I am a sucker for wholesome success stories. The fact that supermodels can be made out of shopping teens being spotted at the mall is extremely fascinating to me. But what’s even better is that these stories reveal how our perception of beauty is constantly changing. One such example is Sabyasachi's latest muse, Varshita Thatavarthi.
The dusky, curvy 25-year-old model who is admittedly still trying to find her way around the modelling industry, definitely got people to sit up and take notice of her with her Women’s Day campaign with Sabyasachi. And if you ask us, we think Varshita’s here to stay! In a tête-à-tête with this pretty lady, we talked about all things beauty, inclusivity and body positivity, and we left rather enlightened!
BB: In your own words, who is Varshita Thatavarthi?
Varshita: I’m 25 years old. I was born in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh. Raised in Delhi. I studied Journalism and Mass communications at Manipal University, Karnataka. I moved cities to find modelling work and to become an actor. I’ve lived in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. So I don’t really know where I belong. I’m still trying to figure that out. But, yes, I got my breakthrough in Chennai and this is my story.
BB: How is it that you came to star in a significant Sabyasachi bridal campaign?
Varshita: I was trying films in Chennai and it was the Sabyasachi jewellery show in April 2018 where I first met him. I had no idea he was going to be there and was very nervous around him because I had admired the man and his brand for years and to suddenly have him around me gave me butterflies. But his staff made me feel very comfortable and at one point, Sabya sir walked up to me and told me that I was very beautiful. I was thrilled. I thought to myself that if Sabya thinks I’m beautiful, I must be beautiful. A photo-op followed!
Two months later in June, his team got in touch with me and asked me if I’d like to come and do a trial shoot with him in Calcutta. I immediately gave my consent and I was flown into Kolkata where I met him and did the bridal shoot. My life hasn’t been the same ever since.
BB: What does it mean to be called a “plus-size model” in today's fashion and beauty scene; are perceptions finally changing?
Varshita: I, in fact, find it repulsive when people address me as a “plus-size” model because it indicates that people feel the need to categorise women who have fuller bodies, while thin models are referred to as models.
As we all know, fashion magazines and runways around the world for many decades have been dominated by stick-thin models. Hence, it’s not easy to break into an industry like that overnight. Sure, America has seen some success with plus-size models like Ashley Graham who’ve been fighting for people to see their potential. There’s still so much more progress to be made in this area around the globe.
Now coming to India, I find it annoyingly strange when models are expected to be size 2 when an average Indian woman is far from that. So who exactly is the fashion industry representing?
BB: Many of your previous features focus on your distinctive dusky complexion being a signature look. Has it ever posed a challenge in your life?
Varshita: It takes an enormous amount of patience and strength to cope in an industry that has been conditioned to believe that anything above size 2 is an aberration. I was rejected for five years because I had a fuller body and dusky skin. No agency in India wanted to represent me because I didn’t fit their conventional body type requirement. Hence, I had to be brave and fight the hardest.
Firstly, the industry needs to change its point of view that plus size is an odd size. They need to realise that plus size women represent the majority of women in the country. Hence, we need better representation of these women on the runway and in fashion magazines. We also need more plus size women in key positions in the fashion industry because they can relate and be better decision-makers.
As writer Nicolette Mason once wrote, ‘’Inclusivity is the future in fashion. You can either get on board or fade into irrelevance.” It took me a long time to accept myself for who I was and love myself for the same. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do that with the support of my family, friends and of course, Sabya. Once I was accepting of who I was, I realised that the world’s opinions did not matter. I’m now a happy woman and I’ve learnt that confidence is the key.
BB: A model's skin is always overworked. Tell us about your skincare routine in detail.
Varshita: I like to start my morning routine with a gentle cleanser. I then spray a mist and pat dry with a cotton pad after waiting for a few seconds. This really calms and soothes my skin in the morning. What follows is an eye cream, which helps me get rid of dark circles and puffiness around my eyes.
I then moisturise my face with a super light moisturiser. In winters, I replace it with a heavier cream, which can also be used as a primer before makeup and it really softens my skin. After my moisturiser, I apply sunscreen, which has an SPF of 50+ so I know that my skin is well guarded against the sun and I keep reapplying it throughout the day.
BB: What about your nighttime skincare routine?
Varshita: My nighttime routine is a little more complex. I use a gentle cleanser as a face wash to help me get rid of all the dirt. I follow it up with a toner and I use it only at night because of its exfoliating properties. I love using serums at night and I keep trying something new every few months. After I apply serum, I like to massage my face with a jade roller. It really stimulates the muscles and gives my face a refreshed, radiant look. This is also my favourite step in my skincare routine. I then finish off with a night cream.
BB: Tell us some beauty habits you swear by.
Varshita: Twice a week, I like to exfoliate, so I use freshly plucked aloe vera as a mask for soft, clear skin. Before any big event, I like to use a super hydrating mask. I am a fan of eye drops to help me relieve dryness and redness in the eyes and make them look brighter.
I cannot stress this enough but you need to remove your makeup before going to bed no matter how exhausted you are. I love using makeup cleansing towelettes; they remove the most stubborn makeup and are very quick and easy to use. I like to follow it up with micellar water to soothe my skin and remove any makeup residue.
BB: What are some of Instagram makeup trends you are dying to try?
Varshita: An eyeshadow that matches your outfit, glitter eyeliner, spidery eyelashes and heart-shaped nail art.
BB: What is your go-to makeup look for a chilled out night out with the girls?
Varshita: I usually like to dress myself up in a classic LBD or a crisp men’s white shirt with denim jeans or a nice vintage skirt. I like to keep my makeup simple and neat. On some days, I curl and add mascara to my lashes and do a red lip.
BB: Tell us some of the skin foods you love to munch on!
Varshita: Avocado, citrus fruits, celery juice and fresh turmeric and ginger tea.
BB: If you could only choose one, which lipstick shade will you pick to live in your handbag for the rest of your life?
Varshita: A bold red!
BB: In your own words, tell us what beauty means to you!
Varshita: Beauty to me means confidence and your ability to project it out in the world with kindness and humility!