November 14, 2007

Lakme Revlon Deny Female Staff Marriage Symbols


Kaveetaa Kaul

Without attempting a perfervid take on this incident, I found it prudent to expatiate on Sachiniti to bring the issue to light. Its time we make wrong doers answerable.

A recent shopping experience left one feeling quite disgusted at the dictatorial attitude of cosmetic companies Revlon and Lakme towards their female staff. A casual chat revealed that married women at the respective counters, while expected to be ‘made up’ to the hilt were permitted to wear neither the ‘sindoor‘ ( vermilion mark on the forehead indicating marital status) or the ‘mangal sutra’ ( a sacred thread of black beads donned at the time of the marriage ceremony) as a matter of policy.

It got my goat and I have mailed them my views on the issue reproduced below:



I am appalled and taken aback at your policy of disallowing female staff at your counters across stores in India from either wearing sacred vermilion (sindoor) or the much revered ‘mangal sutra’.

Despite my sincere intention I fail to find the rationale behind this travesty. In fact all I do conclude is an attempt by you to exploit poor underprivileged girls who due to financial constraints have no choice but to pander to your ridiculous demands.

What are we to understand by this? That you under rate married women or is that you consider marriage a deterrent to the sales of your products? Or that Indian symbols of marriage are below your accepted standards?

What of the female staff in other parts of the world? Are they
enforced to do away with their wedding ring before they man Revlon
counters? Surely not. Then why India? Why is vermilion a taboo? Are we
a third world country therefore open to your didactic strictures?

Despite being a company that caters to women I find your stance discriminatory, arbitrary and exploitative to women.

Having been a consumer in the past, I henceforth vow not to purchase any of your products till I do not receive a satisfactory explanation and a withdrawal of this rather draconian rule.

Kaveetaa Kaul

sent to :

Email addresses received from a their respective websites.

What will be the outcome is something one cannot predict. However if they choose to perfunctorily ignore, I will continue my tirade till a satisfactory response is not received. Hypocrisy should not and cannot be condoned. Gloss and glitz on the marketable outside masks a rather capricious notion of women’s rights and inequitable company norms.

P.S. Incidentally this is what Wiki has to say about ‘sindoor’ sold by Lakme:

Branded sindoor and kumkum, even the liquid sindoor marketed by the reputed cosmetic company, Lakme, does not carry the mandatory label of ingredients. Adding to the toxicity problem are a flood of unbranded products on the markets. Even big shops in urban markets sell spurious or unbranded products without a list of ingredients.

Its okay to sell it but not wear it. Brides dressed in their finery adorned with ritualistic symbols of marriage may be great marketing gimmick and thats all there is to it.

Neither do they wish to show even a sanctimonious respect for our culture but expose dubious claims of their quality as well.

Update 6th September 2008: As expected, even after ten months there has been NO response from lakme.
Meanwhile Indian nurses of South African origin have after a tough battle and protests won the right to wear Bindis and nose rings while on duty.. Bravo!! Wish lakme and Revlon saw the inhumanity of their norms!! Wishful thinking??


  1. […] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptLakme Revlon Deny Female Staff Marriage Symbols Filed under: Experiences, India n Me, Random, This Gets To Me, Truth of India, opinions, personal — kaveetaakaul @ 1:57 pm Tags: , lakme, revlon, unfair practises [IMG revlon.jpg] Without attempting a perfervid take on this incident, I found it prudent to expatiate on Sachiniti to bring the issue to light. Its time we make wrong doers answerable. A recent shopping experience left one feeling quite disgusted at the dictatorial attitude of cosm […]

    Pingback by My Personal Blog » Lakme Revlon Deny Female Staff Marriage Symbols — November 14, 2007 @ 2:27 pm | Reply

  2. Glad you wrote to them and wrote of it visit to malls and stores and I will be looking at the salesgirls in detail. Poor things.. it is really unfair. So they have to come to work put on their short skirts or whatever, remove their mangal sutra and wipe off their sindoor…what a routine. and then in th e evening put it all back again. But why? just cant seem to understand.

    Comment by Neha — November 14, 2007 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

  3. Lakme Revlon deny female staff from wearing marriage symbols

    if u want to work with revlon or lakme leave your mangal sutra at home and remove ur sindoor..Weird!

    Trackback by — November 14, 2007 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

  4. Hypocrisy is the right word! And “exploiting poor women” seems to be the motive anyways. This is serious. I support you in your tirade!

    Comment by Kiran — November 14, 2007 @ 6:57 pm | Reply

  5. Good job Kav. But I have to say at this point I have not been able to pay due attention to your post, the long legs of the model has got me occupied. Pray tell how is this model ???? “Pata Toh Karo Kaunsi Chakki Ka Aata Khakar Yeh Itni Jaannasheen Ho Gayee Hai”.

    Hurry up now, “Yallah Yallah”, I am dieing here.

    “Aaap Bhi Janab, Khabhi Khabhi Tangent Par Chal Pardi Ho”.

    Comment by Shaan Khan — November 14, 2007 @ 9:41 pm | Reply

  6. Typo in previous post, it should read “Who is this model”

    Comment by Shaan Khan — November 14, 2007 @ 9:42 pm | Reply

  7. Thanks for your support Kiran. More on receiving their response..or is it going to be the proverbial ‘wait’?

    Shaan…why am I not surprised that oomph has buried content for ya!Men will be boyz.. sigh.. the model I think is Jesse Randhawa.As for ‘chakki ka atta’..most probably it is the lack of it ..meaning no carb diet which is the secret of her ‘jaannashhen-ness’

    ‘aur aap janab kaunse tangent ki baat kar rahe hain’? one mans focus is another’s tangent?

    please dont ‘dieing’..only liveing..and fantasiseing

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — November 15, 2007 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

  8. Allow me to put this in context (if you may).

    The staff of Turkish Airline (as well the staff at Istanbul Airport) can wear a beard or a skull cap.

    Girls at many a schools in Egypt cannot wear a Hijaab (even when they so prefer to do so out of their own free will).

    An American company (its founder some years back ran in the Presidential election) had rules that defined the color and type of shoes as well as the suit.

    All of this is justifiable because these institutions have a brand image to project and protect. Mind you millions are spent on cultivating the brand image, hence what follows seems reasonable.

    Comment by Shaan Khan — November 15, 2007 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

  9. You are talking about uniforms Shaan. These are simple salesgirls in malls. Surely they do not represent ‘brand image’. And dont you think that Lakme and Revlon in India should then have saree clad girls with the customary accoutrements? It would be easy on the eyes and do away with all these issues?

    And if it does irk them so much then simply insist on unmarried girls although that is discriminatory as well.

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — November 15, 2007 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

  10. Kav

    I understand your position. I respect it too. Let me let you my mother and my sisters live in mortal fear that someday, someone (in the middle east) might get very upset with me for expressing my opinion (I take the same position on head scarf at business places also). Nonetheless I have always maintained that the responsibility of the company is to its shareholders and to its customers/clients. The employees are there to serve the interest of the company. If they feel that their personal interest is in conflict with the company’s interest then they should find a job which is better suited for them. I know when i say this I sound very heartless but that is not who I am. I am merely a pragmatic person who believes in stating the truth.

    Going back to the issue of brand image, anything and everything related to the company is part of that. At my company I say to people that they are the face of the company. During work hours and while conducting business (which includes company parties, dinners and other social events) they are expected to make the company look what we aim to project.

    Comment by Shaan Khan — November 15, 2007 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

  11. But I fail to see how an innocuous dot on the parting of the hair or a mangal sutra is going to result in a massive tumbling down of stocks of that company due to diminished brand image? I think the companies are getting obsessively paranoid about a non issue. Au contraire a co operative approach might win them the sympathy vote and boost their sales. Take my example I find their hypocrisy appalling..Given a choice ..which I am spoilt for presently.. why would I want to venture near a Lakme/Revlon counter again? I feel for the women working there.. and it makes me angry.. so they have lost a customer. How in heavens name has this benefitted them one bit?

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — November 16, 2007 @ 5:43 pm | Reply

  12. Kav

    Your vote via your consumption dollar counts. If more like you, react like you, then perhaps something along the lines of what you desire might occur. Till then most company will conduct their pursuit from a time tested and well researched play book that has very little emotions for such issues.

    Comment by Shaan Khan — November 16, 2007 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  13. Oh they will soon have ’emotions’ for this issue..if enough people take it up and media decides to hype it. If it is all about a brand image the a fall would be most embarrassing ..wouldnt it?

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — November 17, 2007 @ 8:56 am | Reply

  14. You should speak of this in the media.

    Comment by smriti — November 28, 2007 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  15. I once met a Pakistani textile engineer in London, who had a tough time getting a job in his earlier immigrant status in Australia. This man had a very good sense of humour. ” Itni Garmi hai , Oz me , ki kapde jaldi , jaldi uthar dete hai” London kam se kam thand hai. Mujhe yeha jaroor scope hoga kyo ki thand ke liye , jaroor kapde pehenege” This conversation went on and then an old woman( she was an Asian from subcontinent, a Sardarni) who had great zest for life, came up with a revelation like conclusion.

    “The trouble with Western civilzation is that they want to present themselves in a state of appearance as they appeared into Mother Earth in their maternity ward ji”

    Comment by gajanan — January 2, 2008 @ 7:51 am | Reply

  16. Lol…she was so candidly right ji.
    In fact the only area where their ‘natural’ urges take over is where clothing is concerned… otherwise their lives are fraught with synthetic unnatural substances, whether in emotions, diet or entertainment.

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — January 2, 2008 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

  17. Kaveetaji , Sahi kaha aapne
    Ekdhum artificial hai. Ye lo Mehmood/ Aruna Irani ka gana from Aulad.

    These lines are very telling
    on the conditions applied by Revlon and Lakme
    The only problem is that majboori itni hai for money that the women cannot sing the words.

    Lyrics of Jodi Hamari
    ( jodi hamari jamega kaise jani)-2
    hum to hai angreji tum ladki hindustani
    (tumko bhi mushkil mujhe bhi pareshani)-2
    baat mano saiyan ban jao hindustani
    jodi hamari

    (angreji mulak mein kitna romance hai
    baahar ka chokari kitna advance hai)-2
    (dekhe bina kabhi koi ite pyaar se
    mukhde pe laaj ka aancharva daar ke )
    khilti hai ghunghat mein jawaani
    (jodi hamari jamega kaise jani)-2
    baat mano saiyan ban jao hindustani
    jodi hamari

    (bahoon mein tham ke do ghanta roz mein
    tumko shikhlayega ulfat ka poz mein)-2
    daiya re nain ka kajra na choot jaye
    jhankoro na piya jhumka na toot jaye
    ro degi dekho tumhare dil ki rani
    tumko bhi mushkil mujhe bhi pareshani-2
    hum to hai angreji tum ladki hindustani
    jodi hamari

    lau mein kaat doon lambi lambi yeh lat lau
    tumko to hir se banana hai juliet -2
    yun na pagal bano dekho re balma
    chila ke shor mein kar dungi jalima
    zulfen ghata ki na dungi mein diwani
    jodi hamari jamega kaise jani-2
    hum to hai angreji tum ladki hindustani
    tumko bhi mushkil mujhe bhi pareshani
    baat mano saiyan ban jao hindustani
    jodi hamari

    let the women sing like this the above lyrics

    yun na pagal bano dekho re Lakme aur Revlon
    chila ke shor mein kar dungi jalima
    Sindoor ya Mangal sutra ghata ki na dungi mein diwani
    Lakme/ Revlon
    jodi hamari jamega kaise jani-
    hum to hai angreji tum ladki hindustani
    tumko bhi mushkil mujhe bhi pareshani
    baat mano Lakme/Revlon ban jao hindustani

    Song on utube of Aulad

    Mehmood in Chaplin dress ( a great choice) and Manna Dey sings the song in a very vibrant way.

    Comment by gajanan — January 3, 2008 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

  18. LOl…Gajanan ji..sorry missed this comment. Surely you are inspired and can break into lucid poetry at such times. I loved the reference. I remember this song and in those days really enjoyed its picturisation with Mehmood and aruna Irani. The situational comedy was funny without being slapstick and so real.

    ‘baat mano lakme/revlon ban jaao Hindustani’ is Correct…wow!

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — February 5, 2008 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  19. Hi,

    Hope this finds u in best of health. Now to give my details, I m Pallavi and My DOB is 15.11.79. I ve had lot of personal problems. have lost both my parents 15 yrs back. My problem is I want to win back my freind whom I love deeply. he had proposed to me 2 yrs back. he used to call me, take me out. But I didnt respond much bcoz of personl problems. but now he hardly responds, or even calls me for that sake. Doesnt even bother to check if I md dead or alive. I realise that I want to live wiht my whole life.can u tell me effective ways to restart this relation again. I m losing sleep over this, falling Ill, not bale to aconcentrate on my work. His DOB is 13.08.79.
    Can u help me out.



    Comment by Pallavi Mudaliar — April 7, 2008 @ 11:24 am | Reply

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    Comment by Elva — October 19, 2014 @ 3:35 am | Reply

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