Hard to believe that a seventeen year old has done the above illustrations, but Kaanchi Chopra is not your run-of-the-mill teenager. “There’s nothing which is more horrific and frightful than stealing someone’s organs and identity for no fault of theirs,” she says, in reference to the several cases acid attacks happening in the country. At this young age, Kaanchi is very passionate about the women’s struggle .
“I wanted to change the mind-set of how the general public looks at acid attack survivors and even how the victims look at themselves. In my opinion, scars and bruises on the bodies of the survivors should not be a sight of pity. These marks should be considered beautiful. Victims should not feel insecure about their appearance but should sense a feeling of pride because they were strong enough to survive the inhumane incident. I’ve doodled the various parts which are disfigured because these floral patterns beautify their face and soul. Their marks, scars and bruises are nothing but doodles on their bodies – an everlasting impression of their courage and strength,” says the young lady explaining her illustrations.
Kaanchi’s artwork inspired by the acid attack survivors has got an overwhelming response on her blog. The blog has been viewed in 23 countries and the illustrations were well appreciated by Sheroes and Make Love Not Scars, the two main organisations working for the betterment of the survivors.
Artivism – a combination of two most meaningful words for me – art and activism
The inclination to create art about women’s issues is not a new phenomenon in Chopra’s life. Her first ever artwork was when she was in the fifth standard. “I had to make a painting on ‘Stop killing the girl child’. I still remember what I made. I painted a necklace and in one of the beads made a girl’s crying face. Over the head of the girl, I drew a sword and wrote – Like a necklace is adorned with pearls, a family is adorned with girls. Don’t commit this sin, don’t kill girls,” cites Chopra
The feminist that was born then is just stronger now, and aware of her rights. “I can’t accept the fact that I will be paid lesser than a man performing the same job, I can’t accept taunts or comments on my skin colour, I can’t take any kind of misbehaviour from the opposite gender and I can’t ever demean the struggles of a girl in today’s society and even belittle the contribution of women in the society.”
She is aware of some of the backlash that being a feminist or standing up for women’s rights entails. A search through Youtube taught her what people exactly think of it, “feminism is bullshit, feminism lol, feminism is cancer, feminism is for nobody, it’s a hate movement etc. It’s weird how a word that is a synonym to equality has attracted so much criticism just because women are finally seeking justice.”
“One should ignore the hate and continue to achieve our goals and aspirations,” adds the spunky young girl.
Currently busy with her boards exams, Kaanchi says most of her inspiration comes from her parents and her brother. “While dad taught me how to be patient, organised and hardworking, my mom used to wake up till 3 am in the night until my course wasn’t finished and bhai pushed me forward to pursue my passion,” she says.
Chopra has ambitious plans for her art in the future. She hopes to document ‘Indian Sheroes’ for Marvel Studios someday, being their ardent follower. “10 years down the lane, I’m pretty sure I’ll be sticking to these ideals and would be spreading social change through technology and design.” She has also just completed her work on Body shaming, which is another raging issue faced by women around the world.
As we come to an end to our discussion, Kaanchi says that she gets bewildered by the apathy of people all around who fail to think of making a difference. “That’s where I want to make a difference and I’m trying my best. I believe in artivism – a combination of two most meaningful words for me – art and activism,” signs off Kaanchi.