Insights on Instagram by an Influencer: Sonal Mahendru


What led you to start your page on Instagram and what is it about?
Before venturing into plus size fashion, I was keen on traveling and discovering all things good about the country. I wasn't always this confident, my feed would contain only food and travel back then, not even my face. I gained so much love (along with a few nasty comments of course) when I posted my picture for the first time on Instagram. While some were just appreciating my pose, my features, or face, there were girls my size who wanted to know about the dress I was wearing. The more pictures I posted, the more Thankyou messages I started getting. Some thanked me for posting the details of my clothing, some would thank just for writing something motivational. That was the beginning. There weren't many of us back then. Leave aside plus size brands, even the 'Plus-size model' was a term we didn't even think existed in India. How would you distinguish the term blogger from an influencer?
Let's just say all influencers cant be bloggers, but all bloggers can be influencers depending upon their website stats, popularity, and online influence.
Bloggers - as the name suggests have a flair of writing blogs/websites. The influence of these bloggers can be measured by the reach and engagement metrics. Influencers, however, typically don't have blogs outside of social media.
Is it financially sustainable to be an influencer today?
I suggest anyone starting up as an influencer should initially have a reliable source of earning and take this up as passion, and eventually make a switch once established and stable. Unlike jobs, your income in this profession is neither guaranteed nor fixed. You might not receive your payments timely. And, as a one-off case, you might not receive your payment at all. If you are lucky (read creative too), you might just earn A LOT with a single campaign. It's a cycle. You make money when you get good projects. You get highly paid projects when you invest well in creating your content. So, you need some money to create more. What do you think influences consumer behavior?
Relatability. We might scroll down and like all fancy stuff over the net, but we buy something when we are convinced. Consumers are more likely to go with a trusted recommendation rather than a celebrity faking it so obviously.
Your opinion on Instagram contemplating removing likes option for posts.
Disaster. We have been already facing issues weeding out the accounts with fake Instagram followers, removing likes options for posts has made it all the easier for them to just buy 100k fake followers, get involved in a comments pod and stand as equals with those who have been working so hard to even gain even a few thousands of followers.
What is your idea of success or your mantra in life?
My secret to Mantra is to EXPLORE. Rather than just dreaming about what I want, I prefer to involve myself to keep doing things. When your vision is set on one goal, you might achieve it, but when you broaden the horizons of it and explore, you would be able to achieve what you dreamt of and what you couldn't dream of. In my case, Walking the ramp for India Fashion Week was one such blessing of my life. 

I am a Delhi based Plus-Size Model and Influencer - one of the few faces who have walked the ramp for India Fashion Week. Also, I have had the opportunity to work as a professional model for many major plus size brands. With all ups and downs in my life, the only thing that remains constant in my life is the desire to get recognition for my community. Unlike other countries, the "Plus-Size Model" is still a lesser-known concept in India. My role models are Tess Holiday and Bishamber Das. As an influencer, I promote body positivity and take pride in motivating others who are far from accepting their own bodies.

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