For all the ladies who feel the pressure of having to live up to the label “sexy," Sofia Ashraf of Kodaikanal won’t fame has a new anthem that she has self-deprecatingly titled “I can’t do sexy”. I can’t do sexy is the latest of Sophia’s videos, who also contributes a series called ‘Sister from the South’, featuring music videos, spoken words, short films and sketch comedies for Blush on YouTube.
Sophia addresses the video to the “passable looking ladies," including herself in this conventionally unflattering description. In the video, Sophia sings a refreshing rap about being “unsexy” and “owning it”. In a culture where a woman’s “sexiness” takes precedence over any other quality, Sophia attempts to talk about being able to do other things like “cash cheques, impress execs," but proudly and cheerfully claims “I can’t do sexy”.
Sophia’s song comes as a humorous intervention to the carefully manicured images of women that we are often bombarded with. While female comedians like Aditi Mittal and Radhika Vaz use the platform of stand-up comedy to normalise conversations around women’s bodies, Sophia’s song attempts to do the same with her owning her so called “unsexiness”.
"When I was growing up, I had a lot of strong female musicians like Pink, Lauryn Hill and Alanis Morissette telling us that we don't need to fit into conventional ideas of sexiness. This language of body-positivity went a long way in shaping my identity. While I Can't Do Sexy is a comic song where I make fun of myself, it has a stronger core message of being okay with who you are and being comfortable in your own skin,” says Sophia.
Sophia in her song, however, does not denigrate women, who are sexy or want to be sexy. “I am not anti-sexy. I am merely saying I can’t be sexy and I am all right with that. It is important to make a distinction that I am not saying that I can’t do beautiful, I am just saying I can’t do sexy,” Sophia says.
The catchy refrain redirects our gaze to the woman who can be funny and goofy, and be all right with her body, even if it does not fit conventional notions of beauty.
“There is an entire generation of women today who are conditioned to adhere to a very generic idea of what a woman should look like. Anyone who does not fit the bill feels left out or begins to think they are weird,” Sophia said.
This self-deprecating humorous vein runs through most of Sophia’s videos in which she addresses issues of gender and cultural identity. In another video for the ‘Sista from the South’ series titled ‘Advantages of Acne’ she unabashedly flaunts her acne and finds a way to laugh at it too.
Earlier, Sophia shot to fame with her rap, Kodaikanal won't which was on mercury pollution created by a Unilever factory in Kodaikanal. She had also staged a rap protest on the road when the AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala looked set to become the CM of Tamil Nadu.
The genre of rap still remains a male bastion and Sophia uses the medium to smash several stereotypes. ‘I Can't Do Sexy’ is a much needed antidote to the usually misogynistic rap songs of the likes of Yo Yo Honey Singh and Badshah, that we are inundated with in popular culture.