Shivani is a true fighter and despite all odds and challenges, she was crowned as Ms Plus Size North INDIA in 2018, walked the ramp at Lakmé fashion week, worked as an actor in the movie Ek Villian Returns. Few people are aware of the struggles at the personal end faced by Shivani, she was diagnosed with depression at the age of 14 due to constant bullying for two years, later at 18 she had facial paralysis for over a month and at 19 she had kidney stone and had numerous amounts of painful surgeries till date. She has overcome all of this and fought for her life when on ventilator when doctors also were losing hope, through a beautiful approach to life as she says “all these things happened to me for a reason and I am grateful to God for giving me these challenges to face as they only made me stronger and bolder”. She believes that if someone ordinary like her can make a difference just by accepting her flaws and failures and taking them as targets to improve, then definitely we all can do it, all we need is to trust and accept ourselves.
What were the challenges you faced at the beginning of your life? How did you overcome them?
When I turned 12, I started gaining a lot of weight to due which I faced a lot of criticism from not only strangers but my loved ones too. People would make fun of me and laugh at me for looking a certain way. They would call me names like haathi, saand and Yokozuna. There came a time when i would cry for hours. I wouldn’t go to school or even step out on my house and this went on for 2 years and things took a toll on my mental health when I turned 14 as one day a teacher punished me for not completing my homework. She made me stand in the classroom for the whole day and purposely made fun of me and body shamed me to an extent that I fainted. Due to the constant bullying I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of 14. I purposely started over eating to feel better. But the taunts never stopped.
One day I was so done with everything that I decided to take a stand for myself and give it back to people who tried pulling me down. Thankfully my parents were there to my rescue. They held me and helped me get out of the bad phase of my life, my mom even encouraged me to go out there and show the world what I got. She insisted me to participate in a beauty pageant for plus size people as I always wanted to be an actor and a model. I went there participated with full confidence and won the pageant and was crowned as Ms Plus Size North India in 2018.
I regained my confidence but little did i know that life had some other plans for me. Soon after winning the pageant in June i was diagnosed with chickenpox in November. It was so bad that it damaged some nerves of my brain which led to facial paralysis. I was hospitalized for a month.
Days went by and my condition got worse. On the New Year’s Eve, I got critical and the doctors lost all hopes of me surviving. But I think god had some other plans next day on the new year I gained consciousness and was taken off from ventilator. This one incident literally made me very stronger and gave me all the will power that I have today. It took me few months to recover but here I am living my life to the fullest.
Tell us about some highlights of your career so far.
After my health improved, I got a chance to walk the ramp at Lakmé fashion week for designer Rina Dhaka and all plus. I started creating content which I could personally relate to and received a lot of appreciation for the same. I auditioned for a film Ek Villain Returns and was locked for the role of Rubina. Ek villain returns was a life changing experience for me. I could see myself getting a step closer to my dreams. Working with all these wonderful and amazing people like Tara Sutaria, Arjun Kapoor and Mohit Suri itself was a great opportunity for me. I learned so much during the shoot of the movie. I evolved as a person. And here I am today! Right here proving them wrong who said that I could not do or achieve anything in life because I looked a certain way.