Beauty gleams in unexpected places, but its effulgence turns to tawdry glitter when it is shaped and squeezed into form-fitting frames. Rigid ideas of what is beautiful or desirable can reinforce oppressive structures. However, when these concepts are more flexible they can be subversive as well. In the Issue in Focus, Shweta Krishnan writes about how beauty can be dictated or discovered, and reveals the perils of the former and the pleasures of the latter. Sometimes beauty glows so softly that it needs to be uncovered. Kripa Joshi, an illustrator and comic artist did just that with her character Miss Moti who revels in finding both pleasure and power in being who she is – a veritable pearl (as in the Hindi word moti). Shikha Aleya interviews Kripa about beauty, bodies and diversity.
Siddharth Narrain offers us a perspective on a camp sensibility and aesthetics and how it might help us respond to an increasingly polarised world. Shivani Gupta also talks about polarisation and her own challenges in dealing with matters of make-up and feminism. On a more personal front, we have Lamia Bagasrawala looking back on her pimpled youth and asking why she was singled out to shine her ‘inner beauty’, and Ipsita Gouri reminiscing about her love affair with her locks.
The flashing lights and visual din of capitalist-fuelled and fuelling messages about beauty leave us unseeing, right from the time we are children. In the Poetry Corner, we have Swara Bhaskar cuttingly exposing this maddening cycle of Conceal, Remove, Repeat. In Brushstrokes, see how a little girl found a way to follow her own star, thanks to an inspiring companion, and on the video page watch Agent of Ishq’s ebullient celebration of nakedness.
Beauty gleams in unexpected places. Look around.
In the mid-month issue our contributors continue to explore what beauty is. Pavel Sagolsem reflects on his experiences as a femme queer person from the Northeast, Abdullah Hassan Erikat writes about wanting to possess and be possessed by someone we find beautiful and Grishma Trivedi revisits Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf to question ideas of beauty. In Hindi, we have the translation of Parigya Sharma’s article on ‘real beauty’ and the exhilaration of being amongst women with love handles, protruding tummies and flapping breasts in a Turkish hamam.
Meet Kripa Joshi’s creation – the irrepressible Miss Moti in Brushstrokes. In the Blogrolls read about Indians’ obsession with ‘fairness’, body positivity in Pakistan. In the Book Corner check out Lou Heinrich’s ode to The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.
We also have a few new translations of older articles into Hindi in the Navintam Lekh section.