Neelakshi Singh, a body positive influencer who has walked the ramps for companies like Lakme, joined NewsX for a candid chat as a part of its Influencer A-list series.

Talking about how she juggles between different professions she said, “For me, academics did not come naturally. It was something that I chanced upon while we were working for fashion weeks. I thought it would be a leap off to something else but it was not. I stuck around and it has been a while here and it has been so interesting, I love being an educator. Blogging is something that I have been doing since college, and I love every minute of it. And obviously, plus size modelling, whenever I get the opportunity I jump at it.

When asked about her journey she said, “One of the things that started was bullying in school and I’d aim to be a mediocre, not come into anyone’s eye. My mom and dad thought that I was brilliant but I was one of those who would not raise their hand to answer the question.

She continued with the eventual struggle in her life, “I went into an eating disorder for the longest period of time. It was difficult, I had to deal with it, my family had to deal with it. But my journey, my blogging happened for my best friend, he was the one who was my cheerleader all along.”

Speaking about a social media post that brought unexpected comments she said, “We had nothing in common after college, he was struggling to come out of the closet and I was struggling with my body. Two miserable friends were trying to make their way through internet, watching all the Youtube videos and all of those movements take over. We would just watch and bleach our hair and learn along the way, we had no formal training.

He posted one of our experiments on the internet, I didn’t know about it. Then I had three specific comments on it. Then I was like, are you trying to make me feel better because that’s what best friends do. He said, are you crazy, people need to see this side of you, people need to see that you are confident even when nobody is watching you. But I was like, hello that’s not me. But you need to be the hero of your own life, that’s what I have realised. I think that’s what my best friend saw and it all started from there.”

When asked about what it feels like to have struggled and empowering people now she said, “I consider myself very fortunate. Whenever I read a comment like that it reminds me of my own journey and it has taken a lot of work. When people talk about self-love it is not about slapping on some makeup and being photographed or being on video. The validation I have online, the confidence that I gained is because of these people. I don’t want to be boxed into a plus sized girl who wants to make you laugh or to entertain you.”

When asked if social media can be an ally despite all the backlash you might face she said, “I believe that it can be an ally because it has been for me for a decade now on social media and one of the things that you need to do is treat it as your home. You don’t let intruders come as and when they wish, right? So, when I get a follower, when I get a comment I make sure I go back and interact with them. These are the audience, what is it that they want, how did they reach out to you? So, that’s something I consciously make an effort to. My numbers are very controlled in that sense because at least I would know who I am speaking to. I have a legitimate fear of going viral in the wrong way.”