Lisa Ray (Source: lisaraniray/Instagram)
Self-love is the biggest antidote, says actor and author Lisa Ray, who has been an inspiration not just for having battled cancer head-on but also through her journey of coming to terms with her body and identity, braving all challenges. Lisa, who has been appointed as the brand ambassador of luxury watch company Rado, spoke to indianexpress.com about the importance of paying attention to our bodies and celebrating our uniqueness, apart from the need for sustainable living, and her upcoming projects. Excerpts:
You have talked about grappling with identity crisis and a sense of belonging, being an "immigrant out of choice". Do you still struggle or have you come to terms with it?
Today my differences -- my mixed identity and global sensibility while being rooted in India -- are my strengths. It took me years to understand this. The belonging I was seeking was not outside myself, but an inner journey. Today I'm much more content and peaceful.
How difficult was it for you to cope with bulimia (a serious eating disorder)? Given the obsession with the 'perfect' body shape and size even today and people resorting to various diet fads, what would your advice be for other women?
Bulimia is a serious disease and I can't give anyone advice except to either stage an intervention if you suspect a friend is suffering from it, or seek professional help. I have been vocal for years about the pathology of perfection we see in contemporary society and the impossible beauty standards women are subjected to. My mission is to help women understand that their uniqueness is their strength. Don't let the world define you. Who you are and your self-worth is not conditional on anything outside yourself. Self love is the greatest antidote.
What does fitness mean to you?
My fitness mantra is self-care. Self-care is a prescription that comes with a long list of to-dos that can seem rather overwhelming at times. Exercise, socialise, meditate, take up a hobby, eat healthy...it's all too much! Everything that usually falls under the tag of 'self-care' involves doing something or being active in some way.
After being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, what kept you going through the difficult phase?
This is why I wrote my book Close to the Bone and if you are really curious about what kept me going, I would encourage you to read it.
In the past, you have talked about how you ignored the early signs of cancer, and perhaps many of us have that tendency to be in denial of our body signals. How important, according to you, is it for us to pay attention to our bodies?
See, our bodies are our vehicles to accomplish our missions in life. So just as we take care of our cars and homes with regular oil changes and pumping the tires and repainting, so we should respect our bodies enough to take the time to tune into what we need. We need to get out of this mindset that taking time out is 'selfish'. Without a healthy body we can't serve others.
Tell us about your experience as the brand ambassador of Rado.
I have been associated with the brand for more than 10 years. I share a relationship with Rado since childhood. For me, a Rado watch is a beautiful investment and a wonderful accessory that can travel with you everywhere. It is a luxury watch brand making premium watches with excellent craftsmanship. The brand signifies a great timepiece for owning and gifting. Rado watches resonate well with my bold personality and blends very well with my style.
Are you fond of watches?
My watch is my best friend. My current favourite is Cream White from the Rado True Thinline Les Couleurs Le Corbusier collection.
Watches, today, have become more of a fashion accessory than a thing of utility. Do you agree?
I agree, watches are no more a mere time-keeping device but an indispensable fashion accessory apart from being a necessity. It definitely adds an element to your personality.
There is a lot of talk about sustainable fashion these days, with celebs recycling looks. What are your thoughts on this?
Fashion companies across the price spectrum, from fast-fashion giants to luxury brands have announced new commitments on sustainability in recent years. However, there are several incredible watch brands that are making a positive impact in more ways than one, whether by using natural resources like wood and vegetable-tanned leather, incorporating eco-friendly technology or recycled metals, or giving back to eco organisations.
A step towards ethical fashion and beauty is a new trend and making sustainable fashion choices is everyone's priority now be it clothes, accessories or our everyday essentials.
Tell us about your new movie 99 songs. How has working with AR Rahman been like?
It was a phenomenal experience. I've been a huge admirer of AR's work and I was flattered that he has also loved my performance in films like Water, where he also composed some of the songs. I believe 99 Songs will be a landmark film. But I can't say more than that.
Your book Close to the Bone has been much appreciated. How cathartic was it to write about your journey?
I'm very humbled and exhilarated by the response. Not only was it to write, but I see CTTB as my writing debut and I'm so proud to share that I'll be writing three more books for my publisher, as well as releasing an audiobook. Sharing our stories and vulnerabilities is the true work of deep connection and love.