This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Rohini Banerjee. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Dear Parineeti, Your Campaign Isn’t Empowering But Body-Shaming Women Who Aren’t Thin

More from Rohini Banerjee

By Rohini Banerjee:

parineeti chopra built that way
Image source: Twitter

Dear Parineeti,

A couple of months ago you said that you wanted to be “a role model, not a feminist”. You said that you believe in gender equality, and hence, refuse to label yourself a feminist. At that point, fresh from outraging over similar comments by Priyanka Chopra and Meryl Streep, I was too exhausted to be vocal about my exasperation surrounding this statement. But, your recent “Built That Way” campaign and photoshoot was the last straw, and I couldn’t take it sitting down.

Here’s the deal—and let me break it down for you with all due respect—Feminism IS about equality, and you, someone who has been outspoken about the wage gap and other inequalities in Bollywood, could have easily understood this if you had merely consulted a dictionary.

Feminism is inclusive and intersectional and not just about women — it is about challenging and smashing the patriarchy, a big part of which is bodyshaming. Bollywood is definitely a space where, even now, many patriarchal norms reign supreme, further proof of which is the fact that you have been constantly and ruthlessly hounded about your weight since your entry into the industry.

Image source: Twitter
Image source: Twitter

However, instead of battling the fat-shaming and shutting down the narrow-minded patriarchal douchebags that idealize a certain (ridiculous) body type and standard of beauty, you are now running a campaign that reasserts these very same standards. You losing weight is absolutely your personal choice and something that I have no objection to because it’s your body, so it is completely your prerogative on what you do with it.

However, one should examine whether one is losing weight for the right reasons. Is it because of fitness, health, personal empowerment — or is it because of the patriarchal conditioning that makes us believe that fat can’t be beautiful? We live in a world where the word ‘fat’ has become an insult — a politically incorrect term, and your photoshoot continues to perpetuate the fact that those who are plus-sized cannot be beautiful and strong and empowered.

The campaign is called, “Built That Way” — a phrase that could have been rendered extremely powerful had it acknowledged that everyone is built in different ways, that there is no one single ideal body type, that one can be strong and emancipated regardless of one’s weight.

Image source: Twitter
Image source: Twitter

But instead, you reinforced the notions that one can be strong and beautiful ONLY if they are built in that idealized thin way; you reinforced that there is something wrong with being “chubby”. In a year when we had a film like “Dum Laga Ke Haisha”, with a stereotype-free, empowered plus-sized heroine, and even a film as mainstream as “Shaandaar” had powerful body-positive statements; your weight-loss campaign is a huge step backward.

In an industry where, for the longest time, humour has been derived through fat shaming, and “zero-sized figures” have been glorified, plus-sized heroines such as you could have challenged norms, could have dragged stereotypes through the mud and smashed patriarchal standards of beauty. But instead, the statement you chose to make is that, since the way you were originally built did not meet societal expectations, there was something wrong with it which needed fixing.

Image source: Twitter
Image source: Twitter

What is even more problematic, are some of the captions that go with the images. “Lost Excuses, Found Results” —does this mean that those who are not conventionally thin are lazy and making excuses to avoid reaching that ideal notion of thinness? Does this also mean thin is the “result” one should be striving towards? With this, you are again reinforcing the plethora of damaging stereotypes that come with being plus-sized, and essentially, perpetuating the same kind of fatshaming that you yourself have experienced in the past. Why one should aim to be “built” thin is something we should question. Why can’t someone be plus-sized, active, desirable, healthy (both physically and emotionally)?

parineeti 2
Image source: Twitter

I am happy the way I am built (which, by the way, is definitely not thin), and I don’t need your campaign to tell me that I should lose my “excuses” to gain “results”. What you, and all of us, should be really losing is the patriarchal conditioning that only ‘thin’ is beautiful.

A woman who is plus-sized and ACTUALLY ‘Built That Way’

Also read: ‘I Will Use The Word ‘Fat’ Without Feeling Sorry, But Will Society Let Me?’

You must be to comment.
  1. Jigsaw

    Eat healthy, avoid sugary, sweet and oily foods, and do lots of cardio. Early morning jogs, rope skipping, jumping jacks will all help controlband reduce weight.

    1. Anj

      You clearly missed the whole point of this article, LOL.

  2. Batman

    Where are her clothes? Another shameless woman without talent relying on stripping to gain money, fame and attention.

    1. Anj

      Your comment is SO dumb, I can't even. I think I just lost a few brain cells.

    2. Smart gurl

      Dude please get a life, its upto her how much and what she wears! And as far as the talent goes ubif u dont see talent in an actor like parineeti, then god knows why anyone would rely on your opinion!

    3. Yesudeep Mangalapilly

      How is what she wearing any of your business? Women have every right to wear whatever they want. Do you do her laundry or pay her bills to ask her to wear what you want her to wear? This is coming from a real man by the way, not some comic character.

    4. Teesta Nayak

      Batman your a moron who clearly lacks education and common sense.
      How many times have you watched Hindi item numbers and pornos? Suddenly why so conservative?
      GyMing and eating healthy and exercise are all good things.
      Unless of course your a tubby dissatisfied boy not getting any action and hiding under the name of Batman!

  3. Vatika

    Our interpretations always have a conformation bias arising from our own perceptions.
    That campaign could also be interpreted as a campaign by a woman trying to encourage fitness?
    Let me illustrate:
    I CAN > CAN I
    Could easily be a plea to motivate people to become fit and healthy.
    Lost Excuses, Found Results
    Motivate people to not procrastinate thinking about health and keeping it at a lower priority than a whole lot of other things.
    Don't hide weakness, Kill it.
    I think you get the point by now.
    It is somewhat unfortunate for the lack of a better word, that for humans, often being healthy leads to losing weight.
    This of course, rids you all the problems following obesity and/or other health-related diseases.
    I find Parineeti to have always been clear about her views and have never seen her in any way belittling people who are 'Fat'.
    It is sad, that in a society like ours, one cannot promote anything good without being doubted by people.
    Please analyze how much of this article is spite and how much of it is genuine.

    Thank you,
    A concerned woman.

    1. Varun

      Couldn't have said it better! Very well said!

    2. Abhijoy Sarkar

      Exactly my thoughts!

    3. Ambarish

      This is such a non-sense article! In these days anything can be written in the name of feminism! They do not understand that this is actually demeaning the feminism.
      There is nothing to do with patriarchal or matriarchal society to feel good about yourself, about your body. The men who go to gym to shed weight and look muscular, why do they do it?
      Everything comes down to feeling good about oneself. I hate to say this but this article actually sounds like “grapes are sour”.

    4. Nameless

      Grapes are sometimes sour, if you've ever ate one.

    5. Nameless

      Rohini!!!! Don't take shit from no one!!!

  4. Smart guy

    By saying “I am happy the way I am built (which, by the way, is definitely not thin)” do you mean that you have “Lost Results, Found Excuses” I feel sorry for people who can't take things positively and also make others think negative. Off course you have good sense of writing why don't you use it for writing something good. We all know slim girls or even boys look smart. But don't you know weight gain can lead to obesity and other health issue which slim people or people who exercise daily to keep them fit may not. Don't you know fat people can't run properly. get tired easily, take more space to sit, stand etc. We all know its good to be healthy, to exercise daily to keep our self fit. But you are more happy telling people what they should not keep them self fit, love there body even if they are overweight . I wish you had taken the meaning of “Lost Excuses, Found Results” as lets stay fit, exercise daily without any excuses, stay fit and active.

    1. Rina

      someone doesn't needs to loose weight just because they take more space to sit or stand..get a life mr smart guy….think and write. dnt just blabber everything out…give some valid reasons

  5. Shashi

    This is a bollywodized campaign, hence we really can't expect Feminism from someone like Parineeti. “Lost Excuses, Found Results,” sounds more like a Fair and Lovely campaign. Frankly, I liked her because she looked natural and different from all those size-zero heroines.

    This letter is truly a 'slap in the face' of Parineeti, and all those who are responsible for this campaign.

  6. Srishti

    I don't see why do you have to condemn her! It is her choice and she is motivating so many females here! It is simply not about losing weight but it's also about going after what you want…working hard towards it…and I don't think there is any female or male who likes being fat…given an option…99% would love to lose the extra pounds… try accepting views of others…everyone has the freedom of thought and expression… sitting and judging and writing such articles is definitely not promoting that!

    1. Swetha

      There will always be a few that are jealous. Feminists now are simply fat chicks trying to win over the thin ones and nothing to do with equality. The only equality they seem fit is to condemn men and raise up the not-so-thin girls. They claim equality when they themselves don't treat girls equally and the only girls that are to be cherished on feminism are apparently the chubby ones. All I can say is gtfo n learn what Feminism is first @ the writer of the article

  7. shrish


    1. Anj

      You clearly don't know how body fat works, eh? Sometimes its genetic. You can go to the gym 24/7 and still not get rid of the weight. Sit your ass down if you have nothing good to say

  8. Amit

    What a load of crap. She worked her for something she believes in. Why belittle her. There is nothing wrong with her campaign. This letter makes it seem like you are jealous and offenended by someone else's weight loss.

  9. Pranay Markunde

    This is the dumbest article I have ever read. Why do fat chicks always think everything is against them? Why can't someone be proud ofblosing weight and inspire others to drop excuses and do the same?

    1. Anj

      Not a girl? You haven't ever faced body-shaming. Therefore, you have no opinion. GTFO

  10. Anu madappa

    Don't you think we're being tad bit presumptuous by implying she's a fat shaming troll.. Der are copious reasons why one decides to shed some pounds perhaps she was unhappy with the way she looked, isn't it her prerogative to change that.. I don't think she set out on a mission to shame everyone who aren't in the “idle” weight norms she's just reaching out to people who've been lamenting about their excess weight but aren't motivated enough to do anything about It. I know we're supposed to revel in the way we look but some people aren't wired that way so if they choose to contrive towards changing that who are we to judge them…how does that make us any better than the other trolls out there.. Aren't we also being the bully we so detest.. I get what u are trying to say but maybe just maybe we should try giving people the benefit of the doubt before we ostracise them as body shaming trolls

  11. Abhijit

    She worked hard for it !!
    Whats her fault in it?
    People criticizing her should know
    That she is an actress and its her job to look slim and healthy.

    1. Gsn

      I can bet Vidya balan, Huma quereshi are better actors and is 'being thin' a criteria for actors to act?
      Parineeti came in as freshness and now she succumbs eventually into patriarchal cobweb of bodyshaming. Big frigging deal if women are fat. what has acting got to do with act. Which is exactly why Malayalam film industry is considered top notch still. because actors are given acting tasks, not fat-shaming tasks.

  12. Navi

    It's sad to see how people are abusing the word “body-shaming” without realizing its true meaning. I don't see anything wrong with Parineeti's post but actually it might inspire some who give up very soon. I believe all she is trying to say is – one can be fit and healthy through continued focus and determination. Nowhere she mentions that you should be thin or skinny to be accepted! All I get from these posts is – you can achieve your goals. I respect her for admitting that she wasn't happy with her body and she worked towards it.
    Everyone has a right over their body and how do they wanna look. Same logic applies to Parineeti. She is doing what she wants to. Why does it affect anyone? People who are offended are the most cynical, in my opinion. If her actions doesn't motivate you, so let it be. Why it has to relate to you anyways? It's about her – if it inspires you then it's good – if not then ignore it.
    If her post manages to motivate even a few people to live a healthy and fit life – it's worth it.

    Bottom line – Somebody's actions doesn't define you but your behavior towards those actions. Don't let the negativity consume you.

  13. Supriya

    As much as I would like to agree with the above, I disagree. Parineeti's campaign has in no way implied that you gotta be thin to look beautiful. In those campaigns I see a woman who isn't Size 0 and much fitter than what she looked like 4 years back. I don't think that's a smash in the face of Feminism? Doesn't equality also bring in the freedom to your beliefs? Doesn't one get the right to campaign the fact that she/he feels confident about exercising AND being healthy? We do not read such letters when Shah Rukh gets an eight-pack or Chris Hemsworth loosing his Thor-like body…why such “open/slamming” letters for women alone?

    1. Gsn

      That's only because, no teenage boy / man gets to be at the receiving end of fat shaming ever since he entered adolescence to his death. Only women go through that trauma. That is called patriarchy. throughout the campaign Parineeti has not stressed on 'health' but 'looks'. why couldnt she focus on health. Words do matter.

  14. Hope

    It's sad to see how people are abusing the word “body-shaming” without realizing its true meaning. I don't see anything wrong with Parineeti's post but actually it might inspire some who give up very soon. I believe all she is trying to say is – one can be fit and healthy through continued focus and determination. Nowhere she mentions that you should be thin or skinny to be accepted! All I get from these posts is – you can achieve your goals. I respect her for admitting that she wasn't happy with her body and she worked towards it.
    Everyone has a right over their body and how do they wanna look. Same logic applies to Parineeti. She is doing what she wants to. Why does it affect anyone? People who are offended are the most cynical, in my opinion. If her actions doesn't motivate you, so let it be. Why it has to relate to you anyways? It's about her – if it inspires you then it's good – if not then ignore it.
    If her post manages to motivate even a few people to live a healthy and fit life – it's worth it.

    Bottom line – Somebody's actions doesn't define you but your behavior towards those actions. Don't let the negativity consume you.

  15. Roopa ganguly

    I agree with what is said about parineeti chopras campaign.its great to be fit and one must strive for holistic fitness in todys day and age where we fight pollution and are exppsed to diseaces at a younger age but trying to confirm to a certain stereotype as beautifull is not cool.

  16. Sumit Roy

    Another useless reply to an actor. Tell me girl, did she tell you to lose weight? There are loads of women who actually chooses to be thin because it's simply healthy. This photoshoot isn't about a girl exposing her thin body, it is telling every girl or guy to believe that anyone can be healthy by simple working out. And trust me a lot of people want to be, you aren't one of them that is your personal problem. You don't have that resolution, so be it! Who cares, don't be thin! Be what ever size you wanna be! But why the hell are you actually blaming someone else for choosing to be thin? A healthy body always empowers anybody be it a girl or a boy! Makes him/her confident. Again, you choose to reply to this lady actor over here because you think it is too mainstream for you to lose weight! I mean an “open letter”??? Seriously? What next? You will give open letters to anyone who's doing anything! Huh..seriously, grow up India. This is not “youth ki aawaz”. And dont you tell me I am a guy, thats why of course I will like this shit Parineeti is doing!

    1. Gsn

      My god! what misconceptions! Bro, BEING THIN IS NOT HEALTHY. Being healthy is. being fit is. By your logic anorexia should be super healthy. please choose words wisely. And that's exactly the problem with Parineeti. She chose words like 'looks' when she could've positively put the word HEALTHY.
      and it's women who MOSTLY AND LARGELY go through hoards of body-shaming comments from school to workplace to inlaws to kids. that's all a part of patriarchy. and that's what an apparent 'equalist' like parineeti succumbed to.

  17. Nirav

    Well, another PR stunt by a woman who was not getting films before, she is YRF talent, the same YRF which is producing the movie – “Sultan” starring Salman Khan. The movie needs a fit body for a female who is a boxer. Obviously this is a PR strategy to build up (probably) as the female lead to that movie!! Rest we can keep arguing and fighting on what seems fine to us, but for them, it hardly matters!!!

  18. Mainak

    Great work by Parineeti! 🙂
    Rohini Banerjee, we understand you are a feminist pervert.
    Get well soon.

    1. Gsn

      Indeed great work Parineeti, for succumbing into patriarchal 'bakwasery'

  19. Damien

    Lol Rohini.. You're fuckin jealous.. Throwing a ton of fancy words won't hide that!

  20. manjira

    While I agree with the concern for the growing body-shaming culture, the rejection of the F-word of feminism by projecting it as something notorious and thus disregarding the hard earned rights whose benefits are now enjoyed by the likes of Parineeti Chopra; in the current context (completely based on whatever information provided in this article), I feel it is inappropriate to deem the campaign as an effort to stereotyping women. While being fat (i absolutely share the view of the author on the use of this word) is a personal choice, one should have reasonable ground to counter the medical studies (not the funky ones that comes with the late night fat-cutter solutions on TV) that have demonstrated the 'un-healthy' side effects of being over-weight (range). The same argument holds true for being thin/size-zero. Going by the information in this article, the idea I have got that this campaign promotes to be healthy rather than being thin. Obviously, debates must go on on the notion of 'healthy' and the hidden agenda of the market economy behind promoting healthier lifestyles, but criticizing Parineeti for this particular campaign is kind of overplaying the hand. Above all, I must commend the author for her body-positive gestures, I have been a fat girl all along and I wish at your age I had that positivism.

  21. YoYo Honey Singh

    Lagdi mainu jivein ambraan di queen
    Meethiyan gallan kare, kudi namkeen

  22. Mahesh

    Parineeti is just publishing the age old 36-24-36 best dimensions, please Google search the magic number

  23. Shireen

    Wow! I did not see that one backfiring. It's ridiculous how people can turn just anything into a controversy. I think her campaign was more about inspiring people who are trying to lose weight. Try perceiving things just the way they are rather than twisting it into your own fantasy and becoming all defensive.

  24. Harsh

    This article makes sense. The campaign is definitely not about being healthy. Healthy people don't have to look the way Parineeti is being portrayed here. This campaign (Reflected by her pictures) is about her. Can anyone look at the picture where it says “Lost Excuses Found Results” and consider it as healthy lifestyle promotion? She is trying to portray herself as sexy and all the while putting down non-skinny people who don't look like her (as reflected by pictures) as someone with excuses. Built that way is the most ironic tagline for this Campaign. And lets not forget, movie stars get paid to go to the gym and look skinny and glamorous. Average citizens have to work hard to make ends meet. Healthy lifestyle is definitely not about doing Pilates, boxing etc. It's more about balanced life i.e. eating healthy, physical workout (running/walking/gym), having hobbies, peace of mind.

  25. Yesudeep Mangalapilly

    I'm afraid, you don't understand the word “motivation.” Please stop writing nonsense. Working out and getting into shape requires shutting up and doing stuff. (From someone who has DONE it.)

  26. Aal

    Wonderful piece! Loved the sarcastic tone! 🙂
    As a man, I am definitely wrong (obviously) in commenting here. However, could not resist highlighting realities here! Ms. Parineeti Chopra has done it for the publicity (which equals money in showbiz). As an actress/performer, she is fulfilling the very same sterotypes, that feminism fights against. As such she has done nothing for feminism or for women (other than herself). Based on comments seen here, I reckon that a lot of women (sadly) look up to Parineeti & admire her actions.
    She is doing it for the money & for helping her own cause. She is not helping 'feminism' in any way! Arguably she is in fact distorting the concept of feminism through the dichotomy of her words & actions!

  27. Sam

    Fortunately, not many girls think like Rohini Banerjee. Or else fitness instructors and gyms would go out of business. Stop taking pride on being lazy and fat and try to hide behind the garb of feminism. I don't think you have seen superfit feminists. I know a few female marathoners who are extremely proud of being women and they are not fat. Maybe I will introduce you to them.

  28. Anirudh Singh

    What a stupid article. Why cant people see the positive side of living a healthy life style of working out and eating clean and looking good which the campaign was all about
    Since how did all this get connected to body shaming. Its so sad and silly that people just write open letters just for the heck of little publicity.

    What if i go around saying that this open letter encourages people to eat junk and stay fat and not exercise

  29. Realist

    Parineeti Chopra is an imbecilic actress but I'll be damned if she doesn't look good after her weight loss/muscle mass building. Building and maintaining a good body is a sign of self-respect more than anything rather than being swayed by and subject to the aesthetic standards of society. Motivating people towards a healthier lifestyle isn't fat-shaming, and fat-shaming isn't even a legitimate phenomenon outside of your distorted feminazi thought. Being overweight is NOT healthy, and all it requires is a calorific deficit and a diet comprising of whole foods to lose excess fat. The body doesn't hold onto fat by magic, unless you are eating at maintenance or in a calorific surplus. So blaming “genetics” for this is asinine and idiotic. Instead of expecting “patriarchal societies” to deem something attractive when it is clearly not, invest your energies into something more productive. The body is a temple, not a dustbin and mostly certainly not a rostrum to make excuses for your shortcomings.

  30. Amy

    Although I have read all the comments but my thoughts are …dumb article. Don't see how she is preaching anyone to be a size zero in order to be beautiful. She sure isn't ' thin' as compared to the celeb world. And over all its her choice to decide what should motivate to lose weight, look good, feel confident, etc etc.

  31. Sarath Sunil

    Hi Rohini,
    Its just a angry rant at someone doing something you dont like to do. Next time use a personal diary. Now a days it has become digital. This is not “youth ki awaaz”, this is “aap ki awaaz”. Also did you know that being fat is not a choice for some people due to medical conditions or treatments? But exercising will benefit even those people live longer with a healthy heart. It will be a great idea to do some research on human metabolism and benefits of exercise, which is general knowledge, but unfortunately I think you are enrolled in a masters program, I am assuming gender studies where you will be thought how to ignore logic and believe in feminist BS

  32. T. Nayak

    Oh man get over it.
    Pretty much everyone I see around me is in their twenties, overweight and more importantly unhealthy due to eating chips and drinking coke mindlessly. People wont get off their fat arses to eat healthy, exercise or stick to a health and fitness routine.
    It's totally important to be physically healthy and fit and we today have totally forgotten about it.
    I teach yoga and constantly see this around me so yay Parineeti Chopra for trying to inspire women to get their acts together! Xxxx

  33. Rahel Charikar

    I believe this article forces you to see the negative in such a powerful campaign. This campaign is more about believing in yourself and achieving goals rather than body shaming. As a “feminist” if that is what you call yourself, you should be ashamed of demeaning a woman's powerful journey. She has never said that thin is beautiful, all she talks about is being and staying motivated.

  34. Diabolus

    The author basically doesn't want to take any personal responsibility for health and well-being and would much rather lash out

  35. Diabolus

    The author basically lacks a sense of personal responsibility and would rather lash out at people trying to improve themselves or inspire other people because of an ingrained inferiority complex. She should be ashamed for posting such vile drivel.

  36. Shubham

    What bullshit. Countless pictures of Rockey adorn gyms and magazines with the same quotes. There is nothing wrong with promoting a healthy lifestyle and a healthy body.
    Fat-shaming is when you call someone Fat to make fun of them and not to encourage them to adopt a healthier way of life.
    It is a form of bullying. The kinda thing you are doing with this article.

    Just because you need an excuse to not get off your ass, you end up blaming the person who encourages others to do so.
    She isnt fats-shaming, you are fat-encouraging which is an equally dangerous thing, if not worse. Get a job.

  37. Nameless

    Rohini Banerjee's article tells exactly what I was feeling when I first saw Parineeti Chopra's campaign. She might say she is believes in gender equality, but she doesn't really preach it with this campaign. And obviously, she's not a feminist if she contridicts herself that way. It's sad how people think the concept of being “thin” is “healthy”, you can be any size and still be healthy. How society is making our children so ignorant these days. Parineeti body shames everyone, not just herself. Why do people think being “fit” is being “thin”? You can be fit at any size! 1st of all, Parineeti isn't the prettiest woman in the world and 2nd of all, she has no place in the industry, she doesn't even have any assests as an actor. 3rd of all, Parineeti is known for talking too much and claims she will never change, which is just an excuse to preach her stupid beliefs (and body shaming is emotionally abusive) and Rohini is right, why should people lose weight or be a certain way to love themselves. I wish there were at least one Indian plus size model to promote more body positivity in India. Body shaming is one major part of misogyny. This campaign doesn't encourage fitness, it encourages a bad mindset, and promotes a standard which is used to demean other types of beauty. I think sometimes feminism can seem like a bad thing because the people who are oppressed want to take down the people and what they used to oppress them, which is a natural thing, because oppression is traumatizing. The promoted fitness in the world always implies in some way that only thin is sexy and healthy, when that is not true. And fat-encouaraging isn't dangerous, like I said before twice, you can still be overweight and healthy. And there are lots of reasons why people don't exercise, because it's so associated with an idea that body shames, and body shaming affects mental health.

  38. Lauren

    Dear Rohini Bannerjee,

    I apologise if I come off extremely rude, but articles like these shouldn't be allowed to put on this website for the simple reason that THIS is NOT what the 'youth ki awaaz' is or should be.
    Everyone says beauty is ephemeral and won't last long. So let's talk about that here. Not everyone is aesthetic and even the people who are (such as you, probably) need to realise that it's the health that matters and not the beauty very much. If someone is shedding weight, THEY ARE BECOMING FIT, MORE HEALTHY and not necessarily beautiful. And that's what the focus should.
    Parineeti's campaign is inspiring and rather than finding negativity through it, find reasons to appreciate.

    A very concerned youth.

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Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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