Anoop Keshari, 23, is an illustrative designer, digital art enthusiast and postgraduate student at Indian Institute of Technology Madras. He owns a digital art sharing platform, Impractical_1 with over 350,000 followers on Instagram. He believes in finding ways to help people have an uplifting experience through art. He actively advocates for ecological sustainability and conservation. He wants to do the same and help transform the world – cleaner, greener and healthier. He believes in humanitarianism and equality while defending the same.
Tell us why you created the @impractical_01 Instagram page?
I started imppractical_1 in 2016 as a gateway into the world, being part of meme culture and looking cool among my friends. For the first few weeks, I posted anything that could go viral. On an odd day, I posted something related to body shaming, and it got a lot of negative comments. It was a revealing event for me. I realized that the complications of a meme lie in what people find appropriate to express an opinion, no matter how simple, unnecessary or toxic that may be. Impractical_1 is about expressing change and connectedness; built by combining artistic and cultural concepts across digital and international borders.
Because the page has a clear feminist take. Can you tell us more about how feminism has shaped your life?
Yes, the page has a feminist grip, as feminist art does not discriminate geographically but rather connects voices from around the world. Coming from a conservative background, Working on Impractical_1 completely reshaped the way I think about and understand the problems and struggles of an average human being in life. Through my interaction with artists, I have not only explored gender identity through art, but also racial, queer, and other aspects of identity that inform diversity in the world. The platform has also allowed me to work with people in the body positivity movement, women’s empowerment groups, menstrual health activists, and mental health awareness initiatives that have had a significant impact on my opinions 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 provides a socially engaging space to tell your story, share your opinions and inspirations. Sharing the art via Instagram not only helped create aesthetic admiration, but made the viewer wonder about the social and political landscape. And, through this questioning, eventually affect the world to bring about changes towards equality and inclusiveness.
Do you think social media can play a positive role in shaping young people, especially with diverse narratives in the play?
Yes, social media plays a very positive role in shaping our opinions. Social media has diversified and democratized activism, opening participation to all. By breaking down 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 various movements. But at the same time, I think we have to be careful; social networks can also be an echo chamber. It can amplify any of our views to the extent that we begin to deny all opposing narratives.
Tell us about the causes you are passionate about?
I have a keen interest in politics and political cartoons to address social issues and stigma. I’m especially passionate about the mental health stigma in society. These are internalized by individuals and act as a barrier to seeking or engaging in treatment services. I want to better understand and alleviate the dimensions of mental health stigma and help create a positive environment for anyone seeking professional health. Other than that, I want to contribute to campaigns to eradicate myths and misinformation about menstrual health in India. I believe in and promote humanitarianism and equality.
Where do you see the @impractical_1 page going in the next five years?
I want to divide it into two main categories. The first should be dedicated to social campaigns and the eradication of stigma from society. And the other to help monetize artworks, thus generating an ecosystem that can sustain itself solely through 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 each year.
How has the pandemic shaped the body positive movement?
Yes, I think the pandemic has had a huge impact on the body positivity movement, both in good times and in bad. We were all confined to our homes. The daily chaos of commuting had been limited, as had physical travel. The weight gain was a natural response to the stress and changes experienced during the pandemic. Feeling good about your body is not an easy task in itself. And feelings of self-consciousness are only compounded by increased consumption of social media, toxic “summer body” imperatives.
At the same time, the conscious effort of the body positivity movement by various social media accounts has empowered us to accept our bodies regardless of size, shape, skin color, gender, and physical abilities. He helped people celebrate diversity in body aesthetics and expand our narrow beauty standards. More importantly, teaches us that all bodies are worthy of care and respect. Body positivity should be understood as the transition from limited body shame to appropriate body pride. However, various companies and social media users have increasingly commodified the movement for self-serving economic gain.
How has your page helped people deal with the pandemic?
The pandemic has caused a severe global infodemic and mental health crisis. All social media platforms have come on endlessly with coronavirus-related news feeds. Thanks to the impracticable_1, we have completely avoided publishing unverified facts and information. We focused on helping people cope with their mental well-being by building 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 several suppliers and donors.