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Sabyasachi Fails ‘Monihara’ With Typical Oversimplified Mansplaining

  • IWB Post
  •  July 8, 2019

In Satyajit Ray’s 1961 film ‘Monimalika,’ based on Rabindranath Tagore’s short story Monihara (The Lost Jewels), Kanika Majumdar plays the titular role with a haunting charm of the unfathomable sadness. As she sits on her bed, looks out onto the river and sings a soulful song, you realize there are more layers to this character than a rudimentary greed for jewel glitter.

Sabyasachi in his latest heritage jewellery collection employs Tagore’s metaphor and portrays Monihara as a young woman who seeks to fill her emotional void with excessive jewellery armor. A heavily-jeweled model depicts the traditional avatar of the new Indian woman in a signature Sabyasachi style – rich in textures and colours, hefty, with a tint of exuberance, however, the story of Monihara seems to be too complex for a one-note commercial campaign.

#Sabyasachi #ParadiseLost #SabyasachiJewelry #TheWorldOfSabyasachi Jewellery courtesy: Sabyasachi Heritage Jewelry collection @sabyasachijewelry For all jewellery related queries, kindly contact sabyasachijewelry@sabyasachi.com Photo courtesy: @ridburman Makeup and hair: @marianna_mukuchyan Model: @eugeniya.whitee Location: Sabyasachi’s home in Calcutta

23.6k Likes, 83 Comments – Sabyasachi Mukherjee (@sabyasachiofficial) on Instagram: “#Sabyasachi #ParadiseLost #SabyasachiJewelry #TheWorldOfSabyasachi Jewellery courtesy: Sabyasachi…”

The post has received loads of criticism, which urged Sabyasachi to write an apology and clear his intent: “Having been in the fashion industry for over 20 years, I have encountered it firsthand and commented about it in many of my interviews – how, while many women use fashion and beauty for joy and self-expression, others use it as ‘retail therapy’ to fill in the gaps and voids in their lives.” He continues, “We, as a society, often get extremely judgemental about peoples’ clothing choices, calling them ‘overdressed’ or ‘tacky’ or ‘inappropriate’. We fail to understand that maybe some are using these as coping mechanisms to put on a brave front to make up for the lack of a support system.”

I thought a lot about whether to post this, but sometimes it is important to set the record straight and get the right message across. Having been in the fashion industry for over 20 years, I have encountered it firsthand and commented about it in many of my interviews – how, while many women use fashion and beauty for joy and self-expression, others use it as ‘retail therapy’ to fill in the gaps and voids in their lives. We, as a society, often get extremely judgemental about peoples’ clothing choices, calling them ‘overdressed’ or ‘tacky’ or ‘inappropriate’. We fail to understand that maybe some are using these as coping mechanisms to put on a brave front to make up for the lack of a support system. The true essence of the post was to ask people to be aware, empathetic, and not judgemental of peoples’ personal clothing choices, which could be a manifestation of their internal anguish. One of the bigger issues in society today, that very few people address, is mental health, and a little bit of awareness, empathy and kindness go a long way in acknowledging it. I have coped with crippling depression as a teenager for 7 years. I found my coping mechanism through radical clothing choices.I was sneered at and bullied, but it helped me find my way again. When I was creating this jewellery collection, I referred to Tagore’s ‘Monihara’ because it talks about these issues, which are sadly more relevant today. And I, for one, have never shied away from speaking about uncomfortable truths, no matter how disruptive it might be for my personal gain. Because when power is given, social responsibility should not be shunned. The mistake, however, was to use the reference as a blanket statement, as sometimes when we are passionate about an issue, we end up becoming overzealous and hence, tone deaf. My sincere apologies for that. The original post (however flawed) was put up to invite introspection and debate about how love, sensitivity and compassion, alongside expressions of art, beauty and fashion can create a net positive in the world. I invite everyone to democratically join this debate. Regards, Sabyasachi

35.2k Likes, 622 Comments – Sabyasachi Mukherjee (@sabyasachiofficial) on Instagram: “I thought a lot about whether to post this, but sometimes it is important to set the record…”

 

However, there is seen no deep thought on how to deliver this message in Sabyasachi campaign, instead it fails Monihara with typical oversimplified mansplaining; a woman shown in a one-dimensional frame of ‘glittery things make girls happy’. This campaign is problematic simply because it shows exploitative patriarchal views on an emotional agony that a woman can experience suggesting a manipulative approach of ‘buying’ her happiness as a solution. This understanding comes with an obvious threat – the woman is deprived of her agency to express pain, anguish, and distress.

A woman hiding her pain under thrills of makeup, jewellery, and clothes deserves more compassion than a commercial gimmick with a clear intent to make a buck on her desperation; she deserves a story, not a cheap masquerade of a pseudo feminism in a shop window.

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