Manjima Bhattacharjya’s book intricately research the arena of modeling, imparting charming insights right into a career that is yet to be taken critically
The last time someone tried portraying the modeling world, they ended up lowering the whole enterprise into a sequence of hackneyed and cringe-worthy tropes. Madhur Bhandarkar’s movie Fashion is, at first-class, the most forgettable strive at showcasing the modeling global to any kind of target market. In a situation where one is constantly bombarded by way of snapshots from the glamour industry, a feature on the nitty-gritty of the modeling international is conspicuous by way of its absence. This is wherein Manjima Bhattarcharjya’s Mannequin: Working Women in India’s Glamour Industry will become an important study.
The e-book is divided into 5 sections — ‘reminiscence’, ‘goals’, ‘discipline’, ‘paintings’ and ‘alternate’. Bhattacharjya covers quite a number of topics which include the normal struggles at work, failed attempts at unionizing, the dilemmas of getting and keeping a super body, and so forth. Circumscribing that is the question of reconciling the seemingly oppositional worlds of favor and feminism. Bhattacharjya’s comprehensive ethnography establishes the regularly neglected however primary truth that modeling is a career and that fashions are laboring our bodies, whose work needs to be valued. The segment on “goals” attracts the reader into an international of aspirational lady experts. Lifeworlds that revolve around trying to analyze English, grooming lessons, salsa instructions, pageant programs, and so forth, all in a bid to reap “class” and the elusive “x-element”.
The ebook also discusses the twin existence that most Indian women lead, in particular in city areas. Urban girls are aware of juggling their pictures at the move, depending on the context and target market. This constant fashioning and refashioning of their selves because the inconspicuous girl-subsequent-door, to carrying an arsenal of transformation equipment on your handbag, depending on the needs of labor, are the narratives of actual women.
Mannequin gives captivating insights into the India Fashion Week — the politics of seating, and the behind the curtain as a mélange of actors together with the fashions, choreographers, designers, hair and makeup artists, but also the nameless helpers whose identities are an extension of the fashions they serve. Struggling fashions station themselves in the lobby, hoping to be observed and, thereby, solicit work.
Undoubtedly, Mannequin is one of the first books in India that takes the arena of glamour and modeling seriously and accords it the honor that the models claim is missing off their career. The author sketches a brief history of glamour following the post-conflict trends within the West and sees glamour as a language of charm in a capitalist society. But a more interesting narrative could have been the etymology of glamour — an early 18th-century Scottish term, which meant to solid a spell or creates a phantasm, leading one to question what the phantasm is that is being made and re-made. And indeed, inside the age of capitalism, the world of favor and the bodies of fashions are deployed to create a phantasm. Additionally, the emergence of glamour inside the Western context additionally coincided with the upward thrust of the primary technology of operating ladies — the sky ladies, the typists, and stenographers. Thus, glamour changed into underscored by way of the phenomenon of operating ladies experiencing monetary independence.
While Bhattacharjya efficaciously depicts the fashion industry as a valid career and recasts fashions as employees, attempts to problematize the uneasy relationship among style and feminism remains underwhelming. For instance, one is unable to recognize why the writer needed to expect the position of an agony aunt in one of the chapters and thereby make it preachy — a rate that feminists have often been accused of. Most importantly, a phase solely dedicated to the records of the commodification of girls in India stays dissonant thanks to its standalone nature. The recounting of the anecdotes would have labored better had they been incorporated with the sooner chapters that communicate about the struggles of attaining a myth body or narratives that speak of the moralizing attitude closer to fashions. It is refreshing to see the booking flow away from pitting the fashions in victim-agent tropes, but how precisely are style and feminism allies nowadays? It can not be simply attributed to feminism becoming the new commodity that is up for grabs, or the rhetoric of “my desire”.