Few are indifferent to the images of glamorous models endorsing a widening range of cosmetic products, designed to tweak, twist, stretch, shrink, moisturise and colour the human anatomy. These images seduce middle-class consumers and shape their thoughts, dreams and demands. Most people are aware of the underlying motive – the profit of cosmetics companies. But conscience, even caution, is a poor match for the hypnotic effect of these advertisements. Hindustan Unilever, India’s largest cosmetics seller and manufacturer, is one corporation that thrives in this business.
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