With an aura as bright as the sun, Khushi Sheth is a 19-year-old student overflowing with sheer positivity and an urge to explore the world. How should I even introduce her? Khushi, who certainly doesn’t like herself to be put in a box, is a booming fashion influencer, an Achology-certified life coach, an avid traveller, an empowered mental health advocate, an artist and a free time singer. Phew! For a woman of such a young age, she has gained myriad experiences and witnessed many areas of work. She has provided counselling to numerous clients and has been fearless enough to initiate a mental health awareness drive called ‘Happy to Help’ in the genesis of 2020.
These are some excerpts from my conversation with Khushi.
You’ve dipped your hands in so many fields, but if you had to introduce yourself, which one would you consider mentioning first? What inspires you the most?
I would not like myself to be put into some category. I am everything and anything that I love doing. I would not like to be introduced as just one of them. I am fond of travelling, fashion, drawing; I am an enthusiast of mental health awareness, so why put myself in a box of a single category. Everything in life inspires us differently. My education in the field of psychology inspires me to understand myself and the people around me in a better way. It helps me to empathize with them, help them and maintain good relations. My interest in fashion inspires me to grow confident, comfortable, and courageous in my own skin. My travel aspect tells me new stories, discovering new places and inspires me to unravel all the world’s secrets. My art again, on the other hand, makes me feel liberated. There is a sense of freedom in my brush and my paints that inspires me to understand and intercept beauty more profoundly.
Everything inspires us somehow, and as I’d always suggest, take the best out of every aspect and thrive! So no, I don’t want to be put into a box. Sometimes I feel I am the jack of all trades, master of none, but I think I am quite young and still have a lot of time to figure out my future. My dad inspires me; he is so many things altogether—a graphic designer, a writer, a politician and again, an owner of a media house. So, I believe if one has opportunities, one should be limitless.
How does it feel to have modelled and acted for brands at such a young age? Was it healthy for your mental well-being?
I’ve been a really spontaneous person. I’ve never really planned anything when it comes to it. So, whenever I got an opportunity, I instantly grabbed it. You might not always get paid in monetary terms in the early stages, but you get to learn so much! Working with different brands provides me with so many qualitative gains, if not money. It helps me gain experiences, skills, enhance networking, and so much more. The point is, to represent a product that is going to reach masses and work with a team of 50-100 people is a bulk of learning. I have always believed that there is no age limit for learning anything. It practically never stops. So, it has definitely been really good for my mental health. Moreover, the challenges I face while working are the ones that make me strong and mentally sound.
May is the month of mental health awareness, a sector you’ve worked for before. How do you think the pandemic has affected the citizens of our country mentally?
We can all see that people are losing jobs, businesses are shutting down, people are losing their loved ones, the education sector, too, is affected poorly; so much is happening altogether. All these happenings are evidence of the country’s comprehensive mental health condition. It is not good. It is not easy! It is heartbreaking and disturbing. But who thought we would be able to make it without meeting our friends for a year? Who knew we would be able to survive without food from our favourite restaurants and cafes?
All the restrictive mindsets that were engraved into our minds are all in pieces. We made it out alive and are surviving. Imagine the amount of struggle we have gone through to make this happen; we are super strong. To witness such a worldwide pandemic, seeing our countrymen die, our families in the hospital has not been easy whatsoever. Lockdown has definitely affected our mental health but has also made us understand how strong we are.
You are an optimistic soul, a free positive spirit. You have always disseminated the idea and importance of staying positive. Do you think toxic positivity is a true phenomenon?
Toxic positivity in no way should be a part of your life. If you don’t even know what it’s like to be sad, how are you ever going to value the feeling of happiness? Every emotion demands to be felt and needs to be healed to have a balanced state of mind. If you have a heart, you are going to feel things, and feeling different emotions is normal and is really important. So, one should not try to always be happy and hold their tears back because even crying once in a while is important. If you don’t experience dark days, you are never going to value happy days!
Do you feel that fashion and psychology are interlinked through some mechanism? How would you explain it?
Fashion is a field that is incomplete without psychology. In fact, there is a special field of study that entirely talks about this subject called ‘Fashion Psychology’. The way you dress up has an impact on the other person’s mind. A person perceives you differently when you are well-dressed. Fashion is a way of communication; it is your body language and lifestyle. It is the way you convey your thoughts and your existence to the outer world. Although fashion and psychology are very different concepts, they do go hand in hand. I can talk about colour therapy, cognition and all other technical aspects of it, but I feel it’s better to present the concept in layman language. There are ample theories that talk about fashion and psychology, but the basic idea or the reason for its existence is because the way one presents oneself through fashion has a psychological impact on other people and oneself also. You dress good, you feel confident; you dress weird, you feel dull.
With trends changing at a swift pace, what kind of revolution does the fashion industry expect? How do you plan to be a part of such a revolution?
We have too much exposure to Hollywood and Bollywood, especially our generation. When we think about fashion, what comes to our mind? Glitz and glamour! We think of a zero-figure model walking on a ramp, wearing expensive clothes, wearing new clothes every day, being up-to-date with classy makeup.
I think the fashion industry needs to normalize true real bodies – to embrace dark complexions, big curves, small curves or no curves, skin with freckles and acne, rough hair or thin hair. To be able to normalize repeating clothes and outfits on different occasions. That is the change or revolution that the fashion industry needs right now. Fashion is not about wearing expensive clothes and jewellery; it is rather about feeling comfortable in your own skin. Again, fashion should not be restricted to clothes and accessories; it is a way of living, body language and a medium to express yourself better.
We need to redefine the word ‘Fashion’. I just launched a thrift store, a small step towards sustainable fashion. It sends out a message to people that thrifting is the new fad, and there should be no shame in wearing second-hand clothes.
As a traveler, what is the one travel destination you are longing to travel the most?
I have been lucky enough that my parents have been fond of travelling, so I have travelled a lot. As I grew up, I realized that we don’t long for destinations. We long for experiences that those places give us. If you ask me one particular place, it has to be Aruba, close to South America. I want to experience cliff jumping, natural hot springs, feed the flamingos; I want to experience that. But again, I want to try bungee jumping in Rishikesh, have a cruise in Antarctica and see the northern lights, visit fashion shows in Milan, Paris, and New York. I want to visit these places, not for the places, but to witness so many various “experiences” that they have to offer.
You have recently co-authored a book called ‘Loving Herself’. Please share insights about it.
I have always been the one who has supported equality, and I am so proud to be a woman in this world. I am also proud of all the women who are working hard to build themselves. ‘Loving Herself’ is a compilation of stories of women of different ages. It shares thoughts of 40-45 women who talk about how proud they are of themselves and their gender. It shares ideas that talk about what makes them happy to be a woman.
You have accomplished so much in such a small span of time. Who would you credit this achievement to?
First of all, I don’t want to sound wrong, but the lockdown situation has made me realize that there is so much more than studying and that I am capable of so much more than mere good grades. Secondly, moral resources, like love and encouragement from my loved ones, have made it possible for me to stand where I am. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have done any of these hobbies I indulge in. My parents, nanaji-naniji, mama-mami, masi, cousins, and my best friends; everyone has motivated me to do something or the other. The feeling of confidence we attain from the relationships with our friends and family is immeasurable. Along with that, I would like to credit organizations that consider me worthy enough to come up to a platform and talk about my work.
As an Achology-certified life coach, what is a piece of advice you would like to give to anybody who wants to achieve a career in psychology or fashion?
I do want to share a piece of advice that I have recently learnt myself as I am trying new experiences. The couple of things I have learned that I would like to share with anyone who wants to build a name for themselves – one, be okay of not being liked by everyone around you. No matter how good you are or how nicely you treat people or maintain relations, not everyone will accept you. The more successful you get, the more you will find people who will hate you, criticize you and basically not like you. Focus on what you have. Invest in your relationships. Build them and nurture them. All the happiness in the world means nothing if you have nobody to share it with. Take nobody for granted. Take up new opportunities. Just do it. Unless you try it or take spontaneous actions, you won’t get the real gist of different areas or sectors available for you in the future. Also, don’t try to change yourself to fulfil what society expects out of you. If you are a man who feels like putting on nail paints, do it! Who cares? It’s not your job to please everyone around you. Do literally whatever makes you happy, live your true identity and make peace with it.