Meet the artist ‘keeping it real’ on Instagram

Body odour, underarm hair, unwaxed legs, farts and so on are part and parcel of our lives, but there’s little chance you’ll see pictures or posts about them rubbing shoulders with updates on breakfast avocado toast or photos of a picture-perfect life. They don’t really fit in with most narratives on social media, which are aesthetically pleasing, but don’t really tell the whole story.

Mumbai-based Kaviya Ilango aka @wallflowergirl started the #100DaysOfDirtyLaundry project on Instagram in June 2017 to dismantle the tidy representation of our identities and our personal narratives on social media, and draw attention to the real lives and issues hidden behind the filters. 

Her illustrations for Dirty Laundry – 86 so far – showcase topics that many find too uncomfortable or cringeworthy to bring up on Facebook and Instagram (as though excluding will make it less real). 

Explaining what led her to launch the project, she says “In times of social media where all of us are carefully curating idealised versions of ourselves online, we are leaving all the imperfect bits of our lives to be brushed under the carpet.” 

“I am not a trained artist, I started illustrating last year entirely as an accident, as a means of venting out my everyday highs and lows,” says Kaviya. “The intent behind the project has been the same, of wanting to use it as a conversational medium for the so-called dirty laundry.” Each illustration for the series is unabashed, perceptive and funny, and refreshing.

Her very first #100daysofdirtylaundrypost for instance advises everyone to let go of the shame of farting in public.

#100daysofdirtylaundry Day 1 – #farts . I sometimes love loud, smelly farts and I cannot lie. . . All my life I had been conditioned to believe that farts are ugly. That if you ever find yourself in a social situation where you had this uncontrollable urge to fart, you waged a war on it, fought it out till it died a slow, silent death. And then when the aroma starts to diffuse around the room, you slowly but disgustingly look around trying to pass on the blame onto unsuspecting grand mommies or even your dog. . . . All this drama, till I read this article that screamed, Don't hold your farts, you could die. Ok, not that dramatic a headline, but still it went to say how it's always, always better to let go of your flatulences and it is actually an indicator of your well-being. Farts are just our digestive systems working it out and it even went on to say that inhaling farts (containing hydrogen sulphides) actually reduces our risks of strokes. . . . My favourite fart yet? (Judge me, it's ok) – The second time I farted when I was around my guy. The first time I did, must have been hardly one month into our relationship, it was a super noisy one and I went red with embarrassment and ran into the washroom. But the second time? Oh it was such a hell of a smelly, noisy one that I should have jumped onto a rocket and disappeared into space. But what did I do? I went into a manic fit of laughter. So did he. And that's when I knew, hey this relationship is here to stay. And so are the farts. . . So all I am saying is, go fart away 🙂 . . (Model ref: Deepika AAY, Myntra) #farts #flatulence #gas

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In another she addresses modern-age loneliness, pointing out that it is closer home than what we all assume, and to “reach out to your ones.”

#100daysofdirtylaundry Day 82 – . . . The cab driver who hesitantly initiates an one way monologue about road rage and minimal wages which you ignore with your hmmms, Mom who sends you her 675th level achievement unlock badge on Candy Crush Saga that she now spends most of her quiet evenings with, The pet home alone all day that has frustratedly chewed its way through your favourite cushion, The single colleague who left swipes and right swipes away the 'gaping-void' in his life, A new mother home alone with her infant, wondering if it's 'normal' to feel disconnected & distant to her own child and her maternal body, Grandma, now 82, who wants a smartphone for a birthday gift, because someone told her she can 'Skype wipe' with her ungrateful grandkids and great grandkids, Exhausted you, counting how many humans you will soon be left with, if you ignore yet another dinner invite to 'How to socialise & keep friends' . . – Modern-age loneliness is closer home than what we all assume. Reach out to your ones🖐🏾 . . #allthelonelypeople #eleanorrigby #loneliness #lonelinessnotsolitude . (Model body ref: Stock)

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Other pieces address confirmation biases, fashion, mindless consumerism, misogyny, body standards and more.

#100daysofdirtylaundry Day 67 – We see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear. . . TLDR: Biases suck. . . . Confirmation bias: makes one actively seek out information that confirms one's pre-existing beliefs. Like a horse's blind, it makes one see unidirectionally. . . . Lets say I decide I don't like Modi or Trump because of a past X reason. I am then likely to follow news platforms that are not right-leaning. More likely to click on articles that criticise the government. More likely to cynically question articles that say he may be doing a decent job, accuse that they are paid articles. Or I may not even open such articles judging them from their pro-headline. Also, I may decide all these hardcore Bhakts/ Republicans are making a cacophony on FB about their supreme leader & I ignore/unfollow/unfriend them. . . . Now I have a silo. What I'll be viewing/hearing will be an 'echo chamber' – more & more of 'exclusively curated' anti-Modi/anti-Trump news. More negative news, more bias, it becomes an infinite loop and slowly my small hate for Modi/Trump has now spiralled into extremist hate because I CHOSE every step to serve my tiny bias. . . . The exact opposite will be true for Modi/Trump supporters. Every action they take/every news they read will confirm that Modi/ Trump are great because they have blocked out or choose not to acknowledge contradictory opinions to their beliefs. . . . This is how biases work. It serves people exactly as they want to be served. The biases then become mass stereotypes (like feminists are angry alcoholic lesbians) and stereotypes not based on facts are, umm, stupid generalisations? . . . Most of us would love to believe that we are open-minded people, ready to change our opinions as we take in new information. But the truth is our brains hold onto our first impressions for dear life. . . . Some of these first-impression biases are trivial like "My mom sides with my brother more in a fight" but some of the biases go on to form our core beliefs. Core beliefs like our views about religion, money, politics, nationality, sexuality, what we look for in love, parenting, identity, etc. . . . (Cont.)

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This is the sort of social-media truth-telling we hope we never lose. More airing of dirty laundry please.

Check out the rest of the #100daysofdirtylaundry series here.

Written by Additi Seth

Image Credit: Kaviya Ilango


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