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Nonita Kalra: “Gift Yourself That Fearlessness”

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If you’ve been keenly following Indian fashion, you don’t need an introduction to Nonita Kalra. In a career spanning over two decades — first as a journalist for India Today and Indian Express, and then as the Editor-in-Chief of Elle India — she helmed one of India’s best-known fashion titles for 12 years, turning it into the industry force it is today. Considered one of the most original and forthright voices in fashion, she is all set for a new innings in her newly-appointed role as the Editor of Harper’s Bazaar India this month. 

1. Give your body the respect it deserves

If you won’t, no one else will. This was the first piece of advice my mother gave me when she had the talk with me about sex education. It gave me my non-negotiable while navigating my way through love, sex and relationships. Never once did I feel less than cherished.

2. Exercise every day

Not to lose weight or change your shape. Do it for the endorphins. It really is the best chemical high. Working out is also another way to show your body the respect it deserves.

3. Invest in friendships

Friends really are the family we get to choose. And don’t believe anyone who says men and women can’t be friends. There is a different spin to it, but it is wonderful to have that balance. Of course, for my female friends, I would stand in front of a moving bus. Love, loss and laughter – it all needs to be shared.

4. Laugh so that everyone can hear you.

A man in a movie theatre once turned around and told me I had a “He-Man laugh”. Unfortunately, he had to hear that He-Man laugh on repeat as I bellowed at his ridiculous attempt to diminish me. Today, he is a funny story that makes me laugh (again) – and we all know how good it is for the heart and soul.

5. Forget about money. Follow your passion.

Early in my career, I made it the norm to earn less with every promotion or a new job. Yes, it meant I had to take buses, avoid eating out and not shop but it gave me freedom. Real freedom. The minute I felt my ethics and integrity were being compromised I walked out with nothing to lose. Gift yourself that fearlessness. It is one of the many things money can’t buy.

6. Save your money to see the world

I learnt this lesson from the amazing young women I worked with. Not one of them wanted the “It” bag or shoe. They were surrounded by these goods of desire but they rejected them. To travel. When they came back, I saw their stories reflected in their newfound self-confidence.

7. Chain read one book after the other.

The written word has its own kind of magic. If you don’t believe me then pick up J D Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye or John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy Of Dunces. Perhaps Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines is more your style? Or Keri Hulme’s The Bone People. Try Salman Rushdie’s magical Midnight’s Children. Just. Read. There is a whole world out there.

8. Wear sun block.

You’ve heard this before but trust me it is all the skincare you will ever need, especially if you start young. Nothing ages the skin or damages it more than UV rays. If you make it a habit to wear it (and reapply it), you can avoid the lotions, the potions, the botox, the bullshit. Invest in your well-being.

9. Be charitable.

About people and money. Make it a habit. Donate money. Donate time. Invest in the well being of others as well. What is in it for you? Nothing. Now go ahead and treat this as an act of kindness. It can’t hurt.

10. Love yourself.

Really love yourself. You are worth it.

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