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Friday, April 24, 2015

Aishwarya Rai slammed for offensive, 'racist' jewellery advertisement

Advert reflects 17th century European paintings of noblewomen with their child servants

Indian actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is the star brand ambassador of Kalyan jewellery. The actress has appeared in numerous adverts and TVCs for the brand in the past couple of years.

A new ad campaign from the brand has come under fire for putting up a seemingly racist visual of the actress which reflects 17th century
European paintings of noblewomen with their child servants.

READ HERE: Aishwarya Rai responds

The advertisement for Kalyan Jewellers appeared in a newspaper on April 17 and shows  the 41-year-old actress reclining under a parasol held over her head by what the letter describes as 'a dark-skinned slave-boy.'



An open letter to the actress written by a large team of activists, lawyers and feminists in response to a full page advertisement of the said brand has been carried by the website Scroll.in.

Here are a few excerpts of the letter written to her:

"Advertisers routinely use fantasy images to sell products, they must surely desist from using images that condone, legitimise, normalise, or build desirable fantasy around slavery or servitude of any kind, including child slavery or child servitude. Further, the extremely fair colour of your skin (as projected in the advertisement) contrasted with the black skin of the slave-boy is obviously a deliberate "creative" juxtaposition by the advertising agency, and insidiously racist.

"Today, many national and international movements are struggling to change at least the public culture that normalises child labour, a struggle that the Nobel committee has also recognised. We, therefore, hope you agree that this sort of advertisement – a romanticisation of child servitude to feed into elite fantasies – is extremely objectionable and avoidable.

"As an influential member of the Indian film industry and a popular star with a large fan following, we trust that you wish to use your image in a manner that promotes progressive thought and action, and would not knowingly promote regressive images that are racist and go against child rights.

"We, therefore, urge you to do the right thing – cease to associate yourself with this offensive image by ensuring that further use of this advertisement is stopped."

You can read the entire letter at Scroll.in. The article also draws attention to art work and images similar to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's advert.

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