What the Al-Karam winter collection ad got wrong

The advertisement starring Maya Ali discourages women from repeating the same outfit and plays into several negative notions that are incredibly damaging.


By Aliya Zuberi

KARACHI: The beauty standards that have been set for women over the years have proven time and again to be unrealistic. From the ideal size a woman’s body should be down to the way a woman should dress, there is a heavy burden on women who feel the need to match up to these expectations. As of late, the Al-Karam winter collection ad, starring Maya Ali, has reinforced a problematic concept that women should not repeat their outfits. And here’s why this campaign is so problematic.

 

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Al-Karam, like many other textile brands, comes out with numerous collections spanned across the year. Summer, Mid summer, Fall, Winter, there is a collection for every season, even the ones we don’t have. Women rush to get their hands on the new prints and those who don’t, live in constant fear of someone calling them out for wearing a print from the previous season. A sense of inferiority reigns over those who don’t own numerous items from the latest collections and it’s a rat race to be the first woman to get their hands on and wear the suit. It’s a vicious cycle that adverts such as the Al-Karam Winter collection ad, which is endorsed by Maya Ali, are encouraging. It perpetuates the idea that a woman’s worth is to be determined by the clothes she wears. And the concept of never repeating an outfit is a fallacy especially in Pakistan. Keeping in mind the current state of the economy and the inflation rates, buying a new kurti which at minimum costs at least Rs.3000 for each event you attend is something most women simply cannot afford.

And even if we are to look beyond the economic side of things, here’s what we want to know: who is Al-Karam trying to fool with their misguided winter collection ad? Are we really to believe that celebrities like Maya Ali never repeat an outfit, where as Kate Middleton who is set to rule all of England, brazingly repeats her outfits on numerous occasions?

However, if there is one positive that the disastrous ad had to offer it was that it opened up a conversation about how harmful the textile industry is to the environment. With issues such as  climate change proving to be really important conversations that need to be discussed, there has been a lot of talk about how the textile industry contributes to the harm. Beyond the insane amounts of energy consumption, the thousands of gallons of water being used per garment, they also emit harmful chemical waste and the damage is irreversible. So the question is what is the real cost of each brand new outfit Al-Karam wants us to own? A recycled tote bag won’t do much in reversing the damage nor will an Instagram post.

 

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Al-Karam claims that the new winter collection is “ecologically sound” but how exactly is that possible when the damage to the environment is directly proportional to the amount of clothes you are producing. If your ad is anything to go by, you are producing a huge amount in order to ensure women do not repeat their outfits.

It’s high time brands, and celebrities who endorse these brands, act more responsibly. While the world is working on undoing these unrealistic standards, we keep taking two steps back and it’s high time that status quo changes.

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