She is big, she is bold, and she is beautiful. Meet Tanvi Geetha Ravishankar- a social media influencer, model, stylist, and choreographer, voice-over artist, dancer, and plus-size blogger. How one person can be all of these is a question you may ask. But for this fabulous body-positive icon that goes by the name The Chubby Twirler, nothing is difficult. She is a born performer.
For Tanvi, appearance was never a factor nor did she have struggles with self-love. “I have always liked/judged people for the way their personality is rather than their bodily features. I always knew that it’s my life, I am the hero of my story”.
Unfortunately, we still live in a world that defines our worth by the sizes of our bodies and dismisses talents and abilities over it. So when she decided o take up dancing professionally, she was dismissed by the academy saying that though she was a very good dancer, she apparently didn’t have the body for one. She even lost 40 kg starving herself and working out 12 hours a day but they stood their ground.
How it all began
Tanvi won the title of Miss Fresher in college on the sheer ability of her talent and skill but wasn’t given the opportunity to walk at the fashion show. When the opportunity came along from Lakme Fashion Week for an audition at their plus-size event, this experience set her start in the glamour industry and she knew that this is where she belonged.
“Body Positivity is knowing that you are fat and being okay with it. You will find yourself in a space where you’re unhappy with your body. But accepting facts and being okay with it is something that works on a deeper level”, says Tanvi.
Today, the Chubby Twirler helps plus-size people embrace their bodies for what they are and instill a sense of confidence while being fashionable. Her Instagram has close to 50k followers, won the Top Social Influencer Award, 2019, and was among InfluencEx’s Top 100 Digital Influencers at Exhibit Tech Awards 2020.
“Even plus-size people love fashion but are weighed down by society’s stereotypical rules about what you should and should not be wearing according to your “shape and size”. Shopping experiences are traumatic because the trendy stuff doesn’t come in your size or, the stuff that is in your size is something your grandma would probably wear. On my blog, I like to create fashionable looks and advocate for brands that promote body positivity”.
Tanvi believes fashion is for everyone and to carry any outfit, confidence is the key and not size, and that confidence only comes when you accept your BODY unreservedly.
“The fashion industry does not cater to realistic body sizes/ very few brands cater to plus-size clothing. Unfortunately, as big girls, we hardly have options. Fashion is a way of expressing myself and is a major part of my personality and my confidence system. I have never used fashion as a way to slim myself down or look a certain way. If such thoughts start confining you then fashion ceases being fun. Thus, the idea is to be yourself and have fun while you are at it”.
Battling a broken Spine
Tanvi had a major health setback after a car accident in 2014 which left her with a broken spine. “I was wrongly diagnosed by several doctors for years until in 2019 we found that I had grade 3 spondylolisthesis. Medical Fatphobia is one of the biggest problems in the world where doctors assume that everything wrong in a fat patient’s body is because of their weight. I couldn’t even get up from my bed for about 2 months in 2014 but yet not a single doctor asked me to get an MRI and just blamed the situation on a pinched nerve because of my weight. Had the issue been diagnosed properly back then itself I probably wouldn’t be suffering as much now.”
It wasn’t until last year when she met a few top spine surgeons of the country who thankfully did not focus on her weight. “In fact, one doctor in Mumbai told me that any other person with the grade 3 spondylolisthesis would have been on a stretcher by now but because I am a dancer, my core muscles are quite strong and are able to hold my body and spine. Doctors cannot generalise and treat someone on the basis of weight alone”, she adds.
Support goes a long way
Though the journey wasn’t exactly easy Tanvi was lucky she had a strong support system. She continued to break stereotypes even in her love life with husband Tushar Shailly Mehta, her college sweetheart. They got married thrice, once in her hometown, once in his hometown & once in Mumbai, riding a horse to their wedding! There was no ‘giving away the bride’ & made the priest tweak the vows so that the husband doesn’t have to be ‘supreme’ but is on par with the wife! She didn’t put sindoor or wear a ‘mangalsutra’ —instead got tattoos inked on their ring fingers!” Tanvi and Tushar tied the knot in three different cultures and in three different cities and Tushar even moved in with her instead of the other way around so she could be closer to her family. Now talk about love goals.
Acceptance is key
Life is not a bed of roses and Tanvi has dealt with her side of negativities and defeat. She overcame it by acknowledging the negative thoughts and the pain and gave herself time to heal. Her coping mechanisms ranged from watching motivational videos on YouTube or go through inspirational posts, watching a feel-good movie, dance it out to her fave music, got for a drive, or talk to someone.
“If all else fails, I go off to sleep and wake up fresh the next day because giving up is not an option but resting is”, she smiles.
And acceptance is not an easy thing for anyone. “Stop seeking validation & approval from others and find things, apart from your appearance that makes you. Focus on them. Look into the mirror and list 5 good things that your body is currently doing for you and thank it for them”, says Tanvi.
Today, Tanvi’s videos and positive acceptance of her body has inspired and influenced hundreds of women across the country to embrace themselves for their size. Relating to actual people with confidence, style, and a fashion statement reinforces the same in others and tells them that the world belongs to everyone. You do not have to be a certain size to be fashionable. Every body is beautiful.