This girl's on fire
We have been wondering where plus-size influencer Tanvi Geetha Ravishankar gets her happy high from. She opens up about her body positivity journey, and why India is long way off in the department
PLUS-SIZE influencer Tanvi Geetha Ravishankar (@thechubbytwirler) feels that her awe-inspiring confidence on Instagram is due to the fact that she started her journey of self-love early on. "From the time I was born, honestly," she says over the phone. It shows. Her videos and pictures, which flaunt the person she is, are telling followers, don't judge a book by its cover. Her mother ensured she didn't give her appearance more due than it deserved, and at school, she says she was never bullied. "It was a safe space. So, I have never had a problem with my weight. Now that I see others around me facing a problem, I think it has rubbed off on my image too."
Influencers like Ravishankar have joined the ranks of social media's most wanted. With the hashtag of body positivity reigning high in the past few years, with the likes of model Ashley Graham and pop star Lizzo leading the parade, Indian plus-size influencers are in demand. But as Ravishankar, 32, says candidly, "Most brands want to feature us only during a body positivity campaign. Otherwise, they forget us. Are we not interested in cool shoes and make-up, also?"
The distance she has covered has come with its own learnings.
Although she was studying engineering in Nashik, she returned to Mumbai to pursue her love for dancing. But the institute decided she should discontinue her training because she wasn't losing the desired weight. "I had already lost 40 kg, but I guess some people are just fat. I used to dance all day, then work out, then come home and eat just two boiled eggs. I still wasn't losing weight. Everyone told me, I had everything going to be a great dancer, except I had to be thinner. The whole day, we'd talk about weight and what we ate!" she says.
But, dancing instilled her with confidence. "There is something called the jazz walk, where you have to walk confidently across the room. It helped me shed my inhibitions."
However, the exit from the dance troupe led to a downward spiral and depression, that ended when she got a gig as a stylist on Channel V. "A neighbour who used to work at the channel offered me the job. It was a good fit. Fashion magazines were my Bible. I was always the go-to person for my friends and family when they wanted fashion advice."
Then, when in 2016, she walked the ramp at a fashion week in Mumbai for the plus-sized brand All, things took a turn. "My social media career took off. I used to talk about confidence before, but I didn't think people needed motivation to get over their weight issues. I had never met anyone as fat as myself before I came to fashion week. That's when I realised that people struggle with weight all the time. I wanted to help them out of that box."
Ravishankar's content surely does that. For example, in one video, she talks of not caring if your hands are bulky, and how to wear sleeveless. "No matter what your weight, you can't stop enjoying life. Although I too have shitty days, I try not to pay attention to what people say or feel about me. And I learnt to workout to stay and feel healthy, not to lose weight. Fitness isn't the pinnacle of our achievements. It's who you are that matters too."
Her point of view hasn't always been accepted. One of her posts was critiqued and she was accused of promoting death by obesity. On such days, she learns to take social media reactions lightly.
Tushar, her husband, isn't overweight, and she thinks it's acceptable for a couple to look and feel differently too. "The relationship happened because I was already the best version of myself. After watching Indian Matchmaking [Netflix show on India's tradition to orchestrate a match between couples and the stereotypes this practice perpetuates], I realised that people have shallow needs and expectations from their partners. They rarely ask how kind or talented someone is."
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