I remember a beauty soap advertisement, from when I was a little girl. A young woman is mistaken for a college girl, until her small daughter runs up to her, catching everyone by surprise. The catchline was, “meri twacha se meri umar ka pata hi nahi chalta ” – “my skin belies my age”. I remember scoffing at that advertisement, as I had cousins of similar age who were married, and who looked as young as possible – so I couldn’t understand how marriage could change the way someone looked.
Of course, I was wrong – I was too young to understand, how much pregnancy and childbirth transform a woman’s body and most times even her mind. Postpartum depression, body image issues in addition to the stress a of being a new mom deeply change the way a woman looks at herself and her body. Many women end up changing the direction of their lives, sometimes willingly – other times not. Statistics show that as many as 75% of women leave the workforce after having a child. We would have all noticed that the proportion of women at junior levels is much higher than those at senior levels – why? Because many of those bright promising girls dropped out either after getting married or after their first or second child. For every woman, who chooses to continue to work after becoming a mother, there are many more who are unable to do so.
So, when I came across a video of Tapeshwari Sharma, participating in the Mrs. Femina contest, I knew immediately that we need more role models like her – who can show other women that one has the choice to forge a path of their liking. In this post I want to share Tapeshwari’s story, who chose to come back to her passion, because she knew that’s what gave meaning to her life.
What made her stand out?
I was hooked when she talked about reinventing herself to follow her passion, after suffering from low self-esteem and body image issues for almost 2 years. What she did was not easy, and it needed sheer will power to bring herself back from self-despair. By writing about her, I am hoping that she is able to inspire women who are at the cusp of deciding the future direction of their lives. All I want to tell them is that the choice is theirs and if they put themselves to it, they can achieve whatever they want. Just like Tapeshwari did!
Tapeshwari (Tashi) worked in the Indian television industry for many years before she got married and continued to do so till the birth of her first child. She was used to working the long grueling hours the industry demanded but looked forward to a few months of break after childbirth. All through her pregnancy, she planned to get back to work once her baby was a little older. However, after her son was born, she realized that getting back wouldn’t be easy for it was not possible to leave a little infant alone for so long, given her work hours.
The other big issue was that she worked for an industry which is globally biased against weight. You want to play the lead role; you need to be ‘slim and trim’. Tashi had gained 20 kgs. over the course of her pregnancy and that wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry. She would have had to play smaller roles or much older characters if she wanted to get back into the industry – and she wasn’t willing to do that.
For someone who had been slim all her life, this sudden weight gain was difficult to get used to. “Coming from a field where being ‘fit’ is very important, it made me very conscious. Being an actor, I was used to a lot of attention and suddenly I could feel people judging me. I could sense their changing attitudes – that I wasn’t worthy enough to be given any importance.” “I felt worthless”. Postpartum depression, along with body image issues, sent her into a downward spiral of low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Which is why she stopped working completely.
This was a phase that lasted nearly two years, till she realized that this is not who she is. She was not someone who gave up so easily. Whatever she had achieved in life was through her hard work and perseverance and she could not let go of that. She decided to pull herself together and find meaning in her life.
The one thing that had kept her upbeat during her low phase, was her music and dance. Since her childhood, she loved dancing and music. She started attending dance classes, made dance videos on Youtube and decided to stay with those people who were a positive influence on her.
She also slowly worked on her weight and after trying out various weight loss diets and workouts, she realized that eating healthy food and in moderation is more important. And so is consistency. Without that no workout or diet would work.
With time, she gained her confidence and also perspective. She decided not to continue in the TV industry and chose to channelize her talent and passion elsewhere. So, at a mid-point in life – she resolved to go down a new path, start from scratch, learn something new, reinvent herself!
But that needs a lot of courage!!
Yes, and hard work. But Tashi was not averse to hard work or taking risks. A small-town girl, she had already worked her way through the very demanding television industry and was fully geared to take on her new challenge.
Her son was around 3, when she decided to become a DJ – a career that combined her love for music and parties very well. It wasn’t very easy however, and it took her almost two years to find the right courses. She joined a deejay school but after completing it, she felt she wasn’t good enough to perform yet. After much research, she found a teacher, who taught her well and boosted her confidence.
“The industry is very male dominated, and it is very difficult to convince people to take you seriously. But what I have understood is that if you work hard enough and put in sincere efforts, people do turn around and take you seriously.” She was making good progress when the lockdown was enforced, but she continued working on her craft and did a lot of live sessions on Instagram and Facebook. So, by the time things eased, her hard work paid off, people started to recognize her, and she started getting a lot of opportunities.
What makes a person who they are?
I have often wondered why some people are able to stand up to difficult situations and in life and why others give in. Apart from the circumstances of one’s life and the presence or lack of support systems, I believe that the foundation of a person’s character is laid by their parents. It is parents’ responsibility to bring up independent and capable children. Children who are adept at handling what life throws at them, able to decide what is right or wrong and capable enough to lead positive and fulfilling lives. I have shared many tips on this in my book “Raising Capable Children”. (Do note the shameless pitch I just made for my book and please do check it out!)
Tashi’s parents were always supportive of their kids’ decisions. They just had one condition – if you want something, you earn it. They were not allowed any shortcuts. Tashi and her brother made their own choices and worked hard to get what they wanted.
This is where Tashi learnt perseverance and hard work and it held her in good stead throughout her life. Even though she got her first cameo role fairly easily, getting a good role was quite a struggle. She went through hundreds of auditions to land her first good role and after every show, it was the same story all over again. One audition after another. The process is tough, it can be frustrating and the continuous rejections can be a real confidence dampener. But Tashi stuck to it. “I know a lot of people who gave up and went back to regular jobs. But my passion didn’t let me give it up so easily.”
A supportive family makes all the difference
With all the passion, grit and determination one may have, a supportive family makes a tough journey that much more bearable and easier. Tashi was very lucky to have supportive parents. Despite coming from a highly conservative Marwari family, where girls’ education was not considered important, her parents made sure she got the best possible education and options.
She also feels very lucky to have found the perfect husband and encouraging in-laws. She met Vishal soon after coming to Bombay and it was love at first sight! They dated for 6 years before getting married and she feels like she married her best friend. He held her through her post-partum depression. He completely understood what she was going through and did everything he could in his capacity to make her comfortable. “His love is my biggest support. What I am today, is in a huge part because of him. He nurtured me into being the confident woman that I am today.” “Never once, in the last 14 years, has he ever told me that I need to change anything about me or look a certain way.”
Tashi also feels blessed to have a supportive family. She has a very close relationship with her mother in law. Despite the generation gap, she understands the late nights and the demanding schedule Tashi needs to keep for her work. “She is so progressive in her thoughts, totally supportive of my dreams. She is also a great friend.”
And she is right in thinking she is fortunate, a supportive partner and family are like the wind beneath your wings – those who let you soar into the limitless sky. And limitless sky it is for her….she is ready to reach out and pluck the stars….
As she says, “I wish I could just be at home and relax but I don’t think I am built that way. There is a lot I want to achieve in life. I have come so far, and I do not want to stop now.”
…and in case you were wondering what happened to the Mrs. Femina contest she participated in? Well of course she WON! She is our very first Mrs. Femina!
Parting words from her – “Life has to pass by, I strongly feel everyone should be doing whatever they need to do to make the journey interesting and inspiring.”
And I could not agree more.
I hope you were as inspired by Tashi’s story as I was. Please read, comment and share. And if you have been inspired by a woman, let me know, so I can write about them too!
If you would like to read about other inspiring women I have written about, please see below:
Thanks so much for reading! Please comment, share and spread the word!
Regards, Sakshi aka tripleamommy
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Do consider buying my book “Raising Capable Children” that shares hundreds of tips and ideas on bringing up confident children. See below for buying options.
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