Sameera Reddy needs no introduction – but there’s an array of accomplishments that must be mentioned when writing about this multi-hyphenate star. She debuted in Bollywood in 2002 with Maine Dil Tujhko Diya, and rose to fame in the mid-2000s with Musafir and Race. Over a period, in the second half of the 2000s, she also managed to carve a niche for herself in the Tamil and Telugu film industries, which earned her a lot of fans and followers.
Then there’s the mark she’s made on social media, especially Instagram, which makes her a game-changer in the true sense. She’s been smashing stereotypes around body image and motherhood, breaking barriers, and advocating for self-love, inclusivity, and body positivity. She has owned her salt-pepper hair, loose skin and stretch marks, giving us an ‘Instagram vs Reality’ check one post and story at a time.
In recent times, she is using her experience to start conversations and dismantle stigmas around self-love, inclusivity, and obesity, with Westside, a chain of fashion and lifestyle retail stores by the Tata Group’s Trent. This is part of their campaign titled ‘Limitless’, the brand’s attempt to bring together like-minded people and foster a community that is open and accepting – free of stereotypes and barriers.
As part of the campaign, they are hosting live discussions at Westside stores across India, featuring Sameera in a candid chat with like-minded women from different walks of life. They exchange personal life stories, talk about the challenges they face, discuss societal expectations and beauty standards, and other topics that they are tackling head-on.
The third edition of the Limitless campaign took place at Westside’s Kala Ghoda store in Mumbai and Sameera was joined by Bollywood actor Shahana Goswami. The duo interacted with the audience and media and participated in a fashion show that showcased Westside’s latest collection. Before this came to a close, we did a quick interaction with Sameera on Limitless and her work.
1. Tell us about the 'Limitless' campaign by Westside and what motivated you to be a part of it?
When I started working with Westside, what I liked was that they understood the voice that I wanted to bring about — change for women from pressure, stigmas, etc. I feel that women sometimes act as their own enemies because they limit themselves. That’s how the word ‘Limitless’ came about.
And it’s [the Limitless campaign] not just about saying “here we are to empower and support” but also what are the tools we can give them. So, we decided to bring out powerful women who can share their stories on a podcast to uplift people when they require such a voice.
2. How important is it for you to represent and promote self-love and body positivity for everyone around you in general?
When I was an actress, unfortunately, I was so centred around myself that these were not my priorities. But there’s a phase in every person’s life and I believe that it took me a breakdown to come to understand this.
When I was on the other side — dealing with weight issues, feeling low, not looking like myself, and being under pressure—I realised I was promoting that pressure, and that’s what made it so important for me to talk to those women. Because I understood it, I was also there.
3. What were some of the stereotypes you faced about your body and size?
I was very tall and big. I was always called things like ‘big girl’, ‘fat girl’ and ‘plump’. I was not as fair as my sisters. And I have two gorgeous sisters. So, the first insight that I got as a child was honestly so wrong, where everybody compared me with them, and that’s where my insecurities began. Today, even at 43, I work every day to undo what was wired in my brain.
4. How did the obesity stigmas impact you as a person and an artiste?
Somewhere, I had this notion that I was a ‘big girl’ on screen and I had to starve myself because I was actually bigger than most of the heroes. I had height and a build, so I always had this feeling that I was big and, in my brain, I was very big all the time.
How much ever weight I lost, I still felt big and I didn’t feel pretty, I didn’t feel beautiful. But honestly, I looked nice, and today, even though I am double my size, I feel fabulous. I wish I could have done this for myself back then.
5. Tell us five simple ways in which Sameera Reddy practices self-love.
- Everyone has an opinion. Let it be theirs, you don’t have to take it.
- Stand in front of the mirror after a bath every day and look at all the parts of your body, especially those that make you uncomfortable. And learn to accept them.
- The word that upsets you a lot every day, deal with it and let it go.
- You must tell yourself to love yourself because that’s how the habit will begin.
- Have the right kind of people around you. Those who pull you down, don’t need to be in your life. If that happens, consider changing your tribe.