Where Pepsi Global's ad with Kendall Jenner is culturally tone-deaf, Vicks India's latest highlights the affecting power of genuine storytelling. Called "Generations of Care," the touching new commercial profiles a young Indian orphan, Gayatri, who was adopted by 37-year-old Gauri Sawant, a transgender woman living in Mumbai.
Throughout Vicks' short film, Gayatri tells the true story of her life and adoption, recounting the very first time she met her mother. Though she says her mother sends her to boarding school to one day become a doctor, Gayatri admits she wants to instead be a lawyer, so she can fight for the rights of transgender people like Sawant. "My Civics book says that everyone is entitled to basic rights," Gayatri says. "Then why is my mom denied them?"
India legally recognized transgender people in 2014, adding a third gender to the male-female binary, but the community still fights today for fundmental human rights, such as the legal right to adopt a child. In order to skirt this legality, many transgender women informally adopt orphans of sex workers, which is how Sawant unofficially became Gayatri's mother. When the young girl's mother, who was a sex worker, died of AIDS, Sawant made the decision to raise her all on her own, the Mumai Mirror reports.
Being a transgender mother in India comes with significant stigmas, though Sawant says she doesn't feel special. "I became a mother because of Gayatri and she is my pillar of strength, Sawant told the Mumai Mirror. "I did what every mother does." She continued, saying she wants "Gayatri to achieve her goals. She has all the freedom for what she wants to be. I shall give her everything I can."