Having been body shamed throughout her teenage years as well as now, visual artist and author Kritika Trehan says, "Coming from a family where my mother hails from Rajasthan and my father from Punjab, I was always confused so as to how I should look. The Punjabi side of my family has always encouraged me to eat more ghee, while the Rajasthani side has subtly encouraged me to eat simpler food."
The 22-year-old art student from Bengaluru has recently released a book titled Excess, that looks at the issue of body shaming. She spoke to people aged between 13 and 55 years who had experienced similar situations and decided to use these stories as her raw material.
"Excess comes from a very personal experience from being body shamed all my life. I was always told that I needed to look a certain way. I decided to make digital collages in a satirical way."
Talking about the challenges, she says, "It was difficult to treat such a serious issue with humour as it could very easily become offensive and not as impactful as I would have liked it to be. Getting the correct tone was difficult and even encouraging people to talk about their personal stories was a challenge."
The project took three months to complete. She tried to use imagery that we are used to seeing around us. "Some of the analogies that I came across were very bizarre, like comparing women to fruits or even Bollywood lyrics blatantly targeting a woman's body," says Kritika and adds, "All my images were from the world of media and advertisements and some influences from social media. It was a conscious decision to choose these images as these are the platforms which dictate the ideals of beauty out there. Even though I collected hundreds of images, each collage was carefully put together after explorations."
So, what sort of impact is she expecting from Excess? "During the making of the book I realised that often my immediate defence would be to shame the person who shames me, which is not the solution at all. I do not expect the entire face of body shaming to change overnight due to a book I made, but I do wish to erase the ignorance that comes attached with it."