3 lessons in body-positivity from the most badass woman I know
My best friend, Stuti, is a badass.
As her Instagram profile proclaims, she’s an unbothered queen. She’s an advocate of body positivity, of loving yourself no matter who you are or how you look.
I’ve never met any woman of my age so confident in her body. She rocks these amazing fashionable clothes like they were made for her. And even when she’s wearing the baggiest of pajamas, she looks like a million dollars.
But if you traveled fifteen years back in time, the Stuti I knew in school was very different from who she is today. Teenager Stuti was a tomboy who hated when her hair grew long. Bold, confident, and never afraid to take a stand, she knew what she was worth and never shied away from asking for it.
That’s one trait that hasn’t changed now that she’s older. But looks-wise, almost everything else has. The short-cropped hair is replaced by shining black tresses falling down to her waist in exquisite waves. That no-nonsense laidback attire has morphed into a wardrobe that would make even the most fashionable woman jealous.
And the best part? She wears her confidence like an accessory that only enhances every look she chooses to sport.
On account of International Women’s Day, I had to get inside the mind of one of the smartest, most confident women I know. This article is about Stuti’s take on what it takes to be confident in your own skin, how to deal with envy and hate from observers, and how she evolved into the strong, confident woman she is today.
1. No Matter What You Wear, the World Will Judge You
I asked Stuti how she managed to be so confident in her own skin. Did the rude comments of passersby or the hate on social media not bother her?
She told me she learned this message very young. In 2008 when we were still in school, the song Zara Zara Touch Me, a raunchy item number from the action thriller Race was released. In it, one of the most gorgeous women in the Indian movie industry — Katrina Kaif — is shown dancing to the groovy beats, trying to distract the male lead from his mission. Playing the role of the sexy seductress, Katrina looks stunning in a tiny periwinkle blue dress.
But when we discussed the song in school, several of our classmates made fun of Katrina, saying she looked terrible. This was an eye-opener for Stuti. If people could say someone as beautiful as Katrina Kaif looked terrible, there’s no end to how far this stream of negativity would stretch.
This made Stuti realize that when people hurl hate onto others, very little of it has to do with how they actually look. Most of it is them projecting their own insecurities onto the other person.
No matter what you wear, people will always say rude things about how you look. The only way out is to ignore them. Wear your clothes with confidence, and say fuck you to anyone who says you’re not beautiful.
2. Fashion and Style Don’t Have A “One-Style-Fits-All” Rule
When I asked Stuti how her parents reacted to her fashion choices, she told me she was lucky her family never objected to her wearing revealing clothes. The only issue was that the ladies in her family had a very narrow definition of beauty.
According to them, only a dainty, pretty girl, dressed in pink frills and miniskirts can be pretty. Most of the clothes Stuti chose were non-mainstream and not what’s conventionally considered “pretty.”
Her aunts had a hard time digesting this. The conversation around dinner tables centered around them commenting how so-and-so’s daughter wears pretty floral-printed skirts and Stuti should also try the same.
My friend knows her aunts only have her best interests in mind. But it irks her that they never consider the fact that her body type is not suited to such styles, colors, or types of clothes. She’d tried wearing them before, and it never looked good on her.
Some people are used to only seeing one type of woman. Forgive them for not being aware, but also practice self-compassion.
Every woman is different. Every body type is beautiful.
You shouldn't let the simple fact that your style doesn’t align with what’s considered conventional dim your flame. Pick clothes that flatter your body. If they make you look different, remember it’s just another excuse to stand out like the badass queen you are.
3. The Way People Treat You Reflects on Them, Not You
Stuti completed her master’s degree from a university located in a small town in Assam, a north-eastern state of India. She laughed as she said, “The moment you set foot in that town, you’ll feel as if you’ve traveled ten years back in time. The mindset of the people is completely different from how it’s supposed to be.”
When I asked her what she meant, she shared stories of how she was bullied for a style that’s not usually seen around town. Even though she never wore anything but “normal” clothes to college, her classmates used to open her Instagram and try to make her feel bad about her fashion choices, saying inane stuff like, “Oh that sweater has a hole in it. How’s that even fashion?”
This sounded pretty brutal, and when I asked her how she dealt with the hate, Stuti told me she wasn’t bothered much because all the judgment reflected badly on the people practicing it. Those hurtful words had very little to do with her.
When you dress differently, people are going to try their best to make you feel bad about it. Understand that it reflects on them, not you.
You can’t control the way others feel about you. But you can control how much you let their opinion affect you. Hold your head high and wear whatever makes you happy. Don’t let their rudeness spoil your mood.
In a world designed to bring women down, my friend, Stuti is doing an amazing job of holding her own and refusing to hate her body, no matter how much people try to shame her for it.
I was inspired by her message, her courage, and her resilience. I wanted to share her story with you, because, as women, the least we can do is stand up for each other and make sure our voices are heard.
Loving yourself is hard, but with supportive friends around, you can do it. It’s never a straight line, and there might be relapses. But as long as you know your worth and refuse to settle for anything less, you can get over the hurdles.