In many Indian households, one of the key indicators for a girl’s coming of age is when she can make round rotis.
For the record, it’s tough to achieve that round shape, okay? But no matter how prizes you've won at school or have invented a time machine, it's a fact that in many homes, it's not until the Sri Lanka and Rajasthan shaped rotis are tamed into perfectly round moons that a girl is considered to be 'accomplished'.
A recent ad "celebrates" just this. A young girl is ushered to the dining room, where everyone else is sitting and eating, by her mother. The girl has a bit of flour on her head and in her hands, she nervously holds up a round roti.
And then, everyone bursts into celebratory cheers because oh-my-gawd, it's her first ever round roti!
Now, this gendered setting (a woman’s place is in the kitchen argument) which lazily adapts the status quo would have been slightly understandable if the ad had been for a flour brand or product. But you’ll never guess what it’s for.
Watch the video here to find out:
Why Kwality Walls chose to promote its frozen desserts on a girl’s ‘achievement’ of making her first round roti is beyond us.
It also shows the girl's brother 'inspecting' his sister's round roti. The setting is typical - a joint family where the in-laws and the men in the house are seated, waiting for food, which the woman (wife, daughter-in-law) serves hot.
But the ‘cute’ factor doesn't succeed in covering up the fact that the ad celebrates the same sexist division of labour which mandates that girls and women must be adept in the kitchen. One of the things this argument also supports by extension is that employed women can be ideal wives only if their primary responsibility continues to be housekeeping. The same, of course, is not expected of a man - which is why it is the little girl who must make the roti and the little boy who gets to examine it.
At a time where mainstream ads are looking to project progressive ideas, it's a mystery why Kwality Walls has walled itself up against the growing discourse on sexist advertising.