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Flipkart’s Sexist Email Reveals Brands Don’t Really Get Empowerment

Posted: September 4, 2015

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Flipkart recently sent emails to its users, promoting how beauty will take them further in their workplaces. This very act shows how a woman is judged by standards of beauty. 

Flipkart recently sent out an email to its users titled ‘Did you know beauty breeds success’. The note to its user cited research showing that beautiful women are more successful because they are noticed and respected more. Some users responded with criticism and Flipkart backtracked, saying they do not endorse the content of this email. While Flipkart’s PR figures out how they want to play this one, let’s take a few minutes to examine this.

Photo credit: Richa Kaul Padte | @hirishitalkies

Photo credit: Richa Kaul Padte | @hirishitalkies

The email is cringe-worthy on multiple levels. Research DOES show that beauty or being attractive in general leads to better life outcomes for people, including at the workplace. This does not mean that it is right, fair or acceptable. It definitely does not make it okay to use as a marketing strategy. Remember many folks thought it was perfectly fine for women to burn at their husband’s pyre. Never made it right, never will.

In fact, notions of attractiveness also evolve and vary across the world – although they are used more to judge women’s worth.

Like a lot of other life factors (where you are born, care and food you receive, gender, education), attractiveness is not a quality that we have much control over. In fact, notions of attractiveness also evolve and vary across the world – although they are used more to judge women’s worth. You may argue that it is possible to change one’s level of attractiveness by dressing well, using makeup and cosmetic surgery. I am not denying that and saying that you should look any different than you like. What I am saying is that how you look and dress is something you should have a choice in, not something you have to do simply to be taken seriously at work.

I am not surprised by this email. It only reflects the times we live in – the notion of beauty as a defining ideal for a woman has not changed, only the outcomes have increased – not only will your beauty lead you to marriage, it will also make you more successful at work. But for an organization such as Flipkart (and they are by no means the only ones) to send out such messages is harmful. They are playing right into the hands of gender stereotypes that already abound at in society and at the workplace and punish men and women.

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