When was the last time you looked at food without mentally calculating the calories? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if our attempts at “healthy living” are a matter of choice or stem from the pressure of looking fit. It’s about time we made our peace with the fact that there’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’. If you, like us, have run out of fucks to give about ridiculous body aspirations, then join ranks with Laila Dalal, who stands as the ambassador for non-conformity.

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A through-and-through Bombay girl, Laila’s Parsi genes and upbringing shows in her warm smile and friendly demeanor. She has been a hair and make-up artist for about eleven years, which seems incredulous when she starts speaking about it; she has the excitement and passion of someone who has just discovered her calling. While in her younger, more impressionable pre-teens, she considered alternative careers. Eventually, she decided to stick to her guns and follow her father’s footsteps. After getting her training at B:Blunt she moved to London to hone her skills with Toni & Guy. Today, as a freelance hair & make-up artist, she’s a total #Girlboss – “I absolutely love what I do,” she says, “How many people get to say that about their jobs?”

For the last few months, Laila has chosen to follow a different path. After walking the runway at Lakme Fashion Week, she is now pursuing modelling on the side. As a model with curves she is taking the scene by storm. She did a lingerie ad for Zivame recently which is a clear indication of how comfortable she is in her skin and how our collective perceptions are moving towards a more body positive direction. “Modelling is both liberating and empowering,” Laia says, “It makes me feel great about who I am.”

Yes, the outlook for body positivity is broadening its spectrum but there is a long way to go. We still live in an environment where insecurities around our bodies plague us everyday. A lot of this comes from women policing other women, and Laia agrees.

“I’m done with people trying to police me in terms of what I wear or look like.” she says, “This is who I am and I’m not going to hide it.”

Before she found herself through her vocation and modelling, Laila had her own set of insecurities to deal with. But, luckily for her, she found a way out early on. “I have for many years of my life been rather insecure about my body, but I’m blessed with a wonderful support system of friends and family,” she says. This support system led her to get over the insecurities and look at herself in a positive light. “I soon realised that it all lay within me to accept and love myself, not in the reassurance of anyone around me.”

With more visibility and conversations around body positivity, maybe we will reach a place of acceptance soon. And with strong role models like Laila at the fore, it’s about time the rules of fashion and beauty change for good.

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