'It's amazing how the mommy brain can do so many things at the same time.'
In 2002, an elfin Neha Dhupia was crowned Femina Miss India.
She went ahead to represent the country at the Miss Universe beauty pageant and reached the Top 10.
'I don't want anyone to tell me I'm beautiful," she had said in an interview back then. "That's not why I am here. What I am looking at today is to be an achiever.'
It's been 20 years since her win and Neha, who turns 42 in August, is still inspiring and motivating women with her real-life choices.
'20 years later I stood taller, stronger, more experienced and a few dress sizes bigger,' she joked.
'But most importantly, I stood for every little girl who dares to dream and work hard towards it, for every daughter who wants nothing more than to make her parents proud, for every partner who basis their relationship on love and equality and for every mother who wants to live her dream and wants nothing more than to have her children by her side as she does that… sometimes in life even if we don't have a crown… we all have our sparkle.'
Here's looking at five lessons every woman can learn from the actor.
1. Finding the balance
Raising two kids can take up all your time and energy, leaving a new mother with very little me-time.
Motherhood changes everything, but it 'is all about finding that fine balance,' said Neha.
The actor, who worked until the last days of her pregnancy, loves to spend time with her kids when she isn't busy shooting.
She welcomed her daughter, Mehr, in 2018; Guriq, her son, was born in 2021.
Her Instagram timeline is proof that her yoga sessions are now entwined with kiddy-time but, she says, she manages 'one way or the other' because 'there ain't no hood like motherhood.'
Like most mothers, she confesses, 'Motherhood like all else hasn't been easy.
'The sleepless nights, the feeling that you are nothing more than a food source, the blues are all part of this otherwise wonderful package.
'It's amazing how the mommy brain can do so many things at the same time and works on autopilot, like resting the baby's head just right, knowing when she is done with her feed and, of course, becoming the burping expert of the world.'
2. She is proof that style has no size
In Dia Mirza's words, the actor is 'fierce, strong, authentic and beautiful'.
In 2018, she walked the ramp for good friend Payal Singhal along with hubby Angad Bedi -- who helped her celebrate her success on the Miss India 2022 stage as well.
Neha, like many celebrities today, had no qualms showcasing her growing belly on the ramp.
Post her second delivery, Neha walked the ramp for plus-size brand aLL as their showstopper.
'No matter who and where you are your style has to define you... and this one got me feeling more confident than ever,' she said post the show.
3. Freedom to breastfeed
The way Neha has handled trolls and breastfeeding mommy-shamers is admirable.
She has even started a page, Freedom To Feed.
'A mother has her choice of how and where she chooses to feed or breastfeed her child.
'However, time and time again, we see people looking at breastfeeding mothers in a sexual manner,' she wrote in support of a mom who was shamed for her breastfeeding post.
'The journey of a new mom is something only she can understand.
'While we all hear the happy side, it is also a huge responsibility and emotionally draining.
'It's hard enough to be a mom and do all that there is to do.
'The last thing we need is to be questioned, mocked and worst of all trolled.'
Given that Neha faced similar issues -- she has shared her struggle about breastfeeding in an airplane (external link) -- she knows how hard it is.
4. Embracing ageing
Post two babies, Neha seems to be more beautiful than ever and has been flaunting her greys confidently.
The actor believes it is okay to age without making a fuss about it.
She is letting her natural hair colour shine and looking wonderful as she does it.
5. She makes motherhood look so beautiful
Besides her fashionable maternity moments, Neha also posts adorable and relatable pictures of her kids.
This celebrity mom is just like any other mother when it comes to doting on her kids -- except that she was careful about keeping her children's faces out of the spotlight.
She gives major mom goals with her candid shots of her weekend out with the family -- be it basking under the summer sun or jumping into the pool with her little munchkins.