A fair complexion and well-defined features once meant high social rank and a sign of belonging to the best castes. Today, although light skin is still an indispensable reference, the notions of radiance, softness and a velvety feel have been added.
A rounded, curvaceous body was prized as fertile, “a body for procreating” and remains a symbol of femininity and beauty today. However, there is an additional dimension of slimness that was not important before.
Thick, long and black hair has always been the crowning glory of Indian women. Tied back or weighed down, it was a symbol of control over instincts. Today, women still value long, dark tresses but they also want their hair to be shiny, soft and smooth.
These beauty codes frame the pan-Indian beauty ideal, which exists despite the regional diversity and are embodied by adulated beauty icons such as Aishwarya Rai and Kareena Kapoor.