Back in November, I did a shoot with my friend, Emily (@emilyjobrien). It wasn’t anything too fancy but just fashion girls doing what they know best. The main focus of this shoot was to feature Parade, an underwear company on the radar of all the trendiest of girls. I had never done a shoot or even a casual Instagram post featuring so much skin. I was so excited and ready to feel empowered through modeling in my underwear. It was my chance to do something similar to a boudoir shoot. The results of that shoot have been all over my Instagram and my favorite is the one above. It’s a striker if I must say so myself. I was ready to show the public that I could be classy yet sexy or anything for that matter. What I didn’t expect was the drama that followed.
A few hours after posting this image, I got great feedback and comments from my friends, followers, and even my parents. A day later was when all hell broke loose. My mom woke up to 15 missed calls and a chain of texts from a relative in India demanding answers for my actions. To the standards of that relative, I was not doing right for our family and this type of picture didn’t quite align with the expectations of an Indian girl. Those comments were then being backed by other relatives and they reiterated that I was doing the family a disservice. The best comment of them all was that I was along the lines of a porn star. I am personally honored by all the controversy my butt alone created but I realized something ironic. Most of these comments came from women in my family and even though it’s 2020, I am supposed to be a modest Indian girl and fall into their standards of living as best as I could.
Despite the drama, I was never going to take it down and change myself for those standards. I wasn’t going around being careless or doing this shoot for attention. I did it to be empowered in my own body, create a great photo, and share my love for a brand that has all the right intentions. My family, of all people, know I study economics at NYU, have a part-time job, and do my personal style content, but one picture featuring my butt changed that view of me in minutes. There’s something definitely wrong there and I want to bring awareness to that. I want this story to teach any girl, Indian or not, to always challenge what’s expected of you or thought about you. From that underwear frenzy, I set the standard for myself and other girls in my family that showing a little skin isn’t going to change your accomplishments or your goals.
To think my body caused all this is pretty crazy to me. If my butt could get my own family talking this much, who knows what else I could do by challenging the norms with the entirety of my body and mind. I take pride in my body, my talent, and everything else I could potentially show the world. From this tale, I hope you take away that your actions don’t set you in a particular persona. Things like my picture or anything of that nature don’t define your capabilities or entire demeanor. Girls are far more special and powerful beyond what they show on social media. I wish that every girl gets to feel comfortable enough to take a picture like that for any audience of your choosing (most importantly yourself). It’s something I’m better off having done and know that I got a whole lot more to show the world than my ass.