India, let’s face it, has a very sceptical view on everything that is new. People are not used to accepting change and this is a major reason why many teens in India feel uncomfortable with the society. There are rebels all around the country but not many get to voice it. People who are different are often than not shunned by the society.
Sapna Moti Bhavnani has been a rebel since her childhood. Known for a different lifestyle, tattoo all over her body, and being outspoken, this celebrity hair stylist has always been on the receiving end of harsh criticism all through her life.
A victim of unfortunate events
Sapna recalls that when she was around 14, people would call her a whore because she would hang out with boys, drive motorcycles, and smoke cigarettes. “Being called a whore as a child, who did not understand what it meant, it helped me get used to it. But sure if doing all those things made me a whore, I’d gladly take it,” she tells to Humans Of Bombay
After her father’s death, Sapna moved to Chicago. She recalls a Christmas eve where she was gang raped. Sapna, who was 24 at the time, was in a bar drinking, wearing short clothes, and bright lipstick. When she came out of the bar, a few men cornered her, and raped her at gunpoint. This left her scarred for a very long time. But she kept silent and she beared it on her own. She didn’t want her mother to go through a trauma.
According to her, those who stay silent are so, not because they are weak, but because they have the strength to bear their own burdens and people need to start respecting that and not judge them based on that.
“I remember walking home, showering and pushing this incident to the back of my mind for years and never letting it break my spirit – I still wear short dresses and the brightest red on my lips.”
Is it my fault?
Because of how the society always blames the victim, she was confused for a long time as whether it was her own fault and whether she deserved it. But after a long time she realized it wasn’t her fault. “Nobody can do anything to deserve such violence,” she says.
After 20 years of staying silent, Sapna has grown to move on from that. She says that if she were to cross roads with her perpetrators on the morrow, she would have nothing to say to them, because for her, the only way that she could move on, was to let go of the anger.
Hero of her story
A few years later, Sapna moved to Mumbai. She married her high school friend only to face domestic violence and abuse. Being a strong women, she walked out the marriage and decided to give her life a new direction.
“The story you write when you are in your teens are to make a statement. Once you start growing up, it becomes a part of you.”
In Chicago, Sapna was introduced to the art of inking. There, she started collecting tattoos from various artists, started dying her hair, and experimenting with herself trying to find her own identity. “Tattoos are an art and not just another trend,” she says.
After moving to Mumbai, Sapna worked as a hairdresser and also as a Bollywood stylist. Gradually, her work flourished and Sapna opened her first hair salon in 2004, named Mad-O-Wot. Since then, there is no looking back. This committed feminist works as a celebrity hair stylist, writer, photographer, and has also contributed in the field of fashion.
Sapna is one of the strong women who stand up against all the odds and conquer them like a hero. She never fails to raise her voice against the wrongs without thinking what people would think. She is indeed an inspiration for numerous women and encourages them to follow their dreams and be independent, regardless of what the society says. She is a true hero.
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