Razor Company Under Fire For Insensitive Ad Featuring Prachi Nigam

An Uttar Pradesh Class 10 topper was mocked for her appearance despite her achievement. The teenage girl confidently shut down the trolls and let her prowess shine.

Tanya Savkoor
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Bombay Shaving Razor Company

Image Photo via Twitter/BBC hindi

A teenage girl from Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, succeeded remarkably by topping the Class 10 State board examination. Prachi Nigam secured an impressive score of 591 out of 600 marks—98.5%. However, rather than being celebrated for her achievement, the internet had been abuzz with discussions about her appearance. Nigam did not let the trolls get to her and handed her an apt response: "Trollers can live with their mindset; I am happy that my success is now my identity,” she told the news platform Siasat Daily. Several esteemed personalities came to her support, reminding her to stay focused on her academic goals. She was heavily trolled for her facial hair, sparking a conversation around the deeply entrenched beauty standards perpetuated on girls from a young age. Some bullies even manipulated Nigam's picture to make it fit into the "ideal" appearance. 


The latest controversy surrounds The Bombay Shaving Company (BSC), a prominent player in the personal grooming industry, which found itself amidst a storm of criticism following its advertisement in support of Prachi Nigam, the Uttar Pradesh state board exam topper.

Meet Prachi Nigam

Prachi Nigam secured an almost perfect score in the UP Class 10 examinations, capturing attention from across India. The student of Sita Bal Vidya Mandir Inter College secured 98.5%, just nine marks short of 100%. "I prepared well, but the number one position was not on my mind. I am proud that my hard work has paid off," she told  India Today.

Speaking about how she managed to secure such a momentous achievement, she said that her regular attendance in classes and consistent efforts paid off. Nigam told the media that she aspires to become an engineer. She is currently preparing for the IIT-JEE exam. Nigam's father is a contractor in Sitapur and her mother is a homemaker. 

Appearance Over Achievements: A Woman's Experience

Soon after the UP government declared the 10th and 12th standard board exam results on April 20, social media trolls jumped on to make fun of Prachi Nigam's appearance. The Class 10 topper began getting bullied for her natural facial hair, bringing forth the toxic culture of physical appearance overshadowing a woman's achievements.

prachi nigam
Netizens trolled her for her facial hair.
prachi nigam
Some even manipulated her photo.
Does a teenager have to put so much focus on their appearance at a young age?

Speaking to Siasat Daily, Nigam said, "My family, my teachers, and my friends never criticised me for my appearance, and I never bothered about it either. It was only when my photograph was published that people started trolling me. I aim to become an engineer, and what will ultimately matter are my marks, not the hair on my face."

Following the brutal trolling, Nigam received support from all over the country, including respected public figures. Educationist and content creator Falguni Vasavade highly condemned the trolling in a video post and said, "Women don’t have to prove their beauty every time they succeed and take one step further."


At an age when teenagers are already navigating a myriad of physical, social, and emotional changes, the ridiculous expectations from society exert added pressure that can have profound effects on their self-image and mental health. Moreover, the pervasive culture of online trolling has made these challenges even more insidious.

A Brand's Misguided Solidarity

Bombay Shaving Company, a prominent grooming brand, sought to extend a gesture of solidarity towards Nigam through a full-page newspaper advertisement. However, their purported act of support was marred by a glaring display of opportunism. The message, "Dear Prachi, they are trolling your HAIR today; they'll applaud your A.I.R. (All India Rank) tomorrow," was intended to convey support and encouragement to the young achiever.

However, it was the concluding line of the advertisement that triggered an unexpected backlash. In a twist of fate, the seemingly well-intentioned message took a sour turn with its closing remark: "We hope you never get bullied into using our razor."

This subtle attempt at humor backfired spectacularly, drawing sharp criticism from social media users, who perceived it as insensitive and opportunistic. By reducing Nigam's ordeal to a marketing gimmick, the company not only disregards her emotional well-being but also detracts from the broader issue of cyberbullying and online harassment.


The advertisement, intended to serve as support for Nigam, faced vehement opposition for its perceived insensitivity. Critics lambasted the ad, accusing The Bombay Shaving Company of trivializing the gravity of cyberbullying and exploiting Nigam's plight for commercial gain. Many expressed disdain at what they perceived as an attempt to capitalize on a sensitive issue for the promotion of their products.

In response to the mounting criticism, The Bombay Shaving Company and its founder-CEO, Shantanu Deshpande, defended their advertisement as a gesture of genuine empathy towards Nigam's plight, “Dear Prachi, They are trolling your hair today, they’ll applaud your A.I.R. tomorrow.” Sharing the picture, Deshpande wrote, “It was shocking to see the amount of hate targeted at a teenage girl who had TOPPED AN EXAM because of her facial hair. Our simple message to this amazing young woman with such a bright future. Love to see my team ooze class. No opportunistic sale, QR code, nothing. Just a heartfelt message to a fellow Bae.”

The Unfortunate Reality of Online Harassment

Not only Nigam, but several other women have faced the ordeal where their appearance is a hot topic of conversation rather than their achievement. Some women are also undermined for being conventionally attractive, as trolls credit their success to their appearance instead of talent and dedication. Either way, society cannot make up its mind.

saloni khanna
IAS Officer Saloni Khanna; Netizens often comment about the UPSC educator's appearance rather than her skills.

As we reflect on the conversation around beauty standards and women's achievements, it is important to not only condemn the trolls but also to create a space where women's hard work and relentless dedication to their goals are brought to light. Women must not only be lauded for their success but also for the efforts that happened behind the scenes.

Moreover, this also calls for a more inclusive environment where women are not seen through a binary lens. Whether or not a woman conforms to beauty standards, or what some people like to label as "hygiene", their worth should never be defined by their appearance. Let's also remember that 'Beauty with brains' is not a compliment.

Views expressed by the author are their own

class 10 board exams prachi nigam beauty standards