Shefali Jariwala unfiltered on objectification of women, body image issues and relationships

'Kaanta laga' girl Shefali Jariwala shares her mantras to fight stereotyping and body image issues, and how she remains fit.
Shefali Jariwala
Shefali Jariwala on objectification and more. Image courtesy: Shefali Jariwala
Natalia Ningthoujam Updated: 2 Feb 2024, 10:04 am IST
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Shefali Jariwala tasted overnight fame when she featured as the face of the 2002 music video Kaanta Laga. The peppy song and a visible thong made her the talk of the town, so much so that she once called herself “India’s original thong girl”! But little do people know that behind all the glamour is a girl who has fought epilepsy seizures for years, battled a culture of objectification of women, and yet steered clear from having body image issues. After over two decades in showbiz, she has taken on a new challenge – making a television debut in the fiction space.

The actress, who has featured in projects such as Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Nach Baliye and Bigg Boss, is now seen in the TV show Shaitani Rasmein. In this Health Shots She Slays interview, Shefali Jariwala talks about her career, mental health, fitness, relationships and more.

Shefali Jariwala
Shefali Jariwala never bothered about being stereotyped. Image courtesy: Shefali Jariwala

Q. Many actors get stereotyped. Do you think stereotyping has been a bane in your career?

Shefali Jariwala: As far as being stereotyped is concerned, I have never worried about it. I am in a very comfortable position in my career. I have done a variety of things. I have been glamorous and will always be so. I just want to be known as a good performer, artiste and entertainer. I want to be known as someone who leaves an impression on people and creates some sort of a standard. It puts pressure on me, but it helps me to perform better and push the envelope every day. I am working out of choice. There is no force there. I like to do things where I am happy or creatively satisfied.

Q. Women are often objectified on screen. How do you deal with objectification at work?

Shefali Jariwala: Women in general are objectified a lot. There are two things you can do about it. First, if somebody does it on your face, you can confront them and let them know that you are a person and not an object. It’s not funny and it’s not okay to talk like that. It’s important to let the other person know that you are not okay with such sort of comments. The other place that women can get objectified is the digital platform. There is nothing you can do about it. Just ignore it. People are always going to judge you or talk about you. You can’t let that affect you. I don’t get affected. I am very high on confidence. I don’t have low self-esteem, but yes, nobody can dare to do it on my face because they know I would give them a piece of my mind. Otherwise, what people say or think about me, it doesn’t really bother me. You can’t let it bother you otherwise it will play with your mental health.

Q. Did you ever have body image issues?

Shefali Jariwala: I have never had body image issues. I am a healthy woman. You gain weight, you lose weight. You are tall, you are short. Sometimes your waistline is not what you want ideally. Sometimes clothes fit you better and sometimes they don’t. You have to just work around it. I don’t stress about all these things. I have a woman’s body and so, I have hormones that fluctuate. But women have to be happy about how they look and feel. I do understand that other women may have body image issues. Just be confident in your own skin and feel good irrespective of your shape and size.

Q. What do you do to stay fit?

Shefali Jariwala: Fitness is very important to me. When I talk about fitness, it is not just about physical well-being, but also about mental fitness. I get good sleep, eat healthy, hit the gym every four or five days a week. Even if I can’t hit the gym, I always stay active. I do whatever makes me happy. Dancing has been a big part of my fitness journey. I also drink a lot of water and not stress about things in life that are beyond my control. There are good times and bad times, but you should remain positive. I have a lot of positivity in life. I am surrounded by a lot of positive people, people who support me and love me. People who are constantly encouraging me.

Shefali Jariwala doing yoga
Shefali Jariwala does yoga to stay fit. Image courtesy: Shefali Jariwala

Q. When you were a teenager, you suffered from epilepsy seizures. How did you manage it?

Shefali Jariwala: I had my first epileptic seizure when I was 15 years old. I had a lot of seizures 10 to 15 years after that. Meditation really helped me. So did good doctors, my family’s support, a healthy lifestyle and yoga.

Q. You and your husband Parag Tyagi have been giving couple goals since you two got married in 2015. Please share some tips for a healthy and long-lasting relationship.

Shefali Jariwala: It is just about taking every day as it comes and being with the person you are comfortable with. I am not just talking about your husband or boyfriend. Even relationships with your friends and family. You’ve got to take every day as it comes. We all have good days and bad days. One has got to be supportive, open to communication and be a good listener. It is important to respect the other person’s feelings and respect your own feelings too. If you are not happy with something, you must talk about it. Voice your opinion. It is the constant give-and-take that makes a relationship healthy and strong. You should be able to enjoy the little things in life. You also need to have certain things in common. Do things together, keep the newness alive and compliment each other. That is very important. As time passes by, you stop complimenting each other on small things like ‘I like your earrings or I like your dress or a new hair cut’. Just notice things about your partner. Keep the little things in mind and you can go a long way.

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Q. After music videos, films and reality shows, you made your TV debut in the fiction space with Shaitani Rasmein? Why is this the perfect opportunity for you?

Shefali Jariwala: The reason why I thought it was the right time for my TV debut is because a fantastic opportunity came to me. I have been told that TV is a medium which is the best teacher because of the environment – full of pressure, deadlines and the need to churn out episodes every day. I was very hungry for a good opportunity. I wanted to be part of a narrative where I had something to contribute. My new show is an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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