Huma Qureshi opens up about 'body shaming'
To commemorate this International Women's Day, the brand Levi's has dedicated the month of March to exceptional women. In their words, this is the month to celebrate women who have made their own rules, choices, broken stereotypes, refused to give up on their dreams, and survived battles that would have shattered others.
The brand's new campaign also raises a shout against the phenomenon of 'body shaming', for which they picked out seven ambassadors to speak for the cause of liberating mindsets about body and gender stereotypes. One among them is the actor and model Huma Qureshi.
Huma's candid lines in the advertisement about overcoming personal hurdles are sure to gain her a good deal of respect among fans. We caught up with the 30-year-old actor, and asked her about her take on the initiative. "It is a very cool brand," she offers. "It sort of stands for the rebel in you. They have always managed to capture young people. They have been pioneers in getting the likes of the so called good and bad rebels."
Huma, who started out as a theatre actor before landing roles in the films Gangs of Wasseypur and Jolly LLB 2, explains that body shaming is not in any way a new issue. “Body shaming has always been there in India. However, it wasn't that spoken about in the past, but it surely existed. I know of many actresses' in the industry who were body shamed for being too skinny or flat-chested or even too curvy. It is just not cool to bully someone like that. When the brand approached me, I felt that they have started a good initiative."
The New-Delhi-based actor, who is all set to debut in Hollywood with Gurinder Chadha's The Viceroy's House, is refreshingly frank about her experience in the film industry. "We actors have always struggled. When you have to enter the industry, you need to work hard. And once you get in, to be constant, you again need to push yourself. So it is a cycle that keeps ticking."
For the most part yet, Huma prefers keeping a down-to-earth profile. "I am just being myself and expressing myself. I am not doing something extraordinary. I am just who I am. I don't have anything on my agenda. I am an outsider in the industry, and I still am treated that way. But, I enjoy it this way. It allows me to stand out and my directors, producers and the audience have connected with me.”
Huma also offers a word on women's empowerment. “Let the woman choose who she wants to be," she says. "She has the right to choose how she should look, dress, walk and sit. For me, empowerment means giving me the freedom to do what I want to do, and that is what we are asking for.”
Others in the #IShapeMyWorld campaign
Chhavi Rajawat, India’s first and youngest village Sarpanch with an MBA degree, who gave up a corporate job to reshape the face of rural Rajasthan.
Sapna Bhavnani, A Mumbai-based celebrity hairstylist and committed feminist, known for her contributions to the field of fashion, writing, photography, entertainment and reality TV.
Anjali Lama, the first Nepali transgender model to walk the Indian ramp, who made her grand debut at the Lakme Fashion Week earlier this year.
Tanya Ghavri, the Bombay-based celebrity stylist, and daughter of former cricketer Karsan Ghavri.
Mallika Dua, an actor and comic, popular for her posts on Instagram and Snapchat.
Dilshad Master, Director of Operations and Business Development at Mercury Himalayan Explorations and co-founder at Farinto.com.
Bandana Tewari, an award-winning fashion journalist, and fashion features director at Vogue India.