“Hello, I am shovona. I am a commercial photographer based in Mumbai.
My childhood has never been same like others, born with dark skin and curly hair always left me to look different from others and it somewhere gave them an opportunity to call me by names. I have been called maggie, negro, nigga, jhingalala.. the absence of one in my life to tell me that there is nothing wrong with my looks and it is just their lack of maturity made me feel apart. gradually I started hating myself , cursed the way I am born. the colour of my skin always disturbed me. the curls were just my enemy I thought.. unlike any other girl I tried all the products available in the market making fake promises from giving straight hair to fair skin but sadly it all failed at the end leaving me back with my dark skin and curly hair. Mocking me with names to poking my hair with pencils few of my friends never let any chances go. As far as I remember back home, I never had many friends to play forcing me to inside my home post school. As I grew older things went worse.. not understanding the changes one goes through internally and externally I just disliked myself even more, a glare of depression somewhere surrounded me. There was always am an embarrassment to be in front of others. I went to the extent of cutting my hair short and dressing like a typical boy exclusively in baggy t-shirts hiding my breast bulge and trousers accompanied with shoes with the hope of me looking like others. I remember during my 15teens I met a guy online and who became very dear to me but the very end shattered me emotionally… his very rejection of the friendship on the basis of my looks devasted my self-esteem.
It’s going be more than a decade and a half I went through the above. Well time passed by and I joined my first design college, things academically didn’t go according to my thought hence decided to leave but something happened, few of my seniors planned to photograph me and as always I tried to give them an excuse to be away from the camera, well they didn’t take and I was photographed by them, the images turned out just changed my view about self, I was awestruck that I can look good and there is nothing wrong with my dark skin and curly hair.
After I left my design college I joined a visual fine art university where things were about to change, in my first year I met a guy with whom I fell in love. we went together for few months before he hit me with the very lame excuse of my looks which will be somewhere unacceptable by his parents. By now I was not shattered instead I gave him a middle finger to let him know how sad he is and I moved on. By now I was somewhere hooked clicking pictures but one day I came across an artist who was portraying herself for the second year and it just left me amazed. Post following her work for few months I found myself doing the same and hence I started my 365 self-portraits where I clicked myself every single day with something different to share with others, gradually people liked my work, loved my approached and a bubble of positivity started surrounding me but sadly I was stuck with the last incident of my life which just made me stronger, as said what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. one night I was sexually abused by a man, things were horrible I felt devasted of myself both emotionally and physically. things went by but I kept my 365 programmes on posting an image stating to keep the feet out for the day. Somewhere I felt stronger about myself my skin colour and hair texture was my pride now. My self-portrait programme taught me to love myself for the first time, accept the way I was born , Thank GOD the way he created me and it even left me to see the world in a different way.
In between the above going on phase, there was something I gradually gained and lost which made a huge difference the way I groomed myself, it’s my weight. Born skinny but in my teenage due to lack of friends around and absence of any kind of physical activity I gained around 80kg at a mere age of 18. During my 365 days I realised my gained weight issue and started working on it.. lifted weights, ran miles and with a help of my dear friend had a control over my diet and lost around 20kgs in 6 months.. it not only boosted my confidence I just felt a new me.
Photography literally changed my life. It helped me to cope up with a difficult situation of my life to help me to understand complexity into simplicity.
As things passed by I continued with my self-portraits and one day I was been noticed by an accomplished Mumbai-based commercial photographer who gave me a chance to come down to Mumbai and see the industry in detail. I continued to have my internship under him during my summer breaks from my college and post my college got over I planned to shift to Mumbai. I started my own photography and I am always thankful to my parents giving me life and features which make me stand out and my camera which just makes stronger and stronger.”
Submitted By – Shovona Karmakar