From being fat-shamed all my life to fame, the journey has been anything but easy. I have a Master's Degree in Economics, and I started working as a research intern at 21. I worked for various online platforms but earned a measly amount of money. I would slog and labour for three months to get a stipend of a mere thousand rupees. It did not take me long to realize that this was not what I was looking for. My life as a professional was destined to be a road full of potholes.
I have always been self-conscious and had body image issues. Therefore, when I started an Instagram dedicated to food, I never wanted people to know. I feared that if people found out that I was running the account, they taunt that this fat girl was showing off her obsession with food. Therefore, I used the name 'Dilli Ke Pakwan' and began my journey on the social media platform. I was doing what I liked and did not bother about views or likes. Consequentially, my initial posts got no traction. My only drive behind this Instagram page was to give a place to my favourite thing in the world, food! Even though I never expected it, but my account grew exponentially over time.
Maybe I Fell In Love With Cooking After My Grandfather Taught Me To Cook
My grandfather taught me how to cook when I was a kid, and maybe that's what sparked my interest in food. I began experimenting with street food and budget-friendly restaurants in college because I couldn't afford fancy restaurants. I would look at fancy restaurant menus on food delivery apps or their websites, then search online for the recipes, and that's when I developed a deep interest in cooking. One of the main reasons my social media account grew was because I shared easy-to-make restaurant-style recipes with readily accessible ingredients.
I still struggle with explaining what I do to people. Many people rebuked me for going to random restaurants, thinking I was wasting my time. Since I am very comfortable with what I do and know my work's potential, my work has become accustomed to such reactions.
My Parents Never Imagined Such An Unconventional Career For Me
As a child, I was very good at academics, and my family had never imagined that I would pursue such an unconventional career. My mother saw how happy I was while creating content and supported me. However, I faced a lot of criticism from my parents. I avoided family gatherings and meeting relatives because I was always made fun of. People often ridiculed me for getting free food because they thought it was a waste of time. People changed when they learned that I earned well from my profession. Now, my relatives ask me to give them a shout-out or help them increase their presence on social media because they realize the potential of my work.
I never thought Instagram would make me any money, but I did it because it made me happy. I decided to prepare for the UGC NET to become a lecturer. I remember the day I failed my UGC NET by a half mark and cried as hard as anyone ever has on the day I got the result. A clothes brand sent me a message in my spam folder the next day proposing to pay me 6k and give me mango apparel in exchange for 2 Instagram posts. I thought it was a joke and just spam mail. It was a collaboration with mango, and that's how I landed my first collaboration.
My first big challenge came in the form of criticism from people I knew personally. I also didn't have the resources when I started. I used a 4-year-old cell phone for taking photographs, and my equipment was outdated. Each piece of equipment I own today was the result of hard work. Another challenge is keeping up with the changing types of content; at first static content was the only kind that worked, but with time a lot of other forms of content came into the picture, like short- or long-form videos, and keeping up with trends is difficult.
All The Criticism Was Mostly For My Appearance, Never My Content
Fortunately, I rarely faced criticism for my content. Almost all of the criticism I have received on social media revolves around my appearance. People sometimes find it hard to believe that a fat girl can be so confident on camera, so they make snide remarks. I've been abused, told that I look horrible on camera, that I should get plastic surgery, or go into cardiac arrest after showing that much food. It bothered me that some people thought eating with the left hand was impure since I am a lefty.
Honestly, I used to cry after reading these comments when I first started, but now, I can deal with them without crying. I get comments like, "you might have a rich boyfriend because you can't afford this lifestyle." They act as if an independent woman could not afford this lifestyle simply because she is independent.
The comment section will typically contain both positive and negative comments. Therefore, I prefer to focus on the positive remarks. Because a common characteristic of trolls is that they are attention-seekers, in such a case, I usually restrict the profile because they are either trying to gain your attention or to garner the attention of your community. Thus, they can comment without anyone seeing it, and then they give up commenting after a while because they do not get the attention they crave. To summarize, I would advise you to ignore these comments and instead concentrate on your goals.
Whenever I encounter difficulty in my professional life, having a supportive circle of family and friends helps keep me going. For me to achieve my goals, they push me to do more. Additionally, my goals have always driven me every single day, keeping me motivated to work.
If you too have an inspiring story to tell the world, send us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org