"They were telling me to act in porn films, I was body shamed."
An Indian couple was cruelly trolled after they had an intimate wedding photoshoot and it went viral.
In the photos, Lekshmi and Hrushi Karthik are seen laughing and hugging each other in a tea plantation, wrapped in white silk comforters.
The Kerala-based couple were married in September 2020. They decided to have a post-wedding photoshoot that would be “memorable” to make up for their small wedding ceremony.
Lekshmi said: “Ours was an arranged-cum-love marriage. Our families introduced us last year and then we dated and fell in love.”
They were originally going to get married in April, however, the pandemic prevented that.
Once restrictions were relaxed, they got married on September 16.
Lekshmi told the BBC: “It was a happy fun wedding, but it was attended by only our families and a few close friends. The police gave us permission for only 50 guests, there were so many restrictions.”
It was Hrushi’s idea to have a “romantic and intimate” post-wedding photoshoot and enlisted the help of his photographer friend Akhil Karthikeyan.
Lekshmi said: “It was great fun. We laughed through it. We were really excited about it. It was a part of our honeymoon, we were just married and we felt free.”
However, the trolling began days after Akhil shared the pictures on Facebook.
Lekshmi revealed: “We received two days of relentless hate.
“People said we were showing nudity, they asked if we were wearing clothes underneath, they said we were doing it for attention and seeking publicity.”
She added that most of the abuse was aimed at her.
“It was really awful for me. They were harassing me much more than him. They were telling me to act in porn films, I was body shamed.
“The trolls included a lot of women too. They found my earlier photos where I was wearing no makeup and began comparing, saying look how ugly she looks in these photos.”
But many came to their support and advised the Indian couple to ignore the comments.
“We didn’t know who the trolls were who were criticising us. We also didn’t know the people who were speaking in our support, but it made us very happy.”
Lekshmi also revealed that conservative relatives did not approve of the photoshoot.
“Initially, our parents were shocked too, but we explained to them why we wanted to do it and they understood and have been very supportive. But many of our relatives accused us of aping the West.
“They phoned us to ask what was the need for this? They said, have you forgotten our culture?”
Many demanded that they remove the photographs. In addition, the husband and wife were removed from family WhatsApp groups.
Despite the backlash from netizens and relatives, the Indian couple refuse to take down the images, stating that it would mean giving in to the trolls.
“If we do, they will take it as an admission of our guilt, that we did something wrong.
“But we didn’t do anything wrong. We were even wearing clothes underneath.”
She added that it was initially “hard for us to deal with all the criticism, but now we’re used to it. We know that’s how society is and we have learnt to live with it”.