Safer Internet Day takes place in February of each year to raise awareness of a safer and better internet for all, and especially for children and young adults. On 6th February this year, everyone is encouraged to be a part of this annual celebration to join “Together for a better Internet”. With influencers and content creators taking over the internet that too at a young age now, they are the most exposed on the platform.

While having their content go viral is a dream they also have to bear the brunt of hate comments and negative trolling. Especially influencers who are plus-sized or belong to the LGBTQIA+ community or just anyone who tries to question the norms. On the occasion of Safer Internet Day, the Social Nation team spoke to the three-time Cosmopolitan India Body Love Influencer Winner, Tanvi Geetha Ravishankar a.k.a. TheChubbyTwirler.

Tanvi is a body-positive activist, a plus-size fashion guru, and a digital content creator – the mind behind #TheChubbyTwirler. “The first step to conquering the world is being confident in your own skin. It saddens me that girls are not comfortable in their own bodies and put themselves through such scrutiny their entire life just because society has set some insane standards. I am overwhelmed with the kind of response that I am getting and wish to continue inspiring people” says Tanvi.

Also Read: Your Favourite Creators Win Big At The Impact Digital Influencer Awards 2023

Let’s take you through our insightful conversation with this confident woman who is so full of self-love and wishes that the Internet lets you be your true self. Read on!

Tanvi Geetha Ravishankar The Chubby Twirler Safer Internet Day SN Exclusive Interview body positive influencer content creator

Firstly, we would love to know how it feels to be Cosmo India’s Body Love Influencer!

It feels amazing. This is actually the third time I’m winning continuously, three times in a row. So it feels amazing. It’s such an honor because it’s one of the biggest awards for influencers. So yeah, to be representing my community and for the work that I’m doing, it’s such an honor.

Coming to the occasion of ‘Safer Internet Day’, could you tell us a few things that every internet user should keep in mind when they’re using it to be safe?

I think first and foremost, sabko ye dhyaan rakhna chahiye ke voh kya Internet pe daal rahe hai – the kind of comments they are putting on other people’s posts. Because obviously, when it comes to yourself, everyone gets hurt. If someone says something about you, you will get hurt. But you should see what you’re also putting on the internet.

So keep in mind that you also post positive comments. If you don’t like something, then just move on. You don’t need to share your opinion. Maybe your opinion is wrong also. Or even if it’s right, just keep it with yourself na? It’s not like that person is going to take it and change their entire life. Just move on if you don’t like anything.

Have you been a victim of cyberbullying? If yes, can you talk about your experience?

Ever? Haha. Every day, daily, since the past seven years! Every time I open my Instagram notifications, I just have those negative comments, and especially it’s worse when a video goes viral. I mean obviously, we all creators wish that every video of us goes viral.

But for plus-size, fat creators and anybody from the LGBTQIA+ community, if our video goes viral, it’s hell. This is currently happening with two of my videos currently. Every time I open Instagram there is some vile thing on it…

How do you deal with these trolls?

I’m not gonna lie, it does affect me. There have been times in the past where I’ve taken complete breaks like itni zyada gandhagi fail gayi hai mere comment section mein aur itna personal ho gaya hai vo and for no reason. I’m just like dancing or I’m just wearing something I like, that’s it. Just because I’m a fat person, I’m getting so much hate.

And it has affected me so much that I have taken like 2 to 3 weeks or even a month ka complete break from Instagram so that it dies down. But obviously voh strength with time developed. Now I’m at a stage where I focus on why I started this journey. So I focus on the positive comments. I don’t know if you’ve seen my comment section but now I have a lot of fun with the negative comments. I give back their ‘tatti’ to them.

How did you decide to give it back to your trollers?

Another creator a while ago rightly said “Instagram is a city. My page is my home and my comment section is my front yard. So if you come on my front yard and if you throw crap I will throw that crap back at you.” So it requires a lot of strength. And even now, I don’t engage if I’m not in a good mood. The day I’m in a good mood, I really like to give it back to them. 

If you could give it back to the trolls on their face, what would you say?

Unka face toh dekha hi nahi hai na! Most of these accounts are always bots or they are fake accounts. They don’t have display pictures. They don’t have proper names. They have numbers in their account IDs. Toh pehle apni shakal toh dikha do then I can probably think of saying something to your face.

Do you think digital literacy is important to help create a safer Internet?

Absolutely. I mean, there are so many ways in which you can help make this a safer and better space for people. But I think a lot of people who are policymakers, who run apps, people in educational institutes, parents, they themselves are still trying to figure out what this space is.

They are the ones who impart education to the younger generation… So I feel first they need to understand and be educated about how to make it a safer space and what this space is all about.

Tanvi, let’s talk a bit more about your journey. Why did you start content creation?

I’ve always been a very confident girl. Yes, I’ve had my ups and downs growing up with my body and my size. And obviously, you always have people telling you that you look pretty, but you will look prettier if you lose weight. And you can’t do this, you can’t do that. But I’ve always been very confident and I’ve been able to do everything I wanted to do and do it very well.

Be it in sports, be it in dancing, in music, and in studies as well. So my body never came in the way of that even in finding love. So it never happened that because I’m fat I couldn’t do something or I couldn’t have something, apart from trendy clothes of course. So I never felt underconfident or I never struggled with body image issues. In 2016, LAKME Fashion Week held its first-ever plus-size audition. And before that, I hadn’t met anybody who was as fat as me. 

I was the fattest, designated fat person in every group, in every family event. And I never had a problem as I said. But there I met people who looked like me, who were my size. I realized that people have really struggled with their bodies. Like they’ve gone through their entire lives hating themselves, and not having the courage to do things. Basic things like wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, or wearing jeans, or just dancing at a party. 

So I realized that there is something different in the way I see myself and I should put that out there. I obviously had a knack for fashion also. If I can help change even one person’s life, that will be amazing. So that’s how my journey began. I started my page and here we are now!

Talking about body positivity as a phrase, often we see people debating about its definition, especially in the comments section. So what according to you is the correct definition? What does body positivity mean?

It’s actually not what I think or anybody else thinks, it is what the “Body Positive Movement” is. The movement was started in the 1960s by fat black women in America to find space, to find a way to fight for their rights, and to be seen. That is what the movement is about.

It basically says that everybody regardless of their size, colour, ability levels, health, or fitness levels, deserves respect, deserves to be loved and seen, and deserves to get equal opportunities in the workspace. 

People, especially in India, have taken a different meaning out of it. I am sorry to say, but there are a lot of influencers who claim to be “body-positive” and talk for the movement but they don’t know anything about it. Which is so wrong. It’s like saying I am a vegetarian but I eat chicken.

So I think more education is needed on the movement. Right now it has just become a hashtag that people are throwing around aise hi to be cool. Hashtag koi use hi karna hai, toh tumhara kuch bana lo yaar, isko hijack karna bandh kar do. 

Thank you, Tanvi, for making the Internet a better and safer place and for motivating everyone to feel confident in their skin. The world needs more people like you! Netizens, stay safe out there and ensure you also create a safe space for the people you choose to interact or engage with on the platform.