Manushi Chhillar On Female Friendships, Fear of Cockroaches, and the Products She Uses to the Last Drop
The Word.: As an ex-Miss World and now an actor, beauty has been an intrinsic part of your journey. Tell us how has your definition of beauty evolved over time.
Manushi Chhillar: “I come from a different world, where a lot of emphasis was placed on self-worth and self-confidence. It was instilled in me at a very young age, and I give a lot of credit to my parents and my school for that. I don’t think I ever felt like I had to look a certain way to be valued—core values were more important to me.
I truly admire people who are unapologetically themselves…people who are confident about who they are. I find them extremely beautiful. And I am happy that my definition of beauty hasn’t really changed over time. I believe beauty is about feeling good about yourself, taking care of yourself, and expressing yourself through skincare and make-up.”
TW: It’s lovely to hear that you kind of grew up with that kind of confidence that you didn’t feel the need to alter yourself to attain a certain standard of beauty…
MC: “I think it’s because we weren’t allowed to watch TV when we were young. So we weren’t influenced by advertisements and burdened with unattainable standards of beauty.”
TW: Tell us about Estée Lauder’s new festive campaign.
MC: “I was very excited about this campaign because when an international brand wants to do something specific for India, it means that they are looking at India as a big market for them.
And it was a fun campaign…I recently met the global team and they were all talking about it.
They have curated some lovely festive kits, with some of the best products. The vanity case is beautiful. And I had a lot of fun shooting it.”
TW: In terms of skincare, what’s your ride or die?
MC: “I have two: Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Serum, I began using it about five years ago…and I have been using it regularly ever since. A friend of mine introduced me to the product, and it really helped me. A surprise discovery, which has now turned into another Holy Grail for me is their sunscreen [Perfectionist Pro Multi-Defense Aqua UV Gel SPF 50/PA++++]. It’s amazing for Indian weather as it is a gel-based formula, it has SPF 50, and it also works well as a primer under make-up.”
TW: What’s the one make-up you’d recommend blindly?
MC: “I feel everyone should have a good pressed powder, and the Double Wear Stay-in-Place Matte Powder Foundation SPF 10 is great for touch-ups on the go. It lends good coverage and tackles shine and mattifies skin, if that’s one of your concerns.”
TW: Tell us about a side of yours that no-one knows.
MC: “I am a fairly private person, I don’t think many people know a lot about me. In fact, sometimes what I read about myself online is news to me as well! But I would say I am selectively extroverted. Most people would define me as reserved or shy—and I agree with that—but I operate very well with smaller groups. Large crowds give me a bit of anxiety.”
TW: What is the one thing that you love, tolerate, and dislike about being a public figure?
MC: “I love the love people shower me with. I tolerate other people’s opinions, and the one thing I dislike is when people pretend like they know more about your life than you do!”
“Celebrities tend to lie about a lot of things! I think a lot of them lie about how they feel about a certain situation.”
TW: You have two siblings, which one of you is the bully?
MC: “I think we keep switching roles, but it’s always two against one. Now that we are older, we are a lot more civil, but mostly, it’ my sister, who is the oldest—she’s five years older than me and 11 years older than my brother. So she’s like a second mom, so we got bossed around by her when we were kids.”
TW: Since you are the middle child, what are your thoughts about the middle child syndrome?
MC: “The thing about psychology is that whenever you read something, you can relate to it at some level. And I have read about the middle child syndrome, but I personally don’t relate to it. ”
TW: The world is obsessed with astrology at the moment. What are your thoughts on it?
MC: “I don’t mind it, but I am not someone who follows it. I am not against it, but I am not for it either. I believe people are obsessed with it because it can be really comforting to know what the future holds…because we are all always worried about what’s going to happen next. My birthday’s on 14th May, but I don’t indulge in it. If something is meant to happen, it will whether one likes it or not…then what’s the point?”
TW.: What kind of women do you choose to surround yourself with?
MC: “I come from an all-girls school, and I truly cherish my childhood bonds. There is no criteria in my mind, all my friends are very different from one another. But the amount of empathy, compassion, and support that I received from my friends is amazing. The beauty of being a woman is that empathy comes very naturally to us—I know not all, but most. And these relationships that I have built over the years are the most fulfilling ones that I have.”
THE WORD. QUICK-FIRE
“The one question that I’m asked too often is…how has my life changed after winning Miss World—it has been five years and I still get asked that.”
“My refrigerator is filled with…lots of paneer [cottage cheese], lots of cheese.”
“Celebrities tend to lie about…a lot of things. I think a lot of them lie about how they feel about a certain situation.”
“The thoughts that keep me up at night are…about life, philosophy. I wish I didn’t think so much and just focus on my work.”
“The first thing that I do when I wake up is…shut my alarm.”
“An embarrassing habit that I can’t seem to let go of is…that sometimes I can be a bit of a bully on set.”
“I am absolutely terrified of…cockroaches. And there’s a word for it, it is called Katsaridaphobia. They just seem so alien to me!”
“My go-to lipstick shade is…Estée Lauder Pure Color Emerald Lipstick in Love Bite.”
“And my preferred manicure shape is…almond.”
“A quote printed on a T-shirt that I would wear all day, every day is…‘Poor minds discuss people’.”
“Self-help books in my opinion are…opinions of people who are probably more messed up.”
“My one true passion is…being able to add value wherever I go, no matter how insignificant.”