Composed by Vivien Huynh / Images courtesy of Tara Chandra

We sat down with Tara Chandra of @tarachandra_ about how she navigates the social media world and achieved what she's achieved to date.

Your one stop-shop to nonchalant femininity

There’s plenty to filter out when you’re sifting through Instagram, many images consisting of topics most relevant to you. It’s basically the algorithm to the whole thing, you’re not coming out from the Explore tab any time soon once you go on there. The beauty to this process is the commonality you find when you exude enough into scrolling through amazing food photography and life quotes—that’s when you land on a jackpot. Tara Chandra is a needle in a haystack.

Now in her twenties and flocking the streets of Sydney, she brings us a captivating-cool, but a kind and compassionate aura which has made getting to know her so pleasant. “I think my style is a mix of try-hard edgy Instagram girl, and also raiding my relatives closet for 90’s y2k clothes that I find in garbage bags”—you can spot the laughter coming from the idea that her almost 30k followers have found a sense of belonging within her posts. But that’s the best part; the large fanbase has been derived from the most genuine outbursts of Tara’s style and femininity. She is relatable, and that’s where the magic comes from.

Calm and collected, one of the main reasons you have found this girl to be producing an eye-catching feed is in due part to her early interests in documentation and video production. From the beginning, we caught onto her movement as not only a social media influencer, but a feminist in the mix of it all. Each photo uploaded forms an almost enigmatic approach to an empowering feminine subtlety. An attribute of her page that had caught our attention and made us want more. “I think I kind of struggle with that, sometimes I feel that I am oversharing a lot, but at the same time by oversharing; that creates a personal connection with my followers.” She goes on to tell us about the self-taught process to limit how much she is sharing and be more conscious about what is shared— “it’s easy to see someone online and think their life is perfect or that they always look that way or they're always happy.”

We ask her more about the identity series she’s been working on and Tara tells us of her goal to reveal parts of people that we don’t get to see online. “I had seen similar videos on Youtube, but none of them really asked the type of questions I wanted to ask.”— she has only recently moved away from interviewing people of whom she is close to, but the previous latter had consisted of those who she knew could provide deeper responses and insights into their lives. “I want to capture a person at that specific moment in time in their life, how they got there and what they hope to do. I want to try and reach that deeper level than what you see on the street.” There’s a lot about this girl’s style you can find on her social media pages, but what we don’t get a full scope of is that aside from the labels she’s administered— there’s that personal essence only she gets to decide will be displayed for the world to see.

“Social media isn't a complete depiction of someones life, it’s easy to highlight your life and only post the best parts.” Going through her feed, you notice an individualistic aspect of her, where even the shots consisting of either friends or collaborators still only take away a small part of the big picture. The stand-out is always Tara and her fashion approach. Because Instagram doesn’t seem to be a reliable source, nor a medium to truly idolise a public figure, we ask her what positivity actually comes from using the platform itself. She relays the growing issue of sustainable fashion becoming more spoken about —“more people are conscious of sustainability, especially in regards to fashion and fast fashion, ethical fashion etc.”— circling back with the downside of something good, “at the same time, because of online sites, we’re constantly seeing all these ads for fast fashion websites and the amount of consumerism online. That’s the negative part of it.”

“I want to capture a person at that specific moment in time in their life, how they got there and what they hope to do. I want to try and reach that deeper level than what you see on the street.”

Forget about your online persona for a second, we said. Let’s take a step away from the digital spectrum and let’s talk about what you believe in. “Feminism is a massive topic for me. I went to New Orleans in November of 2017 to attend TED women, and a lot of the talks there were amazing. There were a lot of women of colour speaking, specifically Black and Latino women. Many of them talked about feminism or issues relating to feminism.” Only just relishing in her twenties, it was a reserved moment for us to be able to witness yet another young woman identifying with the importance of gender equality. “Although I felt the conference as a whole was quite a privileged event. Tickets were very expensive to attend, the main event was $12,000 AUD. So the accessibility to physically attend the event was very inaccessible, even though they do post it on online. That was my one issue with it, and I was sponsored to go so I didn't have to pay the ticket price.” A statement like this indicated for us that Tara is no stranger to intersectionality, her role in pushing the prominence of feminism comes from, as she puts it—“to create political, social and economical equality between all genders. Empowering also trans, non-binary people and women of colour.”

So how did it get to this point? Where did this tough shell of a women come from? She speaks of the ones close to her who have formed what stands before you, “I think my family has influenced the type of relationships I build with people and the way I act around others. My friends really influence the way I dress and the things I like, but for the most part I think I build myself off of these influences to develop my own self...if that makes sense?”— she pauses mid-speech to seek a unified understanding; and we do understand. All of us are a signature of the people we keep around, irrespective of how much originality we play off. This isn’t a bad thing, just that our thoughts and ideas can be inspired one way or another.

I think in all aspects of the industry we are experiencing high speed and over saturation. On social media for example, we are constantly wanting to refresh and be fed new and exciting images. And let’s be honest, I am a victim yet an actor of that system as well.

“...but don’t get too swept up into it all”—she says, “there’s always a human behind the Instagram account that you follow. It’s important to remember that they're human as well. They do exactly the same thing you do; they’re just living.” I found myself on an insatiable expedition down her feed as she was saying this, only to stop and let the words sink in. “Live your own life and do your own thing.”