Aastha
Nepal
Occupation
Partner Manager at IT company
Age
25 years old
Rank this month
Rank in Nepal
Who am I?

Born in Kathmandu, raised in Beijing, currently residing in Vancouver, Canada. I am a third culture kid that studied in an international school in Beijing, and moved to Vancouver for my undergrad degree, and I currently work at a Software Services company as a Partner Manager. I suffered from anxiety due to self hate for the most part of my life due to body image issues. I had a hard time coping with my name, my size, my burn scars, and everything else about me. In Nepal, we are told that the ideal woman is good (fair), dublo (thin), and gyani (obedient). We aren’t taught to take risks or be different, hence the pressure of being thin and fair has been there since I was a child. I started using dieting pills at the age of 15, and using fairness products on my face at the age of 12 because I found myself too dark. Especially since, I would have family members tell me I would never find love because of what I look like, or if I do it’ll be very hard and unlikely. I’ve had friends ask me if I was named “Aastha” because my “Ass is too big”, my emotional bullies in school called me “black pig”, because I’m darker skinned than them and was overweight. After having read Sonya Renee Taylor’s book , The Body is Not an Apology, I started seeing my body as a human body, and not a machine. I stopped dieting, I stopped bleaching, I stopped hurting myself. I gave myself time to heal, I did things that were good for me, and made me happy. I’ve still not achieved radical self love, but I can definitely say I’m not the path to self love.

What do I think about the Fashion Hero TV Series?

I find The Fashion Hero, inclusive. I’ve always felt out of place, having been a larger girl for almost all my life. The discrimination against larger women is so apparent in the culture I grew up in (South & East Asian). I am just finally glad to see that there are people out there that want to be size inclusive and want to break free from the norm of an ideal beauty. Giving people like me and opportunity to do something we never thought we’d have had a chance to do. It’s very important for me, and personal to be able to show Nepal, and the rest of the world that someone like me, can also do something and defy the “norms” that were thrown at us by the society. I want the Nepali folks and the rest of the world to realize that beauty is within, not without. I want to be able to be someone other girls can confide in, those who suffered through discriminatory behaviour like fat shaming, and colourism. I want the people who told me I am ugly, disgusting, and gross to look at, a chance to redeem themselves and suspend their judgement. I would be a good role model for a massive underrepresented community (The South Asian Community) where body positivity doesn’t exist.

Why would I be a great role model for this generation and inspire people as the new face of the Fashion Hero?

In my opinion, a good role model is someone with a vibrant energy, and a positive charisma. A role model is someone people can confide in, and learn from. I believe that there are many girls who can definitely confide in, and learn from me. Although the hard way, I have learnt to take control over my feelings, and not let the opinions of other people, affect the decisions I make for my body, and life. I have learnt that loving yourself, and being your own best friend is the way you can open up, and love others. I have learnt that when you speak up for the right thing, it not only helps you, but helps a bunch of others who are in the same position as you. I have learnt that the most liberating feeling is that of love, and have learnt that here is an abundance of it inside of me to share with others, including myself. Although I was criticized and initially extremely affected by the criticism, and dealt with self-hate, I overcame that by bettering myself one day at a time. By setting small goals in my academics, profession, health, and relationships to achieve maximum happiness. I worked hard and attended one of the best schools in Canada (UBC). I worked hard to network and landed a great job where I was able to learn so much. I worked hard on my interpersonal skills, by taking Toastmaster sessions, theatre and public speaking classes. I also learnt that it is important to surround yourself with people who uplift you, and not those who keep criticizing you. The opinions that really matter come from those who truly care about you, and your wellbeing. And finally, the criticism stopped mattering, because I am proud of what I've achieved, through all my diligence. I learnt that once you listen to the criticism through one ear, you have to let it go through the other. My way of overcoming all the hateful emotions I had for myself, were by making my loved ones and myself proud of me, and what I do. Because I truly believe that true beauty is within, true beauty is kindness, and unconditional love. Ultimately, these realizations made me a confident and independent lady, who I'm proud of. And because of all of this realization, along with my full time job, I'm on my way to start a movement, called Undermyskin, to help those who feel like me, achieve all that they want, by loving themselves, and truly believing themselves. Because of my hard work, and diligence, I think I'd be a great role model for a lot of children out there, who feel trapped under their skin, to break free and realize their potentials!

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