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Bhumikaa Bhatia On Shattering Gender Stereotypes Through Photography

  • IWB Post
  •  June 11, 2019

Everywhere around us we see beauty and perfection. There’s beauty on the billboards strategically placed to be visible even when you’re not paying attention, in the magazines placed in the waiting rooms of various buildings, on the star-studded red carpets and award shows, and in movies and TV shows. We all are awed by this glamour and this panache and often aspire to one day look like that.

Aspire. Because in the media around us we don’t often see women who look like us. Beauty and perfection have a very rigid definition, one that does not include the majority of women around the world, and that is slim bodies, fair skins, and young fresh faces.

This myth of the perfect and beautiful woman that is being propagated by the media all around us is not only alienating, it is also damaging. Young girls all around the world are ridiculed, shamed, and tortured for not fitting into this one profile.

Monisha is out and proud, and she’s giving others the confidence to shine too ✨ She wants to see more people like her represented in the media and advertising – and so do we 🏳️‍🌈 A visible advocate for a group that’s been discriminated against throughout history, she’s helping to de-stigmatize homosexuality in India and around the world 🌎 Tell us who you want to see represented in the comments below 👇 @girlgaze 📸: @bhumikab 🇮🇳 💻: @gettyimages #Dove #ShowUs #RealBeauty #Proud #Representation #Lesbian #Confidence #Shine #Beauty #girlgaze #GettyImages

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And the only way to curb the ill effects of such patriarchal standards of beauty is to normalize the existence of different types of physical features. Girl Gaze, Dove, and Getty Images have teamed up to do just that. Project #ShowUs was created to shatter the beauty stereotypes perpetrated by media houses and to show women how they actually are.

116 female-identifying and non-binary photographers from all around the world were hired to create the largest stock library, featuring more than 5,000 photos of women and non-binary individuals.

So excited to announce my participation in Project #ShowUS. My experience working with @girlgaze, @dove and @gettyimages, has been a highlight of my career. I knew Monisha was the perfect candidate to photograph for this collaboration. She is an inspiration to me, not only as a close friend but as a photographer and activist within the LGBTQ community. Take note: 2019 is the year of the beauty REVOLUTION ⚡Currently, 70% of women report that they don’t feel represented in media and advertising. You can’t be what you can’t see, so I have set out to change that by partnering with @girlgaze @dove and @gettyimages on Project #ShowUs. Alongside 116 female-identifying and non-binary photographers across the world, we have photographed 179 diverse, beautiful and complex women who we believe represent the change we want to see in the beauty industry. Our rallying cry is join Project #ShowUs… Show us beauty representative of all ages, backgrounds and physicalities! Show us a world where all womxn and girls feel seen and represented. For more info check out: @girlgaze @gettyimages + @dove #girlgaze #ShowUs #DovePartner #bhumikab #india #lgbtq #portrait #mumbai #art #portraitphotography #dazedandexposed #portrait_vision #portraitmood #emotions #photographer #instagram

907 Likes, 28 Comments – Bhumikaa Bhatia (@bhumikab) on Instagram: “So excited to announce my participation in Project #ShowUS. My experience working with @girlgaze,…”

Photographer Bhumikaa Bhatia, who started photography as an outlet for her imagination, was selected to be the Indian Ambassador of the project #ShowUs. She’s someone who’s always shooting people but isn’t very comfortable with being in front of the camera herself, she says, “As I got comfortable with my body over the years, I have become okay with being photographed but I’m still a bit shy.”

In a recent interview with IWB, Bhumika spoke about her experience working on this campaign.

How did your association with the #ShowUs Campaign begin?

The organization Girl Gaze provides work to female photographers, ensures there is no wage gap and works with them on campaigns so that they can get recognition. They got in touch with me regarding the campaign and then we started discussing subjects and other such things and I was more than happy to be a part of it. This was completely new work for me.

How was your experience working on something you were unfamiliar with?

My experience working on this campaign was very nice; they made me and my subjects feel at ease, they were transparent about everything right from the payments to the selection of subjects and there was no compulsion to photograph in a way specified by them. It was completely up to the photographer how they wanted to shoot and portray their subject, full freedom was given to us. Being associated with Girl Gaze, Dove and Getty Images is the highlight of my career.

Could you tell us about the women you’ve photographed for this campaign?

I’d contacted a few women but due to time restrictions I wasn’t able to shoot all of them, we had to shoot our subjects as soon as possible and this whole soot was completed in just two days. So I worked with my good friend Monisha and Martha, who is a nurse and mother of two.

Monisha is Full of energy, a powerful personality who is very driven. I’ve always seen her fight for rights, especially on behalf of the LGBTQ community. This is why I chose to photograph her for project #ShowUs Here she is at home, with her beloved, Cherry the pug. Show us a world where all women and girls feel seen and represented. For more info check out: @girlgaze @gettyimages + @dove #girlgaze #ShowUs #DovePartner #bhumikab #portrait_vision #portraitphotography #portrait #india #mumbai #art #dazedandexposed #instagood #instagram #dogsofinstagram #pugsofinstagram #love #photooftheday #photographer #tattoos #friend #travellingthroughtheworld

752 Likes, 4 Comments – Bhumikaa Bhatia (@bhumikab) on Instagram: “Monisha is Full of energy, a powerful personality who is very driven. I’ve always seen her fight…”

Working with Monisha was very personal because she’s a very close friend of mine. She is someone who’s always fought for her rights and despite having faced many hardships she didn’t let them affect her. Her stories and understanding what she was going through made me connect with her more.

Project #ShowUs gave me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. For my second subject I travelled to Bengaluru to photograph Martha. A mother of two, whose children have grown and now work in different cities. I stayed with Martha during my visit , which lead to us building a lovely connection. Because of this I was able to capture her loving nature and her smile. Let’s come together and put an end to the narrow definition of beauty that is consistently portrayed around the world. Project #ShowUs is the world’s largest stock photo library created by women to shatter beauty stereotypes and is available now for the media and advertising industries to view, license and use in their next project or campaign. Take a stand and #ShowUs what beauty looks like in your community. For more info check out: @girlgaze @gettyimages + @dove #girlgaze #ShowUs #DovePartner #portrait_vision #portraitphotography #bhumikab #age #woman #beautifulgirls #instatravel #art #dazedandexposed #onbooooooom #love #photooftheday

446 Likes, 12 Comments – Bhumikaa Bhatia (@bhumikab) on Instagram: “Project #ShowUs gave me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. For my second subject I…”

I’ve never photographed an older woman before in my life, so working with Martha was out of my comfort zone and absolutely amazing as well. I stayed with her and she cooked me food and told me about her life. She spoke about her kids, about her being a nurse and how she goes back to her village in Nagaland and helps out as a nurse there.

They sound absolutely wonderful. A lot of people aren’t comfortable being in front of the camera, were either of these women camera shy?

Not at all. I was shooting them as they went about their lives and since neither of them was uncomfortable around me, it was pretty amazing to shoot them in their element and capturing their daily stories.

Working in the field is a very different experience from working inside in a studio. What about shooting outside do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the unpredictability. You never know what you might be able to shoot; it’s just going with the flow. You get to photograph your subject in their element and I think being able to photograph them raw, as they are, is one of the most beautiful things you can experience in life. I make sure I connect with the subject and never take up work that doesn’t allow me to do so.

One of the ways stereotypes are enforced is airbrushing the pictures of women before being published. How can this issue be addressed?

For this project, we weren’t allowed to do any digital distortion. The way we shot the picture is the way they’ve been presented. All of these three companies at the head of this project are investing time and efforts to show people that it isn’t about makeup or editing, but that it is about being comfortable with your real self. That’s why we created this library, to show women being comfortable in their own skin despite having what society considers ‘imperfections’.

Across the span of your career, you’ve worked with many women. What did you learn from working with all of them?

At the end of the day, regardless of whether the woman is famous, they are still a little bit shy, even they are vulnerable, is what I’ve noticed.

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