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Community Leaders: The Big Fat Bao

The Big Fat Bao’s (@thebigfatbao) Instagram contains pages that were ripped out of our history books, from anti-caste stories of resistance to the resilience of the environment movement, Bao’s illustrations explain the need to unlearn and relearn everything we have been taught. Her work also focuses on empowering the Bahujan movement, especially women. Anyone who spends a few minutes on Bao’s colorful, loud and bright Instagram page can tell you that it is a project of resistance that was a consequence of institutional oppression.

Art by @thebigfatbao on instagram

An illustrator who prefers to go by the name “The Big Fat Bao” – she says that it best describes her, has used her art to bring the community together in love and support for each other. She believes that love is the only thing that can push a positive impact. “Love has the power to negate shame, heal trauma, bring out the best in people, and is almost always accompanied by honesty.”, Bao said, explaining that she puts love at the center of all her work. “It is only when we truly love each other is when the world will begin to heal. I wish to see more of it in the world, especially in digital spaces where we must seek to have conversations and discuss our perspectives rather than bullying and shaming each other,” she adds. 

Leela Santhosh, an Adivasi filmmaker by @thebigfatbao on instagram

Bao’s every illustration carries a story, whether it is covering Dalit women for Dalit History Month or her series on “Caste and food”. She also used her artwork for community aid and to support the education of Bahujan women. “I’m not sure if I’m proud of the work that I do because I’m never satisfied with the outcome. However, there is a small thing that made me happy was when Golden Singh, Harshali, and Monalisa reached their respective universities abroad to study the courses they want to,” said Bao, reflecting on how she worked alongside others to bring together people to fund Bahujan women’s education. “When I look back, it truly surprises me that these fundraisers did happen and that they were successful. I had no idea how to plan and organize any fundraisers since I’d never done any before. But the first tiny one (1.2lacs for Manisha Mashaal and Divya Kandukuri during the second wave) was a success and that gave me hope that my work can be useful.” added Bao.


In the year to come, Bao wants to complete her thesis at Bauhaus and focus on women and marginalized genders from Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi communities through her work. “They are not given enough credit for the work they have done/ are constantly doing. We owe them a lot as a community. I hope I can do something tiny to highlight their important work.” says Bao.

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