They took on society and pushed the envelope to create a market of their own in this industry. They not only accepted themselves but also embraced themselves and therefore the world accepted them regardless of the societal norms of the typical Indian mentality shunning all the socio cultural structures and such. Meet Mallika Angela Chaudhuri, the plus size model who is popular and living it up every single day.
Photography: Nithin Barath S
Location: Radisson Blu Hotel, Chennai City Centre
Styling: Chandini Khanna
Hair And Makeup: Volt Style Bar
As a child how did you cope with your body image?
I was born into a family with two very beautiful women, my mother and my sister whom I love and admire; I was just usually like a tom boy. I had a traumatic experience as a child and didn’t like attention on myself and was generally very shy about anything in regards to my curves. I had developed very young and at thirteen I was already voluptuous. I didn’t identify it as beautiful at the time, it was just annoying. And it was the time of the size zero so I felt very awkward and unsure of how people would look at me.
So when did you realize that these are all insecurities and this was not your true self?
I guess I truly realized it two years ago when I decided to do the Love Every Body campaign where we got Mr G Venket Ram to photograph 14 models of all colours shapes and sizes in an attempt to bring down the advertising mafia that perpetuated messages that a certain colour or body type is superior. I had a tiff with my boyfriend at the time about my weight loss, I was trying to get into the films at the time, everyone wanted me to shed a few kgs but it made no sense, why could a girl with a curvier body not get a break and what message would I send out to all the other women out there. He asked me promptly, “why do you want to change the whole world?” It was in this moment that I knew my true self, a spokesperson for all those who felt like me. My weight was not a hindrance, my body was beautiful and I ll always celebrate it. My point is basically to let people be and let them live the life they want to. There are no frames in this society, we create them. Shortly after that I became a lifestyle influencer and a body activist. It has been amazing journey.
How did you feel when you were asked to lose weight for a film or a performance?
How did it matter if I was a particular size if I was good at acting and we have had curvaceous bodies in cinema before; why is it now such a criterion for women? Why should you not get a job because you are considered overweight? It was the same thing as a girl being told, you are not going to get married because you are darker in complexion. I know actors are role models and I wanted to be one who was responsible and inclusive of all.
So what propelled you to become an influencer who is also a body activist?
When I realized maybe I was not meant to be just an actress but maybe someone who could change whatever percentage of the world by speaking out my thoughts. If I can change one person’s life for the better because of it I would be very happy with myself; and that was the only focus with which I went. From that day everything changed, for the best of course! I got so much acceptance, I got people sending me messages on Instagram about how they felt inspired and I truly felt I was making a difference.
Do you think there is a stereo type for looking good?
Anybody can look good. Someone once said there is no such thing as beautiful; I can make beautiful. Basically, it is a set of criteria that we allow society to create for us, when we should actually be creating it for ourselves.
When it comes to weight and health what are your thoughts?
Being healthy is scientific. You could be quite an overweight person and at the same time have a lot of energy. It is important to get regular checkups and assess your health and make sure you take the right steps towards making sure your weight is not the issue for any disease but this is not a reason either to discriminate. And I would say even health is a personal choice, nobody can dictate you into being healthy.
To all the boys and girls who have insecurities in regards to their weight or body types, chill out, its okay; its not a big deal. You are born alone and when you die it will be alone, the idea is to take a chill pill. Enjoy the moment. Fall in love with yourself again. Accept who you are first before you get others to accept you. Respect yourself first. Experiment with your body, clothes, your styles and you’ll find what suits you and makes you feel confident and the minute you taste this, magic happens. Stop listening to everyone else and listen to your mind and what you feel for yourself and automatically everything will become okay.
What are your career goals?
I wear a bunch of hats; I am essentially an entrepreneur but I came to Chennai to become an actress and maybe it will happen still. I have a tattoo studio which brings out as much original art and helps to engage Chennai in signature tattoo culture. I hope to continue making my business run successfully and also engage with at least one million followers within the next three years and maybe even walk the plus size category for the Victoria Secret Fashion Show and maybe hold an Oscar even one day.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Five years from now I wish to be sipping on a martini chilling on an island off the coast of Costa Rica with at least 40 of my dogs and all my loved ones and a brilliant social media platform and a lot of people whose lives are changed because of my speech.