Self-love is the biggest antidote, says actor and author Lisa Ray, who has been an inspiration not just for having battled cancer head-on but also through her journey of coming to terms with her body and identity, braving all challenges. Lisa, who has been appointed as the brand ambassador of luxury watch company Rado, spoke to indianexpress.com about the importance of paying attention to our bodies and celebrating our uniqueness, apart from the need for sustainable living, and her upcoming projects. Excerpts:
You have talked about grappling with identity crisis and a sense of belonging, being an “immigrant out of choice”. Do you still struggle or have you come to terms with it?
Today my differences — my mixed identity and global sensibility while being rooted in India — are my strengths. It took me years to understand this. The belonging I was seeking was not outside myself, but an inner journey. Today I’m much more content and peaceful.
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Keep your purity, I have found mine by loving my flaws, my imperfections and embracing my darkness. Come closer and see my scars; they are the skid marks of my happiness. I am also built on their shoulders; the women who came before. Come closer and see their shadows in my eyes. #EkOnkar #OmShanti #Bismillah
How difficult was it for you to cope with bulimia (a serious eating disorder)? Given the obsession with the ‘perfect’ body shape and size even today and people resorting to various diet fads, what would your advice be for other women?
Bulimia is a serious disease and I can’t give anyone advice except to either stage an intervention if you suspect a friend is suffering from it, or seek professional help. I have been vocal for years about the pathology of perfection we see in contemporary society and the impossible beauty standards women are subjected to. My mission is to help women understand that their uniqueness is their strength. Don’t let the world define you. Who you are and your self-worth is not conditional on anything outside yourself. Self love is the greatest antidote.
What does fitness mean to you?
My fitness mantra is self-care. Self-care is a prescription that comes with a long list of to-dos that can seem rather overwhelming at times. Exercise, socialise, meditate, take up a hobby, eat healthy…it’s all too much! Everything that usually falls under the tag of ‘self-care’ involves doing something or being active in some way.
After being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, what kept you going through the difficult phase?
This is why I wrote my book Close to the Bone and if you are really curious about what kept me going, I would encourage you to read it.
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Repost from @rajionline using @RepostRegramApp – The book stands out in all aspects, much like the author. It's written beautifully, honest as can be, filled with facts… And hugely inspiring. It will energise you and question your conventions. The relentless optimism of the father-daughter duo will somehow seep through the pages filling you with hope and will make you appreciate the simple joys of life. For me – @lisaraniray reinforced the courage to be impulsive, to trust my instincts and to be fearless! And I take her message with all its essence to pass on to my children … Padma patra evam bhasa (Live like the lotus flower) #lisaraniray #rajisreadinglist #rajisreadinglist2020 #memoir
In the past, you have talked about how you ignored the early signs of cancer, and perhaps many of us have that tendency to be in denial of our body signals. How important, according to you, is it for us to pay attention to our bodies?
See, our bodies are our vehicles to accomplish our missions in life. So just as we take care of our cars and homes with regular oil changes and pumping the tires and repainting, so we should respect our bodies enough to take the time to tune into what we need. We need to get out of this mindset that taking time out is ‘selfish’. Without a healthy body we can’t serve others.
Tell us about your experience as the brand ambassador of Rado.
I have been associated with the brand for more than 10 years. I share a relationship with Rado since childhood. For me, a Rado watch is a beautiful investment and a wonderful accessory that can travel with you everywhere. It is a luxury watch brand making premium watches with excellent craftsmanship. The brand signifies a great timepiece for owning and gifting. Rado watches resonate well with my bold personality and blends very well with my style.
Are you fond of watches?
My watch is my best friend. My current favourite is Cream White from the Rado True Thinline Les Couleurs Le Corbusier collection.
Watches, today, have become more of a fashion accessory than a thing of utility. Do you agree?
I agree, watches are no more a mere time-keeping device but an indispensable fashion accessory apart from being a necessity. It definitely adds an element to your personality.
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Lockdown Yes, there is fear. Yes, there is isolation. Yes, there is panic buying. Yes, there is sickness. Yes, there is even death. But, They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise You can hear the birds again. They say that after just a few weeks of quiet The sky is no longer thick with fumes But blue and grey and clear. They say that in the streets of Assisi People are singing to each other across the empty squares, keeping their windows open so that those who are alone may hear the sounds of family around them. They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound. Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers with her number through the neighbourhood So that the elders may have someone to call on. Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way All over the world, people are waking up to a new reality To how big we really are. To how little control we really have. To what really matters. To Love. So we pray and we remember that Yes, there is fear. But there does not have to be hate. Yes, there is isolation. But there does not have to be loneliness. Yes, there is panic buying. But there does not have to be meanness. Yes, there is sickness. But there does not have to be disease of the soul Yes, there is even death. But there can always be a rebirth of love. Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now. Today, breathe. Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic The birds are singing again The sky is clearing, Spring is coming, And we are always encompassed by Love. Open the windows of your soul And though you may not be able to touch across the empty square, Sing. – Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM March 13th, 2020 Via #SukeshMotwani
There is a lot of talk about sustainable fashion these days, with celebs recycling looks. What are your thoughts on this?
Fashion companies across the price spectrum, from fast-fashion giants to luxury brands have announced new commitments on sustainability in recent years. However, there are several incredible watch brands that are making a positive impact in more ways than one, whether by using natural resources like wood and vegetable-tanned leather, incorporating eco-friendly technology or recycled metals, or giving back to eco organisations.
A step towards ethical fashion and beauty is a new trend and making sustainable fashion choices is everyone’s priority now be it clothes, accessories or our everyday essentials.
Tell us about your new movie 99 songs. How has working with AR Rahman been like?
It was a phenomenal experience. I’ve been a huge admirer of AR’s work and I was flattered that he has also loved my performance in films like Water, where he also composed some of the songs. I believe 99 Songs will be a landmark film. But I can’t say more than that.
Your book Close to the Bone has been much appreciated. How cathartic was it to write about your journey?
I’m very humbled and exhilarated by the response. Not only was it to write, but I see CTTB as my writing debut and I’m so proud to share that I’ll be writing three more books for my publisher, as well as releasing an audiobook. Sharing our stories and vulnerabilities is the true work of deep connection and love.
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