“This installation is, I guess, my way of moving on!” Multimedia artist Deepikah Bhardwaj is talking about her evolving feelings about the word ‘fat’. That term has been thrown at her more times than she can count, and what is clearly a reflection on how society perceives women’s bodies, her experience is not unique. From family members to strangers on the street to careless drivers who ram into your vehicle on the road, calling women ‘moti’ (fat), ‘bhains’ (buffalo), and other similar names is considered fair game.
Gender Jalebi has dwelled upon body-shaming and its gnarly effects on self-confidence in previous episodes. In this edition, I speak with Deepikah about being fat and feeling the need to be self-deprecating about it. Her installation titled ‘Trial Room’ was created in partnership with anthropologist, storyteller, and creative writer, Saakshi Joshi, and recreates a familiar microenvironment of anxiety – that of the trial room at an apparel shop. This is a free fat-shaming zone, your actual feelings about or reason for being fat no bar! You will be reduced to numbers and patterns, and barred from venturing into the more ‘fashionable’ sections. You are guaranteed to come out with bags full of socially-dictated clothes, and a healthy disdain for your own body.
This is a discussion on that – that feeling of never feeling one with one’s own body. It’s never your own, and as Deepikah expresses, it goes farther away from your grip when you become a mother. ‘Trial Room’ is an experiment in giving form to these anxieties; it combines zine art, poetry, and sneakily distressing audio commentary to tell us that this trial room is no different than the ones in courts of law. At both places, you are up for judgment!
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Written by Shruti Sharada.