Anushka Kelkar

Mumbai-based photographer Anushka Kelkar (24), who runs the Instagram web page Browngirlgazin, is honest-skinned and skinny, very a lot in keeping with conventional magnificence requirements. And but, she has battled insecurities attributable to her pimples-ridden pores and skin, a lot in order that it even affected her on a regular basis life.

“Even if I was on a holiday, all I would think about was my skin; it came in the way of my enjoyment. I am conscious of my privilege; I know there are much worse problems out there. But I couldn’t help but think: what are women giving up in the process of trying to look perfect?,” shares Anushka.

Talking to MAKERS India not too long ago, she recollected what led her to launch the Instagram web page, which now has greater than 11,000 followers.  

The journey of Browngirlgazin

Anushka was solely 21, when she began this challenge to drive conversations round girls and their relationship with their our bodies. Her Instagram web page showcases actual and uncooked portraits of ladies, who put out susceptible components of themselves, to have a good time simply the way in which they’re. 

Another motivation to launch Browngirlgazin was to problem the thought of the white gaze that paperwork Indians and South Asians by a poverty lens.  “I wanted to retake that power, and tell them that here we are telling our own story. Yes, poverty exists; but we are also a very dynamic mix of many things. I wanted to present the idea that there is no one brown girl; we are all very different types of brown girls,” says Anushka, who works as a analysis analyst in Mumbai. 

During the preliminary days of the challenge, when she was nonetheless a graduate pupil at Delhi’s Ashoka University, Anushka was apprehensive if girls would reply to this request. Scroll by her web page right this moment and also you’ll discover unconventional tales ridden with ache and vulnerability. As a photographer, Anushka provides these girls the liberty to find themselves through the challenge, with little interference.  For her, the enjoyment lies not within the eventual end result however the journey of assembly these numerous girls and letting their tales unfold. 

Although Browngirlgazin doesn’t generate income, Anushka is pleased collaborating with manufacturers that align along with her sensibilities. One of her favorite campaigns is #JudgeMeNot by Craftsvilla, the place she shot 30 totally different girls, each with a distinct difficulty relating to physique picture. 

“Women with piercings and tattoos, acid attack survivors, dark-skinned women and those with glasses – I have covered myriad subjects and captured their personalities, bodies and stories,” shares Anushka.  

Diverse struggles, united by disgrace

Fashion and wonder requirements current a paragon of aspiration; however these beliefs typically put strain on girls to look a sure approach. 

Although Browngirlgazin -which has greater than 440 posts now- started with the thought that magnificence requirements and disgrace are intrinsically associated, over time, Anushka has come to grasp that the idea of magnificence is inherently problematic. 

She explains, “In the Indian context, class and caste are two such big markers of beauty standards. For instance, people who are dark skinned are portrayed in movies as drivers and house helps, who belong to a different class, while the protagonist is always light-skinned or fair.”

Also Read: Bullied Over Her Looks, How This 23-Year-Old Blogger Became a Body Positive Hero Online 

A way of duty 

Anushka, like many others, has been a sufferer of on-line abuses; however what deeply impacted her was how her topics, those that had trusted her with their our bodies, had been focused. 

She elaborates, “It is one factor to be trolled for placing your personal physique on the market; however right here there are tons of of ladies who’ve shot for me and trusted me with their our bodies. And it is disgusting to see these trolls say something they need, with no accountability. I used to be devastated and it took a toll on me. I used to be inactive on my web page for nearly three months.

But whereas on a break, I additionally realised how many individuals felt related to my content material, as a result of I’d get a number of messages and submissions each single day.  That’s after I realised that this challenge was way more than about myself, and that the neighborhood I had constructed was a strong supply of content material for a lot of.” 

Also, since a lot of her followers had been overly depending on her social media web page, Anushka had to attract her personal boundaries on how you can transfer ahead. “Sometimes I get messages saying ‘You didn’t post today, so I binged!’ and that felt like a lot of pressure. I care about these young girls deeply; I want to influence them positively. But I am not a therapist,” she says. 

‘Body positivity needs to be more integrated’ 

Anushka believes that the physique positivity motion must be extra deep in its strategy. She feels that it is essential for manufacturers to transition from practising ‘token diversity’ to a extra ‘inclusive’ strategy. 

“My hope is that we move into the more psychological aspects of it as well. The next step would be to talk about, our shame, our fears, where do we go from here?  And I think it’s a psychological process of actually thinking about our self-worth again; that no matter what you look like, you deserve to take up space. I see more and more women rising up and saying that, we don’t want to follow some old norms that were defined by someone that doesn’t know us,” she provides. 

According to Anushka, Browngirlgazin has been in a position to change the narrative round physique picture. She’s glad that the individuals who have shot along with her really feel that they’ve reworked relationships with their our bodies. But she provides that it’ll take generations to unlearn disgrace and what has been fed for thus many many years.

“Once I received a message from this young girl, who said she showed my page to her grandmother, and that the grandmother said she wishes that something like this existed in her time. And that just made my heart blossom. It will take time but there’s more movement in this space than there ever was before,” she says. 

Also Watch: Beauty and the Brave: The First Step to Defeating the Narrow Standards of Beauty 

As somebody who takes physique positivity very significantly, Anushka makes use of a software referred to as ‘body image journaling’ that has helped her to self-replicate and enhance her relationship along with her physique. 

She explains, “You just ask yourself a few basic questions about your body, like what was the first memory I have with my body when I was a child? What were the most common things I heard from my parents about my body?  What can I not look at in my body? And slowly what starts happening is that you realise your own biases, your own shame.” Anushka opines that it is our duty to be aware about our personal relationship with our physique, and to provide that relationship time and area. 

Anushka might need began Browngirlgazin as a analysis challenge; but it surely has come to make girls love their our bodies.

Also Watch: How Do We Stop Being Prejudiced Towards Ourselves and Others?

(Edited by Athira Nair)


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