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July 18, 2017

Verve X Harvard Business School: Beauty Decoded

Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena

A scintillating discussion – curated by Verve, the Harvard Business School of India Research Centre and the HBS Club of India – touched upon how the way one looks impacts people’s psyches and lives

On a Friday evening, while the city got into weekend mode, an animated discussion on a topic of universal interest – “Beauty: limiting or liberating?” – curated by the Harvard Business School of India Research Centre and the HBS Club of India, in collaboration with Verve, kept the audience engaged. The invitees for the exclusive evening walked in at the appointed hour to be a part of the event that doubled up as the launch of the Gender Series in India by the Harvard Business School – an interaction that took place at the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers rooftop venue, Rendezvous.

The eminent panelists – Dr Jamuna Pai, cosmetologist; Dr Pervin Dadachanji, psychiatrist; Sonam Kapoor, actor-designer and entrepreneur; Shuchi Kothari, director at beauty retail chain Health & Glow Retailing, co-founder and director of e-commerce site Porte Mode; Vivek Gambhir, managing director at Godrej Consumer Products; and Geoffrey Jones, HBS’ professor of business history – exchanged pleasantries before the discussion in the sanctum sanctorum of Chambers. The guests, meanwhile, partook of the inviting High Tea laid out in Rendezvous, exchanging warm greetings and their own takes on the topic of debate.

The business of introductions dispensed with, the five got down to dissecting the age-old ideas of beauty, its changing face in different cultures and how it is impacting minds and bodies in contemporary times – each of them drawing from their personal experiences and professional expertise. Dr Jones, who has authored the book Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Business Industry, anchored the panel and took the elite gathering through different interpretations of the subject. Kapoor spoke about how she was asked to tone down her looks for some roles, even as she admitted candidly that it took her hours and a huge team to be in step-out mode. Dr Dadachanji touched upon how one’s appearance has an impact on the psyche of both girls and boys, while Dr Pai referred to the many requests for enhancement of looks that she has had over the years. Gambhir underlined the fact that though his company does market beauty products, it has a clean and clear-cut ethical policy due to which the creation of some products is totally taboo. And Kothari spoke about how the business of beauty has evolved in the digital age.

After more than an hour of dialogue, the floor was thrown open to the audience – and the questions flowed freely. An eclectic mix of guests – including names like Geetu Hinduja, Beate Mauder, Namrata Zakaria, Farah Siddiqui, Sharmistha Ray, Sonal Agarwal, Dr Geeta and Sajid Fazalbhoy, Rakhee Lalvani, Kajol Menon, Moomal Mehta, Radhika Batra Shah, Meera Mahadevia, Gayatri Rangachari Shah, Ankit Samdariya and many more – were a part of the audience.

A vote of thanks wound up the discussion. And as each of the invitees left, they carried home a Verve bag, filled with goodies.

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