Sakshi Sindwani started her modelling career at Lakme Fashion Week with no prior experience but a lot of moxie. She was covering LFW auditions in 2018 as a blogger and was spotted by designer Rina Dhaka, who insisted she give modelling a try. Sakshi agreed to audition and that moment of spontaneity changed her life. She was soon walking the ramp as the show stopper for Rina Dhaka, a dream opportunity for even modelling veterans. The same year, Sakshi was shortlisted by Shivan & Narresh as the first plus-size swimsuit model ever to walk for Indian Fashion Week. She had created history, and pictures of her in the black swimsuit went viral almost instantly. Sakshi knew how to leverage that spotlight and went on to become the poster girl of the body positivity movement in the country.
Since her big modelling break, Sakshi’s journey has been equal parts exhilarating and nerve-wrecking. Exhilarating because there have been so many wins–she has modelled for top-notch designers, featured on Harper’s Bazaar cover and on BBC World News. Nerve-wracking because Sakshi seeks perfection in everything she does, a trait that has helped fuel her career as a content creator. With close to half a million Instagram followers, Sakshi is always busy perfecting her content and reinventing it constantly to stay at the top of the game. While her content is incredibly varied, all her posts follow one common theme—self-love. “I am just unapologetically myself, plus size or not,” says Sakshi. Yes, while the industry might know and hail her as a “plus-size model” today, Sakshi doesn’t see it as an award-winning position. In fact, she is using Instagram to challenge that narrative. She wants to remind her followers that you don’t have to be a particular size to pursue modelling or just to be celebrated.
In 2020, Sakshi started the “Breaking Fashion Stereotypes” Instagram series. Quite interestingly, the idea came from a hate comment where a troll had “advised” her to avoid wearing crop tops because her tummy looked “weird.” Through this series, Sakshi has been telling the world that one doesn’t have to be a certain size or age to wear what they like.
As a body positivity crusader and someone paving the way for the future generation of content creators, she had to feature in our #POPxoWomenWhoWin series. In a recent chat with POPxo, she talked about breaking stereotypes, career wins and her unfaltering commitment to being unabashedly herself. Excerpts below:
It starts with waking up to the sound of my alarm. Then I have this terrible habit– I check my phone first thing in the morning. The next thing I do is cuddle with my dog. I start my day with some puppy love and that’s what keeps me sane and motivated. Then I drink a whole bottle of warm water. Also, I am a very hyper person in the morning so when I wake up, there is a lot of music and dancing. It is literally like a dance musical happening. After that, I head for a workout, followed by the office.
Modelling was never a part of the plan. Back then, I couldn’t even think that I could become a model and it happened just by chance. I was invited to the Delhi auditions of Lakme Fashion Week as media. I was just covering it for Instagram shoutouts and stories. This is when designer Rina Dhaka spotted me in the audience row and said, “why don’t you go audition?” I said that I am not here for that. She however insisted by saying, “You have such a pretty face you should definitely audition.” So I did it and they really liked the way I walked, thanks to years of dance lessons. The jazz walk definitely helped. It almost appeared as if destiny had a plan for me.
I don’t think that the trolls I get are any different from what any other creators get. So it is as normal as anything else. There are lots of women who are smaller, taller, shorter than I am and they get trolled anyway. I think every woman on the internet gets trolled irrespective of her looks or size. It’s not really about being a plus-sized or conventionally sized girl. I personally don’t like the connotations attached to the size. It is not a trophy-winning situation. I am just confident. I am just unapologetically myself, plus size or not.
As far as dealing with trolls is concerned, I mostly laugh it off. But I am human and it does affect me when a bad comment comes on an already bad day. But I have this 15-minute rule. I let it affect me and I validate my emotions, completely. If I have to cry it out, I cry it out. If I need to talk about it, I talk to somebody. After that, it is boss babe time ‘coz you have to get back to being the killer self. I remind myself that 10 bad comments out of a gazillion good ones cannot overpower the love and support that I have received from my community.
In fact, a lot of times these comments also inspire me to create content. Like this one time, somebody had talked about my tummy looking really pathetic in a crop top. It was some 2-3 months before the Reels launched on Instagram last year. I used that comment to launch the first fashion series ever on reels India. It was called Breaking Fashion Stereotypes and that came from a hate comment. So, I think I won at that.
I’d share three. One was, of course, walking the ramp for Rina Dhaka during the Lakme Fashion Week show. The second was when I walked for Shivan & Narresh in a black swimsuit for Indian fashion week. The third was getting featured on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar India in November 2019.
Thankfully enough, there have been lots of them. Being the first plus-sized pool model to have ever walked for India Fashion Week. Working with Manish Malhotra for his latest campaign. Winning the Cosmopolitan Blogger awards. Featuring on POPxo Power Women List. Being covered by BBC World News as the first plus-sized woman to have changed the industry. Launching my collections with LBB and Alaya. Working with some amazing brands. Doing my Spotify campaign with Deepika Padukone. Being the face of the K beauty foundation line for Katrina Kaif. Working with Dharma productions. Being a part of the Love Runs Deep campaign by Instagram. Doing all these insanely amazing things and getting the support from the platform itself.
I will say persistence, hard work, dedication, consistency, and discipline.
I was never afraid to explore and learn something new or to change myself in order to be better. I realised that in my industry it was important to bring new additions of oneself every three months to keep the content interesting. The aim has been to be creatively my best and set standards not just for the industry but for myself as well.
I am not afraid to make an effort for things that I want. My content team always says, “you put in so much effort in everything” and I always say that it is because I have to set standards for the new generations of creators. I have seen failures when I started. For me, this was not an easy success. I worked really hard for it and I have been doing it for a lot of years. Building a community for me came from making content every single day for years at an end. So yes, consistency and persistence have played a huge role.
Don’t say no to opportunities coming your way. Work really hard and remember, when you work in the right direction, greater opportunities come to you. Don’t forget to work on yourself, on your walk, on your poses. Pitch to the right people, as much as you can. There is no harm in scouting for resources if it is going to help your career. I have gone far and wide to build relationships with influential people in the industry. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to be yourself. In this industry, people really appreciate your uniqueness especially right now when we are finally talking about inclusivity and diversity. Don’t try to replicate anyone ‘coz the real version of you is the most beautiful one.
The mantra that I swear by is to know what you want out of your career or life.
I always spend an hour or more at the end of the day with my family. We just talk, gossip, and give each other a rundown of our day. Also, I am a sucker for adventure and it is adventure dates, sports activities, and music festivals that I indulge in to unwind.
Featured Image Courtesy: Sakshi Sindwani