Foxy Brown

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the glass ceiling shattering. Yes, that’s right, there’s a desi model in the Sports’ Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Oh, and she’s a sophomore at Harvard, pre-med studying econ. Move aside Padma Laxmi, make room TMBWITW, here comes Sonia Dara.

I know I know, I can hear the objections from the nattering nabobs of negativism. Why is this photo shoot in Rajasthan? Who wears a swimsuit in the middle of the desert? Look, I’m not going to defend SI. This photograph, for example, is completely absurd. I can’t look at it without cringing.

However, what bothers me is the exotification not the objectification. I’m totally down with the latter. I actually wish desi men would get objectified in the media, instead of being portrayed as they were in the superbowl ad for Metro TV below. I mean, don’t you get tired of being appreciated for your mind all the time? Right now, even the desi sex symbols in the media are geeks first and eye candy later. I’m doing my part to try to bring sexy back, but there’s only so much I can do alone.

One day, perhaps, desis can be depicted three dimensionally by the American media. Until then. I’d rather see more Sonia Dara and less of Ranjit and Chad.



(Update) You may also be interested in Sonia Dara’s spread in Vogue India, which shows her in a different context.

Lastly, let’s keep this polite whether you like Dara or do not. If the language in the comments go beyond the bounds of polite conversation, I’ll shut it down because I don’t have time to prune uncouth comments while at work. So please don’t feed any trolls who show up.

64 thoughts on “Foxy Brown

  1. I don’t know about this entire discussion. I got distracted by the pictures in the post, and the only thing I can say is that Ms. Dara looks very different with a mustache and an argyle sweater than in a swimsuit.

  2. This whole debate for a person, who has one picture in a magazine.

    careful…the numbers may be off due to pages clinging together

  3. careful…the numbers may be off due to pages clinging together

    Maybe if we were still in the 1990′s, but now the swimsuit edition looks so old. It looked like every other magazine on the shelf. Good Housekeeping showed more skin.

    I really dont want to know how messed up the future is going to be because I am sure in 10-20 years, porn is going to look like nothing and who knows how people are going to get their rocks off.

  4. I really dont want to know how messed up the future is going to be

    with all these ubiquitous camaras, in the future everyone will be a pornstar for 15 minutes

  5. what is also shocking is her education. why would padhee-likhee girls get naked for a magazine. what validation does dara need which education and living presumably free in a free-ish country couldn’t provide. it’s her choice and all. ofcourse. but it’s disappointing.

  6. Facebook Diva, a dude who posed completely nude (Dara has not…yet) is now the junior senator from Massachusetts, and his education credentials are probably nowhere near where hers will be when she’s done. Maybe she could ride this all the way to the presidency!

  7. That is comforting delurker. Maybe eventunally posing nude will be just one of those things even for senators’ pasts. Like having run a personal blog or joined a yoga class. As long as this is gender-neutral I am not outraged. But it seldom is. Separately, imagine Sachin Tendulkar in Dara’s outfit on the magazine.

  8. Facebook Diva – It seems like she has an interest in the fashion world and the fashion industry. Lots of girls do, and want to be models for that reason, but few are lucky enough to be born with the right genes. I imagine it’s a good career choice if she wants to be a designer or some other kind of fashion bigwig someday, because it gives her an inside look. Especially since she seems to have a lot of family support, other options, etc. She won’t get drawn into the dark side of modeling like all the cokehead eastern euro models.

    Good for her, although it definitely isn’t something that I’m personally comfortable with. The objectification bothers me more than the exotification. Anyone who says that this is ‘empowering’ will get a swift e-kick from me.. I hate how that word has been co-opted for sexist and objectifying purposes.

  9. You know I wonder how little they eat. I wish someone would give a burger. It could be beef, chicken or veggie burger. There was a time not too long ago when if a someone in India told you you put on some weight it was a compliment. Not any more. It is good if the change is for a healthier life, but not if the pendulum swings the other way. I applaud Spain. They started rejecting models who are too skinny to combat negative body image.

    “MADRID, Spain – Spain’s top fashion show has turned away a slew of models on grounds they are too skinny — an unprecedented swipe at body images blamed for encouraging eating disorders among young people.

    Organizers of the pageant, known as the Pasarela Cibeles, used a mathematical formula to calculate the models’ body mass index — a measure of their weight in relation to their height — and 30 percent of the women flunked, said the Association of Fashion Designers of Spain.

    The association said Friday it wanted models at the show running from Sept. 18-22 to project “an image of beauty and health” and shun a gaunt, emaciated look….”

  10. True blah. I think what bothers me a lot more is the objectification. Especially writing from India, where Kingfisher calendars show Indian women [thin ones] in “foreign” beaches, “foreign”-looking hair, a “foreign” Five-Star-like tan. That is exotic too. So it is less of a race thing. More of a gender thing. We won’t want girl children growing up with these images. Consent is not the issue. Neither is thinness- though the Spain-article was reassuring Sameer. I just ate another pakora. But the deeper concern is the impact of a media trend of objectizing a women [even assuming a "perfect fat" is in and not a perfect thin] the mind, on a generation, on the destiny of half the human race. It sounds so new, but it is the older argument ever against nude women in the media. It is a losing battle in India. Every movie has a soft porn content. See the Catch 21 remake trailers. Sometimes I feel things are better off “abroad” for Indian women. I will stop as this is not a blog post.

  11. The ideological/cultural/etc etc angles are all self-evident so I just have a comment from a purely artistic point of view. If they’d just swapped the location and wardrobe for Brooklyn Decker and Sonia Dara, the photographs would have had so much power, would have entered a different league! As it is, Indian model in India – wow, imaginative. Urban(e)/semi-nude Indian hottie among the dusty cultural colourfuls – wow, original. How disappointing.

  12. I think SI did it for diversity,using it as a marketing ploy, aiming to please a certain demographic while offending another .