This #BadBeti’s Instagram Celebrates Everything “Good Girls” Aren’t Supposed To Do

Posted by Shambhavi Saxena in Art, Cake, Feminism, LGBTQ
February 3, 2017

The #TransformationTuesday hashtag on Instagram is usually where you’d find people celebrating their workout routines, or sporting new haircuts. But as of last month, non-binary Indian drag performer Abhijeet has taken over the hashtag with a very unique photo project.

The now-complete project features a drag tribute to 12 very recognisable Indian or Indian-origin women and femmes who have made a mark in film, science, politics, history and more.

The idea came to them from Pakistani-Canadian artist Maria Qamar, whose #BadBeti tag took the internet by storm last October, with photography and art work on things that “good” “chaste” “obedient” South Asian daughters aren’t supposed to do.

Speaking about the impression Bad Beti had on them, Abhijeet told Cake over email: “It gave South Asian girls and femmes a something to relate to collectively and use to redefine themselves and their social media presence.”

For Abhijeet, currently based in Chicago, many of these were figures they had grown up with, and were the source for their femininity. And the tribute is as fierce as all of the figures in it. So without further ado, here’s the entire series straight from Instagram!

“Growing up with her has shaped my confidence, my strength and my laziness 😛😛😛”

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“All the unibrow femme bad girl tom boy aesthetics I needed!”

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“Being unashamedly narcissistic and self-absorbed which is a very legit way of self-care.”

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“How cool is it to see an Indian girl lead an American Drama without her Indian-ness being the focus of her character?”

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“A very visible icon in the interior of brown women and body positivity and FASHION AESTHETICS.”

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“Bad girl, international activist, someone’s who music so effortlessly flows through me and my drag”

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“It’s so important to celebrate women in science, and Chawla was someone who’s accomplishments we grew up reading about.”

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“This is also how I imagine riding into protests and parties against Cheesepuff Hitler.”

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“As a survivor of trafficking rape, she’s a bad bad bad beti that didn’t let elitism, classism and the patriarchy get in her way.”

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“She’s sexually liberated and open in a way that isn’t tied to westernization, English speaking ability and class/wealth.”

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“The first openly transgender woman to be elected into office, as the mayor of Raigarh in the state of Chattisgarh.”

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“Their visibility as a South Asian non-binary artist and activist has been so inspiring to my own understanding of gender and gender politics, and a great resource to share with my parents.”

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Oh, and we couldn’t leave out this bonus awesomeness!

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Both the photos and the impassioned captions that accompany them have earned Abhijeet a lot of positive attention from many queer desis on Instagram. And it ain’t for nothing. “I worked super closely with my collaborator Dash to compile a list that was both accurate and inclusive of various crossovers and intersections.”

An active part of the drag scene in Chicago, Abhijeet has also been pushing a number of boundaries in drag and ball culture, by emphasising their racial and cultural identity in a space that can be (and often is) very white. Which is why they have further plans for #BadBeti.

I’m also in the process of developing this into a nightlife event,” they said, “to celebrate South Asian queerness and femininity.”

And we hope when that happens, they flood our Instagram feeds some more!

Would you like to see another inspiring South Asian woman or femme in Abhijeet’s project? Well, they’re taking requests now! Head here to tell them.

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