Textual content by Mallika Chandra. Photographed by Anish Sarai. Styled by Akanksha Pandey. Hair and make-up by Clover Wootton at Anima Inventive Administration. Mannequin: Diya Patel at Feat.Artists
“Performing isn’t about being somebody totally different. It’s discovering the similarity in what is seemingly totally different, then discovering myself in there.” – Meryl Streep
Left: High, by Kommal Sood; skirt, from Pocket book
Proper: Costume, from Bodice
In her tribute to Jane Fonda in 2014, Meryl Streep thanked the older actor on behalf of different youthful ones as a result of the kindness proven to her on the units of her first function movie (Julia, 1977), which Fonda headlined, is one thing she discovered to go down via the course of her personal profession. In a world the place ladies are always pitted towards one another, internalised misogyny may be very a lot a actuality, and we nonetheless hear folks assert that two feminine actors “can’t be pals”, Streep’s phrases not solely communicate to what appearing is or isn’t but in addition on what womanhood might be.
Maybe a distant recipient of that generosity is 22-year-old mannequin and actor-in-training Diya Patel. Ever since she noticed Meryl Streep in her Oscar-winning position in Sophie’s Selection, Patel has been enamoured of the Hollywood titan: “To me she wasn’t simply one other character; she was an actual individual. Somebody I might relate to. It’s my dream to specific myself via appearing within the seemingly easy approach that Meryl Streep does.”
Left: Costume, from Aikeyah
Proper: Shirt, from Zara; pants, from Bodice
Whereas it’s Streep’s versatility on-screen that Patel thinks makes her “past nice”, it was her aspirational ability in exuding “actual magnificence” and ease that melted the younger scholar’s coronary heart when she watched extra of Streep’s early filmography. Alongside together with her understated but alluring fashion, glowing pores and skin and flowing hair, Streep’s defiantly aquiline nostril and “common” physique additionally channelled a extra imperfect, particular person femininity; this angle of self-acceptance appealed to Patel, who, like most city Indians rising up within the ’90s and early 2000s, was extra used to American movies that appeared to be crammed with surgically streamlined ladies, and who, as an athlete, prioritised well being and health over bodily look. Despite the fact that modelling and her photographer mom have allowed her to understand magnificence in its aesthetic sense, Patel nonetheless believes that “being comfy in your pores and skin is if you actually really feel stunning.” An vital trait to develop for somebody about to set foot in an business that depends on superficial markers of value and might erode one’s sense of self, no matter how nicely you match into its slender requirements. It’s no shock then, that her most memorable on-stage expertise thus far has been performing a monologue from the play ‘Wounds to the Face’ the place she performed a tragic girl obsessive about beauty merchandise, unable to see the one that lay below the layers of make-up.
And isn’t that what we’re all in search of on the finish of the day? To have the ability to recognise the true magnificence that lies beneath others and ourselves, regardless of if the world tries to persuade us in any other case?
Left: Shirt, from Zara; pants, from Bodice
Proper: Cardigan, from Massimo Dutti; pants, from Bodice
In my very own case, it took getting a pixie lower and an onslaught of unsolicited feedback to understand what occurs to ladies who problem gender norms and the way my expertise was made comparatively simpler due to the ladies earlier than me. The pandemic has additionally been a second of reckoning; all around the world, ladies have been inspiring one another to look inwards, ditch guidelines that count on them to decorate and act a sure approach and actually embrace their actual, stunning selves.
One thing my permaculture trainer, Simrit Malhi, mentioned has caught with me since final November. A fierce and delicate girl, she started our course by telling us about her lecturers, highlighting that you will need to acknowledge those that mentor us not solely as a result of it offers context to the place we’re coming from, but in addition as a result of our lecturers and position fashions are our line of affect. Within the permaculture world we name it our lineage.
All of that is to say that, as ladies, we now have essentially the most radical and profound alternative of discovering our (matri)lineage in these ladies that encourage us as we forge our personal paths – inheriting their influences, amplifying their goodness, studying from their errors and of these earlier than them, and even emulating their hairstyles!
For so long as she will keep in mind, Patel has all the time been extraordinarily shy, however appearing has given her a newfound confidence and the power to beat her insecurities as she continues the journey of discovering herself within the characters she performs, identical to Streep. Right here, she pays homage to her idol’s preliminary years on movie, and whether or not it’s donning a cardigan with a delicate up-do from the ’70s, or channelling the glamorous, but down-to-earth, confidence of lengthy, silky waves and outsized shirts from the ’80s, for her, going through a digital camera is a particular area the place she will tackle a brand new life. And perhaps at some point, Patel will rise up on a stage, settle for an award and inform the world how a well-known actor, albeit from Hollywood, taught her classes in humility, kindness, self-assuredness, and thus turned a part of her chosen lineage.