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ModelSpeak: I had the right body, but my face was quite chubby

By Divya Nair
Last updated on: March 18, 2015 16:31 IST

Anita Kumar talks about her first break, fitness mantras and women's safety. 

Anita Kumar

Anita Kumar in a Vaishali S creation. Photograph: Rediff Archives

Age: 24
Height: 5 ft 9 in
Weight: 53 kg
Education: Bachelors in Mass Media from Mithibhai College, Mumbai

First break

Three years ago, I was shopping with my father at Vero Moda at Palladium, Mumbai, and coincidentally Manish Malhotra was scouting for fresh faces for his label.

They asked me if I would like to get a makeover done and if I could wear heels. My dad was very excited and did not know what to do. I was wearing flats and dressed in regular clothes. Dad asked me if he should buy me a pair of heels.

Frankly, I wasn't prepared at all. I was trying to avoid the attention but eventually I agreed to do the photo shoot.

I had the right body, but my face was quite chubby. I was asked to lose some weight and that's how I got my first modelling assignment.

Although I had done a few shows when I was in college, I never wanted to pursue modelling professionally.

When I was a kid, I loved playing tennis and wanted to be a tennis player.

When I was in third year of college, pursuing mass media, I wanted to be a graphic designer as I loved to paint.

Looking back at how things shaped up for me, I think I was always meant to be a model. I call it destiny.

Best assignments

Anita Kumar in a Vaishali S creation

Anita Kumar in a Vaishali S creation. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

In 2012, I walked for Loreal in Paris -- I was among the 15 girls from India who were chosen to represent the brand.

I walked for Splash in Dubai where I was among the only four people from India -- we were two girls and two boys and there were 70 models in all representing different countries from around the world.

It was quite a rewarding experience.

The challenges

It wasn't easy to fit in. Although I love to talk, when it comes to talking to strangers, I would resist and prefer sitting quietly in a corner.

I also suffered from stage fright. When I was asked to walk on the ramp for the first time, I almost froze. My palms started sweating. Choreographer Lubna Adams helped me get over it. She advised me on perfecting my gait and confidence.

Besides that, when you are a newcomer, you have your own issues of coping up with already established models.

There is cut throat competition and constant pressure to look good. Everyone is differently-abled, you are constantly learning on the job.

You have to build your own network.

Then you have other issues -- the hectic work hours and the breakouts -- which takes a toll on your skin and body.

You wake up with a pimple when you're least expecting it. You have to deal with that as well.

During one of the seasons, I remember wearing a gown the wrong way. Everything backstage was so quick and hurried that by the time I realised, I was on stage and I had to just walk as if nothing had happened.

I could laugh at it later, but I was glad nobody noticed the blunder.

The maintenance

The greatest myth people have about models is that they don't eat. Look at me! I eat a lot (read hog). I make up for it by working out for at least an hour and half every day.

I don't do cardio, but I do weight training, swimming and lots of walking.

When I get the time I also play tennis.

Fortunately I am blessed with good skin, but I eat a lot of greens now, which I used to hate at some point.

I don't wear too much make-up but once I remember my skin went all red and puffed up. It was an allergy caused due to a wrong product and it took some time to get back to normal.

The perks

I love to travel and that's the best part of being a model. You get to go to places you've never been to, meet people you've never met and also learn new things. It makes you confident.

I have worked with some of the biggest names in the fashion industry -- Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi, Vikram Phadnis, Anita Dongre -- and I feel that's a great plus.

The flip side

Sometimes, you have to wear garments and accessories you don't really like but then it's part of your job.

Fashion to me is...

Anita Kumar in an Anita Dongre creation

Anita Kumar in an Anita Dongre creation. Photograph: Courtesy Lakme Fashion Week

I love the Indian bridal look -- the heavily embroidered lehenga and the maang tikka.

Fashion mistakes people make

Overdoing anything is a mistake. Wear what suits your body shape.

Advice to aspiring models

Unlike your predecessors, you have a lot of advantage -- you can watch videos, shows online and groom yourself much before the professionals come in.

However, be careful about your choices. Don't fall in the wrong company. Don't go for shortcuts and lose your focus.

Be patient, positive and willing to learn; the results will follow.

On women safety...

I don't go out partying late in the night and it helps that I am a homely person.

But when I step out, I find that men stare at you even if you're wearing a salwar kameez, a sleeveless top or a backless blouse.

In the west, women wear bikini and walk on the beach naked without having to worry about who is peering at them.

Unfortunately, in India, women are always asked to dress appropriately.

It is disgusting when men talk as if the woman is to be blamed for rape. It is the men who rape, they are to be blamed.

I don't understand how a woman can deal with her safety when the male mind is corrupted.

The rapist could be your driver, your servant, the watchman, your colleague or someone you trust for life.

My learning: do not trust anyone, avoid partying late night and hanging out with strangers and sharing private information.

Always travel in a group. Even if you have to socialise late for professional reasons, avoid indulging in alcohol and stepping out alone and risking your safety.

Be alert and on guard.

Advice to readers

I would like to appeal to people to respect women for who she is and let her be.

Do not constrain herself by dictating terms on what to wear and what not to do.

If it hadn't been for a woman, you wouldn't have come into this world.

Don't treat her like a trophy and instead help her to live without fear.

Divya Nair / Rediff.com
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