Gulabi Gang: Senior Collection (2016)
Photographs by Maxwell Turner
The accessory collection is inspired by India's Gulabi Gang, a group of vigilante women who dress in pink and fight for India’s most oppressed populations - women, the poor, the lower castes - because their government does not. Coming from underprivileged backgrounds themselves they are an inspiring example of solidarity, but they are especially inspiring to women in any society that treats them as inferior. The accessories celebrate the strength in femininity and the Gulabi Gang's self-determination against oppression.
The collection merges imagery from Eastern and Western feminine fashion and struggle. It draws from the minimal hardware design and soft lines of Indian accessories with references to ornamental bindis. These details meet bandanas and barbed wire typically associated with Western vigilantes. A cross-reference is made through the graceful hands of females in traditional Indian miniature paintings and the striking feminine hands portrayed in neon signs in the windows of nail salons. Gulabi in hindi means “rose” in terms of the color pink, but as these neon signs usually depict the manicured hand holding a rose the symbol unites the two paths of thought.
The feminine hand harps on a global emphasis of tending to one’s body. From traditional beauty rituals of the East to the endless nail art Instagrams of the West, conditions of a woman’s hands are the perfect symbol of self-love and care. However, as they are in most parts of the world, women in the United States are still struggling for legal rights over their bodies. In the US, women have to fight against lower wages (even lower for women of color), rape culture, limited access to birth control and overall inadequate healthcare, the highest rate of homelessness for women in the world, poor treatment in women’s prisons, sex slavery, and under-representation in politics amongst other struggles.
Through sharing the Gulabi Gang’s story I hope to inspire women to challenge their government’s abuse and passive acceptance of abuse of the marginalized. Similar to how the women of the Gulabi Gang refuse to accept their status as second-class citizens and fight to create their own rights, women in the United States and all nations must collectively work to overthrow their status as second-class citizens. We will no longer support a government that does not fight for our interests. We will not support any political authority that does not recognize our fight for our interests.