Meet the activist who is bringing social change through her fashion blog
Intricate patterns, bold styles, trendy attires, and eye-catching accessories – fashion is all this and much more. And 24-year-old Aishwarya Sharma is attempting to lay emphasis on just that.
A fashionista at heart, Aishwarya is an active blogger who pens down various elements about lifestyle, vogue, and other forms of expression. However, the aspect that sets her apart is her determination to give back to the society. Aishwarya’s online platform and Instagram page ‘Figuramoda’ not only talks about looking good, but also about social change.
“A lot of people are of the view that fashion is all about outward appearances. But it encompasses freedom of expression. I was keen on bringing it to light through my blog posts,” Aishwarya tells SocialStory.
In the last few years, Aishwarya has written about various issues, including body shaming, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination. That is not all. She has drawn the attention of more than 75,000 individuals through fashion activism. One of her most successful campaigns was #flowersnotscars, which was launched in association with Stop Acid Attacks Foundation, and she garnered over a lakh views in less than 72 hours.
The journey so far
Born and brought up in a conservative family in Delhi, Aishwarya completed her schooling at Cambridge Foundation, and then went on to pursue journalism from Vivekanand Institute of Professional Studies. Presently, she is doing an MBA from NMIMS in Mumbai.
Aishwarya delivering a talk about fashion activism.
Her tryst with fashion began when she was just 16-years-old. Whether it was following with new trends, dressing up for occasions, or experimenting with styles, she was on the top of her game. She was also very particular about expressing herself through what she wore. Aishwarya says she used to subscribe to nine fashion magazines at one point.
“Fashion elevated by thoughts and enhanced my self-confidence. My interest towards the field only grew with time. But it also made me question the purpose behind it. Most individuals were of the view that fashion was all about looking beautiful and being trendy. I wanted to change this mindset. That was when the idea of activism rang in my head,” recalls Aishwarya.
Aishwarya during her days at journalism school.
While at college, she was engaged in volunteering at soup kitchens and old age homes from time to time.
During her second year, she came across acid attack survivor Laxmi Aggarwal walk the ramp at the London Fashion Week, representing hundreds of women who get subjected to physical, mental, and emotional violence. Drawing inspiration from it, Aishwarya kicked off her very own blog to raise awareness about some of the harsh realities of the community through fashion.
Aishwarya's face doodled to represent acid attack survivors.
Aishwarya started by posting pictures of her outfit of the day on the blog. After receiving a good response from people, she took to writing some snippets about the injustice meted out to women and other marginalised sections.
“A little boy being bullied at school or a model subjected to discrimination on the basis of colour, or even an employee who is sexually harassed by people high up in the hierarchy – I found myself empathising with each of them. It pushed me to start conversations around these things. I did exactly that on my blog,” Aishwarya says.
Impacting lives through fashion
The 24-year-old’s first few blogs was about acid attacks. Prior to writing this, Aishwarya met and interacted with many survivors to understand their side of the story and the suffering they went through.
“When I heard the survivors speak, I was able to connect with each and every one of their struggles. It helped me write and express from deep within my heart. With the intent of paying respect to the survivors and conveying my message of fighting the social ill, I posted a picture of my face with doodles on it,” she quips.
Since then, Aishwarya has been receiving emails from a slew of people expressing the issues they are grappling with in their daily lives. However, not all responses were pleasant.
The 24-year-old's visit to a rural school as part of her project.
“One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome was that of others putting me down and demoralising with comments on social media. Some individuals thought my blog to be depressing, while others simply did not reckon with it. Initially, itI did bog me down, but I eventually learnt to get over it,” she says.
In the last three years, Aishwarya has worked on various projects with multiple fashion brands and NGOs including Gucci, American Eagle, Help Age India, Water Aid, Save Rural India and Women Development Cell. Her most recent campaign for which she stands as an ambassador is a global movement, which aims to bring together one billion active citizens to achieve 17 UN Global Goals. Recognised as #TOGETHERBAND, they enable individuals to contribute to the goals through the purchase of handmade bands.
Aishwarya is one of the ambassadors for the #TOGETHERBAND movement.
Besides this, the fashionista is also working with the Mahendra Singh Foundation in steering their drive forward. Popularly known as #Takethepowerback, the movement revolves around women empowerment.
When asked about her future plans, Aishwarya says,
“My mission is to constantly reshape and redefine fashion to break the stereotypes associated with it. And, I want to continue using this powerful medium to empower the voiceless, and talk about things that matter. ‘Social media for social good’ is a mantra that I intend to stick to for the rest of my life.”