Devis: The New "Model Minority"

Thursday, November 13, 2008
Move over Gisele: According to the the New York Post, Devis are poised to take over the ranks of the "It" models. Lakshmi Menon, Kangana Dutta, and Ujwallah Raut are some of the names to watch for, and high-end retailers such as Hermes and Givenchy are already snagging these girls up for their shows. Though these women may not be the best ambassadors of all things Devi (here is one of Dutta's more, um, profound quotes on her rising fame: "Indian women stand out, from the color of their skin to their features"), I, for one, am looking forward to seeing some of these next brown-skinned ladies on the covers of American fashion magazines soon, talking about the perfect red lipstick for our skintone, and how they dress their Devi hips and breasts...

One thing on this rise of the Indian model though: Check out this image from Vogue India's premiere issue. Doesn't the woman on the left (Bipasha Basu) and the woman on the right (Priyanka Chopra) look...well...like the same person? We already get messages that we have to look a certain way from fashion magazines as it is--are we going to get it from our own models as well? It is inevitable that when Menon, Dutta, or Raut makes it big, every successive Indian model will be heralded as the next so-and-so and constantly compared to her. As if there is only one way to be ethnic. But how can we get annoyed when people think all Indians--or all Indian models--look the same when, as in this cover, two of the supposed images of Indian beauty DO look exactly the same?!? And, please. Don't get me started on the whole "fair and lovely" thing, seriously. These women look practically white, no? Last of the random model thoughts: What is Gemma Ward (the blond, Australianmodel in the middle) doing on the launch issue of Indian Vogue?

To much mindlessness to ponder I know. Enough already. Here is some more Devi-model eye candy for you:



16 comments:
Jyothi said...

Wow, it's crazy how much those girls look alike! I didn't know any of these new names and when I first glanced at the photos I thought that they had just photoshopped in the same girl. Why would they do that? And of course, need I mention, with the possible exception of the woman in the black skirt at the bottom, these "Devi models" don't really have the kinds of hips and breasts that the typical desi does. Not that I'm saying models need to. But still.

Anonymous said...

Hi..the 2 women in the vogue photo are Bipasha Basu and Priyanka Chopra. both are bollywood actresses.

deepa said...

THANK you anonymous! You guys obviously know your famous Devis better than I--I have gotten a bunch of email noting the correction and will correct it in the post now. They still look VERY similar don't they??

Anonymous said...

Yup..definitely photoshopped! :) love the blog...keep posting.

Shona said...

That Givenchy ad is HOT. It will be curious to see how these models read when they are interviewed for our magazines. I wonder if they will be espousing more "traditional" Desi values than, say, Gisele? I am doubting they will be galavanting through the world with India Leo--what would their mothers think?!?!

tani said...

I've actually read an interview with Lakshmi Menon. No intellectual superhouse (and I don't think she said anything even close to as profound as the quote here haha), but, come on, they are beautiful can we really expect them to be smart too?? Haha.

Just like it's great to see Meesh as a fashion icon in the making, it's great to see our fellow Indian women making waves in the sea of magazines where you can be blond, blonder, or brunette. Did you know that when magazines put "ethnic" people on their covers, their sales plummet? So I guess we can't really blame them but here's hoping that changes. God knows these Indos are hot enough to make it happen!

monica said...

I saw a TV news story once about this person who'd done a study on the faces of beautiful people. Her theory was that beautiful people have a certain facial structure that society deems as beautiful. High cheekbones, set-apart eyes, and arched eyebrows were the elements I remember. Ah well, thanks to the wonders of threading at least we all can attain the latter!

Shelly said...

I read a similar story. Apparently Denzel Washington and Christy Turlington are the most "beautiful people" in the world based on their facial structures. Which is pretty interesting in the context of this post since DW obviously isn't white and CT isn't the typical blond bombshell. I think this Lakshmi lady can give CT a run for her money, girl is smoking! I wonder if anybody can pull off that Givenchy necklace in real life, I saw a photo of Madonna with it on and it looked like it weighed as much as her. Or at least as much as her bicep.

Anonymous said...

as much as I do not look like these glamazons it is nice to see people finally taking note of Indian beauty. My daughter is 13 and it was amazing to see her reaction when she saw the models on the cover of Indian vogue. It really mattered to her I think that there was a brown girl (where is todays comic???) on the cover of a magazine. It therefore mattered to me!

Anonymous said...

I think Gemma Ward is half Indian. Just kidding.

Sanjana said...

Have any of you noticed that the desis that are considered "beautiful" and "exotic" by western standards would be considered unattractive in India? I mean look at the model on the cover of that mag and then compare her face to Priyanka Chopra's. In India we prefer "refined" and elegant features whereas in the west it seems the more "raw and tribal" look reigns supreme. I don't know if it's because they don't know how to judge foreign faces properly or what. But I see so many foreigners in India going for Indians whom the rest of us find to be uncouth and ugly. Does any of what I'm writing make sense to anyone else but me?

Kiran said...

Sanjana, it's an interesting point. Like, in the West, our image of "other" beauty has to be sort of animalistic. That being said, I think that first photo of Lakshmi portrays very traditional beauty--what about her do you find "tribal"?

Sanjana said...

Tribal wasn't the right word for it but I'm having a hard time trying to articulate what I feel without sounding politically incorrect.

I think other people who have grown up in India would know what I'm getting at.

In India we go for refined features that match up to classical descriptions of beauty found in old poetry and literature.

That model has the features of a typical, ordinary "labor class" person. Sorry to sound so classist but that is the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the pic, and it has nothing to do with her skin tone either.

She doesn't have "royal features" which are still considered the standard of beauty in Desh.

I don't know if people who have not grown up in India will get what I'm trying to say or not.

Venice said...

I think the photoshoot makes Bipasha and Priyanka look similar--they are pretty different looking in my opinion, but that could be because their personalities are so different, I cannot imagine the two being similar at all.

sanjana, I know what you are talking about. In Bollywood, the mark of beauty is more North Indian court tradition, with its mix of Afgani, Persian, and Arab influences (Mughal). The very first model has hardcore Dravidian features and skin color. She is stunningly beautiful, but would not be considered model quality in India. In South India or even Bangladesh, she would be considered attractive, though. She would need to put on weight to be considered attractive in Bangladesh.

I don't know how these magazines come up with concepts of beauty. The models often featured are not ones I would ever consider attractive. I think fashion magazines go for hipless coat racks, with edgy facial features. Done. That's it.

The Indian actresses are just really beautiful, I think. They have hips, lips, and are just aethestically pleasing.

If we tried to be the western model of beauty, we would have to look like gay men's concept of a woman--without breasts, hips, and all that makes us women.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in India and I know what you mean. But at the risk of being even more un-PC, I think it DOES have quite a bit to do with the model's skin tone. Her features actually are aristocratic in many ways, but she is far darker than what many Indians would consider "attractive."

Sheetal said...

My lord that Givenchy necklace is amazing. Can't really imagine wearing it in my current incarnation as a soccer mom, but I still want it! Anybody know of any knock-offs?

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