MUMBAI: A 52-year-old Indian lingerie model is pushing e-commerce firms to hire older women for their advertising campaigns, challenging what she says are the ageist norms practised by many companies.
Geeta J, a former teacher who took to modelling when she turned 50, says she wants innerwear companies in India to be more inclusive and avoid featuring only younger women in their promotion drives.
"Are women no more fit to become a lingerie model past a certain age?," Geeta has said in an online petition on Change.org, captioned with the hashtags '#AgenotCage' and '#LingerieHasNoAge', which she started this year.
Her job is bold and unusual in the largely conservative Indian society where religious and cultural norms limit women's freedom to dress the way they want.
Such norms are even more restrictive for women over the age of 40, Geeta told Reuters in an interview.
More than 11,000 people have signed up to support her petition, which is addressed to the chief executive of the popular innerwear company Zivame.
"This will lead to a change in the mindset of people in our country who think that after 40, women should dress and behave in a certain way," Geeta said in the petition, adding that she hoped it would lead to more companies following suit.
Zivame's head of marketing Khatija S. Lokhandwala responded to the Change.org petition in October last year.
"We are with you, Geeta. Zivame is all about inclusivity whether it is body type, life stage, or age. While we feature various models we would be happy to take recommendations on models if you have names," said Khatija.
Geeta began her career after winning a runners-up prize in a beauty pageant for older women. While her family and friends had been supportive of her switch in careers at 50, however, she said she was aware many Indian women her age would find it hard to do so.
"I want to tell this to all women that they should care about the dreams of their husbands and loved ones and support them, but they should never think that their own life is not important or their wishes are not important," Geeta said.