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If you scroll through designer Sabyasachi's Instagram page, you will find pictures of a plus-size model posing confidently between the models, who are considered perfect as per the general modelling standards. Her name is Varshita Thatavarthi and the ace designer's collection that earned her fame is the Charbagh's Isfahan collection. So, for this Winter 2019 bridal collection, the young model from Visakhapatnam was dressed in resplendent intricately-done bridal outfits, dipped in the shades of traditional reds and muted greens and goldens. Now, she caught the attention of fashion connoisseurs and critics alike because this was a rare occasion, when we saw inclusivity in fashion.
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Charbagh featuring the Isfahan collection. Winter 2019 bridal. Womenswear and menswear. Jewellery Courtesy: Sabyasachi Heritage Jewelry collection @sabyasachijewelry For all enquiries, please mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org Photo Courtesy: Tarun Khiwal @tarun_khiwal Makeup and hair by @deepa.verma.makeup Models: @varshita.t, @rabannevictor Production: @bhavnaguptapatel for @oaktreepictures Location courtesy: City Palace, Karauli @karaulipalace #Sabyasachi #Charbagh #SabyasachiJewelry #TheWorldOfSabyasachi @bridesofsabyasachi @groomsofsabyasachi @sabyasachiaccessories
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Varshita was one of the speakers at We The Women session in Bengaluru, where she spoke about beauty stereotypes in the industry. She was joined by veteran actress Ratna Pathak Shah and renowned film actress, Sai Pallavi, who also raised relevant points. However, speaking about Varshita Thatavarthi, the Sabyasachi model revealed that she was rejected by some of the South Indian filmmakers for looking too South Indian. So, she said, she was on her way to meet Mani Ratnam, who she felt would see her for her skill than her complexion. "But," she added, "I met Sabyasachi instead of Mani Ratnam, who told me that I am beautiful." Well, we agree with Sabyasachi for Varshita Thatavarthi is absolutely a beautiful and warm person. Post her session with eminent people from the film and fashion industry, she spoke to Boldsky about plus-size fashion.
So, dressed in a white chikankari suit and oxidised jewellery, Varshita Thatavarthi began by talking about the comparison in plus-size modelling industry in West and India. She said, "In the West, we have really seen success because in the west, we have Ashley Graham and other models, who are trying to push the envelope and there are more plus-size models on ramps and commercial shoots whereas in India, I haven't really seen a lot of difference."
Well, even after a number of talks on inclusivity and plus-size modelling, we hardly see inclusive body-positive modelling shows in India. Now, of course, fashion's apex body, FDCI and beauty brand, Lakme's fashion weeks have taken baby steps towards inclusivity. There have been recent shows of Half Full | Curve, Rina Dhaka, Payal Jani, and Yogita Kadam among a few others, where we saw curvy models taken seriously and walking the ramp with regular models. But yet when there is a selection procedure of models, there is a clear demarcation between plus-size models and the traditional models, who conform to the rigid-gradually-becoming-fluid-modelling standards.
There are even separates shows for plus-size models, which is absolutely bothersome because it is like treating people on the ramp differently based on their size, when in real life, we meet people of diverse sizes. In this context, Varshita added, "We have separate shows for plus size, we don't see exactly more shows of plus-size models walking with regular models and things needs to change. But I think it has started to change with brand's like Sabyasachi's Winter-Fall collection, where I was placed among other models and I think a lot of women are inspired and I am really happy."
But, you see, such are the rigid beauty standards set that it can make one who doesn't conform to those, feel awkward. Varshita Thatavarthi was placed among these models and she felt a bit awkward, out of the place. She stated, "With all due respect to the models I had photoshoot with because they work really hard to achieve a certain body frame. But suddenly you know you are put in space like that and questions that are raised. Even till today, I get trolled by people calling me moti (fat) and why she is even in frame and among those beautiful girls. But I have come to a realisation that I want to be myself and I want to put out myself just the way I am and I want women to appreciate that."
And we appreciate Varshita Thatavarthi for influencing women positively (wouldn't say plus-size women alone). The fashion industry is changing but the real success would be when plus-size modelling, wouldn't be taken as a topic of discussion but considered something normal. And kudos to Sabyasachi for taking an initiative towards inclusivity.