Nike’s new Middle East campaign champions and highlights women in the Arab countries and how despite the restrictive atmosphere, there is still a section of gutsy sportswomen, rebels for a cause who are always ready to reach out to their ambitions. All this is despite what others may say about them. This ‘log kya kahenge’ attitude is what needs to change
This video is inspiring on different levels. We in India and other countries may look with disapproval at the way the women are treated in Arab countries, especially the restrictions on movement, freedom of expression encountered by the female gender, but despite this campaign being directed at the Middle East Community, the message holds true for all women – Stop living by others’ expectations of your life. Seize your life, make it your own.
It throws the spotlight on women who have achieved success against all odds and in some cases cultural expectations. While it is empowering to see a graceful burkha clad skater take the old Dubai streets with a skateboard, and watch a woman wearing a headscarf take to the streets for a jog, there are the eyes that follow each of these characters – disapproving and shocked at the outright rebellion.
The women hail from different sports including Parkour trainer Amal Mourad, boxer Arifa Bseiso, singer Balqees Fathi and boxer Arifa Bseiso showcasing their skills. Figure skater Zahra Lari also takes a starring role.
There has been a set of voices condemning this video while there are also a group of individuals who have lauded the brand for its message. The brand wants to recharge its women's sportswear arm by 2020, and is looking for ways to appeal to its female shoppers.
Business may be the ulterior motive, but the message is loud and clear : Stop worrying about log kya kahenge (What will they say about you?). Maybe they’ll say you showed them what’s possible.
This fitness brand may have business on its mind but the stereotypes it addresses is something relevant in India as well. Whenever any untoward incident of woman abuse happens, rape happens or a woman is told to back out, there is always that underlying message – What will society say?
Learn to say No, and empower yourself with a positive attitude, that is the aim of Pinkaluru, Asianet Newsable’s campaign, to inspire women to claim what is being taken from them in the name of patriarchy and society. Women should stop feeling like second citizens, or remote-controlled by the norms of society or its male members; it is only up to you to be your own shield.
Lead image, video credit: Nike