Like men from most middle-class Indian families, Rajat Mittal studied engineering. But now, at 36, he is a full-time creator, or as he likes to say, ‘creative-maker’, on a mission to dismantle harmful gender stereotypes. His foray into content creation began with Menstrupedia, the widely circulated and loved guide to healthy periods. Like he tells us in a candid chat about masculinity, money, and mental health, working on the comic with two other friends was a learning curve for him. Besides teaching him about menstrual health, it also allowed him to test the waters as a creator.
Rajat’s creative journey didn’t stop with Menstrupedia. Soon after, he co-authored She Can, You Can: The A-Z Book of Iconic Indian Women. After two successful projects about women’s lives, he has now created an 11-part essay series about boys.
Boyish came after Rajat became a father to a boy. Rajat was born and raised in a small town in Uttar Pradesh, and grew up with a restricted idea of masculinity. Over time, having interacted with people from diverse backgrounds, he learnt that men shouldn’t be pigeonholed in rigid gender norms. One of the boxes that are patriarchal society puts men in, is that of the ‘provider’. Boyish is an attempt to break this box, and showcase facets of masculinity that have nothing to do with one’s bank account. This series is borne of interviews with men who don’t have traditionally masculine careers. The list includes the likes of Manish Chauhan, a ballet dancer; Stanley Jones, a nurse; Mohsin Syed, a Zumba instructor; Elton Fernandez, a makeup artist, and Dr. Girish Kulkarni, a social activist helping sex workers.
We caught up with Rajat for a candid chat about masculinity, and what this implicit pressure of being the provider, does to men.
I write. I read. I do yoga. I hula hoop. I love cats and dogs in equal measure. I'd say the same for wine. My zen motto: "Eat kale for the body, cake for the soul." Find me on IG: @prachigangwani87