We live in a world where everything is dissected to the microscopic level. Everything is gauged and judged. Even ourselves. Our smallest of flaws are brought out by those living around us. Flaws which make us true to ourselves, and yet make us unacceptable when measured on the societal scale of well-being. And then comes the ever varying scale of being beautiful. Do we stop to ask ourselves – What do we define by Beauty? Is it just something that is visually appealing? Is it something that the world tells us as such? Or is it something beyond these trivialities? These questions are raised and answered by life photographer Apuroopa Reddy in her photo series. A simple college project by Apuroopa Reddy is by itself a timeless vehicle of true message, resonating over boundaries of stereotypical norms.
The story of the model in these photo series will accompany the photos you see. The story of Percy, as told through the lens of Apuroopa Reddy, is one which is both important and relevant to the times we live in.
“I am 23, dark skinned, skinny, 4’11” and also an architecture graduate. I belong to the itty-bitty- titty community. Yeah, you read it right, I am flat chested. In college, while most women my age were aiming for sexy, I was buying clothes from the kid’s section, I believed they made me look cute. Everyone was outdoing each other in the sexiness department and I was basically invisible not just to others but also to myself”.
“I have always had very low self-esteem, was always made fun of, taken for granted and called names like idli boobs. In the campus where everyone walked with their head held up high, I always looked down. I didn’t want to be noticed”.
“Mirrors were my enemies. I hated myself as my body didn’t fit into the perfect figure category. It was nowhere close. I didn’t want to see myself in pictures when everybody was admiring the Kardashians for their assets, my peers kept saying, “boys like some booty to hold.” This traumatised me. I felt worthless and unloveable. I was so conscious about the way I looked that I avoided any social situations especially ones that involved the opposite sex”.
“One day, one of my friends, who is also a photographer, wanted to do a photo series on depression. She was experimenting with dark tones, this was her first photo shoot and involved semi-nude shots and no one was ready to do it. She turned to me, “I will take the pictures, you pose na?” I didn’t want to but I was also passionate about the project and finally gave in. I stood there naked in front of the camera.
“I dreaded it the whole time, I kept telling her – I can’t do this. Then, I was also worried – what if she posts the pictures on the internet. What will people say? My classmates will certainly make fun of me. But that day she shot a few trial pictures and wrapped up. Next day, she sent me pictures and called me, saying, “Look at the pictures. I am not going to ask anybody else. You are doing all the pictures, that’s it!”
“The pictures were amazing, it took a while for me to come to terms with myself. “Look, Tabitha you got curves too .. haha,” she laughed. I gave in and said yes, it was the best decision ever. In the process of working with her and seeing myself in the pictures, I discovered that my skinny body was also beautiful. I fell in love with it”.
“I made body positivity my subject to paint, write and talk about to people who have seen the pictures. I started to paint nudes. I love bare bodies all shapes and sizes now, I believe they say a lot about the person. I also look up the internet to find other women like me and found stores that make clothes for petite women like me. I don’t want to fit in anymore, I want to stand out in a crowd.”
Thus go the story of Percy and her belief in herself over time and these gripping pictures. Apuroopa Reddy thereby did a fantastic job in portraying the moral bounds of the so-called society, in laying bare with her subject. We wish her best of the regards and hope that she comes out with more wonderfully relevant subjects, which will celebrate the basic nature of humans – Humanity.
All the images used within this article are the property of the photographer and cannot be used without a permit on any platform, website or channel. Any such usage will make such entity liable to due proprietory action from the parties concerned.