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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

I Disappoint A Lot Of People By Not Living Up To My Labels: Roshini Kumar

  • IWB Post
  •  November 8, 2019


“We are all constantly following false beauty standards. Seeing all the retouched and edited pictures of models and actors in magazines and social media and thinking that’s exactly how they look is a lie that all of us are living,” says Roshini Kumar, a fashion photographer, influencer, body positivity activist, and as she herself puts it, a “proud cancer survivor.”

She adds, “Since 2015 I have been advocating for body positivity and people now know that I don’t like to retouch my pictures even for commercial work. Even if it’s their request I can’t be the photographer if there is an editor, I am absolutely against it.”

As a fashion photographer, what Roshini is doing is beyond commendable. She approaches her art and her subjects, just like she approaches her life, i.e. with downright honesty and sans any touch ups. The close to 17 intricate tattoos on her body and her numerous piercings will testify to it. It is as if her body is no short of a canvas. But wait till you see her hair, aflame with the colour of passion. “I woke up one day, thought I wanted it, went ahead, and got it,” she says.

But wait, how receptive is India as a society to a woman who does as she pleases? Ummm, you know the answer, right? Judgment perhaps is the emotional equivalent of oxygen for the society that we live in. Our judgement radars are constantly flaring, yearning to catch a person (even better if it is a woman) who dares to do something out of the ordinary.

But how will we ever grow if we keeping pushing our own selves behind by getting stuck in the vicious cycle of judgement and negativity? Why don’t we open up a little? Why don’t we let others just be?

With this thought in mind, IWB brings to you its latest campaign #JudgeMeNot, in collaboration with Craftsvilla, which focuses on breaking the binds of society’s judgement on everything from a woman’s outer appearance, the fact she is fertile or her professional choices.

We recently reached out to Roshini for a Live Facebook chat so as to seek tips on how to deal with being judged like a boss and help our followers with the same.

Here are excerpts from what she has to say:

What is the contradiction between what people perceive when they see you and what the real Rosh is like?

I think when people see me for the first time they completely stereotype me for the way I look because of my hair colour, and because of the fact that I have a lot of piercings and tattoos. The general stereotype is that ‘you are doing something wrong’ or ‘you are into drugs’ or ‘you are just a rebel.’

I feel like I disappoint a lot of people by not living up to my labels (laughs). And I am just the opposite. Yes, you can call me a rebel in some ways but I am not doing any of what they think I am doing. I think I disappoint a lot of people by the way I actually live my life. I don’t like crowds, I only like chilling with a few friends, I rarely go out, and I don’t even like drugs.

What is your kickass approach to combat body negativity and gender judgments?

I think the best way to combat all of this is literally not listening to any of it, don’t let it get to you. People’s opinions of you are mostly their own insecurities. I just laugh it off because this is who I like to be and I am very happy to be this person. Everyone doesn’t have to like how I am as long as I like who I am.

Being true to oneself is the beginning of a healthy robust relationship with self. As an influencer, how would you make this happen?

I think I have made it a point to stay very true to myself in the sense that even when it comes to work, I don’t take up commercial projects that don’t go with my ideologies. I have my set of principals that I don’t break, doesn’t matter if it’s for something personal or professional. I don’t like doing commercial work that portrays exactly the opposite of what I am doing.

Also, I make sure I do everything that I want to do. Before getting sick I took everything for granted and there was a bunch of things that I always wanted to do but didn’t. It was after falling sick that I realised how stupid I have been all this while. I learned that life’s too short to just sit and be scared of doing things that you wanna do.

As strong and proud as you stand as a survivor, how has cancer transformed your life?

My whole cancer journey is the reason why I am like this today. It was like a big epiphany which opened my eyes to a whole different perspective. Dealing with my illness actually helped me grow as a person. I would have been in my little shell had it not been for cancer. I am a fully transformed person now.

Let’s talk about your brave and out-of-the-box choices – sexually, professionally, personally, and everything in between.

I am pretty much an open book. While I don’t find the need to share everything with people, if you ask me something I will answer it because I don’t find the need to hide it. The hiding just makes things harder, talking about things helps. That’s a different kind of freedom, as the judgment doesn’t bother me anymore. It makes me feel freer.

Art is a very interactive medium of expression. How instrumental has it been in your life to push the envelope, redefine boundaries, heal, and move forward?

The minute I started practicing this whole “let me be who I want to be” philosophy, it has also reflected in my art because I wasn’t afraid to try things, I wasn’t afraid to be myself. Year after year, I have been pushing boundaries. This year especially I have tried a lot of new things. As an artist, I feel like experimentation is a part of it. Pushing the boundaries using creativity is very interlinked with the journey that I have had with myself.

Also, I have met some of the most beautiful people because of art. I think it is one of the most powerful mediums to connect people, address issues. Without art, I don’t think I could have survived.

To conclude, can you quickly think of all the judgemental labels that you encounter on a daily basis. 

So, people think that I am a junkie, they definitely think I live in Goa, that I am very sexually open, I am a rebel. They think that I am an artist but a DJ artist or a tattoo artist or a hair stylist, never a photographer. I have also been called a slut and have been told that I am intentionally provocative.

Have you registered already? 9th & 10th NOVEMBER – IWB’s ‘Feminist Lens in Photography’ workshop with Roshini Kumar. For registration:


Photo Credits: Yash MV

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