Judging people on their looks, making fun of their weight, being obsessed with fair skin; it is all part and parcel of living in our society. People of all shapes and sizes are victims of body-shaming; if they’re too thin, they’re matchsticks, and if they aren’t as thin as society wants them to be, they’re buffaloes. Either way, we’re screwed.
At this time, when even Olympic athletes’ bodies are subject to ridicule, the comic character ‘Miss Moti’ is the crusader of the hour: she’s fighting body-shamers.
Miss Moti is a comic series with a plump South-Asian woman as its protagonist. Her creator, UK-based Nepali artist Kripa Joshi, tackles these crippling social mores, which are deeply ingrained in our minds, in a fun and artistic way. The name is a play on words as “she might be moti (fat) but is like a moti (pearl).”
Discussing Ms Moti’s conception, Kripa explains that “a lot of Miss Moti is inspired by personal feelings, emotions, dreams and hopes.”
Miss Moti came out of my struggle with body image issues. I wanted to create a positive character that could achieve and accomplish things regardless of her size.Kripa Joshi
She’s currently doing a series called Miss Motivation, which carries quotes and positive actions to inspire others. “The current Motivation Monday series was a response to having postnatal depression after the birth of my daughter.”
The message that Miss Moti stands for is that “she doesn’t let her weight hold her back from doing the things she wants to do”, shattering stereotypes in films and sitcoms which portray overweight characters as the ‘friend’ everyone makes fun of, and not much else.
After getting her Bachelors degree from Baroda in India, Joshi went on to study at the School of Visual Arts in New York and that’s where it hit her. The idea began with a painting called ‘Hippo’.
Miss Moti is mostly a wordless comic and stylistically, is inspired by the Maithili or Madhubani folk art from Nepal/India, but has changed over time.
She says body-shaming is prevalent across all cultures but “it is ironic that Indian women and goddesses were initially depicted as quite voluptuous but now the country seems to idealise tall and thin body types.”
Young girls don’t have many relatable characters in popular culture to look up to. They are shown airbrushed and unrealistic images of models and feel the pressure to look like that.
Miss Moti is not promoting any particular type of body size; she is promoting self-acceptance. And it is not easy to do, when we are surrounded by unattainable body ideals. I think it is important to counter these narratives with body positive examples.Kripa Joshi
Among the crowd of hyper-sexualised, scantily clad, conventional-looking female characters in the comic world, Miss Moti provides much-needed change and inspiration.
Video Editor: Sashant Kumar