Body Image issues have picked up a lot of momentum off late. Be it a controversy around exclusion of body diversity in editorials and campaigns or be it praiseworthy attempts by some fashion names embracing a woman’s body sans photoshop!
While on a global level the matter has escalated to new heights in the Trump era, in India it remains a relatively dormant subject in the Modi age. Most Indian influencers maintain their focus on ‘creating content’ while choosing to stay away from controversial dialogues. However, there are some brave lotuses in this Indian pond of superficiality, who have devoted their efforts to a cause that plagues supermodels and mediocre souls like us alike.
So we decided to chat over the subject with 3 such bold women who are trying to make a difference to the psychology of our bodies, one Instagram post at a time.
Roshini Kumar (R) - @Rosh93
Roshini is a Cancer survivor who is using her life's 2nd chapter to be the bolder version of her old self. As photographer, she doesn't hesitate to initiate dialogues about periods, body hair, cellulite etc. She is a a self proclaimed 'Body Positivity Unicorn' and rightly so. (Read her Badass Interview)
Miss M (M) - @MissLingerista
M wants to erradicate the taboo associated with lingerie and the women in it. She also began a project called #HateLoss that encourages women to accept and embrace their bodies as they are. (Read her Badass Interview)
Anushka Kelkar (A) - @BrownGirlGazin
Anushka's project was born out of her own experiences as a girl growing up into a woman in India. Frustrated by the superficially narrow beauty standards in our nation, instead of trying to cover up women's insecurities through filters, or make-up, or a particular aesthetic, through this project she celebrates and shares the fears trying to attempt to change the way we see beauty.
What are some misconceptions about Body Positivity?
(R) - I think a common misconception is that body positivity is as easy as supporting movements, or just supporting the idea while it’s more deeper, more self love inclined. Another misconception I've seen with body positivity is promoting nudity or hot pictures as something to support body positivity. Sure they can be interlinked. And there’s nothing wrong with nudity in anyway. But I think it’s becoming a trend now to post nudity and call it body positive, which is a problem as the real cause behind body positivity is lost.
(M) - I’m glad someone is talking about this! Body positivity DOES NOT mean encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle. It simply means accepting and appreciating your body for everything it can do for you. Instead, some people assume that body positivity justifies them being unfit.
(A) - A lot of people seem to believe that body positivity means that you should always love your body, and that you can’t be ‘body-positive’ if you have days where you feel really uncomfortable with your body. Inhabiting a body is a complicated and confusing experience, especially as a woman in India, where there is a very narrow idea of what constitutes as beauty. Body Positivity doesn’t mean that you genuinely love every part of yourself, I believe body positivity is more about the journey of getting to know your own body, and that means that there will be days when you feel completely comfortable with your body but there will also be days where you feel like you hate it. Instead of thinking about body positivity as a means to reach an end, which involves loving your body fully, I think it’s more productive to think about body positivity as a tool to de-construct the beauty standards that exist and to be kinder to your body.
Do you think social media has created or disrupted the body positive mindset?
(R) - It’s done both! It helps people like me and millions other address the issue and help share with people who need it and share the same ideals. At the same time its done things like what I mentioned above thereby losing the real essence behind the body positivity movement. However, I see more positives working in our favour and helping bring awareness to a much-needed cause.
(M) - Definitely disrupted and I’ll tell you how! If someone doesn’t find you “beautiful” according to their beauty standards when you come across them in real life, they will not have the guts to express it your face. But, behind the screen, they may not lose an opportunity to put their nasty opinions across. And unlike compliments, criticism remains with us for a long time. Negativity affects us much more than positivity does.
(A) - I think it has done both, and what’s confusing is that it sometimes happens simultaneously. Instagram particularly has created a platform where all kinds of creators can address these issues with strong visuals, and I have seen some of the most incredible projects that involve re-defining beauty and challenging currently existing beauty ideals. Although in most of the mainstream portrait pages that I see, there is still this obsession with a very specific idea of beauty that excludes a majority of women from it, and often makes them feel ashamed of how different their own bodies look from the imagery. I think social media has a lot of potential to foster the body positive mindset if it is used well.
What do you think about Body Neutrality? Do you support it?
(R) - I heard about it very recently & it did make sense. But in my opinion, body positivity isn't an "I love my body all the time no matter what" movement. It is more about self-acceptance and accepting others. Yes I do agree that some people, especially people with disabilities find it extremely hard to "love" their bodies as mentioned in articles about body neutrality, but that’s the thing, body positivity helps bring positivity to your mind set about your body, to your life, it brings eye opening journey where yes you may not love it all the time but you accept it and don't constantly let your insecurities or negativity get to you and I think body neutrality is a step in the process to body positivity.
(M) - Something is better than nothing! We know our flaws and it’s okay to not find them “beautiful”. But, we need to learn to respect and care for them. It’s as simple as that. We need to make peace with our bodies. That’s where we live!
(A) - I do support body neutrality—I think the idea of reaching a stage where you love your body is definitely very challenging and even though I hope that one day we can all get there, I think body neutrality is a great temporary option. It involves acknowledging your body and building a relationship with it, which I think is a really important step.
What solutions would you endorse for enabling a body positive society?
(R) - I always believe in 'be the change you want to see' so I would say start at home. Yourself, your family, your peers. Stop people from using negative terms to describe their body, or make them understand why everyone should accept themselves and others. Small things like not using the words 'hate' or 'fat' or 'ugly' etc. can itself bring a change in the way you see yourself and others. It all starts with baby steps. Start with yourself and those close to you. Educate & spread awareness, through any medium, and it will reach people. More importantly, practice what you preach! Seeing that can be inspiring enough.
(M) - Firstly, not everyone is made equal. We can appreciate others’ beauty while loving ourselves. Besides, exterior beauty isn’t everything. It’s anyway going to fade away after a point of time. And secondly, stop giving a FUCK.
You are NOT born to please others. You are so much more than your body.
(A) - I think one of the biggest solutions for me has been to create more body positive photographs. Representation is incredibly powerful, and in order to have a better relationship with our bodies we need to start openly talking about our fears and insecurities regarding our bodies which is why I started my project @browngirlgazin which celebrates and shares these fears and is attempting to change the way we see beauty.
So in a nutshell ladies the idea is to start thinking about your bodies in a whole different light, exclusive of the world's ideal of perfection and start a conversation about acceptance of versatile perfect imperfections that are unique and contribute to our individuality. Our take away should definitely include the important fact that conquering a body image issue is a journey towards the ultimate goal of self love that will begin with open ended dialogues that spread awareness.
You are after all not fat, skinny, short, tall, fair or dark. You are just YOU!