Thus, in this new year, we decided to bring certain conventional subjects to the forefront and normalise them. As a result, our latest edition of the #ChangeTheNorm series features the thrilling stories of change-makers who dared to oppose the traditional.
So, let's get started.
Suyash Jadhav, Indian Para Swimmer
Achievement: Gold in Asian Para Games in 2018 and Arjuna awardee in 2018
He is the epitome of strength and courage as he changed the perspective of many with every lap he took in the swimming pool. In his own words-
"My father is the reason why I still keep going. He taught me not to let my disability interfere with my attitude towards my life. I learnt that breaking stereotypes is necessary to showcase that a person can do a lot more than what society expects him to do. Being differently abled doesn't mean I want someone's sympathy. All I want is what is rightfully mine - Empathy and Acceptance!"
He signs off by saying-" So if you have a dream, go for it. Your body knows no limits. Don't think about what you don't have; think of what you have and work on it, and you will Change the Norm."
Neha Parulkar, a body positivity influencer
Achievement: Walked the ramp for the first-ever Plus show at the Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2016
She is a fearless woman who believes in self-love. As per her-
"The world isn't always a kind place, online hate and body shaming is proof of that. That's why I urge people like me to be comfortable in their body and not give anyone the power of validation to decide what an "ideal" body type looks like or how one needs to look a certain way to be accepted!"
Determined to break stereotypes, she states, the power of social media provides people with tools to help break pre-set customs of our society for generations.
"We have the power to be the change and make the world a better place that is more open-minded and accepting towards all. And that's been my goal ever since I started out on this path. The fact that so many people count on me and are inspired by my work and my journey motivates me to keep going."
Her closing remarks, "Be kind to your mind and body and find happiness in the fact that you are enough. You do you! Plus and proud, always!"
Anwesh Sahoo, a queer activist
Achievement: Mr Gay India 2016
Gender is a social construct, and above all, a spectrum. He is proudly different and comfortable about it.
Anwesh narrates, "I grew up being bullied and was treated like a trash can for who I was. That's where Effeminare, my blog, came in. I started writing my story and sharing the same with the world. Little by little, I built a community around my work and my art, and I could finally look at myself and tell myself that there's a place for me in the society we live in."
He further explains, "I had to unlearn the prejudice I grew up with that was etched into my system by a heteronormative world. So I redefined my normal, a more inclusive definition of normalcy where queer, femme, non-binary and trans identities are treated with as much respect and dignity as our cishet counterparts."
The journey for him was lonely and not easy, but by sharing his story, he aspired to reach people like him and make them feel like they too belong and that their dreams were valid.
"Changing the norm isn't really about one person or one community. But, when we come together to redefine the norm, we successfully develop a safe space for you and me alike. I've met so many incredibly empowering and inspiring folks on this journey, joined hands with so many allies, and they have learned more about the community through me, that to me is my biggest win."
We conclude by saying, get inspired and #changethenorm.