How to be a 'bad girl' in India

  • 19 February 2015
A satirical comic strip depicting what 'bad girls' get up to in India

If you want to be a 'bad girl' in India, we may have found the perfect guide for you.

Pout, have breasts, eat too much. And go to Goa. At least, that's the advice of a satirical poster that's being widely shared on Reddit, Twitter and Facebook. The image suggests India remains very much a man's world, and has triggered a slew of comments online.

Many took the message of the poster to be a feminist statement. "No idea of the origins of the #badgirls chart. But it does strike close to home for many. Sadly," read one tweet. On Facebook one commenter added arranged marriage to the list of injustices facing many women. "Marries a complete stranger. Wait, that defines a good girl!," the comment read. While others simply found it amusing. "The joys of bad girl-ing," tweeted one, and "Goodness, I can't make rotis at *all*. I'm going to hell," said another. Of course, some missed the joke entirely, taking the poster at face value.

So was the image created by a team of professional campaigners trying to generate traffic? Not exactly. It was drawn up by a group of students at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore. The group, who are mixed male and female, were asked to juxtapose images from popular culture as part of a piece of homework. One of the group, Furqan Jawed, who originally posted the image to Facebook, told BBC Trending its popularity came as a surprise. "We did not mean it to become social propaganda. It was done as part of an assignment," he says. The group chose examples of things men could get away with, but women would be judged for. Their image is a parody of school posters that appeared in classrooms across India in the 1980s and 1990s.

Image caption Posters like these were displayed in Indian classrooms in the 1980s

The students were inspired by other artists who have parodied the posters before. Adarsh Balak (An Ideal Boy), is a series of images in which boys are the subject of ridicule, and already has a popular Facebook following. And in 2010, visual artist Meera Sethi used the idea to counter homophobic attitudes. She says she made an alternative poster "to empower young gay men", who were rarely seen as "ideal".

Image caption A section of Meera Sethi's poster, which parodied the form back in 2010

The Bangalore students' artwork was posted on Twitter by Joylita Saldanha, who works for a tech firm in Bangalore, and saw it in a friend's Facebook feed. She decided to share the cartoon because she could relate to its message. "Growing up as an Indian girl, you hear most of those things being said to you all the time. 'You drink? You must be a bad girl.' That was what caught my attention," she tells BBC Trending.

Blog by Samiha Nettikkara and Sam Judah

Bad girl poster created by Furqan Jawed, Roshan Shakeel, Sparsh Saxena, Jaiwant Pradhan, and Stuti Kothari

Next story: The one about the Aborigine with a 'good personality'

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