"Men in the fashion industry aren't interested in women. But those outside, they will stare.
"For them, it doesn't matter if you are wearing a salwar kameez or a dress. They have horrible intentions in their mind."
Model Pia Trivedi tells Rediff.com's Tista Sengupta about the issues closest to her heart. Are you listening?
How did your modelling career start?
I started my career in 2004 with the Kingfisher Swimsuit calendar.
Later, along with fashion shoots and walking at fashion weeks, I also went ahead to become a VJ with Channel V, did a couple of Bollywood songs, movies, etc.
Did you struggle during the initial days?
There were times when I have cried. And it was especially when I was trying to get into the international fashion world.
They wouldn't just accept you. You are an outsider.
It wasn't about being an Indian or about the skin colour.
It's just that they are very strict professionally and there's cut-throat competition. It's business for them. There's no time to faff around.
Breaking into the international market was difficult?
Oh yes! When I was reaching the peak of my career, it was very difficult for me to enter the fashion market abroad. The international market wasn't yet open to Indians then.
I was just 15. There weren't many good agencies who would push you from here. I was trying to get to the international runways all by myself. I had to look for my stay, plan for my auditions, and so on.
Now, I think, it's lot easier. There are so many agencies that send Indian models abroad and they get good work.
The new models get to know the assignments they'd be doing even before they land in a new country.
You have walked for both homegrown and international fashion weeks? How are they different?
I don't find much of a difference.
We have come into a time where we are pretty much at par with the international fashion weeks. From the runways, set-up, production, clothes and even the girls… it's all good. There was a time when we didn't meet the international standards, but now we are doing a great job.
We don't see you walking on the ramp that often. Why?
Fashion is something I am not really concentrating on right now. I am anchoring corporate shows and brands. Basically I am an Emcee now… and I really enjoy doing that.
Hosting or anchoring comes from my Channel V days.
With respect to fashion shows, I'd only want to walk for friends and special designers. I watched Wendell Rodricks' show, but I am not a part of the fashion week.
The last time I walked for a designer was Anamika Khanna at India Couture Week 2016 in New Delhi. I think it's time the other girls get a chance.
So many years into modelling… what are the good bits?
I learnt to get street-smart when I was 15. The exposure, I got, in the industry played a big role in this.
I also turned into a very strong person. Today, if I am pushed to a corner, and I have to live my life, I can do it.
What's the flip side of being a model?
It's the constant feeling of being fat when you are actually thin!
When I tell people that I am looking fat, they say, 'What's wrong with you?'
I guess this feeling is the biggest downside of being a model.
How do you stay so fit?
I do a lot of running. I also do yoga regularly. I indulge in the Iyenger form of yoga.
And your beauty secret?
A big thanks to my parents. It's all in the genes.
I just wash and moisturise. I don't go for facials or any kind of skin treatments.
The best compliment you have heard...
People always compliment me for my curls and my skin. I feel so blessed (smiles)
And what about criticisms?
I am sure I have heard criticisms during my career, but I don't dwell over them.
I guess everyone has their own view. Such things don't really bother me.
I have really hardened myself. I switch off from all such negative emotions.
There are times when work is not in abundance. How should models cope during such times?
Thankfully I never had dearth of work. But it does happen during the initial phase of a model's career.
Remember it's bound to happen. You just need to keep working hard. Eventually you will end up making a mark.
Do you think the supermodel concept has fizzled out?
The models aren't taking the job seriously as they should.
They aren't paying much attention to where they are going wrong.
I believe that every single day is a learning process. The minute you stop learning, excelling or growing, that's when you are going to get stuck.
I still work on my walk, look, finalising on a pose before I go on the runway or go through scripts before I anchor.
The minute you get too confident, it doesn't work. You need to be humble even if you are seasoned models.
My model friends Sonalika Sahay, Carol Gracias, Noyonika Chatterjee, Diandra Soares, etc, still work on their garments before hitting the ramp.
They are all experienced and they know how to catwalk. They don't need to practice their walk. But there is a reason why these girls continue doing it and that's what makes them the top models.
If you want to grow in this industry, stay humble.
Also, I think it's very important for models to pull out their personalities. It's not about walking like a ghost on the runway. It may look like that, but the X-factor is to bring out your personality and that's what sets you apart and can make you a supermodel.
Aspiring models should…
Keep their head on their shoulders.
Is India safe for models?
Yes it is! Men in the fashion industry aren't interested in women. But those outside, they will stare. For them it doesn't matter if you are wearing a salwar kameez or a dress. After all they have horrible intentions in their mind.
I have encountered such things myself. What I did was I stared back at these men and even slapped them.
I whacked a guy who pinched my butt at Bandra station. Luckily it's Mumbai, and people jumped in to help me. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen in other places in India.
What should women do when they come across something like what you did?
I really think something's just gone wrong in the society. This issue needs to be addressed. Don't be quiet if you face it, but be careful.
Also, I think learning self-defence techniques is very important for this generation. The schools should also have self-defence classes in their curriculum.
Body shaming -- your take on this.
There's nothing like body shaming. You have to be comfortable in your own skin.
It's not fair to put someone else down because of their body structure. I am saying this because I have been in an industry that always focussed on being size zero.
With Lakme having a plus-size model show this season, it's a clear indication that we are moving forward.
My message to those who body shame is -- you should try and lose weight. It's not that easy.
Where do Indians go wrong about dressing up?
We try to put too many colours together. I think that's where we go wrong most of the times. When someone tries to work with different colour palettes for one look, I find it going completely wrong.
Another thing that I have noticed is inappropriate use of make-up. Girls don't use the right foundation for their skin tone and don't moisturise the skin properly. I have seen brown girls wearing lighter coloured foundation. It's so off.
Dating tips for men and women…
Just be real. Go out, meet people and be open. But most importantly, be safe.
Your favourite travel destination
I went to the Maldives, and I loved it thoroughly. It was a very relaxed trip and I have come back rejuvenated.
Your future plans
I want to travel the world endlessly and go scuba-diving.
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