Leading heroines in Malayalam cinema are giving a leg up to teenage actor Anaswara Rajan. The 18-year-old Anaswara was trolled and slut-shamed for posting a snap of hers in which she wears shorts and a peach-coloured off-shoulder top.
Since then, social media pages of some of the stars of Malayalam cinema had pictures of them wearing an assortment of dresses that showed off their legs. It was both an expression of solidarity for Anaswara and an act of resistance against the tendency to moralise, sit on judgment on a womans choice of clothes and sexualise a womans body.
Expressing support for Anaswara, actor-producer Rima Kallingal wrote on her Instagram page: Surprise surprise! Women have legs, along with a photograph of hers in a swimsuit.
It was not just the stars of Mollywood but women from different walks of life who have posted photographs, sketches and drawings showing off legs under the hashtag campaign #womenhavelegs.
The posts show women from India, the US, the UK, Spain, Italy, Portugal, West Asia, Singapore and so on playing, swimming, travelling, hiking, lazing around at home, reading and so on. As one of them says: have legs, will flaunt.
If Nazriya Nazim posted a pic of hers in a short dress and called it #legday, Anna Ben (@benanna_love) shared a photo of her and wrote: Dropping bombs like confetti. Featuring human female legs. She added that the photo was taken by Malavika AK and she didnt freak out seeing them either. It was followed by the hashtag #womenhavelegs, #wehavelegs, #stopsexualisingwomen.
Anaswara is surprised at the reaction the photo has had on some social media trolls. It was just a photo of mine wearing something that I liked. It was never meant to provoke or anger anyone, says Anaswara, speaking on phone from her house in Kannur. Having said that, she points out that the online abusers were actually questioning a womans right to wear the kind of clothes she wants.
Anaswara made her dbut as a child actor in the Manju Warrier-starrer Udaharanam Sujatha in 2017. She played the lead with Mathew Thomas in the hit film Thanneer Mathan Dinangal.
Esther Anil, another child star who has moved on to lead roles in cinema, expressed solidarity with Anaswara by sharing a photograph of hers curled up on a chair, which she says was taken by her friend @adithyan22.
Shot by my friend @adithyan22&.but still didnt act like one of those WhatsApp Ammavan/Kulapurushan (uncles and orthodox people). Be like Aadi.
Esther says that although she is not a frequent user of social media, she just could not stop herself from reacting to the hullaballo over Anaswaras post. By now, I thought users of social media in Kerala would have got used to seeing women wearing different kinds of dresses. There have been so many similar posts in the past. I was extremely disappointed by the virulent reaction to Anaswaras photograph and had to react to that, says Esther, who is now in Kochi due to the lockdown.
Kani Kusruti did not stop at posting a photograph. She put a video of her doing a headstand in a cropped top and a pair of shorts and invited women to show their legs with the caption, #ladies #showthemhowitsdone #yeswehavelegs
Actors Rajisha Vijayan, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Anarkali Marikar, Grace Antony (Instagram page) and Apoorva Bose also posted snaps of theirs in pretty dresses that showed off their legs. Apoorva wrote on Instagram Oh my god, youve got legs? Like whaaa?
Ahaana Krishna followed her post on Instagram with a long post on how the choice of a dress is really a persons choice and why a person should not be judged on what she chooses to wear.
Her post went thus: &I will wear shorts, sari, shirt or a swimsuit&Its not your license to question my character (sic)&. So, watch your thoughts, not my clothes&
Archana Kavi also took to Instagram to protest against the trolling of Anaswara. (See here)
Anaswara has the last word in her post on her Insta handle @anaswara.rajan. She says: dont worry about what Im doing. Worry about why youre worried about what Im doing&