Anoop Keshari, 23, is an illustrative designer, digital art enthusiast and postgraduate student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. She owns a digital art sharing platform, Impractical_1 with over 350,000 Instagram followers. She believes in finding ways to help people have an uplifting experience through art. You actively support sustainability and ecological conservation. She wants to contribute in the same way and help transform the world: cleaner, greener and healthier. She believes in humanitarianism and equality while supporting the same.
Tell us more why did you open the Instagram page @ impractical_01?
I started impractical_1 in 2016 as a way out into the world, becoming part of the meme culture and making myself beautiful among my friends. During the first few weeks, I posted anything with the potential to go viral. One weird day I posted something related to body shaming and it got a lot of negative comments. For me it was an eye-opening event. I realized that the complications of a meme lie in what people find appropriate for expressing an opinion, no matter how simple, useless, or toxic it may be. Impractical_1 is about the expression of change and connectivity; built by combining art and cultural concepts across digital and international borders.
Since the page has a clear feminist interpretation. Can you tell us more about how feminism has shaped your life?
Yes, the page has a feminist outlook, as feminist art doesn’t discriminate geographically but instead connects voices around the world. Coming from a conservative background, Working on Impractical_1 has completely revised my way of thinking and understanding the problems and struggles of the life of an average human being. Through my interaction with artists, I have not only explored gender identity through art, but also the racial, queer and other aspects of identity that inform diversity in the world. The platform has also allowed me to work with people from the body positivity movement, women’s empowerment groups, menstrual health activists, and mental health awareness initiatives that have significantly impacted my views and shaped my ideas. .
Why did you choose Instagram as a medium to express your opinions and your art?
As we know, Instagram is primarily a visual platform with hundreds of millions of monthly active users, which is absolutely perfect for art. Instagram as a medium offers a socially engaging space to tell your story, share your opinions and inspirations. Sharing art via Instagram has not only helped gain aesthetic admiration, but has incited the viewer to question the social and political landscape. And, through this question, possibly influence the world to bring about change towards equality and inclusivity.
Do you think social media can play a positive role in shaping young people, especially with different narratives in the show?
Yes, social media plays a very positive role in shaping our opinions. Social media has diversified and democratized activism, opening participation to everyone. By removing the barriers of distance and geography, social media facilitates public dialogues and creates a platform for awareness and change. Young people around the world are using social media and hashtag campaigns to generate awareness and immerse themselves in the various movements. But at the same time, I think we must remain cautious; social media can also be an echo chamber. It can amplify any of our views to the extent that it begins to deny all opposing narratives.
Tell us more about the causes you are passionate about?
I am very interested in politics and political designs to address social issues and stigmas. I am more passionate about the mental health stigma that operates in society. These are internalized by individuals and act as a barrier to those who can seek or engage in treatment services. I want to better understand and mitigate the dimensions of the mental health stigma and help create a positive environment for anyone seeking occupational health. Aside from that, I want to contribute to campaigns to eradicate myths and misinformation about menstrual health in India. I believe in humanitarianism and equality and I support the same.
Where do you see the @ impractical_1 page going over the next five years?
I want to divide it into two main categories. The first is to engage in social campaigns and the eradication of stigmas from society. And the other to help monetize the works, thus generating an ecosystem that can only be sustained thanks to a network of artists and volunteers. Currently, we have a reach of 25-30 million users per year on Instagram and we want to increase its reach by 10 million new users every year.
How has the pandemic shaped the body positivity movement?
Yes, I think the pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the body positivity movement for both good and bad. We were all confined to our homes. The daily chaos of commuting had been limited, as was the physical movement. Weight gain was a natural response to the stress and changes experienced during the pandemic. Feeling good in your body is not an inherently easy task. And feelings of self-awareness are only compounded by increased consumption of social media, toxic imperatives of the “summer body”.
At the same time, the conscious effort of body positivity movement by various social media accounts has allowed us to accept our bodies, regardless of size, shape, skin tone, gender and physical capabilities. It has helped people celebrate diversity in body aesthetics and extend our narrow standards of beauty. Above all it teaches us that all bodies are worthy of care and respect. Body positivity should be understood as the transition from limiting body shame to pride in one’s body. However, various companies and social media users have increasingly commodified the movement for selfish economic gains.
How has your page helped people cope with the pandemic?
The pandemic has posed a major global infodemic and mental health crisis. All social media platforms have popped up endlessly with news feeds related to the coronavirus. Through impracticable_1, we have completely avoided posting unverified facts and information. We focused on helping people cope with their mental well-being by establishing dialogues and posting content to help audiences develop a healthy routine and reconnect with themselves. In the later stages, with the help of the public, we were able to connect people in need of various medicines and equipment and financial assistance to multiple suppliers and donors.