Body image talk w/ Brinda
Inspiring Figures is back this year! If you’re new here, this is a monthly blog column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They are people you should really know about. You can find all of 2018’s inspirational figures here.
Each feature first took place live on Instagram – thank you to everyone that joined in!
THIS MONTH FEATURES, BRINDA GULATI.
Brinda is a finalist at the University of Warrick, working towards a degree in Creative Writing and English Literature. Originally from India, she spent 2 years in Singapore and has spent the last 3 years in the UK. After she graduates, she hopes to pursue a job in publishing and is an aspiring author.
We first met last year during the Tab and J.P Morgan Future 100 event, where we both made it onto the list for 2018. Brinda actually ended up winning first place with some incredible support from her family and friends, I recall admiring her and her work a lot (and still to this day!)
In the past, she has also coordinated TEDxWarwick and is currently the founding editor in chief of Patchwork, a publication where students can discuss politics, theatre and art and is also a poet. Brinda continually works to raise awareness of eating disorders.
The Anti-E.D. Lookbook: F*ck Victoria’s Secret
One of what Brinda is currently working on, “The Anti-E.D. Lookbook: F*ck Victoria’s Secret” all stemmed from this article where Victoria’s Secret talked about the exclusion of transgender and plus size models. TL:DR: it ruins the fantasy.
A huge whhhhaaaat the heck from you and me both, my friend.
As a clap back, Brinda has created a visual editorial with the aim of getting people to see what beauty means outside the bubble of size 0 angels and wavy blonde hair. The problem with Victoria’s Secret is the of no space for fat, lack of touch with reality, inclusivity and representation. This magazine is filled with body positivity messages including photoshoots from plus size models – Brinda aimed to break all the social norms in a single photoshoot.
Her goal is to start conversations around body image and eating disorders which stems from these unrealistic ideals.
Eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rate, yet it is not given an importance. Because it is perceived that it is food, and you aren’t supposed to be overthinking it. And if you are ungrateful. But eating disorders aren’t just about food. They are about unresolved feelings and anxiety that stem from ideologies you’ve been exposed to growing up e.g. fashion shows, movies, magazines, family and friends work.
Victoria Secret has impacted so many in a negative way. Binda has had experienced this first hand but also from friends who had said, “I want to look like X model so I won’t eat dinner.” This figure that represents beauty is followed by so many, and so if she skips meals there sure will be a lot of people following that too. This can manifests into something truly dangerous and life threatening.
Brinda is slowly removing all VS stuff and replacing them with Savage Fenty – a brand that is more inclusive of race, shapes, colour.
The impact of social media today
Just like most people today, Brinda is quite active on social media.
She used to follow fashion labels and models until about a year ago when she decided that they weren’t making her feel great about herself and they all seemed quite contradictory to her body positivity values. So she made the conscious decision to have a little cleanse on Instagram, unfollowing all these models and following more body positivity accounts that actually were making an impact on people’s lives.
Brinda recommends accounts such as bodyposipanda, run by Megan Jayne Crabble who wrote a book on diet culture and how everything we do is imposed on us (especially women) By following these accounts, she has reduced the consumption of things that make her feel bad about herself. Even if you are scrolling on social media and it doesn’t affect you at the time, these things manifest over time. Better your mind and how you view yourself… starting with your daily consumption!
Brinda isn’t saying that you should ban yourself from these accounts, by all means follow them but if has more of a negative impact on you then you are falling into that multi-billion dollar diet/fashion business.
Social media is a tricky balance, but you have to be mindful of your triggers.
Being a poet
Poetry has always been a hobby for Brinda. When she was younger, she won a prize in Middle school for her poems. Her poetry skills has since been developed with her degree, her most recent work published is on Anti-Heroin. Brinda talks about incredible mentorship at University that inspired her to take poetry more seriously and now she’s published and recognised for her work in various places.
Although some shy away from the title of being a poet, she holds the name proudly!
Organising a TEDxWarwick
Last year in March, Brinda ended up being president of the organisation behind TEDxWarwick – one of the biggest run events in the whole of Europe, seeing over 12,00 people attending every year. This one was especially special as it was the 10th year anniversary.
Brinda talks about how positive branching out of her degree was despite it feeling quite daunting to begin with, she was able to make loads of friends and meet inspirational leaders such as Harnaam Kaur who talked through her experience in acceptance and body image.
2019 and looking ahead
When I asked this question, Brinda alarmed me with her answer of “Since I was 13 years old, I was always on a diet and this was slowly chipping away at my mind and the health of my body.”
This hit me (and actually saddened me a little bit) because I bet that this is a shared conscious across the world. But this year, Brinda is focusing on intuitive eating and truly listening to her body rather than telling it what to do.
“If I want a cookie after 11pm, I will have that cookie.”
“I will go to the gym to genuinely enjoy myself. That’s it.”
Brinda shares that she has probably spent millions of hours over her life obsessing over her body which didn’t do anything but hurt herself.
Advice to younger girls around body image and positivity especially in this social media perfect world
The world of fashion and social media is glamorous but take it all with a pinch of salt.
It is increasingly getting easier for anyone to edit their photos. In reality, skin is not that glossy and limbs aren’t that long. Brinda emphasises how you can enjoy them but it is so important of being mindful of these easy alterations so your reality isn’t easily distorted.
“If we didn’t have picture perfects stuff in the media, we wouldn’t have anything to aspire to and the industry would collapse. But it’s doing so well, there is something right that they’re doing and something wrong that we are doing to our bodies and minds. In that sense, not accepting ourselves for who we are.”
Brinda’s second advice especially to young girls is that they need to understand that their worth is not tied to their dress size or weight on the weighing scale. There is so much more to a person!
From a young age, girls are put under so much pressure to be perfect. “Don’t eat that, you’ll get chubby and boys won’t like you.” There is so much pressure to deal with because we’re all like sponges believing every single thing society says.
Brinda shares how she used to think that if she looked perfect, her life would be perfect but isn’t that far from the truth?
It isn’t your problem is people don’t like how we dress, or our size. At the end of the day, it is their problem.
“If someone is making you feel shitty on how you look or your weigh, cut them off.” Advice numero 3.
Catch up on our chat on YouTube
You can catch-up with our conversation on YouTube below! A huge thank you again as usual to Clark Narvas for putting these together.
You can find Brinda primarily on Instagram! I hope her story and projects interesting, our conversation certainly left me feeling much more confident and refreshed about how I view my body, my self-worth and more! Brinda truly is an Inspiring Figure.