Allow Sushmita Sen and Twinkle Khanna to be your life coaches
5 important lessons from our season finale of The Icons with Twinkle Khanna
“A toothpick with an aloo on top.” That’s how Sushmita Sen describes her teenage self on our internet-shattering episode of The Icons with Twinkle Khanna (Watch the whole series here). We have to assume we’re sampling her famous self-deprecating humour and grace, because how does a precariously balanced tuber go on to make history for her country. Winning a beauty pageant, no less?
Sen’s life is a necklace of paradoxical moments, strung together to create a story that you may dismiss as unbelievable if it were the plotline of a Netflix show. The 19 year old who wanted to adopt a baby, and fought to change the country’s legal system to do so. The impossibly fit beauty icon who struggles with autoimmune disorders. A woman in the public eye who isn’t afraid of courting scandal.
There’s much to learn from Sen’s singular approach to living honestly and openly, and we received a masterclass during our chat.
5 life lessons that we learnt from The Icons with Sushmita Sen and Twinkle Khanna
Learn to take compliments
Whether or not you suffer from imposter syndrome, most women dodge compliments like they’re stray elbows in a crowded mall. We blush, splutter, freeze or any one of the myriad options from the lexicon of awkward reactions.
Sen agrees, declaring, “This is another problem with Indian women, they don’t know how to take a compliment.”
Pyschologists believe that denial of a compliment could stagnate personal growth as it solidifies our negative personal beliefs. Research also finds that receiving compliments activates the same parts of your brain as receiving monetary awards.
Sen wants you to break the pattern, and simply go, “Yeah, thoda aur bolo (say some more)”. Gracefully accepting the compliment and appreciating the giver doesn’t just translate into better self image, but also more pennies for the metaphorical money bank.
At 40, you can still start your Day 1
“If you haven’t touched 40 yet, you haven’t lived,” Sen declares. Diagnosed with Addison’s disease at 38, the actress had to shift her focus from her hair and skin to her health.
Ascribing secondary status to the superficial aspects of beauty and putting all her energy into deep healing, “I was amazed at the ability to realise that 40 is my Day 1,” Sen adds. She exclaims with pleasure that she found her true self at 40. (Begin your health journey with Tweak)
Humour saves the day
“I had only two choices: I could throw punches, or I could throw punchlines,” Khanna says, as Sen agrees. Humour can reduce stress and fosters emotions akin to gratitude and wisdom.
“One of the things that women need to have, more than anything else, is a sense of humour,” Khanna reiterates. While knock knock jokes won’t save lives, it will certainly improve your mental health.
What do you win if you lose yourself?
When you’re in the public eye as unceasingly as Sushmita Sen, you’re bound to face the scrutiny of those who disagree with your choices, whether that’s plastic surgery, relationships or even the roles she chooses to take up. So how has she remained steadfast in her honesty?
“Khud ko khoya toh kya paya, that’s been my standard belief in life,” she. “I just wanted to be honest and speak my mind, and learn to do it graciously. You can say things crassly and when you do that, unfortunately your point is lost.” And for those taboos that tend to get people talking, her mantra is simple: “It exists, get over it.”
There are always fillers!
When asked about what she has to say to women in their 40s, her response is immediate. “Laugh a lot, there’s always fillers. Enjoy being alive. I have had the privilege to be 46. A lot of that privilege is denied to many people. So don’t be afraid to grow old.”