Last week, an 18-year-old Malayali actress, Anaswara Rajan, faced criticism online after she posted an Instagram photo wearing shorts. In response, hundreds of women in India took to social media to support Rajan with the hashtags #Womenhavelegs and #wehavelegs, this week.
Commenting on the young actress' photo, trolls had shamed her for wearing shorts, saying it was "inappropriate" for her age, and "did not suit her culture".
Rajan, who is known for her work in recent Malayalam and Tamil movies like Thanneer Mathan Dinangal and Adhyarathri, hit back at trolls who questioned her choice of clothing. Posting a second photo @anaswara.rajan wrote: "Don't worry about what I'm doing. Worry about why you're worried about what I'm doing."
The incident triggered a social media movement of sorts, and the hashtags #Womenhavelegs and #wehavelegs soon started trending across social media platforms in India. Many women, including actresses from Kerala, posted photos of themselves wearing skirts and shorts, to send a message out to trolls that moral policing and shaming women for their clothes was not okay.
Malayali actress Ahaana Krishna (@ahaana_krishna) took to Instagram and wrote: "... What I wear isn't your business. What anybody wears isn't your business. Your business is just your business. Probably you don't have enough of it , so you try and poke your nose into other people's business. I will wear shorts, sari, shirt or a swim-suit .. it's not your license to question my character. Neither is it my oppurtunity to prove my own character. So, WATCH YOUR THOUGHTS, NOT MY CLOTHES."
Popular Kerala actor Fahaad Faasil also came out in support by posting a photo with his wife, actress Nazriya Nazim Fahadh, on his Instagram page, with the caption: "Women have legs."
Instagrammer @thelilartist_sruthimurali wrote: "To the ones who objectify women, if you're so concerned about our safety, question the ones who misbehave, question the ones who pass disgusting comments on and off social media. Educate children from a very young age to respect each other irrespective of one's gender..."
Tweep @rajisha_vijayan posted: "Can’t believe we still have to say this, but ya #womenhavelegs."
The discussions and memes on social media also pointed out how men do not face similar criticism for the clothes they wear.