How Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking Perpetuates Toxic Beauty Standards
Indian Matchmaking is the trending Netflix show which offers a unique insight into the world of dating in South Asian culture.
The show centres around Sima Taparia, who claims to be the top matchmaker in Mumbai. Her statement that“in India, the marriages are between two families” sums up the complexities around match weddings which centre around family politics.
Indian Matchmaking brings much needed South Asian representation into the mainstream, opening eyes to the tight family bonds and parent-child dynamics which help shape Indian society. The professional approach to dating is an extreme version of Tinder, matching elaborate profiles based on individual preferences.
Indian Matchmaking | Official Trailer | Netflix
Although Taparia highlights how “in India nowadays, the boy or girl can refuse to get married, they have full freedom”, she fails to recognise the oppressive beauty standards which extremely limit the prospects of those women who don’t conform.
As we follow Taparia’s journey with various clients, certain toxic patterns in bias emerge. She openly highlights the slimmer, whiter women as easier to match. In more blatant moments she deemed those who were curvier as “unphotogenic” and “unhealthy”.
Aparna Shewakramani, one of Taparia’s clients, is a career-driven woman looking for a husband who can keep up with her ambition. Though she states that “I’m willing to make so many compromises”, Taparia labels her as ‘stubborn’ and ‘picky’ after she rules out someone without a clear career path. “She will not get a life partner if she is this negative.”, she goes as far as to question her sanity, “Her mind is not stable.”
Taparia’s message that women need to be ‘flexible’ in nature yet conform to rigid beauty standards has proven triggering for women who have felt pressured to conform to these ideals. Kulfi Beauty Founder Priyanka Ganjoo is no stranger to these pressures. Ganjoo founded Kulfi to carve out space for Gen Z South Asians in the beauty market, who are fighting against long-standing and deep-seated beauty ideals.
Ganjoo detailed how Indian Matchmaking perpetuates the harmful pressures on South Asian women in Allure earlier this week, “instead of challenging these standards, the show reinforces them. It held up a mirror to the fact we that we still have a lot of problematic things going on.”
Speaking on her own experience with such expectations Ganjoo highlighted the pressure to conform to a slim, light-skinned model. “We browsed magazines with Fair and Lovely ads, now called Glow and Lovely, promising to lighten and brighten our complexions. We saw our moms and aunties buy into the $432M skin-lightening market. We saw that year after year, all of the Miss India contestants had the same medium-light tone.”
For Ganjoo Indian Matchmaking has reignited her plight for change. Now, more than ever she sees the need for a brand that serves South Asian women seeking to break free of damaging beauty expectations.
“When matchmaker Taparia flagged all of the whiter, slimmer, richer and obedient women as easy to match, I felt the overwhelming need to scream “ENOUGH! This! Ends! Now!” After the initial sting of old scars and insecurities faded, I was reinvigorated to take on Kufli’s mission like never before.”
- Ganjoo to Allure
Ganjoo is unwilling to compromise when it comes to liberating South Asian women from outdated expectations. Ganjoo is committed to succeeding with Kulfi Beauty where Indian Matchmaking failed, by helping South Asians reclaim their beauty outside of these expectations.
Words By Ella Calland