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The project questions the conditioning of young minds by ideas and images normalised by mass culture through the fairy tale character of the little mermaid. It inquires how this fictional character with Caucasian features of blonde hair, Blue eyes and overtly sexualized body type shapes children’s understanding of beautiful-ugly, good-bad and leads to gender stereotypes. Initiated in 2015, the inquiry was led through a series of Little Mermaid workshops with children in schools, hobby classes and urban settlements (basti vikas kendra) using storytelling, drawing and colouring. Different kinds of visualization were inquired through the zoomorphic mythical characters from the folk-art traditions. Young participants were encouraged to think beyond the popular, stereotypical imagery and narrative of the mermaid. This led to the making of a two-way storybook – Kachri, the little mermaid.

The Little Mermaid Project was showcased at the exhibition ABOUTTURN: Is the female point of view essentially feminist? At Alliance-Francaise, Gurgaon centre in 2016. The installation in the form of a participatory space, encouraged teenagers to deliberate. They may not be interested in these fairy tales in particular but were encouraged to make connections with other stereotypes of similar kinds. 

Find out more about the Little Mermaid Project at