Sonakshi Sinha on projecting healthy body image: ‘Growing up as an overweight girl gets difficult when…’

Sonakshi Sinhawho calls herself ‘Shotgun Junior’ on her Instagram bio, is a name to reckon with — not only as a Bollywood actor, but also a fashionista, makeup aficionado, and a crusader for body positivity. But, the actor also has an artistic side, glimpses of which she often shares with her followers.

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In an exclusive email interaction with indianexpress.comthe actor talks about her journey, personal stylepromoting body positivity, and her latest venture. Edited excerpts below:

Being an actor often requires you to experiment with your style. But, how much of your personal style is reflected in your promotional/red carpet/airport looks? How would you describe it?

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I work with stylists who really understand my body and my sense of style, and most importantly, take really good care of my comfort because that is of utmost importance to me. I try to wear things that I’m comfortable in so that I can carry them off gracefully and with ease. My personal style is very casual, so I definitely need help with my more formal or glamorous looks. And, I’m quite happy with the way I cooperate with my designers and stylists when I work with them.

In a similar vein, you also keep sporting new makeup looks. What does beauty mean to you?

My definition of personal beauty is less is more. I think when you’re confident in your own skin and accept yourself as you are, you look beautiful anyway. So I always believe in minimalism when it comes to makeup. But I do like to experiment; I am an artist at heart and makeup is also an art. I like to try new things by at least keeping up with makeup trends because so many new and interesting things keep coming up every day. So I do like to experiment a lot.

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You have now launched a press-on nail brand — tell us the idea and aim behind it, and the name.

We have launched SOEZI because as women, I think it just completes your entire look when your nails are done. And so many women, like myself, don’t like to spend much time at a salon or go as often to get their nails done, which is when we realised that there’s a big void in the market of press on nails. There’s no actual mainstream Indian brand that caters to this particular category; which is where SOEZI came up. And when we were thinking of names for the brand, I definitely wanted something to start with an S, because me and my partner Srishti’s names start with S, and we were just thinking about the qualities that the brand would possess. And because I had been trying out these nails for over a year, I’ve been wearing them to red carpet events, for shoots, changing them every day. I’ve even gone on vacations and diving wearing these nails and have realized how easy it was to actually keep changing them and wearing them and how long they stayed. So it just came to me like a strike of lightning.

What does your summer skincare routine look like? Something you absolutely wear by in the hot, humid months?

My summer skincare routine Includes a lot of sun block, a lot of moisturiser, icing my face to keep it cool and hydrated, and drinking lots of water. I think it is something so good for your skin, yet very underrated — just staying hydrated. And something I absolutely wear by in the hot, humid months is sun block. I think we learned this lesson as we grew up, but sun block is definitely the most important thing that should be in your skincare kit.

Are you someone who relies on beauty products to keep your skin and hair healthy, or are you a fan of DIY remedies?

It’s a mix of both, actually. Like my mother is a big believer of at-home remedies and there are so many things in our kitchen that are natural, organic and so good for your skin. So I’ve tried out everything from multani mitti to banana face packs and rubbing tomatoes on your skin. But there are also a lot of nice beauty products in the market that cater to different kinds of skin and hair. You really have to experiment with them and find one that really suits your type; which is what I’ve done as well.

You have often shared glimpses of your artwork on Instagram. Is art something that helps you manage stress?

Yes, it’s therapeutic for me, my art. When I paint, I get lost in my canvas and the colors and it really just helps me to kind of switch off from the world. That is why, I think, I love it so much. And yeah, I like to share that with the world now.

You have always been an advocate for body positivity, something your upcoming film, Double XL, also deals with. How challenging it is to deal with negative comments/trolls — and how do you ensure the same does not affect you in any way?

Yes, I’ve definitely been someone who has always wanted to project a very healthy body image to women because that’s not something I grew up with. And growing up as an overweight girl gets difficult when you’re constantly being shown things that make you doubt yourself and your body, and also make you feel like you have to conform to a certain size to be beautiful. Double XL definitely deals with this topic and I’m really glad that I could be a part of the film because it’s something that I’ve faced most of my life. It used to be challenging to deal with all the negativity earlier, but, I guess you grow a thick skin and as you grow as a person, you kind of learn to accept yourself more. And once that happens, honestly, these things start affecting you less. What I’ve realized over the years is that it’s most important to just be healthy and happy. And I think that is what I concentrate on rather than all the negativity.

Being an actor often requires one to lose and gain weight (depending on the characters) — which can affect the body. As such, how do you ensure to keep fit — can you share details of your workout and diet routine?

Honestly, in my 12 years of being an actor, Double XL was the first film that actually required me to put on weight. It was really about breaking out of the conditioning that we have as an actor that you have to constantly follow a diet and workout routine. But here, I was made to do a movie where they were like eat whatever you wantknock yourself out.

So, I really enjoyed that process because it was kind of cathartic; you didn’t have to think of so many things you’ve been thinking over the years. So I actually enjoy both. You have to be healthy and fit in order to carry on your work, and for the kind of work we do, it’s very important for me to take care of myself. So, even though we put on weight, we lost it over a period of time and didn’t do anything drastic or harmful.

It was interesting to be able to kind of do that for a film and definitely very satisfying because the message that we’re trying to give out has always been important to me, and I was very happy to be able to put on that kind of weight and cartooning that character for this role.

What would you say is the most challenging thing about being an actor?

The most challenging thing about being an actor is… honestly, the whole thing is very challenging. But the lack of privacy, and maybe the long hours and constantly being on your toes can get very stressful — so yeah, I think that would be most challenging.

Your parents are actors — what is the one thing they have always told you, and you stick by it, in your personal as well as professional journey?

My parents have always told me to be different and not to get into a sort of herd mentality with things; to do your own thing, be your own person. I think it’s very important to be yourself and follow what you have thought for yourself. I think it’s easier as well that way, it’s more authentic to stick to who you are and that also helps you enjoy the journey even more. So, this is something that I keep very, very close to me and I always focus on going along the way.

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