At a time when social media is dominated by young people putting their best foot forward, Datta Shelat chose to become a social media influencer in the realm of fashion at the age of 38. “I was put down by people due to my age,” explains Shelat, adding “Social media is full of 18–25-year-olds in their young, skinny bodies. Initially, I took time to accept that I can’t compare myself with the young.” Shelat is a self-described lifestyle blogger, model, stylist and fashion enthusiast, and has over 41,000 followers on Instagram.
Shelat is from an unusual background to be an fashion influencer. Her husband, Shyam Shelat, is a third-generation lawyer and they live in a large joint family of over 15 members in a heritage house in old Ahmedabad. Shelat doesn’t categorize herself a rebel. She says, “Unlike the young, I have multiple roles to play, and I have responsibilities too. I have my own niche – that of a 40-year-old social media influencer – and people just must deal with it.”
Born into a family of bureaucrats, Shelat is the daughter of IAS PV Trivedi. “None of my family members are on social media,” she explains, “Growing up, education was our top priority. As my dad is a government servant, I attended 12 schools and 4 colleges. My dad still regrets that he couldn’t give me roots. But as a schoolgirl, if I could walk into a new school every single year and make new friends, I can definitely do it again at my age. I’m never scared to start afresh, to upgrade myself and that’s why I had the courage to become an influencer at 38. I hope to do the same even in my 50s!”
Shelat is a computer engineer and had Gujarati medium schooling. She says, “My father believed in education in one’s mother tongue. I find it bizarre when people flaunt a fake American accent but fumble in their mother tongue. There is nothing to be ashamed of about the Gujarati language. I consider Gujarati my maa and every other language as my maasi.”
Shelat completed her studies in New York, where she also worked in the corporate world. She only shifted to Ahmedabad after marriage. “After living in Manhattan, I didn’t think I could adjust to Amdavad,” she recalls. Adding, “I never felt settled until I had my daughter. Even now, I make sure that I never overdo things. I always click pictures that I can show to my in-laws. They are encouraging of what I do.”
Shelat only has one regret. She explains, “I was inclined towards fashion since I was five years old, but I assumed that engineering or medicine will lead to a bright future, not fashion. Today, I wish I had enrolled in NIFT. Then, I would be sitting here with 22 years of experience, not just two.”
Still, Shelat is making up for lost time and makes sure her every waking moment is camera-ready. “Even if I have to drop my daughter at school, I get all decked up,” she signs off.