Bollywood Babes & Femina Magazine Launch ‘Be Unstoppable’ Campaign

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It was a celebration of women from all walks of life, and the strength we possess in many different circumstances, at the ‘Be Unstoppable’ campaign launch event for Femina Magazine in India recently.

Femina is India’s leading magazine for women, and despite a lot of the cultural stigma that surrounds women and female roles in society in the sub-continent, this publication has always been about promoting women as strong individuals and not apologizing for who they are.

“The new campaign that encourages women to be unstoppable, break stereotypes and make their own rules,” said the magazine in an article about the event.

The magazine features cover girl and actress Huma Qureshi, with the text “I don’t owe you perfection”. Huma’s curvaceous body is positioned behind a mannequin, giving the bold message that she is unashamedly not sample size and proud of it.

Aside from Bollywood royalty and media attending the event in Mumbai, the audience also got to hear from a range of inspiring Indian women. Femina editor Tanya Chaitanya said the campaign is about accepting and loving the way you are, without seeking approval from the world. The best way to do this was to showcase women from all walks of life and have them share their journey with the crowd.

Subhreet Kaur Gumman was the one-legged Bollywood dancer who stunned the ‘India’s Got Talent’ judges with her fierce dance moves, making her a worldwide phenomenon. This young woman has managed to turn her horrific story into a source of empowerment for others, defying society’s standards about disabled people. In India, disabled people are often thought of as outcasts. But Subhreet wouldn’t allow herself to be defined by her motorcycle accident.

“Handicapped are those who have all their limbs and still don’t do anything! I used to be hurt when people would point out that I should just sit at home. But all I wanted to do is dance and that’s what I did. Go all out and achieve your dreams, you get life only once,” she said to the crowd gathered at the ITC Grand hotel.

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Covergirl Huma Qureshi spoke about body image, and how as an actress she was determined to break the narrow-mindedness in the entertainment industry toward women.

“I’ve been fortunate because I have got good opportunities where I didn’t have to change myself. But what I have always believed and followed is to ‘never be apologetic for how I look’. Nobody is perfect, none of us. But we’ve never been taught to love ourselves,” says the woman who refused to diet to become a size zero.

“If we think we’re perfect, we should believe it and not look for other’s approval. All I need is just my approval about myself. It’s my life, my body, my rules! I’m happy with what I am today.”

Actress Tannishtha Chatterjee had a whole other battle on her hands; being a dark-skinned girl in a country and industry which is obsessed with light-skinned complexions. It stems back to the days of the British Empire rule, and how they imposed the mindset that white skin color means money, power and beauty, and dark skin means poverty and lower class.

“I don’t think there is any definition of beautiful. When I first came to Mumbai, I was trained and people would say ‘you studied science why don’t you assist’, ‘you are a bright girl, so assist’. There were plenty of subtle hints that I don’t have the looks of a Bollywood actor.”

“I was a part of a project called ‘Dark is beautiful’ and interestingly, not many actors wanted to associate with it because they didn’t want to confirm and raise a question. There have been dusky actors in the past too – Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Kajol, Rani Mukerji – so it’s not like Bollywood is not accepting of dusky actors.”

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Over in Hollywood, we have heard the same type of emotions being raised by Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o who says it wasn’t until she started seeing women like Oprah Winfrey and supermodel Alek Wek that she realized she too was beautiful.

On the website, there are plenty more interviews with actresses, designers, models and Bollywood names who share their stories of overcoming the odds stacked against them specifically because of their physical appearance. Actress Usha Jadhav talks about being rejected from the industry because of the “fair is beautiful mindset” which dominates.

“I believed in myself and always followed the mantra that ‘there is no reason for me to feel less confident cause of the way I look.’ If you believe in yourself, tell yourself that you are the best. You are beautiful and you can achieve whatever you set your mind and heart on.”

Mishti Verma Thapar is a playwright and theater founder who produces works based on addressing gender stereotypes.

“The country is still very much engulfed with stereotypes. In spite of women having attained favorable positions in the corporate sector there still remains a staggering rise of just 14% in overall women growth, a trend that needs to change,” she says.

“India being at the forefront of gender stereotyping, our aim is to understand the challenges faced by women today and try and transform mindsets using a powerful medium like theater. We will be covering aspects like fair skin, perception, and sexual harassment.”

She says that theater is a powerful medium, and her company regularly works with organizations who are committed to women’s empowerment and eliminating gender stereotyping.

Singer Vasudha Sharma is challenging the notion that all women belong in the kitchen, by creating a clever and catchy video called ‘Respect for Women’ which sees her and a percussionist using kitchen appliances and household goods to create the beat to accompany her singing. The video is actually very cool and an awesome creative way to fight against sexist attitudes.

We love that a country steeped in tradition is using their powerful voice in the media to empower women. In a country of 1 billion residents, it’s certainly going to influence a fair few people! While there has been a lot of bad news coming out of India recently with the gang rapes, hangings and murders, it’s nice to focus on some positive news, albeit for a moment.

We have a long way to go before we reach gender equality around the world. But for us, half the fun is pouring our passion into inspiring and empowering content that can help women from all walks of life realize their full potential. We’re glad Femina magazine is doing just that with this campaign, teaching women to ‘Be Unstoppable’!

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