This week on Friday Follow, we look at an influencer who has been standing as an example of loving ourselves, Aishwarya Tapadar.

For years we have only seen images of people who were considered to be beautiful and less like the ones we have. It took bloggers on a digital space to share their own experiences and struggles for us to start finding ways to feel good about our own bodies. Among this list of body-positive influencers is Aishwarya Tapadar. She has over the years, tried to overcome her own body image issues and insecurities and present herself to the world in the digital space with her content.

Born and brought up in Kolkata, she completed her B.tech in Civil Engineering only to end up making a huge career switch and shifting to Digital Marketing. With her grandparents being in the army and navy, her childhood was all about being disciplined. “My parents always taught me that I had to work extra hard to achieve what I wanted. Looking back I realize that I am what I am today because of them and their teachings.”

“Well, back in 2014, I was going through a rough phase. I was just in college and I was very conscious about the way I look and what I ate. I had already undergone treatments and rigorous training to lose weight and even though I had lost weight I wasn’t happy with the way I looked.” With her own struggles and the thought that there were others around who might have the same experiences, she started penning down her thoughts by starting a blog. When she joined Instagram it was quite new back then but she was one of the few in her circle who used it. Despite that, she found a kind of liberation on the platform and kept herself occupied by posting her true self without any filters. Knowing what to wear and which makeup to use was always her true pursuit. She always managed to dress up and not look out of place. Aishwarya started posting her day-to-day outfits and soon found her friends reaching out for recommendations and tips. “One such friend was working for a big PR house then. She approached me for an honest review of the products of one of the brands she was handling. I was ecstatic! It has been 8 years since then. Even though there have been hiccups down the road, I am more than sure that I am on the right track.”

When asked what fashion means to her reply was simple, ‘It is simply a way of expressing oneself.’ It has always been about dressing for the occasion for her. But her top priority is to wear what she is comfortable with. “I can wear a simple black t-shirt and denim, jazz it with some gold hoops and nude pumps, and rock it.” Her own ideas and inspiration come from everything around her. From the colors of the season, the way her favorite television character is dressed, to the set-up of an old 80s song she looks for things that will align with her style. “I try keeping up with the latest trends and transitions too. Plus thanks to social media, ideas are everywhere. I just need to know where to look in order to get inspiration from!”

She also credits a lot of it to how beautifully fashion has evolved in the last couple of decades. She recognizes the fact that people are willing to put their time and attention into how they want to present themselves. They decide on how they want to dress for their office, interview, day out with friends, date, or invitations. People are taking care of themselves. A majority of the crowd who was previously self-conscious is now wearing what they love and flaunting it beautifully. Brands too are designing their new launches keeping all body shapes in mind. If you ask me, this is the best time to be alive!

She did not shy away from applauding the Gen Zs when it comes to fashion. According to her, Gen Z knows that fashion is not just for luxury. “Thanks to the thrift stores and the brands focusing on sustainable fashion, we can dress as we want, where we want, what we want!”

We know that despite fashion being inclusive, especially in the digital space, the practice to label influencers with certain body types who do not fit the traditional body norm continues. We now recognize them as ‘body positive’ and ‘plus-size influencers.’ This idea of fashion still considering them to be different and not a part of the industry like any other influencer is a bias that even Aishwarya understands.

When asked what her thoughts of influencers like her being labeled feel like she said, “Well, there is no harm done even if someone calls me a plus-sized influencer. I kind of take pride in it. Society had always accepted people who are “normal” according to their perception. Girls who are slim and have a small waistline, thin hands, and a fair complexion are idolized. Whereas a girl with a slightly larger or smaller waistline is tagged as “anorexic” or “obese”. I for one was cautious before selecting any outfit. I knew I had to wear long tops to cover my belly, long sleeves to cover my arms, and jeans or salwar were my go-to outfit. But then something happened. I distinctly remember, I bought this beautiful dress which was sleeveless and with a plunging neckline, but never more as I kept promising myself that I will wear it when I lose weight! Months went by and my weight never reduced. Then one day, when I went looking for the dress, I realized the dress was gone. Maybe it was misplaced, but it broke my heart. It was that day that I promised myself again that I will NOT deprive myself of these little joys of life! And then I started dressing up! Corsets, skirts, dresses, shoulders anything and everything which I had my heart on, I bought it and wore it. And guess what! A lot of people around me got inspired.
I have received DMs, phone calls, and texts after every outfit post that I do where someone comes up and thanks me for standing up for all the plus-sized girls like me! That is what I started this for, and that is happening.”

How has your content evolved over time, especially with the popularity of short-video platforms?

Instagram specially started off as an app where we had these very chic filters which could be used. The first of its kind. From there to one of the biggest platforms for content creation and short videos is quite a journey. I especially loved it when “Reels” launched. If you ask me,9 years back the girl who just posted static posts, is now making her way to reels! But yes it does require a lot of strategic planning and studying before making content and taking it to live. From the hashtags to the audio, to the hook, the caption, and the background, everything needs to be well planned in order for the reel to reach a larger crowd.

Do you follow any Indian creators whose content you enjoy?

I absolutely love Ishita Mangal and Sakshi Sindwani! Their content + humor is a delight to watch!

Since you started creating videos, what according to you are the best and worst parts of content creation?

The best part is the fact that you can influence an entire generation from your content! They will follow in your footsteps and they will try to be like you. And that paves way for the bad part. If you are promoting something that is wrong, they will follow that too. So deciding what to promote via my social media becomes one helluva task.

Have you received any DM from your followers that stayed with you?

Yes! I recently posted a reel where I was wearing baggy pants with a crop top. One of my followers reached out to me and told me that she always wanted to wear something like this but couldn’t and was scared. But after she saw the reel, she went ahead and ordered herself a pair of those pants and a crop top! I was so happy! Another one was from this lovely lady who was a brilliant dancer but couldn’t pursue it after she got married. She said that she got inspired and now posts amazing dance videos on her page.

If you had to describe your hopes for 2022, what would that be?

I want to reach out to more people like me, who have been hiding out for far too long, lest someone attacks them or hurts them. I want them to know that there is some good left in the world and they can come out and they can love themselves. I have been a victim of bullying and body shaming throughout my life. But I don’t want others to feel that way and through my journey, I want them to feel inspired and fight back. So the goal is to see more confident people out there with happy smiling faces and not broken hearts!

Do follow Aishwarya to enjoy the content that is both positive and stylish.

Also Read: Aatman Desai is striking the right chord with his music and funny content

For more creator-related content follow us at @socialketchup