Sista From the South raps about 'societal ideas' to do with sexy
Sofia Ashraf aka the Sista From the South is back with a new song, I Can't Do Sexy. Sofia, 29, a popular creative figure in Chennai, released the video on Culture Machine's digital channel Blush. Brimming with her trademark manner, the song reaches out to regular girls who might not be particularly happy with their appearance.
"My main reason for doing this is because when I was growing up I had a lot of role models - musicians like Pink, Alanis Morisette who tried to break the societal ideas of sexiness. I had a lot of role models like that, but now there are very few women out there who are happy being themselves," says Sofia.
Sofia is also bothered by the fact that young girls are taking cues from the 'perfect 10' models, whose images are air-brushed to perfection. "The song wasn't written as a joke," she affirms. "I realised that Blush has a young viewership, many 18-year-old girls are watching too, and this is the right age for us to speak with them. We need to make body positivity a cool thing for these young girls," she says.
"The video is a hilarious, self-deprecating take on how I can't do sexy. But it's very important to point out the side note that at no point I think I am mentioning that I am anti-sexy," she clarifies. "It's important to draw this line. For me, the most important thing about feminism is that it should be inclusive. We are talking about equal rights and equal opportunities - then even feminism needs to be inclusive," asserts Sofia.
"By saying I am anti-sexy, I mean by saying I am anti-vanity of any sort - I don't believe that. I think you can put on red lipstick, put on your sexist bodice and highest heels, and still have an opinion, and that you are entitled to your opinion and your equal rights. So I think to say that the video is anti-sexy would mean undoing the work of feminists all over. I definitely I am not anti-sexy, I have a lot of sexy friends and I love that they can be sexy, it's just something that I can't do."
The singer has earlier been vocal about a host of other issues in her songs. In Don't work for Dow (2008), she took on The Dow Chemical Company over the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy case. In Kodaikanal Won't (2015), she voiced out against the mercury pollution caused a Unilever thermometer factory in the hill town of Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu. Sofia's métier might just be the rap protest song.
"It was never a conscious thing. How it started was interesting - I am a musician and I'm also a writer. Rap as an art form is something that taps into anger and angst. Stuff like moral policing and patriarchal society bother me, and I would write about this. Initially it was just catharsis. But after Kodaikanal Won't turned out to be so popular, I realised it's a great time when people want to hear thoughts of a regular girl like me who is not the 'perfect model' type. That's why I decided I will use the online platform to talk about these issues," says Sofia.