C A T W A L K // Walk of Shame

On the catwalk

They tell you to walk with your head held high, chin up, eyes forward, strut like you own the place.

On the sidewalk

They tell you to keep your head down; don’t look left don’t look right, walk briskly.

If they don’t realize you exist: you’re safe.

On the catwalk

They tell you to swing your hips, baby, sashay, walk in a straight line in your sky-high heels and mile-long legs mesmerize the audience.

On the sidewalk

What hips? What legs? Pull up your dupatta, or they’ll see your bra straps and they won’t be able to look away.

On the catwalk

Remember: Each one of you looks unique, you’re special, be bold, be proud, be fearless.

On the sidewalk

Don’t forget: you’re just the same as anyone else. Try your best to never stand out; dress so that you always fit in. (trust me, this will make you less afraid)

On the catwalk

Don’t look at everyone watching your every move; don’t smile.

On the sidewalk

Don’t look at all those people who pass you by; don’t smile.

As a woman, be confident on the catwalk: men are watching you.

As a woman, be afraid on the sidewalk: men are watching you.

As a woman, you are a model. A spectacle, something for people (for men) to look at, your value is in what you carry, whether it’s Sabyasachi or Gucci, whether it’s your breasts or your ass, it doesn’t matter who you are, only what you show. On the runway your walk attracts the sponsors, the critics, the designers; on the road your walk attracts the creeps, the perverts and lechs.

As a woman, I don’t know how I’m supposed to change the way I walk depending on who is looking at me. I don’t know how to walk like noone’s watching, my body attuned to the male gaze, shoulders hunched, head down the minute the door is open. I don’t know how to stride down the ramp, comfortable in the spotlight because they taught me that on the street, my “catwalk” is a walk of shame. Why can’t the corridor be my runway when I saunter down the hall? I want to catwalk down the sidewalk, feline grace and confidence, hips swinging, shoulders back, and always ready to land on my feet.

As a woman, I want to strut down the shortcut to my house, I want to swing my hips as I walk to my first day at a new job, I want to make eye contact with that person who bumped into me, I want to smile at these people who are judging me, at these people who admire me, at these people who despise me, at the fact that I am here, I am here I am here and I am still walking.

-Diya Radhakrishna

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