Upping the Aunty


Ladies and gentlemen, my Auntie.
Eating pistachios, sitting criss cross apple sauce on my outer space bedspread, sorting discarded shells onto planets, like that’s going to contain the mess.
I sorted my scraps onto the milky way, where it was harder to see them.

Auntie sitting cross-legged in a sari, who knew that was possible? This young Jedi has much to learn.

The character of Auntie plays a big role in Brahman/i. She serves as a sort of mentor for B, helping them navigate family history, Indian mythology, and their developing self-identity.

NPR’s Code Switch recently featured Upping the Aunty, a mixed media portrait project by artist Meera Sethi that celebrates the South Asian “aunty”. From Sethi’s website:

In South Asian culture, an aunty may or may not be a biological relation. She may be a friend of the family or a stranger. But if she is older than you – old enough to be your mother’s friend – then she is accorded the status of aunty. Neither our mothers nor part of our peer group, aunties may be trusted confidantes or gatekeepers of social decorum.

There are many aunties, and we may meet them every week, occasionally or only once; however they have a considerable impact on our lives. In jest, we may fondly mimic their gold and diamond studded hand gestures or their pairing of traditional clothing with running shoes. This mimicry is a form of distancing, while simultaneously drawing attention to cultural traditions that may continue unbroken, be discarded, or are transformed.

Upping the Aunty will honour this unique relationship through portraiture by paying homage to the fabulousness of aunty style and the importance of their role as transmitters of social and cultural knowledge and practices.

Here are just a few images from the project featured on Code Switch — do any of these ladies remind you of B’s Auntie?


Sunita Aunty



Gunalaxsmi Aunty


Shoba Aunty

More images from the project can be found on Tumblr and Instagram at #uppingtheaunty.