It takes a lot to embrace your flaws and here's how these women did it!

Abandoning a care for the world’s judgements and unlearning antiquated social conditioning helped these models unhate parts of their body.

22 January, 2024
It takes a lot to embrace your flaws and here's how these women did it!

We all have parts of ourselves that we’ve tried to hide, the parts we think are imperfect, flawed or worse—deserve to be berated. A bulging tummy, large hips, tiny breasts, broad shoulders, patchy skin, pigmented underarms—the list is hardly exhaustive. Time and again we’re made to feel less than and set apart from sample-sized beauty only to find ourselves in an often-damaging relationship with our bodies. The truth is that we live in a world full of unsolicited advice, narrowly defined standards of beauty, and one that will continue to be barraged by labels and judgments no matter how hard we try to belong—because that is what we have been told to do.

But take it from these women—redefining beauty and saying ‘f*** it, it’s fine,’ to the world is better than living a life hating all that you are. So, what do we do? Is it simply enough to talk about body positivity and pin-up Pinteresque affirmations on our mirror? Perhaps. But healing from the hate you’ve been embroiled in can be a long-drawn, internal battle with yourself—one we’d definitely recommend fighting. Find below experiences of a broken tryst with insecurities, the strength in vulnerability, a reminder to live how you want to every day and glimmers of hope that are to here to say, you’re not alone.

Beauty lies within
Roshini Kumar, Artist and Model


“I had issues with a lot of my body parts; my stomach, my arms, my thighs…I think it makes you feel alienated as if you are the only one who has these issues. Society tells you that you look different and, for some reason, they’re always pointing it out. Then you start looking in the mirror and hate yourself. I hated myself. I thought I was disgusting for a large part of my childhood.

But when I was unwell for a bit I realised that I was living life for everyone else, except for myself. When you’re put in a situation where you don’t know if you’re going to live the next day, you tend to question what you’re doing. So, I came out of the hospital and decided that I’m going to live for myself. I was just tired of hating myself because I’ve done that for years. I also realised that the hate didn’t come from me. I had no issue with my body before people said things about it. I just started standing up for myself and stopped listening to what people had to say. It took me about five, six, seven…a proper 10 years to reach full body positivity. When I was about 15, I discovered that I love photography. I started shooting lots of things and when I was in photography school at about 21, I reached a place where I was body-neutral. Before I left that school, I did a nude shoot for myself and highlighted all the flaws I hated back then. And it was so liberating, I felt like I needed to be able to put this up, not being afraid of what people are going to say. So, I put it up on Facebook. The response was unprecedented. Every single comment, a lot by women, said things like, “this is so lovely to see something relatable”, “you’re showing stretch marks”, “you’re showing cellulite”, “you’re showing your real body unedited.” After that I reached a level of being body-positive—nothing could shake me after that.

I got my first tattoo—‘I am what I am,’—at 15, because I needed this reminder that this is it, Rosh, from here on we’re going to turn our life and embrace everything that we are. At 18, I got ‘beauty lies within,’ because I realised, beauty has nothing to do with your looks. Being beautiful can be anything you want it to be. So, just be loving towards yourself. You can’t live a life hating yourself. I don’t want you to wait till you get a disease, and then realise things. I really want people to understand that you can live life today. Just get up and choose to do whatever the hell you want. Ignore everyone else. It’s worth it.”

You've got to rise up baby
Anjali Anand, Actor and Model


“I know that people who look like me will look different because we are plus size. Today, the conversation around different body types has increased, but the fight for it started way before social media. I have always been confused when people say things like they don’t like a certain body type. For me, it started back in the ’90s, when my sisters or anybody I knew, would not want a full-length photo of themselves or they didn’t want their photo taken below a certain point of their body. That is the schooling that I came from.

For me, it has never been about one body part. I’m six feet tall. For me even to be in a picture with anybody else was always weird. If you see me in group pictures, I’m always bending. So, my biggest fight, not with myself but with the world has always been, ‘Why are you so tall?’ ‘Why are you so broad?’ ‘Why are you so big?’ My shoulders are 19-and-a-half inches broad. I could be a good dancer, but I was always standing in the back row. If there’s a class photo, I was always standing in a corner. I’m just a bigger person in this normal-sized-average-person world.

I’m still fighting it but the only thing you can do is just be so good at what you do, that it does not matter what size you are, they will have to take you because there’s nobody better than you at that. I may not know many things, but acting is something that I know. It’s what I’m made for. I’m doing it quietly because I just want people to be inspired by what I am doing and not by what I’m saying. I make my own clothes because I feel I look the best in whatever I wear. I’m not famous enough for designers to customise clothes for me. I am not a sample size. But the time will come when they will want to customise for me.

I genuinely believe how you’re feeling from the inside, you end up looking at the outside. So, if you feel like you’re the most beautiful thing on this planet, you will end up looking like that—doesn’t matter what the world says. The first time I watched Ranveer Singh on Koffee with Karan, I said that this is my spirit animal. When we started working together, I realised we are both mad people and I just absolutely love him. During this time, there was an ad of his that came up with Pepsi that said, ‘Logon ko na mujhse badi problem hain (people have issues with me),’ and I loved that because I felt the same. People always have some or the other problem—why am I always happy? How am I not a mess? The truth is, I do have anxiety; I do go into depressive moods, but it’s okay. I’ve just learned that you either go through it happily or go through it in a sad way. You have to go through it either way. So, this one line from that Pepsi commercial that says, ‘Duniya kheechegi neeche (the world will pull you down), but you’ve gotta rise up baby,’ is my reminder to love myself.”

Your skin doesn't define you
Aastha Shah, Model and Content Creator


“It started off when I was seven or eight years old. I noticed a few spots on my leg. We didn’t really know what it was but we went to the doctor who gave me some medication and said it would go away eventually. On googling it, we realised it was vitiligo. The next day, we barged into the doctor’s cabin and asked why he didn’t tell us. His response? I know how parents feel when we tell them that their child has vitiligo. That was the breaking point for all of us.

I was really young to understand what it meant in this society. My skin was brown, but I had white patches, which made it very easy and clear for anyone who looked at me to find out about the condition. It was not even like a part of my body, which was covered, the whole world could see me that way. There were a lot of people who definitely made me feel very different. They used to pass a lot of comments—some even called me Dalmatian (the dog). We started all kinds of medications.

My life was just going to school in the morning, coming back, going to different doctors, applying different kinds of medicines and coming back home to sleep. I tried homoeopathy, allopathy, naturopathy—everything possible. I remember going on this trip abroad where I got sunburned, and my skin peeled off and that white part turned black. At one point I had brown, white and black skin. There were days when I would just look in the mirror and cry.

I think the turning point was when I just went up to my dad one day and asked if we could stop all the medication—because my vitiligo wasn’t reducing, it was just growing at a very slow pace. The next day, we stopped all the medication. I started living life like a human being. I started going out in the sun, spending time with my friends, and eating normal food.

I think my parents and brother had a huge role to play in this. They always encouraged me to wear shorts and sleeveless clothes and never made me feel different. It was also because of them that I wanted to tell my story to inspire others around me. I decided that I would make my own profile public and started posting about my journey but I got a lot of hate comments, and I was going to make it private again but a friend told me to just focus on the good comments.

I realised that there were people who wanted to get in touch with me to speak about my journey, so many people from rural areas who had it way worse than I did—they had no support from their families, and some even put hot wax on the skin, so that the skin gets burnt! There was so much negativity surrounding vitiligo that I had to change the narrative.

Being in front of the camera wasn’t always easy but, you have to start somewhere. Two years ago I started creating content and I haven’t stopped since."

We cannot shame the human anatomy for doing it's thing
Gauthami Jeji, Model

“Honestly, in my head, there are a lot of things I’m trying to love about myself. Let’s start with my tummy. I got fat during the lockdown and a little cute tummy has popped out. I’m not very confident about my thighs. I’m insecure about body hair. But a part of my body that I have really struggled with is my pigmented underarms. Growing up, not a lot of women were comfortable with pigmented underarms. Having them just made me feel very conscious and very uncomfortable. It is almost a feeling of wanting to shrink and not wanting to be seen. I would constantly put myself under the pressure of having to wax, thinking it would take out the tan or whatever these horrible myths you hear growing up. I just grew up wishing it looked different.

The fact is that skin is supposed to have multiple colours. We cannot shame the human anatomy for doing its thing. But we grew up seeing people capitalising on the human bodies. It’s truly horrible. Not to mention, most of these are done by old men in boardrooms who don’t even know how it’s supposed to work. It’s horrible that women get such little space to just talk about their bodies and, have that space to even accept it. During these times, my sister often offered a fresh perspective. She is someone who’s always thinking outside the box. We still continue to have conversations about our bodies, and self-image. She played a very important role in shaping the woman I am today.

Even now, it’s something that I am trying not to hate…even if I don’t love it right away. I think we have to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to love it. Something a friend told me recently was to break up with the idea of shame. So, whatever I do, I just don’t feel shame anymore. I think I have made my journey with my self-image a little easier by taking pressure off the table. So, for me, the word “beauty” has evolved by not attaching it to materialistic things and attaching it to experiences. I’m so grateful for my job which has given me so many opportunities to wear some of the best clothes. There have been so many times when I have been in my pyjamas and messy hair and I have
felt more beautiful because that day I probably was kinder to myself.”

How you speak to your body is the only cure to a lot of what you think about it
Freya Kothari, Model


“As somebody who has been obese for most of my life, I feel that my entire body is something that I have struggled with. Right off the bat—I would say my stomach, or even my arms. My entire school life I was called ‘Flat Freya’, because my ass wasn’t as normally rounded as a woman’s ass would be. There were songs that made fun of my weight and my breasts…name-calling was a huge part of my childhood. I think early on, especially when the millennials were growing up, our access to reality was very different. Television, advertisements and magazines portrayed one idealistic type of body. I think growing up, I let people’s judgement affect me because I didn’t trust my own body. I didn’t trust that they were wrong. I didn’t trust that my body was normal because there was no information around that time.

Through a lot of internal work, you eventually understand that these are just perceived flaws. With modelling, I’m on a very tough journey because it’s hard for me to be able to see my body on camera. To the world, you may look perfect. But in your head, you’re occupying so much space, you don’t know how to hold your body. You might wear a T-shirt and pants and feel a particular way, but in the same T-shirt and pants, I won’t feel like Freya because I’ve not been used to that clothing on me and it’s something that I haven’t cracked. I think it’s a continuous process to build a relationship with your body. For me, a major part of this happened during the pandemic. I took up a three-month residential drama course, where we were amidst nature. The training was not just acting, it was about dance, movement, emotions, and paying respect to the Earth’s elements. At this point, I felt that I was finally in touch with my body which was not material, but an experience. I think my biggest learning would be to just be present in the moment and accept you are constantly working on your body.

I feel like it’s a long journey. And you can never say which is the end moment in the journey. I’ve been losing weight for a very long time. I was at the gym once. I had just finished my session and I entered the washroom. I looked at my belly and I was really aggressively yelling at it. This older lady walked in and told me never to talk to my body like that. Over time, I realised that how you speak to your body is the only cure for a lot of what you think about it. Just be present and accepting of your body. Don’t be harsh and don’t berate it—even when you eat a whole doughnut. I have my moments of ups and downs. Usually, I just dance to old Hindi songs to feel my most beautiful.”

Also read: Here's how you can make 2024 a year full of body positivity and main character energy

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