There is a level of gumption that is required to push through obstacles that try to prevent you from being the best version of yourself and reaching your goals. It requires perseverance, confidence, finding alignment with your inner truth, boundaries, and faith that everything will work out.
That is what Vithya Visvendra embodies as she continues to navigate her personal life, public image, and business. Her career in makeup started around the time when pursuing to be a makeup artist was frowned upon as a social status. Leaving her job in Marketing, Vithya used the questions and criticisms of the Tamil community over her decision to fuel her motivation to pursue being a makeup artist and prove everyone wrong. It wasn’t just brides that she envisioned working with, it was movie stars as well, showcasing her talents to some of the most recognized actresses in Kollywood.
When she first started, the idea of being a make-up artist was seen as more of a hobby than a profession. She had been advised through acquaintances to pursue make-up as a side business and leave behind the hope of making this a full-time endeavor. That didn’t stop Vithya. Instead of being disheartened, she questioned instead, why not, challenging herself to prove to people that this was possible. Indeed, she was right, as the rise of social media gave opportunities for make-up artists to market and grow their business, now becoming a lucrative career choice with the potential for global reach.
Utilizing the Facebook page for businesses in 2008, Vithya leveraged the opportunity to showcase her skills and services, although difficult due to its limited target audience. She moved onto YouTube, later Instagram, where she got the most amount of exposure as it provided her a reach to individuals of all age groups. Her showcasing of various styles and tips in Tamil popularized her within the South Asian community and grew her reach globally. The demand for her services grew, giving her the opportunity to travel to various places and evolve her style and skillsets while utilizing her talents to accommodate the needs and expectations of her clients from different regions.
It wasn’t an easy journey as the beginning came with many setbacks. She faced judgment from the people working within the wedding industry as well as the families of her clients. Her age worked against her, as assumptions arose on whether she knew what she was doing or had to get done to fit the complex timing and complexity of the Hindu wedding ritual. As her brand grew the challenge then turned into managing her social media presence and how to manage the negativity from people.
She doesn’t consider herself an influencer as her main source of income is her makeup artist services. Despite the glamourous perception her social media showcases, it is anything but. As a one-woman show, she is her team. From scheduling to marketing and collaborations, Vithya’s multifaceted talents are utilized to ensure that her brand is constantly promoted and relevant. The pressure of social media requires a level of balance where what she posts doesn’t dilute the quality of her work especially as she continues to maintain the privacy of her personal life. The separation of personal from business when it comes to social media has created barriers for Vithya as her features such as Instagram reels and the requirement for constant content created an expectation of blurring the line between personal and professional. However, being true to herself, she never gave in, despite the curiosity and whispers from the followers.
Her personal life wasn’t an easy ride either and being a public figure, facing the assumptions of the Tamil community didn’t make her personal life easier. Having gone through the pain of divorce, Vithya initially didn’t have any support from her family. It was an experience that had made her stronger, more independent, and braver and compounded with being from the Tamil community, overcoming the gossip and lecture with the determination of choosing happiness for herself, she was left with a sense of freedom, freedom from community expectations and the scrutinizing that occurs to Tamil women prior to getting married. The feeling of empowerment of just being able to be herself and live authentically was the most rejuvenating feeling post-divorce. We have been wired to think about other people, and making that decision was empowering to choose ourselves. Despite the personal decision she made for herself, the consequence was felt in her professional life. Initially, she noticed that she wasn’t being booked as much, the guilt over her personal decision making Vithya ruminate about the possibility that she would be considered a bad omen if booked for a wedding. It was made worse with the gossip and curiosity of people who wanted to know what happened, perceiving her as live entertainment to dissect and analyze. For a person who was adamant about maintaining her privacy, the challenge to keep her head held high despite the gossip and trying to carry on with her very public business was difficult, not allowing herself to give in to feelings of indignation with the false narrative that others might have been tempted to publicly dispel.
Instead, she utilized the opportunity to speak her truth in hopes to empower others. She realized that her platform can be used to bring awareness, educate, and most importantly normalize the struggles with mental health, creating a virtual community and sense of solidarity. Her article on her fight with depression and divorce brought a collective awareness that this wasn’t an individual struggle and that step to speak out propelled her desire to advocate for mental health and women’s empowerment.
Her strength to move beyond her fears was indisputable. She understood, firsthand, the struggle Tamil women faced in their silence and wasn’t going to conform to it anymore. She found her voice when she took a stand for herself, and it was within that she didn’t care anymore about the negativity surrounding who she was.
“You don’t know who you could be impacting, out of ten women if two people have something negative to say but you are empowering the other eight, then it was worth it.”