New Delhi, July 11 : She remembers the time when she weighed 100 kg and was subjected to body-shaming.
But actress Zareen Khan says negative comments never bothered her and, being a strong-willed person, she never felt hesitant to speak her mind.
"When I was more than 100 kg, I was often body-shamed and bullied.
However, none of this ever bothered me. It didn't bother me then and doesn't bother me now," Zareen told IANS in an interaction from Mumbai.
"I have always been extremely strong-willed and will never shy away from talking about how I feel.
I am very grateful to the people who have supported me through my journey -- and the ones who haven't, have only made me stronger," she added.
Is Bollywood supportive too of actresses with a fuller frame?
"It's a known fact that I have been criticised for my weight in the past.
But things are changing, people are now increasingly getting comfortable with talking about body-shaming.
"We are beginning to speak more and more about body-positivity.
While being an actor requires you to look a certain way, your performance and acting abilities are qualities that should matter the most.
However, I still feel we have a long way to go in embracing this concept in its most real sense," she said.
Zareen made her screen debut in the 2010 Anil Sharma's period film "Veer", co-starring with Salman Khan.
She later won more popularity from her item number "Character dheela" in Salman's "Ready".
Commercial success in Bollywood came her way with Sajid Khan's "Housefull 2".
The following year, Zareen also made her Tamil film debut in "Naan Rajavaga Pogiren", in which she did an item number in the song "Malgove".
She also did films like "Hate Story 3", "Wajah Tum Ho" and "Aksar 2" where she was seen in some bold avatars.
Has doing such roles added weight to her acting career?
"Every role is a learning experience.
I am extremely choosy about the scripts that I accept. I choose movies from an audience point of view -- keeping in mind what they would like to watch. You pass or fail, but every single choice you make is an experience," said Zareen, who judged models for the third edition of a plus-size fashion show for the forthcoming Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Winter/Festive 2018.
LFW and aLL-The Plus Size Store hosted a plus size model auditions where 29 fresh faces were chosen to walk for the show.
aLL-The Plus Size Store has also collaborated with Narendra Kumar who will be designing "aLL PRIMERO" Collection, for the brand's Autumn Winter 2018 collection at the fashion gala.
On the concept, Zareen said: "I think this is great platform.
I used to be plus-sized too. It overwhelms me to see that we finally have a platform for plus-sized men and women."
What keeps Zareen motivated to stay in shape?
"Working out and eating right have now become a part of my lifestyle.
It's not something that I indulge in for a film or project," she said.
"There used to be a time when I weighed over 100 kg.
My family has had to deal with several health problems owing to their weight. So, when I incorporated a healthier routine in my lifestyle, I realised the benefit that it has.
"The moment you start seeing results in your body, you automatically are motivated to push yourself harder.
I would never attribute my change in lifestyle to being body-shamed or bullied. I did it because I wanted to start living a fit and healthier life."
(Nivedita can be contacted at email@example.com)