“As a woman, I apologise for calling you stunning before strong, I called you beautiful before brave. The beauty of your eyes lie in the vision you hold. The strength of your faith creates life...You are unique not for the way you look, but for the way you challenge, influence, nurture and stand strong.”
The above quote is as stated by Pooja Kochar for her initiative PhotoblogHER which, through art, addresses the importance of a positive body image. “Women by nature empathise and grow stronger by supporting each other, we have to learn to love ourselves as much as we love others,” she says. In her visual narrative, titled Shakti, she showcases the bravery and strength of women in their daily lives. The project, on which she has worked for six months, is a collection of beautiful tales of women from all walks of life, each with their own struggles. “It has been very overwhelming for me as a photographer, every time a woman shared her vulnerability and fears, Shakti grew stronger,” she says.
Girls don’t decide to hate their bodies, we teach them to. When girls hold back due to beauty related anxiety, our society misses out. As part of my social initiative I met these fiercely intelligent young girls and asked them to select a word that defined them. They picked words like strong, fire, power, smile, beautiful. The most striking quality was that they were completely unafraid and beyond inhibitions. She is not going to turn 25 and suddenly bloom into a confident young woman, you have to assure her at every step that her self worth matters.
The first question I asked her was “do you have different duties because you are a woman” to which she promptly replied, “In a uniform, there is no man or woman, we are saving lives and work as a team”. Fighting fire is a mental game, when every civilian is running out, they are the only ones that chase the flames and jump in. She was very shy during our initial interactions but every time we spoke about a rescue mission, there was a complete shift in her body language. She had fire within, her eyes sparked, her voice was that of a warrior and her courage overpowered her personality.
“I am more than the way I look”, because real beauty is fearless, not flawless. Her future is no more a prediction, she is capable of building her dreams with her own willpower. Women are stepping up in every sector to challenge stereotypes and expected norms of our society.
Every woman experiences an unknown shakti* within ,that invades them during child birth. Giving birth is the epicentre of a woman’s strength, a baby is the beginning of so many new feelings pride, hope, fear, wonder. Women define nature by giving birth, there is nothing more beautiful than a ‘mother creating life’.
Waiting For Monsoon
Aee’ (mother) is the only earning member of the family, her husband died leaving 5 children and a barren land. She stands strong to raise her children and provide them 2 basic meals a day. The image portrays her stark reality and strength of character. Location - Warli Village, Maharashtra
Virginity Is Their Curse
Virginity is their curse, under aged girls are beaten and locked in dark boxes for days to break their will* to fight. They are fed cow steroids on the pretext of looking ‘older and sexy’ to get more customers. We are failing as humans, these girls need more than our sympathy. Location: Kamathipura
Follow the initiative on Youtube to know more about PhotoblogHER.
Words: Sara Hussain Compiled by Raj Rege