The Really Wrong Turn
By Ritu Goyal
A girl being grabbed by lascivious men on a bus — sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it? But this girl is not Nirbhaya (as she was christened by the Indian media), the 23-year-old student who was brutally gang-raped and murdered in Delhi in December 2012.
This particular girl is in a photoshoot called ‘The Wrong Turn’, and she’s wearing some high-fashion clothes and accessories, in a stylised setting (which happens to be a bus), while men with near-perfect bodies paw at her.
Even if you haven’t seen the photos from this fashion shoot by photographer Raj Shetye, the image that’s conjured up in your mind would undoubtedly sicken you as you invariably make the connection between the gang-rape incident and this depravity that’s being referred to as “art” by Shetye.
The photographer claims that he came up with the concept long before the Delhi incident, but happened to shoot it recently. Here is another man who refuses to consider the impropriety of his creative idea less than two years after the entire world woke up to the brutality that young woman had endured at the hands of her perpetrators, and takes refuge under “art” and “creativity”.
Much like those companies with deep pockets but clearly shallow souls who allow their marketing experts to use women to sell deos for men, underwear for men, motorbikes and such, Shetye probably just wanted publicity and found the perfect method to get it.
As women we are fed up of such ‘creative’ expressions and sick of men (or women) with such ‘artistic’ inclinations that endorse and perpetuate gender biases, that treat women as commodities and that glamorise acts of violence.
Shetye deserves all of our collective condemnation and a complete boycott of all his works, past, present and future. Let artists be aware of lines of propriety, decency and humanity before resorting to such expressions of creativity.
The Devil Wears Fashion
By Aekta Kapoor
I’ve always had a problem with certain high-fashion shoots, despite having worked at some of the top fashion magazine brands in the world. They glamorise unattainable bodies that real women and girls simply cannot achieve. They sell garments that most women cannot afford. They encourage bad postures, silly posturing and the ‘dumbing down’ of the female personality. They turn men and women into mannequins devoid of character or emotion or anything that makes them human. They are demoralizing and spiritually ugly despite their so-called beauty.
I used to justify it to myself saying it’s all right because only the unattainable can ever be called luxury — only the kind of bodies that a mere 2 per cent of the population possess can evoke desire. Only the kind of clothes a mere 1 per cent can afford can be worth framing for posterity. There’s nothing democratic or inclusive about luxury, I’d reason. Its exclusivity necessitates exclusion.
And so I ‘tolerated’ these images in my face day in and out, all in the name of luxury, fashion and a job. I just wished my daughters wouldn’t see them when I got home.
But this ghastly new shoot that’s doing the rounds has really touched a nerve. There’s absolutely nothing glamorous about rape, and anyone who thinks they can suggest that to earn quick and cheap publicity deserves to be blacklisted from the glamour fraternity.
In the name of provocation, photographers and magazines have often used poverty as a backdrop to highlight the ‘exquisite’ nature of the clothes they are trying to sell, or used violence as a language of expression. Here, however, both are being exploited for someone’s personal base motives. It’s demeaning and disrespectful to the memory of the student who went through unimaginable sexual violence on a regular ride in the bus home. I can’t imagine who these designers, models, makeup artists and photographer assistants are who saw nothing wrong in assisting this cuckoo photographer in his strange ‘vision’.
Let’s all take responsibility for our actions and the signals we’re putting out. Society cannot change if we all just keep ‘tolerating’ everything that’s thrown in our face. It’s time to put an end to exploitative, misogynistic fashion.