An ordinary plump woman with an extraordinary imagination.
Meet Miss Moti — the unlikely heroine of a series of comics and illustrations who has taken the internet by storm.
The brainchild of Kripa Joshi, an MSU Baroda alum who currently resides in the UK, Miss Moti has been hailed for sending out a strong message about body positivity, and as a real role model for women everywhere.
In an interview with Firstpost, Joshi spoke about how she came up with the idea for Miss Moti, her own struggles against body shaming, and the viral popularity of her comics:
What was the genesis of Miss Moti?
I always wanted to study art and after graduation I received the Indian Council for Cultural Relations scholarship to pursue my graduation in Painting from the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda, Gujarat. I created a series called Sofa So Good which depicted people as chairs and sofas, and some of these paintings dealt with body image issues.
Then I received one more scholarship to pursue an MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Art in New York. That is where my comic journey began and Miss Moti was born in 2005.
I was struggling with body image issues at that time. I wanted there to be a positive female character who could achieve things and doesn't care about her size.
A friend of mine used to call me Moti. I wanted Moti to mean something positive, like if you pronounce the ’t’ differently it means a pearl. So the name Miss Moti might mean that she looks overweight but it can also be construed in a way to mean that she is a gem of a person.
Stylistically, my work was initially inspired by the Maithali or Madhubani folk art from Nepal/India but it has changed over time. My thesis advisers, Stephen Savage and David Sandlin, really helped and guided me to create my first comic Miss Moti and Cotton Candy.
Miss Moti is now thought of as a feminist icon. What do you feel about that?
I didn’t consciously set out to make Miss Moti a feminist. But if she becomes a feminist icon, I am happy about that. I created her to deal with my own body image issues because I know how it feels… being a little bit on the heavy side. There's more to a woman than her looks. Miss Moti doesn't let her weight hold her back in life.
Is the comic based on your life?
Not really. But the weekly comic, Motivational Monday, sort of is.
After my daughter was born, I was kind of depressed (post-natal depression) and illustrating motivational thoughts and quotes into these comics was a way for me to get myself back into the game.
Have you got any negative feedback for Miss Moti on the internet?
Fortunately, not a lot. There has been mostly positive feedback about how fun it has been reading Miss Moti, but there have been a lot of people saying that I am encouraging people to be obese and not counter-helping the war on obesity which is so relevant here [in London where she lives].
There's also no dialogue in the series. No conversation…
It didn't start as a conscious decision. When I made my first comic, I just felt there having no conversations, only comics that depict action would make it better for the readers to interpret.
What is the future plan for Miss Moti?
I have a five story arc for Miss Moti which I would like to get published through a publishing house. Motivation Monday will go on till the end of 2016 and I do want to compile these into a book as well.
See more of Miss Moti here.