A couple of months ago, a Tamil Canadian posted a fashion photoshoot on his Instagram feed breaking gender stereotypes present in the Indian community. The photoshoot by Diayan Rajamohan has since been trending on social media and has reached a wider audience, many in awe of his bold and daring fashion photoshoots.
Stereotypes, in terms of gender, refer to traits that one gender is expected to follow upon, such as the way one speaks, acts, dress, groom and conduct oneself based upon their assigned sex. Gender stereotypes have far-reaching implications and cannot be taken purely on the basis of face value.
On an important note, the queer community has been the subject of harsh treatment among the Indian community for years, thus Diayan’s work is vital in educating the community on acceptance of one’s differences, knowing that the queer community is very much valued and loved and must be subject to equal treatment, after all aren’t we all part of the human race?
The problem of gender stereotyping is profoundly rooted in our Asian culture, and has sadly left some individuals feeling detached or unfit to be part of a community. Gender stereotyping is even much more daunting in the Indian community. Should one break gender stereotypes and lead their own way of life, they would face the wrath of society often times, and be equally labelled as unconventional or eccentric and sometimes rebels.
In the Indian fashion world, sarees, dupatta, make-up are considered part of an Indian woman’s wardrobe. Diayan, was bold enough to challenge the stereotype by demonstrating that he could wear whatever he wants, regardless of conventional gender norms in fashion and still feel connected to his heritage, culture and the Tamil people.
He said, “I have always admired the saree – its beauty, the work that went into making them and the culture they boast. With this project, I hope to open your eyes about why taking gender out of fashion is extremely crucial in understanding and accepting people of all ethnicities and cultures”
Diayan also stated that his work reminded him of ‘Ardhanareeshvara‘ which means lord who is half woman in Sanskrit. In Hinduism, it is believed that Lord Shiva creates part of himself to become Goddess Parvathi.
“There is space within Hindu teaching and philosophy for us to interpret and even manifest these traditions differently”, he was quoted as saying.
Thus, this combo of half male and half female embodies a supportive and generative force. Ardhanareeshvara symbolises the concepts of male and female that cannot be separated. It conveys the unity of the opposites of the universe.
Many deities in Hinduism and Indian epics are depicted as male and female at different times and in different incarnations, or can manifest at once the characteristics of both sexes.
This is precisely what Diayan is trying to express in his continuous work in the Tamil fashion scene. So, let’s not be narrow-minded or quick to judge the reasoning behind his work.
Diayan is indeed brave for putting the perspective of the queer community in his work on the social media platform. What could be a better time than now for the queer community to have a voice and be free to live their lives without any form of discrimination nor prejudice.
The photoshoot was officiated by the follows:
What do you think about this photoshoot that breaks gender stereotypes in the Tamil community? Share your thoughts in our comment section below.