in the mountains. Call her a hippie or a gypsy —tags never fascinate her anyway. Her attractive aura is sure to elude and influence you on a deeper level.
As the Indian woman rapidly moves beyond the pink and the pretty, it’s high time that marketers and advertisers ditch misrepresenting women by drawing caricatures as the ones who eat the right breakfast (read cereal), incessantly shop at the name of a sale and the ones who need a man to do financial transactions.
These avatars represent what women really want and who they are becoming. And while the conversation has just begun, we hope to see women around us coming into their own, opening up, breaking free and living the unrestrained unshackled life that they are meant to be.
The author is founder director of Jigsaw Brand Consultants. Views expressed here are entirely personal.