An interview with Nandita Banna
Authors: Janani, Kanishka, Riddhi
Leave a note
for the author here!
I remember looking at a picture of my favourite actress on Instagram and thinking to myself,
“Wow I wished I looked like that!!”.
The expectations we put on ourselves make us unhappy about our own bodies, but what about the social media stars who have to manage the expectations of thousands of people? Here’s what we found out from Ms Nandita Banna!
Nandita is a 21-year-old model who made history for Singapore, clinching a spot in the Top 16 for Miss Universe 2021 for the first time in 37 years.
After winning Miss Universe Singapore, Nandita started to gain more attention on social media. While most people congratulated her, the internet was not the kindest space for her. She received negative comments about her body image and appearance within days after her victory.
“When I cut my hair, people said l looked like a man”
“You should eat more you look like a stick”
On how Social Media Affected her Body Image
“I thought, well, it’s 2021, we’re past saying mean things to people online”. Initially shocked and appalled, these comments led her to start second-guessing everything she would post because she felt like there was always someone who is better than her.
Although these comments affected the way she thought about her body, Nandita did not lose her self-confidence. Instead, she chose to focus on the things important to her. While speaking to Nandita, she mentioned that the main reason she joined Miss Universe Singapore was to improve her confidence and speak better. Despite the comments, she stayed steadfast and ignored the hatred that she received.
Nandita said “You can’t get better at your looks”, “you have to learn how to live with it. You may learn new skills and improve yourself throughout your life, but we all must understand that we cannot change our looks.” Her words reminded me of a quote by Lady Gaga, “You define beauty yourself. Society doesn’t define your beauty.”
On Xenophobic Comments
Upon winning Miss Universe Singapore, Nandita was also faced with hurtful comments questioning her Singaporean identity. When asked about xenophobic comments in an interview with Zula, she mentioned that she “chooses not to focus on the negativity knowing full well that she’s lived in Singapore her whole life and is Singaporean at heart”.
Asked about how she achieved this positive mindset, Nandita mentioned that daily reflections were something that was helpful for her. At the end of the day, she would sit down and think about what were the things that were bothering her. The most important part, however, is being kind to yourself. Especially throughout the first year of university, she wanted to focus on being a more positive person and not beat herself down. Although comments like “Oh I didn’t know you were local” still hurt, she would catch herself and be mindful not to be mean to herself.
Some parting advice!
“Try your best to not compare ourselves to other people as all of us are different and unique in our own way!” (Yes, including you! We love you!)
If there is one takeaway from reading this article, it is to prioritise yourself. Nandita is a strong believer that the only person whose opinion about her matters, is herself. She feels that focusing on what she wants to do is what is most important. Her loved ones, like her parents, siblings, and best friends truly know her for who she is. After all, people online actually don't know the real you. So, put your feelings first and keep your head high, even when the going gets tough <3