Indian-Canadian Instagram influencer and TikTok celebrity Megha Thakur, who passed away recently, was the ideal Gen Z-er who had carved a space on social media outside of perfect bodies, manufactured lives and sponsored posts.
Although the 21-year-old fit into every one of these molds, with sharp model-like features, sculpted abs and dance moves perfect for the Tik-Tok and reels generation, she aspired to give more. And she did exactly that to her more than one lakh followers on Instagram and about 10 lakh followers on TikTok.
Thakur, whose parents announced her death this week in a post from her official Instagram handle, frequently shared photographs and videos with smudged makeup and tears rolling down her face. It may seem trivial, but it still subverts the expectations that are definitive to a career as a content creator – regardless of the state of your mental health, your life is supposed to be perfect, in order for consumers to buy whatever product is being endorsed.
But Thakur didn’t touch the lives of millions with beauty products or fashionable clothes. She did by opening up her mind and heart to them, by letting ‘body positivity’ ideas flow consistently from her energetic, fast-talking clips. She pranced and danced in chic clothes but she also gave details about her battle with mental health. “I used to walk without confidence. But now with each step that I take, I stand tall,” she said in one of her videos.
Not a run-of-the-mill influencer
In many ways, influencers are the new celebrities, with legions of fans and supporters. Due to the pervasive hold social media has over us, the immediacy with which we access their lives is rare. Social media celebrities are held accountable by their followers on a minute-to-minute basis, being coerced into letting thousands of people know what they’re eating, who they’re dating. Thakur’s desire and ability to do this while being ‘real’ testifies to the respect she had for her followers. She saw them as real people, who are impressionable, as opposed to simply a means to an end.
Self-loathing is deeply embedded into this generation, fed almost exclusively on a diet of social media. And Thakur shows how she understands that fear that many from her generation face. She was bullied during her school years for acne. And so, in one of the reels, she shares screenshots of the adulatory DMs (direct messages) alongside photos of her looking what would be termed ‘bad’, blemished skin and ordinary outfits.
“Sometimes I forget who I am when I come on here. Consuming an endless amount of opinions, lifestyles, beauty standards, updates, tragedies, promotions, scandals, privilege, and so much more makes me forget my own story and why I came on here in the first place – so I made this to never forget again,” Thakur captioned the post.
Megha Thakur was no run-of-the-mill pretty face. She wanted to create a difference – in how she viewed herself and how the world viewed her. Tributes are pouring in. “She impacted my life in so many ways. She was beginning to find happiness + self-love after years of mental health issues,” tweeted Sukhnidh Kaur, a content creator.
For many others, Thakur leaves behind a simple way to be, which perhaps serves as a snapshot of her social media avatar: “Walk like you own the streets, it gives you power.”
Views are personal.
(Edited by Prashant)