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When Shweta Bachchan Nanda was 23 years old, she gave birth to her daughter Navya. Two years later, her son Agastya arrived, and Shweta entered what would become her longest-running role: motherhood. It was a part she came to feel - and still feels - very comfortable in. Interestingly, it also became an instigator for a hugely important shift in her life.
India is a country steeped in rich culture, history and tradition. Families live together, intergenerationally and communally. In this environment, the mother isn’t just a mother; she is a matriarch, and her role is firmly set.
Her longest-running role: motherhood...an instigator for a hugely important shift in her life.
I mean, you’re always a mother. But suddenly I wasn’t running them to classes, I wasn’t asking them about school, I wasn’t checking report cards. I was sitting there, and because I was so young when I had my daughter, I didn’t know much else until I was in my late 30’s. And then I hit 40, and I feel like everything in my life changed.
The moment when Shweta’s children went to boarding school in their early teens, also became the moment when a core aspect of her identity changed. She realized she needed to learn what she wanted to achieve in life, in this new light of existence where motherhood was no longer her primary, day-to-day vocation.
It manifested as a need to create her own identity. Shweta grew to feel more comfortable in her skin, and began pursuing ventures that were for her, and her alone. First, writing a column for a newspaper in Mumbai - then, a book publishing deal with Harper Collins India. And eventually teaming up with Monisha Jaising to create her own fashion brand, MXS. Being forced to reflect upon her role as a mother opened avenues - and also made Shweta more self-aware within these reflections.
I think my passion for the things that excite and inspire me has helped me a lot. When you have that, you give yourself to your projects completely. But I’m also very impatient. And when you’re that kind of a person, everything is a test. Everything is testing. I think if you have patience in life it’s a very strong characteristic in life - and I don’t have it.
Many of her self-observations have come with age, a fact Shweta embraces with refreshing honesty. To her, #OwnYourGlow means to own your age, and be happy with who you are, however you are. That also means owning your dualities - your flaws and your strengths, your confidence and your insecurity. She knows she is strong in her passion and in her dedication, and confident in her role as a mother. She also knows that she struggles with impatience, and feels less secure in the roles she hasn’t inhabited for as long; writer, entrepreneur, designer.
Own your age, and be happy with who you are, however you are
On a larger scale, Shweta is actively contributing to a shift similar to her own for women in India, by making clothes for what she calls the modern Indian woman. It is a personal reconciliation of each aspect of her own identity, drawn from her life experience, but its reach stretches far beyond herself.
There are young Indian women, like my daughter Navya, who are trying to carve out an identity for themselves; leaving smaller towns in India, coming to bigger cities, staying on their own, earning their own money. Their end game is not just to get married - in fact, more often than not a lot of them choose not to get married. They’re independent-thinking, they have big ideas, they stand up for causes, they’re bright. They’re so beautiful, each and every single one of them in their own way.
Shweta has mastered a beautiful balance - between mother and entrepreneur, tradition and innovation, past and future. And by walking this line within herself, she is contributing to that very space her daughter and other young Indian women are pioneering, in the context of an entire nation’s progress.
Interview and write-up by Synne Linden