Real bodies, raw looks. Brown Girl Gazin’s Instagram asks you to be happy with your body
Instagram handle Brown Girl Gazin is on a total body positivity mission, featuring women of all sizes, colours and ages with acne, rough skin, uneven skin, moles, scars, bruises, hair, cellulite, stretch marks and so forth.fashion and trends Updated: Jul 10, 2018 12:42 IST
We can’t think of a woman who wouldn’t relate to Brown Girl Gazin, a body-positive Instagram handle questioning how unrealistic the notion of body perfection really is. Are there nude women on it? Absolutely. But the point isn’t pornography.
Mumbai-based founder Anushka Kelkar started the page in March to make women feel comfortable with how they look. The simple way she does it: By showing real bodies instead of the photoshopped, idealised versions we so often see on social media.
i) Whenever I was fat-shamed, it came from strangers or acquaintances. Most often, the comments came from older men, old enough to be fathers and grandfathers. It was actually a trend I observed in the last couple of years- once a male co-passenger on a flight, once a gentleman in the queue at Starbucks and once my grandfathers friend. On the one hand, it upset me that the first thing they thought of when they saw me was that I was overweight. And I was mad at myself for freezing every time this happened and just letting it go without saying a word. --@sukopuko
One girl, who posed for the page writes, “My family is very strict about clothing and until recently, the last time I wore something with short sleeved was when I was around 8. I had internalized that my arms were too fat for anything that didn’t cover them... It took me a trip to Goa with my girlfriends to realise that I can look nice in sleeveless as well. They threw clothes at me and said “try ‘em on gurl!” After that trip, I went and bought myself my first spaghetti top. I know it sounds petty, but it took a lot of confidence that I realised I was depriving myself of all along.”
iii) I've adopted the thought of appreciating people who I think are better than me in certain regards. It has honestly been such a freeing experience. I don't have to compare myself to standards that are unreasonably high for me. Strangely, it has made me appreciate my own body so much more. --anonymous
Another one posts, “To talk about ‘real women’ you need to acknowledge what ‘real women’ can have on their bodies: acne, rough skin, uneven skin, moles, scars, bruises, hair, cellulite, stretch marks and so forth. it’s taken me a while to realize that none of that makes me look ‘ugly’.”
If you’ve always taken interest in things that challenge the norm, good news. Every single post on Brown Girl Gazin is a wake-up call. Each woman and her story drive home the same message: Women all around us are insanely beautiful and it’s really time to direct some of that love back at themselves.
iii) TW: abuse Once, I tripped over a pipe and broke my arm. I went a whole week without knowing it was broken because compared to my usual injuries that are accompanied with so much anguish, the pain in my arm was bearable. I am that resilient. I wish I didn’t have to be, but I’m a fighter. Things are changing: I’ve gone from panicking when I was touched, or freezing in fear, to actually craving gentle and loving touch. I no longer have panic attacks when men hug me. I’ve gone from trying to cover my scars to letting them show. Because my scars are monuments of survival—proof that even if I feel like damaged goods, I am unbreakable. --anonymous
While some of the images on Brown Girl Gazin might make readers blush (there are a lot of bras, hairy underarms, belly buttons, after all), the point of these pictures is to show what bodies look like in all shapes and sizes, exactly as they are. No Photoshop. No filter.
Take a look at some of the photos below of real women who embraced their bodies in an effort to help others, in turn, accept themselves.
ii) to me, make up is not about covering up. it’s more like a hobby for me. I never conceal my acne scars, uneven skin, or new zits because I don’t think they make me look ugly. this isn’t to say that using foundations or concealers makes you betray the body positive movement. you do you; in the end it’s what you feel confident in. --@alarisae
iii) I was constantly being reminded of how black i had become, how frizzy and dead my hair was and how "manly" and muscular my body was looking. I started becoming really conscious of my arms in particular. I stopped wearing sleeveless tops because they looked flabby and I thought everyone would notice. I think the worst thing was that I really loved swimming and how it made me feel, but I think I began to hate the way it made me look --@nitstagram__
iii) 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
ii) I have "resting smiling face". I don't know how not to smile and laugh but sometimes my body has other plans. My body panics when there's too loud a sound, someone screams at something, someones pretends to hit you, and sometimes for no reason. Panic leads to me not being able to use my hands and legs and my vision gets blurry and I forget how to breathe and I feel ugly. And vulnerable. And all I can do is trust the people around me to help me feel better. And I feel too big and too small and too ugly to matter. But all I can do is just be and let my body do what it needs to till it passes. I don't want to want to be beautiful. I want to be okay with being someone who has acne and someone who's body doesn't always listen (and ends up panicking in hallways outside classrooms) and I don't want to want to hide every time I feel ugly. --@nayanika_guha
ii) You know that one point in your life where you can tell what's before and what's after? That happened towards the end of my ninth grade. I was sitting at my desk, studying, when my father walked in, kissed my forehead and smiled at me. When he left, I choked on tears and thought "how could he love me when I am so ugly." I realized the extent of my own sadness in that moment and I knew I had to turn it around. I was tired of everyone reducing my worth to the digits on a machine, making me fear the space I occupy, making me silent, making me conscious, making me suffocated and hate the person I was, flinching when I bump into someone while walking, flinching when the elevator announces that the lift is overloaded, flinching when I saw people staring at me when I was running. Loathing the magic my body was and will be for the rest of my life. I got out of there. I read the books, the quotes, I watched the shows and the movies and talked to people. I worked hard to get out of that phase. It started with me accepting my own body. That is always the starting line. Everything else will come after that. --@varisha_tariq
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First Published: Jul 10, 2018 09:11 IST