What did India look like in 1970?
Posted On July 13, 2021
By now you probably have seen these gorgeous adverts for beauty products.
But what was the beauty culture like then?
In a nutshell, a woman wearing a bikini in 1970s India was a symbol of beauty, according to a new book titled ‘Karnataka: The Beautiful City in a Beautiful World’.
The book was published on April 3 and has been translated into English and Hindi.
“The book is not an analysis of beauty itself but rather a portrait of the city’s beauty,” the authors write.
“The book traces the history of the beauty of Karnataka and the people who lived there in the 1970s.”
“We are not interested in the ‘perfect beauty’ or ‘perfect skin’, but the beauty that was there,” said Keshav Mehta, the author of the book and a professor of history at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru.
The beauty advertisements in the book show a city that is a haven for beauty lovers, said Mehtam.
It was also a time when people were very interested in fashion, he said.
Karnashas beauty industry flourished in the 1980s and 1990s.
There were many women who came to the city to make their own beauty products, Mehtan said.
“They wanted to create a culture of their own.
It was a time of experimentation.
They were the first to make cosmetic products,” he said, adding that there was a very active market for beauty items.
While the advertising was not a part of the new book, the images of women wearing the bikini ad, which was one of the first in Karnataka, were, Mehtar said.
The author said that a lot of women in Karnashas town and villages would visit the shops and wear their own make-up products.
One of the most popular products in the mid-70s was a new lipstick that was meant to be used by women who had gone through hormonal changes.
“It had a very beautiful fragrance and was used by many women,” he added.
In Karnataka the idea of wearing a makeup was considered more feminine than a bikini and there was an effort to maintain a neutral face, Mehrab said.
The author of Karma Bumana: A History of Women in a Beauty Industry in India, Keshv Mehti, said women were often asked to make cosmetics by the doctors, and the products would be expensive.
Many women in the early years of the cosmetics industry wore makeup to keep their appearance clean, Mehnas said.
There was also an emphasis on the way to look younger, which made them look more attractive.
When the women started wearing cosmetics in the 80s, Mehte added, people started questioning whether they were wearing makeup.
Women who wanted to be fashionable were not always accepted, Mehmans said.
He said women in rural areas in Karnakas town had to pay more to be seen in the advertisements and many women were bullied by their male neighbours.
Today, women in Bengalas town are still making their own cosmetics, but not as often, he added, adding women who want to look like the glamorous image of 1970s Karnataka were not able to do so.
Mehta said the book also traces how women of the late 1970s, including former beauty stars, made their mark in the industry.
Beauty was not seen as a luxury anymore, he pointed out.
“We were not interested about being fashionable.
We were not even interested in being seen as beautiful.
We used to wear clothes for work, which would make us look beautiful, but we could not afford them,” Mehtas said, referring to the time when the women were being harassed for their looks.
Bengalas history of beauty has also been studied in other books.
In 2014, a new book titled Kerala: The First Beauty Revolution was published and published by the Kerala Institute of International Studies (KIIS).
In the book, Kerala’s beauty culture is examined from the 1960s through to the 1980, and it is considered to be the golden era for women in India.
According to the book’s author, P. K. Narasimhan, the book is the first attempt to tell the whole history of Kerala’s first beauty revolution.