‘She told me if I went on like this (fat) I would never find a husband’ reads one of the pages of 22-year-old Kritika Trehan’s book ‘Excess’. Having just graduated from Bangalore’s Srishti Institute, the young artist’s final college project took on body shaming and rigid body image notions in a seriously creative way.
“The brief for this assignment was to use any piece of literature to base the project on, and immediately, I knew I wanted to do something with body shaming. I chose Naomi Wolf’s book Beauty Myth and it formed the base of my research. Especially her chapter ‘hungry’, that really spoke to me,” Trehan confides. Her book takes on something very personal to her own life, since she has been fat shamed through her life by peers, friends and family.
Bollywood characters, Victoria’s Secret references, old newspaper cut-outs and other clippings from magazines feature in the Calcutta-origin artist’s collage artwork, with clever speech bubbles juxtaposed to carefully selected pictures. Her creativity appears limitless as she uses Amul butter wrappers as backgrounds, sepia-toned Air India hostesses, yellow-faced emoticons, diet coke images, and even Hindi song references such as ‘jiski biwi moti, uska bhi bada naam hai’ through the series to bring out body shaming in spaces across the board.
“A lot of the cut-outs are from Vogue India magazine because it was one of the first places to start body shaming. They shifted focus from clothes to a woman’s body,” Trehan explains. The rest of her images came from various sources, such as Tumblr pages named ‘Vintage Indian Clothing’ or ‘The Golden Era of Bollywood’. “I used a lot of Bollywood imagery because it’s such a big part of our pop culture,” she adds.
‘”Next time gaayab hee ho jaogi tum”, “udd to nahi gayi hava se”, are lines thrown at me ever so often’, reads another page of Trehan’s book, calling out slim-shaming just as much as fat-shaming. From research to execution to printing and binding the book, project ‘Excess’ took her three months to complete, with a final count of 111 collage images. The anecdotes in the book are relatable for people of all ages across the spectrum from 13 to 60, making each individual collage a unique stand against body shamers. Scroll on for a glimpse into Kritika Trehan’s beautifully crafted collage art-inspired book ‘Excess,’ and see which ones you relate to the most.