Love and Hate (a creative writing prompt)

LOVE and HATE.

It is still dark outside. Anita can see the sliver of night between her heavy brocade bedroom drapes. She flips over to her bedside table (an ornate find from her travels to Kutch). 3 a.m. her fancy phone says. Even fancy phone cannot hasten the time ticks. Three hours to go for her pretence alarm ring. She stares at the ceiling for seven minutes, gives another fifteen to Milind till his slow heavy breath assures her he is fast asleep, and she steals herself out of bed. She cannot take it anymore.
This is her story every single night. Every single night since the past two years. Since some months after she wedded Milind three years, five months and twenty days ago.

Milind is the near human possibility of a fairytale Prince Charming. Looks not really chocolate sweetness, but he is of a noticeably well crafted physique, with an above average score of emotional intelligence. A look at the upward graph of his web advertising startup ’HandleIT’, and his business acumen can be critically approved of.

Their marriage was ‘arranged’. An alliance between two families enthusiastically mediated by a pushy common friend. Anita and Milind had courted for six months before their wedding date to ascertain they were ‘made for each other’. They fell in love after their wedding vows…gradually.
        Their marriage now knows true love. One of those enviable ones which entices gossipers to find hidden cracks to wrench open.
        This is the reason Anita has been on medication for insomnia.

Anita protects a truth close to her breast, a truth that she fears will burn this fairytale alive.

Their perfect romance has been discussing babies since two years. Less so now because of Anita’s waning strength. Anita is a patient of insomnia. 
        It started about two years ago, Milind can recall. He had questioned Anita’s heavy eyes drooping on tired cheeks one breakfast morning. “Work pressure,” she had said. “I have had little sleep last week. Don’t worry.” A month later when Milind saw her through half asleep eyes staring at the ceiling, he had pushed her to take a thirty days work leave on medical grounds. Fifteen days later, she still stared at the ceiling, bored eyes wide awake. Baffled, and absolutely helpless, Milind had called Saps. Saps was confused too. She had never known her soul friend this way. (Maybe once, a very long time ago. But that was very very long ago.) Milind’s desperation took him and Anita to various counsellors and sleep therapists and alternate method practitioners. Anita had proved a good patient to all. Made regular notes in a sleep diary. Heard sleep music as her nightly ritual. Medication, meditation, exercises. She did it all. All for Milind. She could not bear to see how he pained for her.
        Anita’s condition now is in the ‘difficult-to-get-appointment’ hands of Dr. Leela Pathak. Milind feels he can see an improvement. That Anita is sleeping a bit longer, her eye bags a lighter shade of charcoal have given him a little respite.

Anita remembers that day vividly. A stem of red wine in her hand, the other around Milind, they were immersed in each other and the sunset. It was a few months after their first anniversary. She was afraid how perfect life was for her. “Darling, let us seal our love into a new life. A part of you, a part of me. Let’s have a baby,” Milind had proposed. Anita had felt her abdomen jerk, squirm tight, her heart in her mouth and warmth flooding her eyes. She had hugged Milind so tight. That is all she could do; her entire self shamelessly poured down her cheeks. Milind was overjoyed. He squeezed her tighter into his exhilaration. She had succumbed to it. She could not correct his assumption.
        Anita had not slept that night. Nor the next. Not for the days to come, nor the months which followed. It has been two years since. How could she? How can she? The truth that had permitted her an experience of the purest joy, now numbs her with searing heartache.
        Eight years prior to her marriage to Milind, Anita had gotten aborted the tiny littleness living inside of her.

An overnight office retreat had impregnated Anita at twenty-one, the sonography probe confirming her cause of anxiety was four months old. She saw this tiny bubble on the monitor screen. Her heart pumped so hard into her head, she had blacked out. Kind, concerned eyes had watched her awake and prescribed to-do’s and a detailed outline of her options for her pregnancy. 
      Walking out of the clinic was all the time it had taken Anita to absorb what she had seen on the screen. A warm feeling of comfort had pulsed in her stomach pit and slowly oiled its way into her entire being. Without warning, a strange sense of happiness, of completion, of purpose had slapped her hard, slapped her awake. She was dripping in ecstasy! She had life growing inside of her! A heart breathing! She was a mom! A mom! The madness had seized her.

She guarded this feeling so tightly close to her bosom till it had started to ooze out of her pores. It took her a few days to calm down; and about a week later she had met Saps for coffee and her secret.

“No, the father does not know, and does not need to. No, I have not talked to anybody about it. Yes, I can take care of it all by myself. Things will work out for my baby and me. I will work things out for us. I know it will be rocky. YES, DAMMIT! I AM HAVING THE BABY!” She had stormed out, leaving behind an untouched coffee mug and a troubled Saps.

Four weeks later, she was being wheeled out of the clinic, Saps beside her. Anita was stunned. Just stunned motionless. Stunned at what had just happened. Aghast and disgusted with what she had just done. What did she do! Why did she do it! How could she go ahead with it!!! Saps! Saps made her do it! Saps had bared open for her the implications of her choice in the society she hailed from. It was unsafe for her and her baby. “Why did Saps do that! Why? Why? WHY!!” Anita knew the decision was her own, but she needed someone to share the guilt with.

She touched her abdomen. It had felt lifeless. She moved her palm over her belly hoping for some remnants. Her tears were in agony. Her soul had started to parch up. She caressed her belly every hour of every day, begging for forgiveness, until remorseful tears started drying up. Weeks were swallowed by months and three monsoons later, her wound healed leaving behind just a scar. A scar that had started turning so faint in her memories that it blurred with the rest of her life’s experiences. She would have had to pick at it to see it.

And Milind’s  proposal against a backdrop of that perfect pink kissed sunset, did just that. It had gnawed at her wound till it had bled.

Anita knows why she cannot sleep. Yet, she continues to play pretence. Till the time she can trust her marriage with her truth. Her truth floods her with pure, virgin happiness that she had known of a long long time ago. Her palm subconsciously caresses her flat belly and it brings a knowing smile like a hello on her lips. And she feels the insides of her belly retract in reflex under her touch when she thinks of Milind, when she thinks of how bad she wants her womb to bear their child, when she thinks of what her truth can do to Milind, what it could do to their perfect marriage. She does not want to see that her truth is already shredding it.

It is a truth she loves and hates.

 

(Fiction is but a thin line between the real and the imaginary)

Thank you so much Rachel Poli for this prompt. It inspired to write.
Big thank you to Sadje too for guiding me to this prompt.

Threads of Sustain. The Wayuu artisans’ anguish for ‘Alive’

The art They make,
A centuries old hand-down.
And we still belittle Their skill
for that with little or no background.
Or perhaps it is our ignorance
that abounds?

…do we choose it so?

wayuu
Image courtesy: http://www.picswe.com

 

Tithing, formerly introduced by a particular section of society is pretty much a universal concept now. I keep aside that tenth of my earnings to help somebody in need. No, not for the good karma sweet talk. If I have an amount set aside with discipline, then a pocket exists to help. Helping with no expectations feels good. 

Now the brilliant brain-wave. Could my wardrobe be a ‘tithe‘ in disguise?

 

I am a newbie seeker of ethical, sustainable products. I cannot put to word this child like exhilarating thrill that shrieks within when I get to hold, or see, or even know of an authentic traditionally crafted product. It feels alive. It IS alive! Alive because of the tradition that has been passed down to the Hands that made it. To me it carries the genes of the parent creator. And also it’s legend.

My instagram feed now advocates this new found love of mine. This is where I met the Wayuu Market (@wayuu.market). This is where my perception of ‘traditional-art-is-dying’ was reinforced. This is also where I saw hope.

None of what I write about the Wayuu craft is a first-hand experience of mine. I hope it will soon be with my first purchase. Days of researching material out of curiosity (some of which are repetitive), have sucked me into an emotional vortex. What I write with here, is first-hand emotion.

 

The Wayuu who?

The Wayuu are one of the last surviving indigenous tribes barely sustaining until extinction; and with them their culture, tradition, language and yes their inherited craft will fade too. This is about an entire civilization which is right now living evidence of a history; a remarkable history of rebellion, of survival, of settlement, of society formations, of language, of ethics and values and a system, a way of life entirely their own. 

The tribe occupies the Guajira Peninsula spread across the Venezuela-Colombian border; living in settlements or ‘rancherias’ of five to six houses each. They are not accepted by both the Venezuelan and Columbian governments and have to pretty much fend for themselves. Their settlements are at difficult distances from the main market areas. The harsh climate is a punishing add-on. 
They are looking for survival. 
Their craft is their only way how. 

 

”To be a woman is to know how to weave.”- The Wayuu.

wayuu woman
Image courtesy: http://www.suweb.com

The Wayuu weaving and crochet craft skills today, have descended down from their Carib and Arawak ancestors. Their craft is pure in their tradition, being passed down from a matriarch in the family; except when they have to adulterate their traditional designs with fashionable ones for want of higher product sales.

A Wayuu girl is taught to weave at the time of her first menstruation, as part of her rite of passage training. She is kept in isolation for ‘365 suns and 12 moons’ when she transitions into a woman, with only the women of the family and those of the clan close to her visiting her. She is trained to be a wife, an efficient woman of the house. And she is taught to weave. The better her weaving skills, the higher her prestige in the clan.

How ironic. The woman of the Wayuu tribe that is barely existing at poverty level, let alone educated, is allowed to play important roles in society. She owns the house and makes the choices for running it. 

 

Weaving mythology:

No tradition exists without a background story to authenticate it, make it more real, to give the tradition a purpose.

The Wayuu women owe their art to a spider ‘Wale’kerü’ It has blessed them with the knowledge of how to weave, tell stories with stitches, colors and threads. 

Another story spins around Wokoloonat, a handicapped girl. Feeling sorry for her, Irunúu, a Guajira hunter, took her home on compassionate terms. Unknown to Irunúu, and the rest of his family, every night Wokoloonat crafted beautiful weavings out of coloured threads from her mouth. Her secret when uncovered, Wokoloonat turned into a spider and sped away.

 

They craft what?

The Mochila bag is their primary bread earner. A crochet hook works a cylindrical body onto a circular base with a tasseled tie at the top end. A broad strap is singular to these bags.

mochila bag
Mochila Bag. Image courtesy: http://www.pinterest.com

The patterns crocheted are drawn from their kanaas or book of motifs.

Kanaas
Motifs from the Kanaas. Image courtesy: http://www.luloplanet.com

These motifs represent their daily living, physical and spiritual; like horse foot trails, a cows’ nose, their utensils. The artist puts her beliefs, her values, her character into her work, hence each bag created is unique to its maker. She takes anywhere between ten to thirty days to crochet a Mochila depending on the stitch and design involved. 
The  new innovated fashion Mochilas made for want of better sales, have fruits and flowers and even a portrait of Frida Kahlo crocheted into them.

The most apparent representation of the Wayuu tribe, is the Chinchorro, a soft hand woven hammock loosely woven, with an edge of fringes sewed on. The woven patterns and fringes are exclusive to the woman who weaves it. This labour of love takes more than forty five days to weave.

chinchorro
Chinchorro. The Wayuu hammock. Image courtesy: http://www.washein.com

Other prospective money makers are hats, keychains, bracelets, pillowcases and rugs.

 

If handmade is ‘luxury’, why are authentic artisans still counting small monies?

The Mochila bag has an enviable celebrity following. So famous are they the world over, that my Internet search was flooded with DIY Wayuu crochet videos. Super yay!!! Err… no. A big NO! It is quite pathetic, a shame really, to steal the art and therefore the livelihood of these indigenous artisans when they are on the verge of extinction. No, us trying to replicate their skill is not what will keep their craft alive. Their survival will. Do you know, the amount that they sell for burns no hole in the wallet; rather it makes a humungous ‘feel good’ space in the heart.

The Wayuu people are also extremely wary of the many foreign mid-sellers who undervalue their craft. But the Wayuu submit to the pittance they are paid, out of ignorance of their skill value or desperation for their next meal.

 

A support called the Wayuu Market.

Wayuumarket.com is a virtual marketplace for the artisans of La Guajira district. Absolutely transparent in their transactions, the Market offers a Wayuu artisan her own store, with her own name, where she retails at her own set prices. The Wayuu Market charges a minimum transaction fee to the buyer to run the operations. Over and above that is the obvious cost of shipment. That is it! This is a clean, safe place for the Wayuu artisans to sell and for buyers as well. Anything purchased here serves the sole purpose of sustaining the Wayuu craft community.

Reading and understanding their operations, (their website is so clean) I perceive Wayuumarket.com as hope for the Wayuu people.  

 

The knowing of traditional craft and their makers even just a little bit, pokes my conscience. Any ethical purchase I make has gnawing deep implications on the existence of the craftspeople. 
It has made my choices responsible.
Also my wardrobe.

 

My references are courtesy as below. My write has only scratched the surface of what they say.

Wayuumarket.com
Wikipedia
Textileartscenter.com
Luloplanet.com
Wayuuhammocks.com

Yours truly. Those crazy enough to dare write with honest emotion, this is for you.

IMG_0545

My mind writes messy. So I have been told.
Half stringing words, till another strings in. So I have been told.
Believing you understand the writings, but it is an assumption my mind makes. So I have been told.

Dear mind, what are you of? Why do you create so?
Fathoming why this mess you make,
Will it twist me even more?

The depth…
I have dreamed the ‘Inception’ kind of dream-inside-a-dream dream. Though only of two levels. A dream inside a dream. I am ready to sink into deeper layers. A dream-inside-a-dream-inside-a-dream-inside-a…
In dream state, I am most often aware of the fact that I am experiencing fantasy and I will awake soon. (On another tangent, as have heard so often, I question the identities of Dream and Wake. How do I know what I Dream is not the Real? And what I experience as Wakefulness may just be an experience of a Dream?

So Real, the Dreams they be.
Imagining, my mind can be.

This is getting complicated…
I am severely organised. Way too organised to sanely accept a cushion tilted five degrees off its axis. My desk does not handle clutter. My work files are flawlessly catalogued. Home, work, attitude, all under the influence. It irritates hubby. He would love to vent. After a point, it irritates me too.

Which makes me wonder dear mind, is this why you mess so?

I slave to method because I feel I ‘should’. It makes life straightforward. I want not to use life’s moments to unentangle everyday necessaries.

And a clean slate manipulates my mind to scribble.

‘Must’ my mind scribble in a particular way? How can I tame it when it spins thoughts so damn dizzying? Connecting dots I am not conscious of, tying and untying knots of all I experience (unawares too) every moment, everyday; it expresses exactly what it feels, how it feels and my writings try keeping pace. They (writings) are pretty good at it.

If my mind ’should’ follow organised order, how honest can it be?
I guess the right question is ,”Who do I write for? Is it me?”
To know this, my mess is set free.

To Art is to cry.
An emote pure, free and wild.

 

(This was a sporadic short write. Thank you for your love.)

Sustainably sustaining Sustainability: my first conscious steps towards flipping my lifestyle downside-up.

sustain logo

Is Sustainability just another fashion fad?

The not-so-really-new ‘S’ phenomenon has now consumed a pretty sizeable chunk of the fashion industry as a glorified, glamorous, elitist statement, albeit shamelessly down-to-‘earth’; much like the Superhero on a mission. Fashion for the Greater Good I should say? However, when I see an entire store freeloading on just this single rack of sustainable clothing on offer amongst others, I question whether this righteous concept is one of those momentary things, a sales gimmick, a purpose to serve the day. I wish it could be sucked into a lifestyle easily for me, and for all of us who have or want to join this green circus. What for? Benefits! A very healthy conscience, a super healthy soul, and it pays phenomenal long-term compounded ‘green’ profits which kids of grand kids inherit too! So cross my fingers, sustainability is not going down as a fashion fancy.

A newbie ‘sustainablist‘, starting out for me was like standing at an intersection of Mumbai’s traffic.
I was clueless, still am, since I have only just begun. All I knew of sustainability was courtesy videos and articles of people’s experiences. I needed understanding first, to write my own story. I had dictionaries tutor me.
They said:
To Sustain (verb): If you sustain something, you continue it or maintain it for a period of time.- Collins Dictionary.

Sustainable (adj): of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.- Merriam Webster Dictionary.

Sustainable fashion: … the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility.- Wikipedia.

My conclusion? Sustainability is to keep alive, without harm.

The Start was to come to terms with almost completely restructuring my pseudo ecosystem. (Nervous!)
There are a trizillion influences affecting all that which needs to be preserved, conserved, held sacred, and grown.
I have started with just one, till it is absorbed into everyday decisions for me.
Toddler steps.
With respect for Art, respect for Hands that create the Art.

Sustainable (adj): able to be maintained or continued.- Cambridge Dictionary.

Sustain the Art, Sustain the Hands that create the Art.

  Somehow, I have never owned nor recommended a fake label to anybody; have rather discouraged the choice quite condescendingly, I admit. It was never a conscious decision, just one of my stuff I presumed, whenever a fake riled me up.

Eons ago, my final graduating project at design school had met with questioning sympathy from varied mouths, “Tch tch, what is she thinking?” All I was thinking, was having a party at creating, just creating; challenging myself to construct the complex garments I designed, made with no intent to sell. A few months post presentation, a casual walk down Mumbai’s Fashion Street took me to a very familiar design embroidered on T shirts. The same as my final project, the very same that took weeks to conceptualise and create. It had been worked on t-shirts to be exported, of very careless, cheap standards. This was shocking surprise! This was cheating! I felt proud!

Somebody is the creator of the original. It must tickle them to know of the manic demand  for their creations’ rip-offs. The humor continues, with rip-offs being available at varying standards dictated by quality and hence price, the highest being closest to the original. But IT IS NOT THE ORIGINAL!!!  An original label is a promise, a committed responsibility towards its product; that is what makes the label covetable. A rip-off is a price paid for that three inch piece of label, obviously not for what it is actually stuck on. So why, why, why? Why this intended naïveté?

No, my monies cannot afford couture (but later?), and I can still afford to talk this way; because I can afford creativity, I can afford skilled craftsmanship, I can afford quality that will live, I can afford an original. I cannot afford a fake.

I talk this way because the Hands that create and What they create, value way more than that ashamed three inch label put on a random something; the Hands I probably do not know of, inconspicuous until their craft speaks. I want to know of these Hands responsible for the little bit of authentically beautiful creations that I have to scrounge for. Do the Hands have a life worthy of their skill? Why do they not? Why can they not? Strange, isn’t it? The math is all so wrong. How soon until they die? Then we will gasp and sigh at them as historical data in museums, and some of us will cry. I already am, when I open Mum’s treasure of fifty year old woven saris.

Hands
The Hands that create.

Let us widen the lens.
A product created by the Hands, implies it is manufactured in much smaller numbers. So the risk of bumping into someone with it’s clone is rare.
Smaller numbers ensure the product finds permanent residency in the wardrobe as a dependable keep; for it offers quality and durability, most often design too, since is does not play fickle fashion.
A longer living product equals a lesser need for throw-aways.
Lesser throw-aways mean smaller garbage dumps, lesser green exploitation, more Earth, more Air, more Life.

The snowball effect. I could start from any point, it will always roll into this big picture, this big happy happy picture.

And the Hands receive their due recognition and more, for their expertise; just as we expect to receive for ours.

My Start introduced some fabulous, enriching connects to various artisans globally. There is a part of them in all that they create; in their art work, their skills, their traditional methods of craftsmanship, their cultural work ethics. To own a piece of their creation is to know a bit of their story.
And these stories should live. 
These stories should Sustain. They have to. 
We need to stop choosing otherwise.
We need to… 
…Save the Art, Save the Hands.

Now is when.

 Thank you! 
 
 

(Shares on beautiful craftwork still alive, in following articles.)

#savetheart #savethehands

Wishful

“So, how does it work?” Earnestly, my question could slobber just half cooked enthusiasm. His concept after all, was pure madness (I am not complaining, we thrive on insanity), but this retired clockmaker was so absolutely resolute in his theory, I had to accredit him with a ‘what if’ sigh.

RamDayal Mishra is determined to somehow ‘re-live’ time. “You can celebrate the same moment, say 12 midnight, New Years, again and again, by hopping to different parts of the globe. So it is possible to experience that same specific moment again, isn’t it? We should be able to achieve that, sitting in one place.” Err…twisted, too twisted for me, too damn exciting! If this warped idea ever did make sense, would I go back in time? And you?

The ‘IF’ possibility for me:

“Another two years, and I will retire to a village life, farming for a living”, Farooqbhai is obviously saddened by his own proposition to me. He is a master embroiderer, superlatively skilled at his art, heading a team of embroidery craftsmen. Farooqbhai had worked with me for a meager three years, when lucrative prospects took him to a highly established design house. At 52 years of age he has decided to surrender his craft.

Farooqbhai is paid for the number of labour hours put into the product, not for his expert skill. He drops his skill level to fit the hours into the cost. It is like buying fruits; as many as can fit in with your wallet size. But even apples sell at varying price levels, based on their quality. You choose- quality or quantity (no judgements here). What disturbs here, is the fact that he is working for a ‘couture’ label, not a mass-scale production house.

His heart is tired now. His talent has not supported him; he is just one of the faceless, doing the Job.

I showed him a very old piece of embroidery from one of mum’s wedding saris. I enjoy hearing him talk of techniques and workmanship with emoted passion. It is an easy, very simple design motif; what excited was the craftwork, the precision, the delicacy, little nuances with which this motif was hand-worked. “Nobody has the expertise to embroider this way, any more. Nobody wants to learn. Those very few who are gifted with the skill, are car and AC mechanics now, for want of better pay”, Farooqbhai  shared.

My Master Cutter tries to keep me in check whenever I go ‘overboard’ (most of the time, according to him. I am thankfully lucky for his patience with this). How many clients really understand the art and finesse of a beautifully labored-on garment? Then why do I insist on offering something they do not ‘recognize’, hence do not ‘need’, hence do not see the ‘value’ of? I smile sadly. I cannot answer him.

 

People like Farooqbhai and I are intentionally naive. We are stupidly passionate towards what we create. We can’t see otherwise. And we do not want to change. We would rather sit on our passion as dead beautiful baggage than compromise. Yes, it is foolish.

It is foolish to want something gloriously impeccable when it is crafted just for you.  Impeccable is unnecessarily laborious, and frustratingly lasts forever.

The millions of throw-aways available now are the reason why.

That piece of ‘bespoked made-with-love’ clothing with you needs replacing, you have already worn it three times. Spending for quality love each time is insane. These are the days of rough compromises. They are a way of life now. Nobody knows otherwise.

 

Now, the big ‘IF it could be like it used to be’…

Clothing would be passed down as heirlooms, their life synonymous with forever. And fashion would command it’s dramatics, unlike flimsy affairs of today. Master craftsmen would know their art as ‘worthy’, they would not have to trade in their life skills. Ours would not be a commercially packaged existence. ‘Things’ would not be buried alive because they do not serve our fancies anymore; if they broke down, they would be resuscitated because ours would not be a dying planet. We would know preservation.

zardozi2
A forty seven year old piece of embroidery workmanship from mum’s sari.

 

I still love a chat with RamDayal Kaka (uncle), over tea and his theory. No, I do not need to revisit time, all that is needed is to know Sustain.

“Ethical fashion is the recognition that there are human beings behind the clothes that we wear.”- Elizabeth Joy of Conscious Life and Style

Here’s wishing you are with me. #SaveTheArt

There is an exact science behind what men and women find attractive, right? While that is somewhat accurate (ex. symmetrical faces), it’s not an exact science. The standard of beauty varies among different societies and cultures. The perfect body has changed and reverted back so many times in the course of history as new trends […]

via How The “Perfect Body” Has Changed Over The Last 100 Years — Society19

Inch Pinch.

 

“I don’t make music for eyes. I make music for ears.” -Adele.

You will see the Signs,” they say. I was not looking for any…

Last week, Tina and Sid dropped in for an impromptu Saturday tea. Conversations hovered for a bit over what is now, versus what was at our time. (Sheesh! I belong to a bygone era? How old am I?) Fashion, naturally, was one of the gazillion concerns. When Sid, a human encyclopedia commented, and I quote, “You know, women have always had to torture themselves to look a certain way. The corsets they wore in the early centuries literally broke their ribs.” Thank you Sid!

Two days later, my routine morning me-time saw me sipping on my routine glass of herbal water, while routinely browsing through my social media feed. A post by @bodyposipanda affirmed how to be comfortable in one’s own shape.

Yesterday, Rads @thewanderingindiangourmet sent me an article by @hannahtunnicliffe.author. Hannah had to attend a course, to come to terms with food, and her body, and her happiness.

In between the Saturday tea and Hannah’s story, subtle hints continued to nudge; when Mum and I were shopping at M&S, an article about how most of us carry a size smaller to the fitting room…

Okay, okay, I get the point. I also will get some $#*@! for writing this, from people I know, and do not know, and my friends, who are players of an industry which endorses ‘the Image’. I am too.
Game rule: to get maximum results, hit your hardest, albeit politely, where it hurts the most- the Self.

Four seasons ago, Mona and I were at a quaint studio of a Delhi based designer. The racks were shift dresses in warm, bright pastels, fresh off the Fashion week. Mona could not try the canary yellow shift she fell in love with; she was two sizes larger. They agreed to custom make it for her. Happy Mona! “Sure, I’ll try it on for you Mona,” happy me agreed. Crash! My hips ‘pear-ed’ out markedly, as the dress struggled to breathe below my torso. I knew my hips to be two inches more than the perfect ratio of bust:waist:hips. Apparently, that was way too much?! Apparently, my body shape was not good enough.
I was hit, bad.

Ever watched an outfit walk down a fashion week ramp? Then seen an instagram post of that same perfect silhouette, on a Real person? How perfect does it remain, when it is reassembled to fit real body proportions? I wonder, who does the Real person see in the mirror?
A definite hit.

Perfect body shapes seemingly live perfect lives. Everything seems to ‘fit’; not just the clothes. When perfection looks at you through half closed eyes, you can feel the sensuality of the perfume kept right next to her fragile body. She lays her delicate self on a sofa to convince you of the sheer beauty of an apartment complex. Her flawless body size tells you what toothpaste works best for your teeth (no matter how unhappy her own teeth are; they can always be photoshopped). She is asleep like a feather on the mattress you should now own. Air travel is spacious and floaty for her, in economy class. We need to fly floaty airlines to her recommended destinations. How dreamlike the backdrops look, behind her (lithesome) silhouette!
Now, my life. The over-sized shirt I had tried at F…’s, looked like I had run out of clothes. Strike one. Feather-light sleep? I played pretend for one week, when we had changed the mattress. Got bored waiting to automatically drift waif-like to sleep. Strike two. Her perfect dish and laundry cleaners do not inspire me to do a Mary Poppins song and dance. Strike three. Flying economy is a dream I would love to wake up from. I am struck out.
I need to lose some inches to have a perfect life. Whacked again.

Ninety percent of my clients, want me to hold on to their garment fittings until the practically possible nth hour, before the occasion. I hear pride in their painful stories, working to grind those inches away before deadline. And after the non-caloried, sweet success is all over and done with? All is over and done with.
An advert scrolled down my screen for ‘weight’ loss. What it meant was ‘inch’ loss. These are not synonyms, the intentions behind the two are different. Anyways, back to my phone screen, “No exercise and diet needed to lose weight. Come to us, we will help you.” Err…
Another hit!

Our bad, our big ‘sized’ bad, is that we damn our own selves.

Dear clothing designers, don’t treat us as a ‘category’. Don’t simply revamp (resize) a silhouette designed for a catwalk body, for us, the Real bodies. Are we ever your muse?

Dear visualizers of adverts, we the Real bodies, are predominantly your crucial clients. What language do you speak when only svelte shapes are required to influence our buys? We would love for you to talk Real.

Dear inch-loss promoters, how about being health promoters? It is unhealthy for us, playing the game vice-versa. You still win, because gaining health, is a swear-by guarantee to losing inches.

We are venting loud now, and yes, we are getting there. Finally, some happy moments:

Katie Sturino, of The 12ish Style, a plus-size blogger of the #LoveMyShape campaign is questioning fashion brands about the exclusion of her size with her #MakeMySize strategy. She has posted her frustrating trial room photos on Instagram (@the12ishstyle).

Glamour.com :
“…some designers move away from traditional runway casting, in favor of ‘real people’. A familiar list of designers, led by Chromat and Christian Siriano, presented their new collections on women of all sizes…”

Popsugar.com :
“Body diversity is finally being celebrated in the modeling industry, and we’re all for it. Designers are giving people what they want by including more  curve models in their shows and campaigns. It truly seems like 2018 is the year we see a change in the fashion world.”

GettyImages-Michael Kors1
Getty Images- Michael Kors.
GettyImages-sies marjan
Getty Images- Sies Marjan
GettyImages-Christian Siriano
Getty Images- Christian Siriano

All the above seems like a luxurious blindfold; this thought did cross my mind. What do you think?
“Does the fashion industry truly care about body-positivity and diversity—or just invoking it to sell their clothes?”- Stylecaster.com

Back home, I look forward to new updates by plantationhouse.in. Plantation House creates fluid silhouettes using geometric shapes. These are eternal, individualist styles, not recommended for fast-fashion followers (until this silhouette starts trending). I see freedom in their shapes because I do not have to fit into a size ratio. I prefer the old fashioned browsing through offline stores; I need to visit their studio in Bengaluru city.

Plantation House
Plantation House

 

I found my voice in the understated, contemporary stylings of @tapasyalife. Seema Rituraj of Tapasya, could not be more explicit about affirming positive self image, when designing her clothing line; she spreads it extensively over six sizes. “My sizing is not generous, it is real! I tell them (clients), you are as skinny or large as your attitude. Feel good when you wear what fits well; when your heart smiles, you cannot not look fabulous.” Well proven words; from Bengaluru, again.

IMG_0149
Tapasya

Dear all, can Real people be Perfect?
Yes, as long as we stop playing victim to external impressions.

#TalkReal