Tanya Bedi uses social media not just to post fit pics and golden hour selfies (she’s got those too) but also to amplify BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities, voices and policies. She’s unapologetic about her activism and is quick to dispense with trolls who often get into her comments section to start shit.
Bedi is a Delhi-based graphic designer. Her work spans digital, layout, product design, illustration and photography. She’s got a rich and diverse portfolio, that’s heartfelt, experimental and full of wit. She’s designed boxout.fm’s annual magazine in 2019, curated a hilarious drinking card game for Olive’s Bar, Serai and illustrated gig and audio artwork for Dubai-based electronic artist, Megatronic.
Boxout.fm 2019 magazine
In fact, one of our first digital campaigns, ‘Working Title’ was designed by her. It used hand-written annotations and ’60s workplace manila folders to bring alive a brutalist, structural WIP world brought alive by New-Delhi based Abhishek Babu’s moody 35mm photography. The series served to chronicle some of our first merch experiments, showcasing movement from ideation to progress to final output.
Spread for Auster WIP campaign 'Working Title'
Bedi has also modelled for Dazed magazine, Verve, Grazia and Delhi-based fashion label, Huemn. Her instagram includes self-styled, self-shot photos exploring her own body-positive, peachy, cloudy, wavy, Euphoria-esque aesthetic.
Tanya Bedi for Dazed Magazine. Photographed by Bharat Sikka
We chatted with the designer and activist extraordinaire about when she realised her hetero life was over, her favourite queer artists right now and exactly HOW much she misses Tik Tok after it got banned this month. Read below:
Roychuu: How many times have you tried to open Tik Tok by default since it got banned? What do you miss about it the most?
Tanya: I’ve lost count at this point, but once every four hours I try to open Tik Tok (it’s gone done from once every hour). In a homophobic country where toxic masculinity is praised it was my only escape. My for you page was curated with lgbtqai+ and feminist creators and then there were the rare sightings of a str8 man bending gender norms and relaxing in a skirt/dress. Gay Tik Tok was elite and I can’t be told otherwise.
R: When did you leave behind the hetero life? Do you remember the exact moment?
T: I remember when I was a teen I read this Tumblr post about a girl procrastinating coming out, and I can proudly say “same”. I knew I wasn’t str8 when in 7th grade I told someone I found Nicole Scherzinger hot (Buttons music video anyone?) and I was asked if I was a lesbian as a joke but something in my brain said, “maybe?”. After that I forgot about it cause it was way too much work to find myself. I finally accepted that I might be bisexual in 11th grade but I didn't feel the hetero leaving my body till I attended my first Pride Parade in 2018. Thank god for that.
R: What is some essential reading / watching to learn about the BIPOC LGBTQIA+ experience and fight?
T: Sadly in media the LGBTQIA+ movement is led by masc4masc white gay men (my guess is cause they are straight passing and hence easily acceptable). For POC representation there are the classics; Rent and Paris is Burning (+ the new series Pose) but I found some old LGBT Indian movies that have been interesting to watch. The two that left an impact on me were Darmiyaan and Sancharram. There’s a touch of camp in these movies and a a touch of Bollywood style over acting and drama.
R: Gen Z is bringing a new kind of tongue-in-cheek but effective social media activism to the table, what do you think millennials can do better?
T: I think the difference between Millennials and Gen Z is that Millennials insisted on changing the mind of Gen X and Boomers where as Gen Z had the space to say “fuck you and fuck your harmful politics”. Gen Z learnt the art of digital activism very fast while the millennials are still struggling, so the best thing Millennials can do it let Gen Z lead us into a better world digitally and show up physically to protests to help create a better world all around. If you see Gen Z leaving fairy comments on instagram on a fascist’s posts or buy tickets to a rally they will never attend, just join them.
R: 5 favourite queer artists right now?
R: If you could direct a TV show what would it be about?
A satire about a post apocalyptic world where only right wing cis men were left on this planet and they quickly learn money is not of use anymore so they fall into barbaric ways or survival. It’ll be fun to see these men survive in a world where they’ll have to make their own sandwiches and chai, homoerotic wet dreams that’ll lead to hetero panic, they’ll have to actually feel their emotions at some point. Gold.
R: Let’s play this / that. Answer the following questions really quick without thinking.
Love Island or Queer Eye - Queer Eye
Harry Styles or Joe Jonas - Joe Jonas (Always loyal to husband #1)
Holistic beach life or boss bitch city life - Boss Bitch City Life
Modi or Trump (lol jk) - The tiny piece rock next to my house.
Gen Z or Milennial - Gen Z (I’m a traitor)
Tik Tok or Instagram - Tik Tok
Twilight or Vampire Diaries - Twilight
Ramen or Matcha - Matcha
R: If you had to nominate someone for Queer Eye, who would it be? Lol don’t hold back. Also, do you think Bobby is finally getting the recognition he deserves??
T: I would happily nominate my friend Gavin ‘cause I know he’d appreciate a group hug with these 4 beautiful men and 1 non binary fairy just as much as i would. Maybe Antoni can teach him about cheeses and Jonathan can give him the coloured hair he’s always wanted.
I might be bias, but Bobby still deserved more. Everyone gets a heart2heart moment with the nominee but Bobby only seldom has those moments, I want a wholesome look at his personality and not just the houses he’s created (a whole house in a week + a few more surprises, what a KING)
R: What’s the next hair transformation going to be?
T: Bleaching hair without having a mental breakdown is so wild - I actually made a change to my hair a week ago (I bleached some from pieces) and I don’t hate it + I plan on keeping it for a while. So no new plans for now, just going to deal with the upkeep.
R: 3 favourite fashion moments / trends in the last 2 years and 3 LEAST favourite.
60’s Maximal Floral (hardly groundbreaking but exceptionally beautiful still)
Savage x Fenty Fashion Show 2019 (Bonus: Victoria Secret show got cancelled)
Awkwafina at the Oscars drinking out of a tequila filled clutch/flask
Ricardo Tisci’s Burberry Debut (Tisci is a genius stuck in plaid and beige, his era at Givenchy was iconic)
The viral video of a comedian joining the models on the Chanel runway show
R: Lastly any creative, brand, cause, relief group you’d like to shout out?
T: AYZH - helps women in need by providing them health care and sanitary products. a woman shouldn't have to free bleed if that is not her choice.
GAASH - support the transgender community. the queer and trans community faces troubles every step of the way and usually need to lie about their identity to get through life safely. the louder their voice can be heard the more normal it’ll start being to not be hetero/cis.
AZAD FOUNDATION - travelling in Delhi as a woman is tricky and this charity has a women on wheels programme where women in monetary need are trained to work cabs around the city and can be hired for longer trips as well for out of town needs.
Keep an eye out for a Tanya Bedi x Auster WIP product dropping very soon.