Non- binary Indian drag performer, Abhijeet, used the popular hashtag to recreate pictures of women icons in drag, writes Neha Pant

Pakistani-Canadian Maria Qamar posted an illustration with the #BadBeti in October last year and it sparked off an almost instantaneous trend of breaking cultural stereotypes that are often placed on women in South-east Asia. As her clever hashtag and drawings blew up into an entire campaign challenging all the things “good” girls aren’t supposed to do, more and more women the world over started using it to deal with desi prescripts and push boundaries. Taking cue from the original campaign, non-binary drag performer, Abhijeet, decided to pay homage to some of his favourite women by recreating their pictures and said that, the #BadBeti gave South Asian women something to relate to collectively and use, to redefine not only themselves but also their social media presence. The reason his tribute works is because not only does it break gender stereotypes, but it is also a personal art project where Abhijeet takes on twelve personalities that helped shape his feminine aesthetic. Talk about #TransformationTuesday done right.

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She’s a smartass, a model, an actress and now a financial expert at an international banking firm- I don’t even know how to begin to explain how much she means to me and how much growing up with her has shaped my confidence, my strength and my laziness

 

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I mean her music videos are visuals pieces of art, she’s a stunt queen live, she LITERALLY flipped of the cameras while performing at the Super Bowl. I’m already the best M.I.A. impersonator on the east side of boystown, but I wanna go on tour with her and do backup//be in her music

 

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Being unashamedly narcissistic and self-absorbed which is a very legit way of self-care and feeling ones own oats

 

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It’s so important to celebrate women in science, and tbh Chawla was someone who’s accomplishments we grew up reading about. Her untimely death returning back to earth, makes her only shine brighter as one of the baddest beti’s

 

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She is the first openly transgender woman to be elected into office, as the mayor of Raigarh in the state of Chattisgarh. Not only is she a trans woman, but also a Dalit which means she overcame a lot of obstructions and oppositions.

 

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Although she grew up and married into in royalty, she went through a lot of crap from the British colonists. She was one of leaders in the first war of independence in 1857, riding into battle on horseback and sword, with her son strapped to her- leading the rebellion and trying to get her son to safety

 

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She’s sexually liberated and open in a way that isn’t tied to westernization, English speaking ability and class/wealth. And I think that’s what makes her an icon for me. Also the fact that anything she ever says is instantly a meme and hilarious.

 

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How cool is it to see an Indian girl lead an American Drama without her Indian-ness being the focus of her character?

 

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She does stand up, writes, directs, produces and acts in sitcoms and honestly is a very visible icon in the interior of brown women and body positivity and FASHION AESTHETICS.

 

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Anjali from #KuchKuchHotaHai gave me all that unibrow femme bad girl tom boy aesthetics I needed!

 

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She has a particularly important speech in Azad Maidan where she spoke about how a part of Mumbai’s safety for women is because of the large number of prostitutes, the few handful of women that cater to the physical aggressions of men so they don’t bring it home

 

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I think it’s really important when talking about womanhood, femininity, transness. feminism etc we actively make space for and include our non-binary people.Their visibility as a South Asian non-binary artist and activist has been so inspiring to my own understanding of gender and gender politics, and a great resource to share with my parents.


Follow Abhijeet here

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