An Educator, an Activist, and a Fashionista: The Many Colours of Dr. Falguni Vasavada
Donning brightly colored sarees, edgy jewelry, and unique lip colors; her presence online is one of a kind. She reminds people to be gentle with themselves and to take things with a dash of humor. The online phenomenon described here is Dr. Falguni Vasavada, a marketing professor and content creator like no other.
Vasavada has amassed a loyal following with her zeal for breaking gender expectations and the equal amount of enthusiasm that she displays for funky clothes and vivid makeup. Whether it be her edgily draped sarees, or her multi-hued hair colors, or her quirky makeup; according to her, it’s all about experimenting in a way that shows off who you truly are: “[My styling] defines who I am and it helps to be myself so I don’t fall into the fashion mold or fashion of the season…,” she says emphatically.
She insists that her sense of style goes hand in hand with her body positive attitude. “Growing up with my body insecurities and lack of confidence… maybe I wasn’t experimenting a lot,” she says candidly.
Body positivity, a movement she is a huge ambassador for, is also a habit she learned in defiance of the faulty ideas of perfection that are peddled in our society. “I think we all grow up with insecurities,” says Vasavada. “And of course as a fat girl growing up in Indian society, there are people who joke on your body… use negative humor, build on your insecurities…. [make] assumptions about you and your life.”
I ask Vasavada how she broke free from all this? Her answer is the same as the mantra she preaches to the young girls and women that follow her- Freedom. She emphatically believes that confidence comes from independence: “There comes a day when you get your own world exposure, you become financially independent, you start reading more, you become financially independent,” she says.
As a savvy professor of marketing with a doctorate degree, she exudes this confidence that she talks about, and one can’t help but take complete faith in her advice. And many of her young female followers depend on her for such takes on life as a successful and outspoken woman. “So many young girls and women follow me… I believe conversation is important on social media so I keep conversing with them…” she says on how she builds rapport with her followers.
Vasavada takes on the role of the wise female elder by speaking and writing about issues like women empowerment, body image issues, financial and emotional independence, and how marriage and motherhood shouldn’t kill your identity.
“There are situations where they write to me, share their emotions, struggles, issues with parents, partners, relatives. Yes there is an emotional investment as far as my relationship with followers is concerned.”
How does Vasavada handle the deep scars that societal expectations leave on women? “[Marketing, advertising, popular culture] is external, the thing is to be strong internally… understand that you work on your values and principles, and you grow beyond how you look.” Surrounded by industries built upon capitalizing on the insecurities of women, she rejects the external deterrents and focuses on internal strength. “You want to grow beyond that by investing in your personality,” she adds.
Vasavada displays a similar refusal to internalize negativity in how she deals with the cyberbullying that she faces. ”I try to develop a thick skin and I follow the ‘Converse, Communicate, and Cut the crap’ model.” Like the educator that she is, she first tries to converse and communicate her point of view. “There can be a difference of opinions… but beyond a point if you’re only going to troll me then I’ll go ahead and easily block you.” Sounds like a just disciplinarian inside and outside of the classroom.
Speaking of Vasavada’s career as an educator generates awe when one realizes that she is also a full time professor apart from her online activities. She insists the game is not of balancing, but that of demarcation. “First priority is my [teaching] career, second priority is content creation.” Prioritizing in this way, she believes, helps her manage and do justice to both of them.
And she is very particular about the fact that she thinks of herself as a content creator rather than an influencer. “I started as a content creator and I still believe I’m a content creator.” Vasavada associates the label with how her online trajectory came to be: “I think I started my journey as a content creator understanding the platforms,” she reminisces. “Content creation comes naturally to me… I base it on my observations of my life and life around.”
With her Instagram following 111k strong at the time of writing, and a captive audience full of girls and women taking in her messages of empowerment and independence, we think we can get away with calling her an influencer just this once.