I had the opportunity to spend five months in Varanasi, India studying women's beauty standards. I found that there is an immense amount of pressure for women to look and act a certain way, most notably with skin color, weight and dress. I interviewed an array of ages and genders in order to get a variety of perspectives and was quite depressed by many of the responses – some of my interviewees stated that women who wear “Western” style clothes are much more prone to sexual violence, and others suggested that they did not have very much money to buy beautiful things are were therefore not beautiful. 

For my internship at NIRMAN, A Center for Post-Colonial Education, I drew portrays of the ten “didis” that work the kitchen and maintain NIRMAN’s beautiful campus. I did this because I believe beauty to currently be an access issue, and many of the didis expressed that they did not feel beautiful. I wanted to make them feel like the beautiful, loved and wonderful women they all are, because I think I speak for all at NIRMAN when I say they are all so appreciated.

I want to thank Jaba for all of her help in assisting me in translating, and I want to give a special thanks to Anisha, Chandrakala, Kanti, Meera, Pushpa, Rani, Rita, Rukshana, Saira and Sunita for allowing me the privilege of creating their portraits to exemplify their beauty. I hope that their words and their portraits are a reminder to all of NIRMAN that they are an extraordinary group of individuals. 


- Courtney Wise - Rukshana
- Courtney Wise - Rani
- Courtney Wise - Pushpa
- Courtney Wise - Chandrakala
- Courtney Wise - Rita
- Courtney Wise - Anisha
- Courtney Wise - Saira
- Courtney Wise - Kanti
- Courtney Wise - Sunita
- Courtney Wise - Meera
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