Good people bring out the good in other people. One such human being full of positivity is Dr. Falguni Vasavada. A professor by profession, a fashion blogger by passion, Dr. Falguni is also a motivational speaker on different forums like TEDx. She speaks on advertising, branding, marketing, social media, personal branding, gender equality, body positivity, women empowerment, work-life balance, happiness and lifestyle..
In an exclusive interview with us, she answered some of the questions that will take on a journey of women and how often they are misguided as the inferior ones. Dr Falguni highlights the issues faced by women and takes on a ride on how she sees these issues, and what challenges she is facing as a woman. She also talks about body positivity and how being comfortable in her own skin became her only mantra. Let’s take a look.
What is your calling?
My wish to see a gender-equal/neutral world, secure women who are confident in their bodies, people who are happy in their hearts, and more! I will never be able to say that only this one thing is my calling! I totally believe in baby steps as everybody cannot become a world leader or a CEO and make a difference using the power position. But we all can make a significant difference in our social circles through baby steps that we take and I take strong baby steps towards making a difference in Body Positivity, Gender Identity, and Gender Equality!
What were you like in college?
I was fashionable and a scholar. I loved attending classes but equally loved co-curricular activities like debates, annual programs, picnics, fashion shows, reading clubs, and obviously my friends. I loved fashion but somewhere I was conscious about my body as I was a fat young girl and somewhere it took me time to become body confident which I am now.
What would you tell a young woman who feels stuck at the start of her career?
Take some time and pause. Pause and see whether you need to improve your skill sets and can do better. Pause and reflect on your skills and your job expectations and critically analyze whether there is a fit? Pause and see if you have given enough time to the job and yourself before concluding that you are stuck! Depending on the answer you get while you introspect and think during your pause phase, start working on the solution!
Your amazing TED Talk talks about “happiness as a lifestyle.” Where do you derive your happiness from?
Oh completely from within first and then from my tribe and the world (teaching, social media, blogging) that I have created for myself! I do whatever makes me happy and first live for myself. Self-love is many times misinterpreted as selfishness but it is not! So I love dressing up and I do it for myself, not for my husband or garnering likes on social media and seeking appreciation from the outside world. In my world is my tribe of loved ones who are my immediate family and people with whom I am emotionally attached so I obviously derive a lot of happiness from them and also become their sources of happiness Like spending time with my niece or long drive with my husband or cooking for my family or a good class I taught or a great speech where I connected with my audience are some examples of my sources of happiness. Also over the years, I have trained myself to switch off unnecessary noises generated by people who do not matter, and that has given me a higher ability to enjoy my happiness.
How did you balance being a mother and professional? What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career?
Haha! I am not a mother but have a powerful motherly instinct, and hence you might have assumed that I have children. I have my nieces and nephews who are almost my kids. But being a wife and a daughter-in-law and working full time can equally be challenging right? When you have chosen to have a family as well as grow in a profession, you make sacrifices of different types based on your life priorities. But for me, these are not sacrifices but making most of what I have, and I am blessed with a good support system in my family so thankfully these have not been damaging sacrifices.
While there is a chartered look about beauty in the society, you totally rock bold lipsticks and lovely saris. What drives you to be so unique?
I think my journey from being a body shy to a body confident person drives me to break stereotypes not only around the body but also around fashion! I try unique shades just because I love them and am confident to carry them. This also works as a rebellion against all fashion stereotypes floated by cosmetic brands about colors and skin types! Also over the years, I have realized that when I boldly wear any shade I want, I am giving confidence to young girls to live life on their choices. I am breaking conventions about dressing and makeup and occupations! Like many times I have been judged on shades that I wear just because I am an academician and those judgements make it clear that I still must keep walking on this path.
What kind of ongoing gender imbalances do you see for women?
Oh, so many that I can actually write a thesis. Let us start from home and beyond. There are gender imbalances in terms of rules for sons and daughters, career choices, relationship decisions, gendered work roles, gender hierarchy, and many more! Like we would never hear a woman’s name as the chief wage earner or how many nameplates in front of houses have we seen which have the name of a woman? When it comes to taking a break from career for child-rearing only mothers are supposed to take right? All household tasks are a woman’s responsibility. Social celebrations are led by women irrespective of their work hours. Girls are forced to marry by a certain age and so is the case of motherhood. As I said, there are way too many to even list down. At work, women employees suffer a lot of discrimination because of their gender, and worldwide the gender pay gap is a major issue.
Prioritize what you want out of your life and list down your career goals. Select and focus all your energies on the primary goal.
How should college women balance exploring different interests with focusing on career goals?
Prioritize what you want out of your life and list down your career goals. Select and focus all your energies on the primary goal. Now, look at the space that you have in terms of time and resources. In the time that is left, involve yourself in exploring different interest areas. Like if you are preparing for your entrance exam for an MBA, maximum time needs to be invested in this. Then from whatever time remains you can explore your interests like book reading, gardening, drawing, dancing, social media, and blogging, and so on.
Your attitude is commendable, how do you manage barriers in your life?
There is no one formula. Also, you learn to manage barriers as you truly evolve and grow in life. I manage it through a lot of self-belief, self-love, family support, and support system created by me. This would mean a clear focus on what I want to do, my partner’s unconditional love and support, my parents on both sides and their support, an infrastructure of domestic support system, and so on.
You’re often considered a role model, but who do you look up to? Are there pressures to keep up your care-free attitude and body-positive ideals?
Whatever I do or post on social media is what comes straight from my heart, and hence there is believability and relatedness among my followers so absolutely no pressure! I present myself the way I am, and that would also mean sharing my vulnerabilities and emotions with all. Genuineness is the key to why people consider someone as their role model. Yes, I do have my own role models who inspire me daily. Starting from my mother because back then when it was not normal, she was a full-time working woman and that inspired me early on and made me understand the importance of being financially independent. My broader world role models are Jacinda Adern, Michelle Obama, Sudha Murthy, Oprah Winfrey, Lilly Singh, Indra Nooyi, and many more! Most women who have broken stereotypes and have successfully managed to rise above the debris of inequalities and biases.
Last but not least, do you have a universal styling tip you can share with us?
Style is always about you and never about brands that you wear or use. Style is personal and hence it becomes your unique statement. Style is about what you can comfortably carry. Follow and look around for inspiration but always create and curate your own style quotient! Because “Being You” is a superpower!
About Dr. Falguni Vasavada: Dr. Falguni Vasavada is Professor & Chair, Strategic Marketing Area at MICA. She is a double gold medalist with over two decades of teaching experience in the area of Marketing and Advertising. She teaches across programs and also runs online programs in the area of Advertising Management & Public Relations, Marketing & Brand Management for working professionals. She has trained corporate professionals and mentored young entrepreneurs. She has published in International Journals and presented papers in national and international conferences and is involved in international joint research projects in the area of advertising. She is a visiting faculty at management institutes of repute in India and overseas. She is a frequently invited speaker to reputed forums/panels/events and also is a TEDx speaker.