Netizens Accuse Instagram Influencer Of Using Poverty As Aesthetic

Mansi Chavan
A section of social media users has called out Instagram influencer and self-portrait artist Mansi Chavan, accusing her of aestheticising poverty. Photos she posted from a recent shoot at a Mumbai slum are doing rounds online, receiving polar reactions. While some are showing support for Chavan, others are citing it as an instance of poverty porn.

“I shot these Portraits to capture the beauty and vibes Bombay city slums carry,” Chavan wrote in the caption of a set of photos that show her posing against the background of a slum in Powai, dressed in pants, a blazer and a beret. The snaps also feature a young local girl.

In a second post, shared as a reel, Chavan elaborated on Mumbai’s slums as places “filled with dreams and unheard stories.” As a postscript on the reel, she adds, “Please understand my intention here is not to glorify poverty and romanticise their poor conditions. I just wanted to capture slums with a different perspective which I did.”

Chavan has turned off comments on her profile.

Artist Mansi Chavan’s Photoshoot Gets Mixed Responses

Chavan on her profile talks about how her portrait shoot in Powai received “too many awkward stares” from slum-dwellers but she “posed in front of them anyways.” She clarifies in the caption that she was not trying to insult those who stay there and “made sure the residents their don’t face any trouble because of [her] shoot.”

“Using poor people as props for street photography is sheer madness. Elitism and lack of Empathy are rampant in India,” one Twitter user wrote in criticism of Chavan’s venture.

“The exotification of poverty is when the privileged think that the struggle of the lower class is aesthetic and could be used for their fashion!” another user wrote.

Imagine walking into their neighborhood in fancy dress, pulling out a camera and calling them out for staring,” one user tweeted.

Earlier this year, actor and media personality Nitibha Kaul was called out on similar allegations of platforming poverty porn on her social media, following a fashion shoot she did for the Sabyasachi x H&M collection. Netizens raised concerns over the people – certain men dressed humbly – standing behind her.

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