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South Asian Street Style: Artist Photographs Fashionable Aunties

"Perina Aunty," from Canadian artist Meera Sethi's collection of photos of fashionable South Asian aunties. Courtesy Meera Sethi

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“Who do we think is fashionable? How do we determine what style is? Who creates cool?” asks Asian Canadian artist Meera Sethi. According to her unscientific study, “South Asian aunties rock to their own beat.”

"Aunties" -- a term of respect and endearment in South Asia used for women of one's mother's generation -- are honored, but rarely synonymous with "fashionable." Sethi set out to challenge that notion, focusing her street fashion photography on the Aunties around her. She found, she says, a surprising number of “aunties with swag.”

"I am interested in the way fashion is translated by those who are not the usual subjects of street fashion photography,” says Sethi about her latest project, “'Upping the Aunty' is about celebrating our aunties and their style and honoring the contributions they make to our communities by passing on social and cultural knowledge.”

The project started during a one month artist’s residency in Mumbai, where it was so successful that Sethi continued to document aunties in Toronto. She is calling for people to submit photographs of their own cool aunties. Next, she plans to translate these photographs into paintings.

How do the Aunties react to being photographed for her project? “Most aunties I approach are flattered and completely surprised that someone is admiring their style!"

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 Artist Meera Sethi set out to document the fashion of the South Asian aunties around her. What she discovered, she says, was that, “South Asian aunties rock to their own beat.” Courtesy Meera Sethi

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