Walk into Ahmedabad’s MICA -The School Of Ideas at 7 AM on a Monday and chances are you’ll bump into Falguni Vasavada who is prepping for her first management class. Dressed in a bright and beautiful sari, contemporarily styled with either a t-shirt blouse or some chunky neckpiece, complete with either a grey or green lipstick, Falguni is unmissable.
Honest. Bold. Happy. These are probably the best words to describe the cheerful, and confident teacher who also happens to be a TedX speaker, a crusader of body positivity, a sari blogger and a firm believer of gender equality. Her Insta fam of over 11 thousand followers is a tribute to the charming hold she has, not just on her students but on the online world as well.
On a busy weekday morning, sharp at 10 AM, we sit down with the lecturer cum blogger cum motivational speaker to get an insight into her world where she is breaking every rule! We start with the obvious question: How did it all start?
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“I was always a healthy child. I had a broad frame and was always made to feel conscious about it,” she shares. “While my family was quite body positive, people would end up commenting on my body. They would overlook the fact that I was double gold medalist, a bright student, a national level garba artist and instead worry about who would marry me? My confidence took a big hit because of this as I was not being proud of and owning my body.” Things, however, changed for her once she started working. “I finally got a taste of financial freedom and the confidence it brings. I also met a lot of like-minded people, I read quite a few books and also travelled a lot to present my research. I married a body positive person. All of these things combined put me in a place where I started challenging stereotypes.”
She calls her 40s as the time that she finally had the courage to stand up and completely revisit beauty norms. “I started experimenting with my clothes, with my makeup, with my hair. I got highlights done. I started wearing different shades of lipsticks and realised that I didn’t need to bog down to society’s unrealistic standards of beauty. I am a teacher, and I wanted my students also to learn these important lessons and be themselves. So I decided to lead by example and do whatever I could to change things,” she adds.
Her journey of going from body shy to body positive also meant that her style changed. Her collection of saris aren’t what you would see in a regular wardrobe, and the way she styles them adds to the charm. “A friend and a theatre artist recently told me that I am not a typical blogger, rather a fashion activist,” she shares with a laugh. One look at her Instagram profile and it’s not hard to see why. A myriad of colourful drapes, chunky jewellery and bold lipstick colours, you’ll end up saving every one of her posts either for style inspiration, body positive motivation or both.
“I was always interested in fashion and styling, and at this point, it comes naturally to me,” she tells us when we ask her for her style inspiration. “When I was a kid, I used to go to these local tailors and get clothes stitched for myself as it was hard to find my size in Rajkot. Even today I’d rather go to a tailor and get things custom made than enter a boutique. I’ve always given my designs and gotten things made.” These styled with bold lipstick shades, Falguni’s style is a perfect expression of her personality. “I refuse to follow stereotypes. Who is deciding things like what a typical teacher to dress like or what a housewife should be doing?” she asks, and not without a cause.
We move the conversation to fashion and ask her for styling tips. Taking a cue for her current favourite designer, Masaba Gupta, she tells us to keep comfort as a priority. “I am a no-frill fashion blogger. I’d suggest two simple rules. One is to take away the complexity of wearing a sari. Style it with a t-shirt, a crop top, anything… you don’t need to make your body feel suffocated in the sari. Mix and match and be comfortable. Secondly, drape it in the way that you feel comfortable. In India, we have a lot of rules for wearing the sari… the Bengali drape, the Gujarati drape… forget all of that and follow what is comfortable.”
We ask her about her Instagram fam, which is growing on a daily basis thanks to her style tips and motivational content, and she says the only focus she has is on keeping things real. “If that leads to fun, it’s great, but my focus has always been on being genuine.” And how does she deal with the occasional off-day? “I think the important things is to acknowledge that yes, I am in a bad mood today. I end up talking to my support system or people I like to call my ‘beanbags’ (these are the people I crash on). I have a conversation with my mother, my husband and get it out of my system. Secondly, I have my mechanisms like going shopping or doing something fun on Insta or hanging out with my nieces. I feel that acknowledging the fact that you are having a bad day, and need an off-day is essential. Women feel so guilty when taking a holiday. They should know that it’s okay to take some time for themselves and not just for their family.”
We end the interview with one last question: how does she stay so positive? “I’ll share what has helped me. Count your blessings and compare your life to people who have it harder than you, not Neeta Ambani,” she says with a laugh and heads off to a day filled with management classes, IGTV conversations and lots of fashion inspiration. Her day has just begun.