The word “model” by definition applies to something or someone that represents a sample, right? Well, God save us if the average Indian woman becomes 5’8’’ tall and starts flaunting washboard abs. Because that’s exactly how almost every fashion model during Indian Couture shows and fashion weeks looks like. In fact, it was just recently that the Indian designers were called out for levying “fat-tax.”
Of course, the fashion industry has long stereotyped women, while constantly projecting the tall, slim, non-curvy body as the epitome of beauty. Quickly swipe through all the fashion films from Indian Couture Week 2020 and you’d understand. Barring a few designers, fashion continues to be highly exclusive. And that’s exactly why seeing a curvy model on the runway becomes a huge deal and a matter of applause even when it should be a norm. Well, model Varshita Thatavarthi is surely one of them.
It was three years ago that Varshita first broke the internet posing in a crimson bridal Sabyasachi lehenga. Dusky, curvy, and every bit gorgeous, she casually challenged every single stereotype attached to the idea of beauty in India. She was spotted by the designer himself during a jewellery show in 2018 where he saw the perfect muse in her. Soon after, he had his team reach out to Varshita for a modeling assignment.
Cut to 2021, Varshita is a part of every Sabyasachi fashion campaign now. Last year, she also made an appearance in Milano Fashion week’s digital presentation by designer Dhruv Kapoor. She has surely come a long way and yet has a long path to tread as she goes on fighting biases in the industry.
In a recent interaction with POPxo, Varshita took us through her modelling journey so far and told us what it takes to go against the industry’s biases on an everyday basis.
How difficult was it for you to find your place in the modelling industry?
It’s taken a lot of hard work and patience to come this far. I’ve always aspired to become an actor and moved several cities to audition in films. I was constantly rejected and made fun of because of my complexion and my body and I was in my early twenties then. When you’re that young, it can take a toll on your self-esteem. I don’t think I’ve fully recovered from that, I’m still judged for the way I look. If it wasn’t for Sabyasachi who had faith in me and gave me an opportunity to be part of his campaigns, I would have probably still been somewhere waiting for my first “Yes.” Truth be told, I still haven’t found my place in this industry. I’m still waiting to discover more designers who will not only give me work but also help me fight the bias in this Industry.
Has your journey empowered you?
It has made me believe that if you truly want something, things can change in your favour. You should be willing to become the nicest, the most hardworking person and the strongest because there are a lot of hurdles on the way.
Is the fashion industry truly inclusive?
I’m quite delighted to see that the fashion designers are now opening up to the idea of including women of different shapes and sizes in their campaigns. I’ve also noticed that modelling agencies are quite keen on signing fuller women. But I hope it lasts. It’s not a fad. Inclusivity and diversity in fashion is the future. I hope they see that.
What’s your advice for someone who is trying to make a career in plus-size modelling?
Firstly, the key is to be confident in your body. There is nothing more alluring about a woman than her confidence. Once you have aced that, here’s what you should do:
- Get in touch with modelling agencies with your polaroids. You don’t have to have a great portfolio for the agencies to sign you. Just the polaroids in plain white ganjee, jeans and heels without makeup should do.
- There are lots of photographers who are looking for fresh faces to shoot. A good idea would be to get in touch with them on social media to collaborate on test shoots. You learn a lot when you’re on the job.
- Give yourself some time to heal after every rejection and persevere to give your best the next time.
Having said that, it’s also very important to take care of yourself. One must eat healthy, do moderate exercise and also take care of your mental health.
What would say has been the key learning from your modelling journey so far?
That you’re only one ‘casting’ away from making it big. Believe in your dream and everything else will fall into place in its own time.
Apart from Sabyasachi’s fashion campaigns, what are the other projects you’ve worked on?
I was very fortunate to be featured on the Milano Fashion week digital presentation in 2020 by Dhruv Kapoor. It was also exciting to work with Katrina Kaif for her brand Kay Beauty, which celebrates women for who they are. There are a couple of other projects as well that I cannot disclose owing to professional commitments.
A mantra that you swear by in your professional life?
Just show up for work on time and everything else will take care of itself.
I want to work with more designers and become one of the leading models in the fashion industry. I just don’t only want to be known as a model popular in the “plus-size” division.