A lot can be said about the generation that students of the day belong to. It is a generation punctuated by globalisation, the smartphone revolution, and a hundred other changes that sets it apart from humanity before it, but perhaps the most important change, the most noteworthy of all is the rise in awareness of and sensitivity towards social injustice that is the shining pearl in its oyster. A generation that is exponentially more conscious of the mistakes of the past, and even more so active in the rectification of these mistakes.
However, awareness and sensitivity doesn’t randomly fall out of the sky one day. It doesn’t hatch from an egg found on the roadside; it is cultivated, and built, by years and years of people speaking, painting, writing, and doing. Social movements always find their bedrocks in the people passionate and skilled enough to communicate their importance. Thus, artists and visual communicators become important cruxes of any mission, and you’re here today to read about one such artist – Pearl D’Souza.
Pearl D’Souza is a 22-year-old artist from Goa who only recently finished her 4-year Bachelor of Design Program.
According to my parents, I was always creative and could be found drawing and making little cards for people. I somehow always knew I wanted to study art and lucky for me, they were keen on me pursuing art and design too. Design school was the four best years of my life.
The Zine itself, which focuses on issues of body sensitivity and similar themes, was published only recently online. When asked about why the specific choice of theme, she answers-
At one point during my journey, I noticed how I was critical of my body to a point where I would allow myself to be hurt and then turn to a bag of chips to make me feel better. I questioned why but could never talk myself out of this vicious circle of self-hate and chips! So instead of talking, I drew. I drew what I looked like and what I thought I should look like. And this is where Waist Management was born.
The entire Zine revolves around the #A4Waist challenge which took the internet by storm recently, and had girls (and in some cases, boys) putting up pictures of themselves with an A4-sized sheet held vertically in front of their waists, making a point of showing how their mid-riffs were thinner than the breadth of the paper. Pearl came across the internet trend when she stumbled upon a picture of a girl from Tokyo her age, holding up a piece of paper to her waist with the caption ‘Just a few more inches to go’.
I remember how my stomach churned at the thought of comparing my waist to that piece of paper. Even though I never did, I knew that there were so many girls and women out there who were comparing themselves to a piece of paper. It was just that thought that told me that I had a responsibility as a woman and as an artist to tell people the truth. That they are beautiful the way they are.
The Zine itself is available freely on the internet, but it also includes a pay-what-you-can system, where users can CHOOSE to pay for what they view, or choose to view it for free. This choice itself, and the fact that it is available and Pearl took it, shows another important facet of this evolving generation, a sentiment that Pearl herself sums up beautifully-
The monetary returns are a great source of validation as well as funding for a future project. But in the case of Waist Management, the purpose of me creating the Zine was for anyone and everyone to be able to access it and read it. I want it to reach as many people as it can, and on the way change a few hearts too. I knew that as soon as I put a price on it, I would lose a large chunk of my audience. But at what cost? To me the message of this Zine was more important than any amount of sales. So choosing the ‘pay-what-you-want’ option was ideal for the purpose of the project. And it reflects in how well the Zine has been received.
Thus, the social responsibility of getting the message across was more important to Pearl than the money itself.
Although I might never know if it changes someone’s life, I do know that people feel the same way. I began to get messages on Instagram and Facebook from readers saying how I had read their minds, or how they felt the same way but never voiced it. Things like this make it all worth it and only push me to keep creating content like this. Art is a beautiful thing that ties people together, however unrelated.
Just recently graduated from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, when asked about her future goals and what she intends to do with her skills and art, Pearl maintains that while she’d love to put up more content like this, she intends to do it parallel to a steady job.
I think in my case, the work experience will really help me develop a work ethic and skills that I require to start off on my own. And that’s the plan for the future – to start something of my own, maybe a small studio somewhere in a beautiful little village in Goa. That’s the dream.
The Zine can be bought here!
Do support local artists and pay a small sum for it – as much as you can afford.
Written by Utkarsh Pathak.
For the ATKT.in Editorial Team.