Try to shy away from it as we may, even today there exists two India’s – one that allows its women to chase their dreams and one that believes stripping women of their dignity is the only way to keep them enslaved.

When I saw the beautiful work created by Rahul Saharan, I experienced everything from anger to love. In the end though, it came down to something simple – these girls are no longer victims of their circumstances. And in their triumph, we as a society, triumph too.

I’ve been asked many times why I am fanatical about fashion and the way people dress. These girls and their vibrant smiles speak volumes about the ability of clothing to transform the way we perceive ourselves. It has always been the medium I chose to express myself through.

Growing up in a small town, I was often subject to living by the dictates of my surroundings rather than who I really was. Blame it on conditioning or my inability to fight harder, I never quite understood how anyone other than myself had the right to define the person I wanted to be. I’m not discounting the fact that India even today is a patriarchal society and that most times concern from the males in our lives comes from a place of protection. But why not change that? Why not empower our girls and women to fight this bias rather than tolerate it?

India is definitely changing – where girls and women no longer live by the norms of society and are building the lives they want for themselves. The shift is subtle but everyday women break away from abuse and boundaries that have no foundation other than control.

Rupa, Laxmi, Sonam, Chanchal and Ritu – you give me the power to dream of a new India.

All photos by Rahul Saharan. See the entire body of work here