Red o’ Blood 3 (3)

Graphic by Eric Estibeiro

Crimson tide that washed over me,

With gruelling pace, it broke free.

To where life was but a dread,

Not full of miracles, but misery.

Moontime, not serene as it may sound,

Dark and twisted, my dreams it bound.

Once weakened me, this thread,

Agony and heirs, not peace, I found.

But makes me strong, it now does,

Yet carefree whispers belittle it to a cuss.

Time to finally put this to bed,

What’s a change without a little fuss?

Spread to all the word and the sooth,

No longer is my youth uncouth.

Through smiles, tears and rage, I bled,

For life, I fought nail and tooth.

High time it is, you faced the flood,

Let’s paint the world red o’ blood.

I ‘Unlove’ You 4.7 (6)

Graphic by Banani Kalita

“Can you recall the first time you met him?” Dr. Shikha, my therapist, asked.

Without breaking my gaze from the crystal stone that I was fidgeting with from the start of the session, I started to recollect the faint memory in my head. A light chuckle might’ve escaped as I juggled through the thousand beautiful memories I had with him.

“It was in school—my first day in class 9th. I had always been a shy kid, not someone who’s likely to initiate a conversation. On the other hand, he was among the ‘popular kids’. Everyone knew him.” I took a pause as the nostalgia started to sink in. I started looking down at my hands, lying ideally on my lap.

“I used to wear braces. Something that made me a subject of bullying among my classmates and the reason for my insecurity. I never used to laugh like the others and always covered my face with my hand whenever I did.” I took a deep sigh and continued.

“One day, I was sitting on my bench, immersed in my textbook. With a loud thud, someone landed on the seat beside me. I moved my head in the direction with a visible surprise in my eyes.”
“Hello there!” He blurted while panting heavily. I give him a side glance. “You do realize that all those rumors about me being a book-eater are not true– right?” He mocked my lack of response. I nodded. “Oh! So the rumors about you being a metal-eater are true, it seems.” I couldn’t help this time and moved my head slightly to meet his eyes.
After two seconds, a smile paved its way on our faces and we laughed. As my habit was, my hand found its way to my face.

“Don’t cover your face. You look beautiful when you smile” he had said. It was the last time I ever covered my smile, and the first time I felt so beautiful.

I moved my eyes from my hands to grab a glass of water when I saw Dr. Shikha extending a light grin.

A text from Mayank appeared on the screen of my mobile phone. “Okay,” it read.
A deep heartache along with a feeling of relief rushed through my body. I had never felt so happy and sad at the same time.

“So, where do you think did it go wrong between you and Mayank?” She asked the most complicated question and probably the hardest to answer because I had no idea where it went wrong either.

We spent the rest of school and college life, sticking together, rejoicing in happy moments, and helping out through the dark times, until he asked me to spend the rest of our lives together. “I still find your smile beautiful. Thought I might just make it the most beautiful part of my life too.” He had said while going down on his knees in the parking lot and asked me to marry him. Another beautiful memory that I cherish to this day.

“I don’t know,” I said as I traced the lid of the glass. “I don’t think it happened just once- oh! I don’t love him anymore. It was a slow, gradual process of falling out of love” I cleared my throat.
“He was still the very person who I fell in love with, at one point of time- was all over head to heel about him. I still love him and I think I always will but I don’t think we should stay together anymore. I know he’d never admit it, but he feels the same way. Everything has become monotonous, and we fight over the most trivial things- almost, everything. I think we have stopped growing. We don’t bring out the best in each other anymore, only the worst. ” My voice started to get heavier with every syllable that escaped my body.

“I think it’s better to part our ways before we turn into people who make it hard to believe that there ever existed a thing called love between us. I will always love him, which is why I want to see him growing, happy, and becoming a better person. I know he wants the same for me too.” Dr. Shikha extended a box of Kleenex and that was when I realized tears had started to escape my eyes.

“Are you sure he wants the same?” she interrogated.
I took a deep sigh.

“Yes, he just texted “Okay” to file for divorce.” And this time, I cried out loud because I didn’t know whether to mourn or celebrate.

The Lull in the Conversation 4.9 (24)

Graphic by Eric Estibeiro

I remember being five and thinking about how big the ten-year-old seniors at my school were. They were older, taller, more mature, smarter even. I remember being ten and thinking the same about the 14-year-olds in class 9. I wanted to be in high school, I wanted to be in the student council. I wanted to be older and more important. I remember growing older each year and fantasizing about being even older on my next birthday. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I still do.

I have come to realize that what I am now is considered to be an adult. Yet, I find myself having this conversation with those around me every day – “I’m not supposed to know this. Ask an adult.” “Sarah, you are an adult.” In my head, I’m still 15. Or maybe I’m 19, but 19-year-olds aren’t adults, right? I mean, technically, I’m still a teenager. I’m still in college, which means I’m a student, which means I’m a kid. And therefore, all these ‘adult’ responsibilities shouldn’t find space on my tiny teenage shoulders. And yet, I find myself at 19, living alone in a strange city. I find myself at 19, worrying about money, college, and the future. I find myself at 19 with two college friends and one best friend from high school whom I’ve stuck with since class 9. I find myself knowing that it’s okay to not talk every day to be present in each other’s lives.

I now have mature conversations, make mature decisions and know, if not fully accept, that I’m not a kid anymore. It’s not that easy because so much still feels the same, you know? I still feel like a kid when I’m sitting in a classroom with my friends, laughing at the silliest jokes. When I go down to the college canteen during lunch break or beg my mom to let me go on vacation with my friends, nothing has changed. Except, instead of the 20 rupee note my father handed me that morning, I ask if they have UPI, and instead of my friends swarming my mother at the school gate, I call home for permission. And then there are those moments of realization; when you’re talking to your mom, and you realize that she’s telling you things she’s never discussed. That you’re not a child things need to be hidden from any longer. Or when you go home on break and meet your school friends. You talk as if nothing has changed till there’s a lull in the conversation, and someone asks, “When did we all grow up?” No one has an answer.

Growing up doesn’t seem too bad, most of the time. It’s because most of the time, it doesn’t feel like anything at all. Each day goes by, you work hard, have fun, cry a little sometimes, and go to bed. Then suddenly, you’re 19, writing an essay about how much has changed, knowing then that so much has. It’s like the lull in the conversation, the little moments where you realize that everything is not what it used to be. But I don’t think the hardest part about growing up is the change, or the lost years or the memories. The hardest part about growing up, is not knowing when you did.

Cruelty Towards Animals Has To Stop. No Really! 0 (0)

Graphic by Shanmuga

Cruelty toward animals is not some random act. It does reflect some masochistic tendencies. But the people who do this sort of thing to animals would do the same things to human beings. However, the only thing stopping them is law and order. It’s not that there aren’t laws against animal cruelty. Acts like the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 in the Indian constitution prohibit violence toward animals.

Section 428 and 429 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) encompass all kinds of violence toward animals other than killing. These acts and legislations are the right steps in the direction of granting animals a new lease of life. It is not as easy to get away with heinous acts against animals as it used to be in the past. But the question is are they strict enough? I mean strict enough to prevent anyone who intends to harm animals from committing them in reality. Isn’t prevention better than cure? Well, I don’t think we apply this simple lesson enough in solving social problems.

Living beings, not objects

How about we teach our children to love animals? Maybe we can teach them to treat them as our fellow creatures. And just because they cannot speak for themselves and protest as a human would, it does not mean they can be harmed at will. But these lessons should be motivated by love and compassion rather than fear. The way pets are treated has always puzzled me. While I have seen people loving their pets like family members, I have seen people treating them like objects. Even worse, like toys. We need to teach our children from an early age that getting a pet is not like getting a new toy. Something that gets tossed to the corner when you lose interest. A pet is a living being and making them a part of our families comes with a lot of responsibility.

Killing for survival

Human beings have changed the course of natural history ever since they arrived. The disappearance of some of the biggest prehistoric animals has coincided with the arrival and thriving of mankind. Directly or indirectly human beings have been responsible for the extinction of many species, plants and animals. The early humans killed animals for food, for protection and even for the fun of hunting. Co-operation and planning enabled them to bring down creatures much bigger and stronger than them.

Killing for fun

While killing for food and protection looks fairly justified, especially in a hostile environment, hunting for fun does not. Human beings’ love for hunting can be traced across time and cultures. It has been immortalized through stories, murals, cave paintings and whatnot. How often have we seen carcasses of animals exhibited with pride as a memento of incredible bravery? Walls are decorated with the heads of leopards, bears and deers. And let’s not even start with bird-shooting. It is almost amusing how human beings take pride in killing animals using deception and luring. Would even the strongest of human beings stand a chance against a stag without devising these two, let alone a tiger? 

Hunting – the devil still lives

Hunting for pleasure is becoming less common these days. Poaching animals for their skins, hides, horns, etc. has been still raging despite attempts to curb it by governments all over the world. Hunting for pleasure is on a decline, fortunately. However, we have the incident of the lion Cecil who was lured out of safety and killed. This incident took place in a national park in Zimbabwe. And to make matters worse he was left to suffer for at least 10 hours after the fatal wound was inflicted. It was a case of trophy hunting. Another glorious beast met an agonizing death. I am sure there have been numerous similar incidents other than this all over the world. Yet, hunting has become difficult compared to the past because of laws passed by governments and also wide-scale activism.

Fear does not change much, compassion does

            However, to emphasize what I said earlier about prevention being better than cure, I would like to add that laws aren’t enough to stop any crime or to change the convictions of harming. If every human being loves and respects animals then laws won’t have to be implemented every now and then. People won’t harm animals out of love and not because they are afraid of punishment. This applies to any crime or offense inflicting violence that comes to our minds. Of course, laws need to be strengthened over time if a crime increases. But the society will be a better place not because people are afraid to commit a crime but because the people living in it aren’t mentally capable of them and do not possess the intention to harm anyone. This is possible only through education. Education that goes beyond reading moral science as a subject in school. One that is lived through in everyday life. When we teach children to interact with animals as they would with a human being with respect and love they will grow up believing harming animals is every bit as bad as harming a human being. 

Directionless 0 (0)

Graphic by Banani Kalita

The word ‘wrong’ has a certain sense of foreboding associated with it. When you find yourself in a ‘wrong’ situation, your hands get clammy, your heart feels like it is sinking and there is this tiny little voice that keeps telling you ‘no’. It is just the way human beings are wired, their bodies starting to react the moment they do something that does not align with their idea of morality.

Now if I were to bring up an incident that helped me differentiate between right and wrong, I may not have a particular instance to share. The idea of what is right and what is wrong to me has changed multiple times over the years. I would not be surprised if 16-year-old me is appalled by the person I am now, eight years later. So if I were to talk about rights and wrongs, I can only speak with respect to the person I am right now. And the person that I am right now, believes in moral ambiguity. 

As a reader, you are bound to correlate what is written with your own life. So when I talk about keeping secrets, your mind goes to that nook of your head where you have all these thoughts buried. Or even just out there haunting you. And who doesn’t have dark and embarrassing secrets? The very secrets that you hold close, in fear of jeopardy with regards to honour and lives, not knowing if you could ever forgive yourselves.

Granted, not all secrets hold a knife to your throat. Secrets are usually harmless; like when you snuck out at night to go get plastered and successfully got to sneak back in, with your parents none the wiser. However, there are other instances like when you are privy to information that could potentially get someone incarcerated. You cannot divulge the same because you wouldn’t want that person to suffer. How exactly do you compartmentalise right and wrong in that case? Would you snitch on someone you care about or would you abide by the law and get them arrested?

What one would construe as right or wrong is therefore largely subjective, regardless of a clear legal demarcation in most cases. Moreover, not every situation that a human being could possibly face can be legally dissected. When it comes down to doing the right thing, one would choose to do what helps them feel safe and devoid of a guilty conscience. As selfish as it sounds, our innate nature is to put ourselves and our feelings first. I learnt not to touch a boiling pot of water not because it was wrong but because I would get burnt. I learnt to be empathetic towards people not because it was the right thing to do but because it is the nice thing to do and also because I would not feel the weight of having hurt people. It is never one incident that tells you the difference between right and wrong, it is a collection of incidents and what you choose to learn from them. You may or may not choose to imbibe the rights and wrongs that your parents try to teach you, for at the end of the day, how you choose to act is the only thing that matters and that is your idea of the right thing. 

The Summit 0 (0)

Graphic by Banani Kalita

Snow-capped, pristine as the Realm above,
Glistening brightly as the Sun greets her,
Tranquil and undisturbed, pure as a dove,
Yet Chaos is not unknown to her,
As she shrouds the graves of unfulfilled dreams;
Of winning her, with her white shroud.
Her beauty, unparalleled;
Still brings suitors; beshrewed, from far and beyond.
While she looks over them, from her ivory throne.
With a teary visage, as if she mourns her loss,
Her hands in prayer, for the departed souls.
“May they find peace, Father! Like your Son in Golgotha!”

As I ascend, her tears stop,
And her eyes sparkle with Hope.
But her face remains solemn
For Providence has not been kind to her,
Happiness too; leaving her bitter.
With each step I take, the winds increase their fury,
Perplexed by my resolve, they must have thought,
Lucifer was rising again, climbing back to God.
But this was no pride but perseverance,
The quest to meet the distraught maiden.

Just one step away from Victory and Death,
Everything halted as if Nature held her breath,
Alas, I had forgotten about my mortality,
My struggle with Life ended;
But an eternity began with the Watcher.
As my last words escaped my mouth,
“Oh maiden fair, adorn your crown with my heart!
As our ways shall forever part,
Weep not for me, as I am freed,
From the tabernacle to the garden of Eden.
I must embark; His angels greet,
Thus I conquered Life, instead of the great summit.

If I Could Change Back Time 0 (0)

Graphic by Priyadharshan

Growing up, I’ve always been a girl who worries about the future instead of soaking up the present. I want to know who is the mastermind behind four brutal murders before I even watch the movie and I skip a few pages of my romance novel to see what happens next. I calculate my final marks as soon as the question paper falls in my hands and in the middle of the house parties, I wonder how monotonous my life will be once I get back home. For a person like me, the past is a myth and the present is a burden. But what if someday I bump into a wish granting witch and instead of peeping in the future she blesses me with a different superpower? The superpower of turning back the time! What would I do then? Where would I go ? What are the things about my past that I would change? Or would I go on a desperate search of finding her back and returning the power because the universe has its mysterious ways of working out things that are far beyond our control? We, the human beings, are blessed with our imaginary skills. To turn back time might be an impossible theory but there is no harm in dreaming about it, right?

If I could turn back time I would go back to my childhood just like every other person stuck in the hustle and bustle of life and responsibilities. I’ll go back to the peaceful days and to the city that raised me. I’ll walk down its narrow lanes and buy cheap candies from the old uncle who always gave me extra sweets. I’ll run my hands over the crayon painted walls of my old home and breath in the soil of our backyard before my parents handover the keys to new tenants. I’ll go on a long cycle trail with my friends and this time I’ll wait with Mannu until he fixes his broken chain. I’ll play late night badminton tournaments with kids in my locality without making any excuses and this time, I won’t mouth the alphabets to my teammates while playing dumb charades.

Being a Bollywood fan I have always been curious about how the movies during the early 90s era were made and how the women artists fought the social stigma attached to careers in the film industry. If I have a chance to turn back time I’ll visit every film stage and meet every artist who had a rough start in life. I’ll attend every concert of veteran Ghazal singers and let my subconscious mind fly, in the air of nothingness.

India has a rich heritage of culture and traditions. This culture reflects the roots of all the dynasties and sultanates that ruled India. If I have the power of turning back time, I’ll live in the modern era and learn how every empire rose to power. I’ll experience the wars unfolding and the warriors fighting sword battles. I’ll witness the royalty of the country and the beauty she possessed from the times unknown.

Few months back I had come across a quote that says what is done is done. We all have that unspeakable secret, irreversible regret and an unreachable dream. But with the ability to turn back time, I will change this narrative. In the second year of the pandemic, 3,582 cases of domestic violence were reported in India between April and June. Due to fear of the husband and society, these women silently suffer the pain and humiliation. If I had the power, I’d prevent these unfortunate events ruining the lives of countless women. I will knock every close door that has bloodstains of the woman of the house and I’ll stop every crime that has pushed thousands of families into a never-ending abyss of misery and grief. I’ll turn my regrets into memories and my unfinished dreams into reality. I’ll listen to my grandma’s stories and I’ll hug my childhood friend a bit longer before his parents move him to a different continent. I’ll thank the stranger who offered me a seat in the crowded local train and I’ll tell my grandpa how much he means to me before bidding him final adieu.

There are people, I have torn apart. There are friends, I have broken hearts of. There are moments when I wasn’t myself and in those moments of vulnerability, I have made some irreversible choices that have affected my close relations. If I could turn back time, I’ll make these things right. Not only for my near and dear ones but also for myself. I’ll return my third grade bestfriend’s pencil that I wrongfully claimed and I’ll praise my sister’s half burnt sabzi and her failed attempts at baking a perfect chocolate cupcake. I’ll take all the words I have thrown at my mother in the moment of rage and I’ll wear the dress my father bought me on my birthday instead of fussing over its colour combination. I’ll go back to the day where I chopped a handful of my hair because someone said they don’t look pretty and this time I’ll make a different choice. I’ll sit back and remind myself that I’m more than all the empty words and hollow remarks made on my physical appearance. I’ll love myself more on the days when I didn’t feel good enough and I’ll be easy on myself whenever I’ve become my own worst critic. I’ll become more vocal about my feelings whenever I haven’t and I will turn my forced eyes into firm ones. I’ll go to the people and places where I have left the bits of my heart and unreciprocated love and this time I will walk away, collecting everything that belongs to me. This time, I won’t look back and this time I will make myself whole again.

The Color of Earth 5 (1)

Graphic by Banani

Books are immortal; don’t get me wrong, censorship and burning copies were enough to drive certain books to extinction. I mean that once the words are penned down and the idea is shared, they become immortal in the minds of the readers. In a way, books are like people; they are to be loved and cherished. My father handed my first book to me at the age of two and it had more pictures than words in it. My obsession was fueled by the joy we shared, arguing about different books and their relevance in the modern world. I consider books as soul food, my chai, and biscuits on a rainy day, which is why I turn to them to ease my mind.

It was late Saturday afternoon and I made my way to Blossoms, an iconic bookstore placed on Church Street. It is a place that can sate the Grandma in me while also reigniting my youth. As I stepped into the three-storeyed, twenty-year-old building, the smell of books, both old and new, engulfed me. I felt the familiar surge of excitement as I climbed up the stairs, ready to dive into the racks of books that stood wall to wall on each floor. My usual system was to start from the top and make my way down, from non-fiction to fiction, with the multitudes of genres in between. I began my monthly ritual for the umpteenth time, the duration of which drove my boyfriend crazy and my friends knew better than to tag along. Crazy is the term that people use when they don’t understand something, and it did not deter me from indulging in what I saw as a language of love.

Somewhere between the sections of young adult and historical fiction, I felt a sharp tug at my dress. I turned around to see who dared to interrupt my sacred time and came face-to-face (if you can call it that) with a child whose eyes hadn’t been marred by life’s troubles yet. If not for her smooth, well-behaved straight hair, we could’ve passed off as sisters. She looked to be around five or six years old and was looking at me with so much wonder and awe that I put down the pile of books in my hand, and kneeled to face her completely. Her name was Shirley and her parents were at the restaurant next door. They had left her to peruse the book store by herself for the evening. My mind’s reel ran a couple of minutes of furious judgment on the parents for abandoning their child even temporarily but eventually decided to keep her company until they came back.

Hand-in-hand, we made our way to one of the reading corners and I picked up “Charlotte’s Web” to read to her. As I read the girl fidgeted continuously, playing with my curls ever so softly, tilting her head to look at me from different angles. It got to a point when the distraction annoyed me to such an extent that I stopped reading and asked her what she was looking for. Shirley picked up the book, holding it up to cover her face as she giggled, “Your color is like chocolate and you’re so pretty,” she said pointing at my skin, “I wish I could be so pretty as well”.

Taking the book away from her, I held on to her hand and brought her closer to me. I told her that she was beautiful and why she thought otherwise. Shirley dejectedly said, “Mama says I’m burnt by the sun too much and people don’t like burnt food now do they?” I realized that there was yet another young victim of colorism. I gave that little girl a big hug and told her that she’s the color of the Mama Earth, the same Earth that nurtures all living things. I told her that if she got any more beautiful, flowers would start sprouting at her feet wherever she went. I gave her all the love that I could to make her understand that the color of her skin did not make her less beautiful.

We spent the rest of the evening going through the tons of books by black women as I showed her their pictures on my phone. Michelle Obama, Hafsa Zayyan, and Amanda Gorman were our top picks; it warmed my heart to see the child step out of the shell others had defined for her. We then got some ice cream from across the street and I handed her over to her parents at the end of the evening, not before giving them a polite but firm reprimand for abandoning their kid and for feeding her utter nonsense about her looks. As we said our goodbyes, Shirley hugged me tightly and gave me a sweet kiss on my cheek. I watched as they drove away, praying that the little girl didn’t forget what she learned that evening; she didn’t have to fit into others’ ideas of beauty to be beautiful.

The roots of the fair skin tone obsession can be traced back to numerous legs of history, from white supremacy to the Aryans allocating the dark-skinned proto Indians to the lower castes of societal order. Hundreds of years later, the repercussions of these actions are still felt; the inner programming pushed in the name of culture and tradition has had a devastating effect on the quality of life. The past decade has seen a slow shift in political and social climates, with more and more people standing up for themselves, refusing to stay in the boxes that society has put them in. When will we all step up onto a pedestal of complete equality and offer ourselves unapologetic self-love?

I will never forget the look of inadequacy in the eyes of that child I met that evening. Everyone deserves a chance to feel good in their skin, to love themselves beyond trends and societal expectations. Society needs to make way for humanity, not the other way round. When we refuse to define people based on their religion, color, gender, or caste, we make way for ingenious solutions to our everyday problems. It is time we go beyond the labels of society and honor one another as pure life energy. It is time we learned to live our lives lovingly.

A Taste of Yesterday 5 (1)

Graphic by Banani

Woke up to the same alarm

in routine there is seldom charm.

Life hardly gives a moment,

to think, to remember, to lament.

What’s different about today?

Began like every other day-

the body slow, the mind reluctant,

the sun though shining and radiant.

Coffee and milk together in a cup,

magically wakes one up.

Everyday for years it tasted the same,

the view outside is the same.

Today the mind is not here anymore.

The liquid has carried it across the shore-

To a different city, a different time, 

somewhere very familiar, feels sublime.

The eyes are teary,

The lips betray and become cheery.

To the mind, memories are always sweeter.

Alas! The present, when lived, often looks gloomier.

Victoria’s Secret — Assorting Heterogeneity 5 (1)

Graphic by Banani

In July 2021, Victoria’s Secret introduced a new ensemble of “angels.” They include American athlete Megan Rapinoe, actress and activist Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Vanetina Sampaio, the brand’s first transgender model. They allude to a significantly more variegated vision of beauty than was previously customary for the once-popular corporation. Victoria’s Secret learnt a lesson that other top fashion firms and the industry as a whole are learning that diversity sells.

Victoria’s Secret wondered as to why the other well-known fashion brands jumped into diversity measure so abruptly. So, they concentrated on disability since it is usually viewed as incompatible with fashion. The industry saw people with impairments as unable to express, reflect, or transmit beauty. In other words, impairment would deter customers.

Over a five-year period, Victoria’s Secret examined three big fashion magazines – Vogue, InStyle, and Harper’s Bazaar – and found not a single person with a handicap on the cover. A search of 2,500 adverts on InStyle yielded similar results. So they looked to recent and well-known advertisements by Nike, Aerie, and Tommy Hilfiger. These famous brands featured a varied cast of models, including individuals with visible and non-visible impairments.

It was discovered after research that editorials frequently reinforced differences between “ability” and “disability,” implying that impairment is something that must be overcome. For example, when athletes were praised for exceeding their disability’s limits. In several cases, no photographs of disabled persons were published in editorials concerning them. When models with impairments were included, they were frequently dismissed as being too ordinary to wear labels mentioned by the magazine’s editorial staff.

They examined over 200 online consumer comments regarding Teen Vogue’s “The New Faces of Fashion” campaign. Teen Vogue featured three disabled models: Chelsea Werner, Mama Cax, and Jillian Mercado and they discovered that the vast majority of customers praised and admired that.

One viewer even expressed gratitude to Teen Vogue for “making fantastic adjustments.” “Let’s see this on a regular basis, please,” said another, wanting to be included. Dove Beauty and Allure both left comments on the magazine’s Instagram page.

In response to Allure’s appreciation, one viewer urged the publication to “join the Inclusion Revolution as well.” Soon after, Allure launched its own series on “the beauty of accessibility,” including Ellie Goldstein, a young model with Down syndrome, on the cover of their digital print magazine.

Away from social media, and after more than a year in lockdown, the fashion industry is prepared for a relaunch.Couturiers such as Dior and Chanel have gathered in Paris for the fashion industry’s first in-person exhibitions since the pandemic began. As Victoria’s Secret and others begin to reimagine the world that will be, we wonder what the “inclusion revolution” will look like, recently they included 24-year-old model Sofia Jirau in one of its campaigns, making her the first person with Down syndrome to be featured. According to a recent press release, the Puerto Rican model is one of 17 different women representing Victoria’s Secret’s ‘Love Cloud’ collection, which the lingerie firm hopes will “reinforce(e) Victoria’s Secret’s commitment to welcoming and celebrating all women.” In the last year, the company has made inclusivity a fundamental priority, introducing a new roster of ambassadors in June 2021 which also includes model Adut Akech.