A year in Skin Stories: 2018

A person with long black hair sits up in bed, under a blanket, reading a book. A magazine, cup of spilled coffee and pillow lie on the floor beside them. On the edge of the bed is a blinking phone. The bedroom is decorated with yellow wallpaper and a rug, lamp and painting in warm shades of red.

2018 was a big year for Skin Stories.

2018 was a big year for Skin Stories.

We turned one, published more writers and reached more readers than ever before, and reached people through workshops, festivals, and conversations both online and offline. We won the 2017 South Asia UNPFA/Laadli Media Award for Best E-Magazine, and the 2018 Social Media for Empowerment Award under the Citizen Media and Journalism category. Our writer Pragya Bhagat won an Orange Flower award for her Skin Stories essay.

Here’s what we offered all year, in case you missed it.

In January, Tony Kurian wrote about what it means to be on Tinder as a person with an identifiable disability. Jhilmil Breckenridge wrote about navigating trauma using poetry as medicine. Nandhu Sundaram wrote about living with bipolar disorder as a working journalist. Also read: Roshni Subhash on children’s books featuring disability, and Srinidhi Raghavan’s reportage from Sangli about the parenting journey of a couple with disabilities.

In February, we celebrated love. desire. disability month, with four essays by Nidhi GoyalManjiri IndurkarParvathy Gopakumar, and Upasana Agarwal. Nidhi and Upasana explored friendship and community, while Manjiri and Parvathy looked at romantic love through the lens of mental health and disability.

In March, our editorial by Shreya Ila Anasuya talked about chronic illness and gender. Abha Khetarpal wrote about how her own life is impacted by her work as a counsellor. Antara Telang drew a comic about how stereotyping impacts the lives of people with disabilities. Also read: Sonali Gupta on trying to navigate Mumbai with a locomotor disability.

In April, Jo Chopra wrote about growing older with an adult daughter with disabilities. Preeti Singh talked about how, as a disabled woman, she’s either seen as ‘helpless’ or ‘heroic’ — neither label fitting, or making sense. Srinidhi Raghavan talked about struggling to accept her chronic pain as being real. Chitra Kalyani looked at encounters with lovers and friends involving talking about living with bipolar disorder.

In May, we published an essay by Virali Modi about an abusive relationship. Adishi Gupta wrote about how books helped her navigate her difficult mental health. Shahana Hanif wrote about Lupus, and Jhilmil Breckenridge wrote an op-ed about the sexual rights of people with psychosocial disability who are incarcerated in custodial institutions.

In June, Rachelle Bharathi Chandran wrote about navigating healthcare as a Dalit, non-binary person with debilitating social anxiety. Pragya Bhagat wrote about living with misophonia. Rhee wrote about what access to a smartphone has meant for them as a person living with chronic fatigue syndrome. Srinidhi Raghavan reviewed Sick, a memoir by Porochista Khakpour.

In JulyAmla Pisharody talked about a romantic relationship and mental health. Christina Thomas Dhanraj wrote an essay about the mental health of Dalit women. Shals Mahajan wrote about living with chronic illness. Antara Telang wrote about finding community in a Whatsapp group of women amputees. Unmana Dutta wrote about living with food intolerances.

In August, Neha Margosa wrote a profile of Kiran, a trans man who lives with disability, and his love story with his partner. Reshma Valliappan talked about why she calls herself a schizophrenist. Prathama Raghavan wrote about trying to be an ally to the Autistic community as a mental health professional. Also read: Payal Kapoor on navigating two worlds as a woman who lives with visual impairment.

In SeptemberMalini Chib, whose memoir inspired the film Margarita With a Straw, wrote about sex and disability. Nidhi Goyal wrote about a love story that wasn’t –– the story of what happened when a non-disabled friend fell in love with her. Zarah Udwadia wrote about Aditi, who lives with Down Syndrome and runs a space called Aditi’s cafe. Abha Khetarpal wrote about keeping her emotional self intact in an ableist world.

In OctoberAmba Gauri wrote about the experience of pregnancy as someone who has sought medical care for her mental health. Nidhi Goyal wrote about how, as a blind woman, she belongs to a community of friendship, love, and care. Swetha Dandapani wrote about coming to terms with the self-esteem issues caused by navigating and living with difficult mental health. Also read: Antara Telang on travel, and Urvashi Bahuguna on fatigue caused by depression.

In November, Nidhi Mahajan spoke about living as a bisexual person with an incurable itch. Parvathy Gopakumar wrote about surviving the terrifying loneliness of being a young person with an amputation in an ableist world. Tony Kurian wrote about the difficulties and pleasures of learning to love his own body. Sharon Irani reviewed How to travel light, a mental health memoir by Shreevatsa Nevatia.

In December, Soumita Basu asked whether we could have a conversation about desire without centering people’s disabilities. Antara Telang askeddifficult questions that she faces as a young person living with disability. Ambika Raja wrote field notes as a woman journalist with a disability, and — in our final essay of the year, Devika Sundar expressed the invisible through her art project, Essentially Normal Studies.

We are grateful for the work we got to do in the year gone by, and are very excited about bringing you more fresh and urgent narratives on sexuality, disability and gender in 2019.

Featured image credit: Alia Sinha