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Women's Day 2022: Popular Illustrator Payal Sharma On Age-Shaming, Consent & More

Artist Payal Sharma's work revolves around feminism, vanity, inclusivity among other relevant topics. 
Published -25 Feb 2022, 16:58 ISTUpdated -25 Feb 2022, 17:01 IST
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Ever since the pandemic hit India and we all got stuck inside our homes, social media came as the last resort for many of us. We all got a lot more active over our social media handles and got connected with many online influencers. 

In the last year, we witnessed a lot of people turning into stars on social media with their interesting work. Many artists, illustrators took over social media, sending across impactful content. Among many other artists who made it big in the last year was Payal Sharma. An illustrator who is being loved for serving truth bombs as illustrations over social media. As the women’s day is just around the corner, Payal joined us for a quick Instagram live session and we talked about her journey as an artist, her impressive work and more. Read on for excerpts from our conversation.  

On Beginning Her Journey As An Artist

Payal is a popular illustrator on social media. Her art work spans across feminism, vanity, inclusivity among others. I asked her how did it all start. She shared, "I spent my fair share of time on social media, Instagram. I just felt that what I felt, just an honest portrayal of what we as women face everyday, deal with everyday and do everyday was either misrepresented or not there at all. So, last year during the lockdown, when the pandemic hit and I felt like I had more time on hands than usual so I picked up my iPad and started scribbling my thoughts. Very soon I put out my first post around Sita's agnipariksha and to my surprise it got a very good surprise. People really connected with it, especially women and that's just how I began."

The Process Of Taking It All Down On The Canvas

payal sharma instagram

Image Courtesy: Payal Sharma/Instagram

"My only process is that there is no process. It is all about what I am feeling that day, what's making me happy or what's bothering me in that particular moment. Its never about what the Instagram algorithm will approve of or what's trending or what will get me more eyeballs. Its just what feels right to me."

Dropping Truth Bombs 

If you follow Payal Sharma's content on social media, I am sure you would agree when I say that it is intense, more like truth bombs. Talking about the same, Payal said, "Sometimes the truth bombs are palatable and people take them well but sometimes can really explode. A few months ago, I posted something, it was my take on Goddess Laxmi and to my surprise it went viral within minutes and for all the reasons, people were agitated and I started getting death threats of all kinds. I was very new to all this and I had to take it down. Social media is a very treachrous place and I am just trying learn as I go."

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Age Shaming Only Women

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A post shared by Payal Sharma (@paayalsharma)


One of Payal's illustrations revolved around age shaming. Though ageing is natural, not many accept it and openly age shame women, especially Bollywood divas. I asked Payal why does she think age shaming is done only to women and not the men. She said, "Not just Bollywood but the whole society at large operates by the male gaze. So whatever happens on the screen is what will please to the male eye. So that's why we see that a 30 year old lady, an actress might be too old to be considered as a leading star for a 50-year-old Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan."

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Normalising Consent 

women and clothing

Image Courtesy: Payal Sharma/Instagram

We also talked about consent. In India, when one talks about consent, most people assume it is about sexual consent but that isn't the case. Consent as a generic term hasn't yet got acceptance. Talking about what's the root cause of it, artist Payal Sharma said, "People think it is completely okay to be in each other's space without asking, they feel it is completely okay to ask people we barely know super personal questions like when are you getting married, when are you having a baby. I think this begins very early from our childhood when parents push kids to hug and kiss their uncles and aunties and the kids don't even know if they have an option of saying no. This is not even about the intention of that particular aunty or uncle, it's more about teaching kids to having the option of saying no."

"I think it is a long-long way. A lot of people are working towards it and I think it needs to become a very important part of circulum as kids go to school, they need to be taught consent which I think is majory missing," she added. 

If you missed watching the Instagram live, you can watch it here:

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