Anushka Kelkar’s Instagram account, BrownGirlGazin challenges beauty norms.
I came across a post on Instagram that reads: ‘In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.’ In a filter saturated world of social media, Instagram handle, BrownGirlGazin celebrates women who’ve been rebellious enough to like and love themselves.
Anushka Kelkar, a literature and journalism graduate from Ashoka University, challenges the socially constructed norms of beauty. Her Instagram account features portraits of women who talk about their personal struggles and experiences with weight, acne, stretch marks and hair growth. Check out the account that inspires and encourages women to embrace and own their beauty.
‘Body Hair. The epitome of irony lies in the association of these two words with the standards of beauty. On one side it manifests into a symbol of exquisite beauty in the form of lustrous locks and natural eyebrows. On the other hand it is seen as a sign of abnormality, laziness, dirt or unwanted attention when it is on the arms and legs of a women who refuses to shave them. But why are we made to feel so insecure and horrible for something that is natural and uncontrollable?
..However with passage of time I realised that life was too short to invest all my mental and emotional faculties into something that has no relation with who I am. I just needed this acceptance and not surgery in order to truly set myself free.’ — @sadhika_
‘I’ve always hated getting pictures of myself clicked. I think there are too many marks, spots and scars on my face and a close up of myself just highlights them. I don’t look like all the beautiful people I see on Instagram and I don’t really fit the definition of beautiful. So even when I do take pictures, I never look at my own. I avoid looking in the mirror as much as possible. I’m always picking at my own marks and finding faults.
This is the first time I’ve let someone take pictures of me and it’s been overwhelming. I cried after the shoot and I cried looking at the pictures because yes, I hate them but I also love them. It’s so scary to put myself out there and be okay with this.’ — @nayanika_guha
‘Looking at myself in a mirror, in images or on video, is very strange because it’s difficult to think of my body as both something that is easily marked with scars, and bruises, and bad haircuts, features and proportions that don’t fit the ideals of white/slender/graceful and also as the thing that people associate with my self. I don’t really fit the cast of what an actor looks like/ what a girl should ideally look like/ what an Indian should look like. So then what/who am I? What is the role my body plays in this drama/dream?’ — @bluesparklylemonpegacorn
‘I’ve been told things like people want to throw up on my acne, that it is pitiful that someone with fair skin is so ugly that it doesn’t count, that my nose looks like I was smashed face-first into a wall. Once a kid showed the class a picture of an elephant and announced, “Look! It’s Rituparna!” It wasn’t as bad until the whole class errupted into a laughter and for the next weeks everyone in my batch would shout “White Elephant” as I passed by. By 13, I was bulimic, slim and self-congratulatory.
..Once Cara Delevingne’s eyebrows made story, my ‘caterpillar brows’ became ‘power brows’ overnight. That’s when I realised how the media is a mirror that shows us what we aren’t – and in the age of Photoshop, what we cannot become but are expected to. I looked around me- very few women looked like the ads and all of them were insecure about their appearance. We can be our fittest, prettiest, most moisturized and yet be told we’re not enough (but that we could be if we bought your product). It …is much easier to spare the stick, be comfortable in your own skin, with your own body, once you realise the carrot is a lie.’ — @boredoir
‘There are stretch marks on every part of my body, my hands, my legs, my arms, and even my breasts. This notion that stretch marks are ugly, and you should put something that can reduce them almost got to me when my roommate sat me down and told me, stretch marks are beautiful. They are hot. It shows that you have done something, you’ve worked out. And only after that day have I started appreciating these marks. Every time I see them I feel more proud of myself. —@shravi1197
‘One time a 12-year-old girl pointed at me and laughed because the colour of my upper lip and lower lip mismatched. I did not react because she was 12, only to find her older sister (around 20 years old) laughing at me too – encouraging the little one. Out of all the personal flaws that I could list out, this one had never made the cut, until then.
If I were to write out my insecurities, the “popular” ones such as stretch marks, fat arms, and belly fat would definitely make the list. Nonetheless, being dark-skinned was never one of them.
Yet I have found that our society and even my loved ones have acted as constant reminders to make me feel otherwise. I have been told to ‘balance this negative’ by paying more attention to how I look or dress or what colours I chose to wear because how can a brown skinned girl wear brown?
And when I have failed to match up to these unreasonable expectations, I have been unfairly coined as someone who is not concerned about the way I present myself. ‘ @vrudhhi
+ All Images Courtesy: Anushka Kelkar
Last modified: October 10, 2018